Top 10 coolest cars under $18,000
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Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000

Just because money’s tight doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. Judging sedans, hatchbacks and SUVs based on factors including fuel economy, interior size, comfort, technology and, of course, the '“cool factor,” the editors at Kelley Blue Book have released their top 10 list of low-cost, high-mileage rides that won’t get you laughed out of the valet line.

“The vehicles on our Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000 list are very fun to drive and feature-filled; first-time buyers and frugal down-sizers have never had it so good,” Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com, said in a news release. “Manufacturers are finding ways to nicely equip their entry-level vehicles while still keeping the price reasonably low, and consumers are reaping the benefits more and more each year.”

Check out this gallery of the editors’ favorites, complete with a few reasons we think they work. (Scion xB)
2008 Ford Focus

MSRP: $15,280

New car KBB value: $14,942

Coolness factor: Improved styling and the very cool Sync system, powered by Microsoft, which voice-activates your phone, music and messages while you’re driving — it even reads your IMs to you.

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2008 Honda Fit

MSRP: $14,585

New car KBB value: $14,585

Coolness factor: When a car gets better than 30 miles per gallon at the gas pump and is still a blast to drive, it’s pretty cool. Beyond that, the Fit has the coolest option ever for its price range — sport paddles on the steering column that shift your automatic tranny on command.

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2008 Jeep Patriot

MSRP: $16,055

New car KBB value: $15,894

Coolness factor: Chrysler has found a cool formula — providing traditional Jeep styling and off-road capability in a small, affordable package.

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2008 Mazda3

MSRP: $17,230

New car KBB value: $16,799

Coolness factor: Coolness is self-evident in the Mazda3’s upscale styling, and further proof is found in its “Zoom Zoom” driving fun.

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2008 Mitsubishi Lancer

MSRP: $14,615

New car KBB value: $14,396

Coolness factor: Finally this year, Mitsubishi has borrowed the coolness from its world rally heritage and applied it to the everyday Lancer.

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2009 Pontiac Vibe

MSRP: $15,895

New car KBB value: $15,895

Coolness factor: Better styling and a lot of versatility in a very small package. When they say the seats fold flat, they really mean flat! It’s the smaller, cooler minivan that’s, well, cool.

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2008 Scion xB

MSRP: $16,270

New car KBB value: $16,351

Coolness factor: The xB, with more attention for the dollar than any of our other “coolest cars,” makes a bold statement while being extremely utilitarian.

More: Scion A-Z(Scion)
2008 Subaru Impreza

MSRP: $17,640

New car KBB value: $17,375

Coolness factor: Three words describe Impreza’s coolness: all-wheel drive (for less than $18,000).

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2008 Suzuki SX4

MSRP: $15,395

New car KBB value: $15,164

Coolness factor: The SX4 brings another cool feature to the under-$18,000 table: four-wheel drive. It’s the least expensive 4x4 on the market, and its new styling doesn’t hurt either.

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2008 Volkswagen Rabbit

MSRP: $16,250

New car KBB value: $16,088

Coolness factor: It’s cool to be Euro. If European engineering, styling and performance are important to you, but you have limited funds, the Rabbit is the least expensive of the Euro cars (brand new).

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