10 Coolest Cars for Less Than $18,000
What's so cool about driving around in a box that looks almost exactly like the Nissan Cube, the Scion xB or the recently departed Honda Element? Not a thing, which is why Kia gave the Soul an overdue overhaul in 2012 that streamlined its front and rear body, kicked its output up to 138 horsepower and improved its efficiency to a combined 31 miles per gallon. The nine-color palate, mix-and-match accent plates and audio and sunroof upgrades still remain, but it's the Soul's versatile 60/40 rear seating and 23.7 cubic feet of cargo space (53.4 with the rear seats down) that makes it an ideal surf shack, bike shuttle or city shopping companion.
7. 2012 Honda(HMC) Fit
One of the small cars that kicked off the subcompact renaissance, the colorful and convenient Fit was hard to find last year when the earthquake and tsunami in Japan stymied supplies. The Fit's standard keyless entry, cruise control and CD player with iPod/USB jack are enticing, but modular seating, under-seat storage, 57.3 cubic feet of cargo room, 10 cupholders and combined mileage that exceeds 30 miles per gallon bring some cool perks to that little price tag.
6. 2012 Ford(F) Fiesta