This gas-sipping bunch provides more than just affordability and efficiency. They offer the latest technologies and versatility to accommodate all lifestyles. With options like navigation, hard-drive music storage, voice-controlled iPod integration, Bluetooth phone connectivity, push-button start and leather seating, the possibilities for functional, comfortable and cool cars abound.
In making their choice, the kbb.com editors considered safety, fuel economy, interior size, comfort, technology, the vehicle’s fun-to-drive factor, as well as the decidedly subjective “cool” factor.
Top 10 Coolest New Cars 2008
“Cool” might not be the first word that pops into your head upon seeing the new Ford Focus, but don’t judge this book by its cover. The Focus sedan and coupe are the most affordable cars in which you can get the SYNC music and phone integration system, which allows you to play any song in your digital library simply by saying its name. MSRP: $15,280
2008 Honda Fit
With gas prices on the rise, small cars like the Honda Fit are gaining in popularity. The Fit sips gasoline and offers the sportiest driving experience available in an econo-car. Plus, the seats can be configured in multiple arrangements, so it can easily hold things like your friends, your gear or a medium-sized alpaca (according to a photo on Honda’s Web site, anyway). MSRP: $14,585
2008 Jeep Patriot
The Jeep Patriot has a classic look reminiscent of the departed Jeep Cherokee plus a functional interior and a sub-$18,000 price tag-even when equipped with four-wheel drive. Combined with highway fuel economy up to 28 miles per gallon, the Patriot delivers a cool mix of SUV-like versatility and carlike efficiency for buyers on a budget. MSRP: $16,055
On the list for the fifth year in a row and still in its first generation, the Mazda3 is the current elder statesman of cool compact cars. Available in four- and five-door layouts, the dynamic Mazda3 is responsive, quick and stylish, but also comfortable, efficient and practical. MSRP: $17,230
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer
The Mitsubishi Lancer’s aggressive, rally-inspired looks belie a starting price of less than $15,000. The low cost of entry will leave many buyers with enough extra cash to add cool options like a hard-drive navigation system, an impressive premium audio system or perhaps a stylish spoiler. MSRP: $14,615
2009 Pontiac Vibe
The hot-looking Pontiac Vibe has always delivered a very cool combination of affordability, versatility and fuel economy. Compared with its predecessor, the new-for-‘09, second-generation Vibe boasts a sportier look inside and out, a more powerful engine and even a lower starting price. MSRP: $15,895
2008 Scion xB
The original “box on wheels” grew rounder, larger and more powerful for 2008, but the xB remains a distinctively styled non-conformist. Cool standard features include steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, iPod integration and a choice of three wheel designs for instant customization at the dealership. MSRP: $16,270
2008 Subaru Impreza
With 170 horsepower, all-wheel drive and a double-wishbone rear suspension, the Subaru Impreza sedan adds a sporty and capable touch to the cool car selections. The five-door variant has a similar base price and suits those in need of more cargo room for their active lifestyles. MSRP: $17,640
2008 Suzuki SX4
This is the second year in a row that Suzuki’s small crossover has made the list of cool cars under $18,000. In addition to a sporty exterior and roomy, stylish interior, the SX4 still has the distinction of being the least expensive all-wheel-drive vehicle sold in America. MSRP: $15,395
2008 Volkswagen Rabbit
The versatile and affordable Volkswagen Rabbit hopped its way onto the list with its perky 2.5-liter engine, comfortable ride, sharp handling and a level of interior refinement rivaling that of some much pricier vehicles. MSRP: $16,250
For more information, visit www.kbb.com/coolcars08.