2009 Nissan Versa 1.6
Half the Hyundai.
For little more than half the price of the Elantra Touring, you can buy a Nissan Versa 1.6, although destination charges bring the total to just over the five-figure mark. A small sedan with a big back seat, the cheapo Versa is also one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive economy cars around. Its skinny tires may have modest limits, but great chassis tuning makes the best of them with surprisingly neutral cornering balance.
Unfortunately, you can't drown out any annoying interior rattles with the stereo, because there isn't one. There's one way to unlock the car - via the driver's door. There's also only one way into the trunk - with a key. And the lock broke on our test car. Harrumph.
Let's be honest - if you can't afford a couple of bucks for a radio and a remote trunk release, you can't afford a new car. The Versa 1.6 is a lot of car for the money, but the regular Versa - radio and all - is, too. Even without marketing-stunt pricing.