Cooley On Cars
Top 5: Affordable carsBrian Cooley runs down a list of the top five CNET-rated affordable cars.
[MUSIC] Many of you saw my recent top five video of CNET's highest rated cars of last year. And, a lot of you wrote in and said that's great, now how about something I can afford, Cooley. A BMW I8 isn't exactly in the budget. I hear ya. I'm Brian Cooley with a very different top five but along the same lines. Top five affordable cars, as rated by CNet. Now, this is not an exhausted list of the entire category, but it covers cars reviewed by CNet in the last year, that came in under 25 grand, with destination charge, and got really great scores from us. That means at least four stars, or an 8.0, with one exception, you'll see. You can find cheaper cars, by the way. But they don't hit the top scores that we give. I figured you wanted the good stuff. So let's go. I'm going to rate these based on that CNet score, but filtering in the MSRP is a new one for this guy. Number five, the Ford Fiesta ST, not quite an 8.0 score, you'll notice. But close enough to it for one of the hottest hatches on the market right now. Right now. About 200 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque from a little engine that delivers 26/35 MPG. That's great. And equipped with wheels, suspension, and torque vectoring that are all geared for the curves. It's the cheapest way to show up at autocross and have the right gear. Number 4, the Mazda MX-5. You know it as the Miata. Easily the car that I would most wanna drive on a nice road. Though, not of course, if that road leads to Costco. The Miata just sneaks in under our price cut and even then it leaves out bluetooth and USB unless you upgrade. So buy some earbuds and realize you're in a great handling, fun shifting, happy revving, open top icon for under 25 grand. And bring something bigger to Costco. Number 3 is the Subaru Legacy. Even a base Legacy has their great symmetrical all-wheel drive. That's a big plus. And it's the only car on our list that has all the wheels driven. Subaru's not normally a cabin tech leader, to be diplomatic, but their system gave us less to complain about than last year. And they distracted us. From its shortcomings, with their, quite nice, optional eyesight technology that handles driver-assist well. And, again, comes at a nice price point. Number two is the Mini Cooper Hardtop, the classic Mini. Now, they have one less cylinder in the engine this generation, but, more power than they had with more cylinders. The Mini connected infotainment platform is much improved. Now it taps much of the latest. Generation of BMW I drive design, rather than tapping the first generation. You either love the look of the mini or wish it's [UNKNOWN] to the dot com era would just go away. But know that it's iconic shape is now much roomier than it was last year. Before I get you to number one, a couple cars I want to give an honorable mention to. First of all, you got the GMC canyon, it misses the cut on our score requirement by just a little bit. But it's a real pickup in a small package that drives like a car and is far from the bottom in terms of cabin tech. And I gotta tip my hat, of course, to the VW GTI. It missed the cut on cost by about 600 bucks, but it scored a list-topping 8.2 score thanks to great driving dynamics, good cabin design, and not bad tech. Our number one car on the list is so strongly the Mazda, Mazda3. It's the cheapest car on the list, and it's the only one that got an editors choice from our reviewers. It's fun to drive, has a choice of manual or automatic transmission. You got Pandora, Stitcher, aha, and modern apps in the dash. Even a little headup display that pops up, though it's a bit like something out of a cereal box. Box. Still, this is your bargain choice. And knowing Mazda, likely built to stay that way. [MUSIC] More top five lists await the car lover. Go to CNet.Cars.Com and click on top five. [MUSIC]