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CNET Top 5
Cheap high-tech carsFive high-tech cars that you can even afford in a recession.
In this economy, when I suggest a Ã¯Â¿Â½high tech carÃ¯Â¿Â½ you probably think of something that costs as much as a foreclosed house. But you can actually roll CNET style for a monthly nut low enough to swing even after youÃ¯Â¿Â½re laid off. IÃ¯Â¿Â½m B.C. with Top 5 high tech cars that cost under 20 grand as reviewed and ranked by CNET so far in 2011. LetÃ¯Â¿Â½s hit the road. #5 is the Hyundai Accent SE. We love us some HyundaiÃ¯Â¿Â½s and KiaÃ¯Â¿Â½s these days, so why the bottom of the list? Because you canÃ¯Â¿Â½t even option a navigation head unit on any Accent at any price. ThatÃ¯Â¿Â½s a throwback to a few years ago when car companies thought of their small cars as utilitarian transport that offered less. The term premium subcompact is all the rage these day, but Hyundai missed that memo on this otherwise fairly nice car. #4 is the lovable Fiat 500C, the most stylish car on our list though also unnervingly close to Fred Flintstones car in some aspects. Navigation consists of a tack on Tom Tom unit, and the carÃ¯Â¿Â½s powertrain is, shall we say, modest, but it does offer a cousin of Ford Sync called Blue & Me and a very trick power ragtop opens upto la dolce vita for under 20 grand. #3 is the Chevy Cruze ECO. It scored high in CNETÃ¯Â¿Â½s reviews because its little 1.4 liter turbo four delivers 28/42 MPG while being refined on the road. You canÃ¯Â¿Â½t get factory nav on the Cruze, but car it does have OnStar and supports the new OnStar mobile app, which lets you control various aspects of the car remotely form your phone, While its sitting still, of course. #2 is the newcomer in the bunch: The little Scion iQ. Very small, but not stupidly so like a Smart car. Instead, Scion has a smart strategy of offering an array of high tech head units at good prices, and the iQ has Pandora integrated right out of the box. Its little 1.3L engine is best in cities, confidence-killing on the highway and sounds like its grinding coffee in both situations, but overall this is a an affordable car with interesting tech options and a style that stands out. Just donÃ¯Â¿Â½t trip on it. Before we get to our #1 cheap tech car, check out this survey: Accoridng to Arbitron and Edison Resarch, the tech we *use* the most in the car is AM/FM Radio...CD player...and cell phone. But when you ask people what they *love* to use in their car, its Satellite Radio, iPod and GPS. And the mainstreaming of all those technologies and more into inexpensive cars is a trend weÃ¯Â¿Â½re happy to say is moving fast. #1 tech car when youÃ¯Â¿Â½re on a budget is pretty easy: The Ford Fiesta. Two thing stand out: FordÃ¯Â¿Â½s excellent SYNC system, which I almost think is better on a simple display like this, does a great job of recognizing contact names and music titles when you call them out by voice, and Fiesta offers a dual clutch manual gearbox -- nobody else does that at this price. On the other hand the navigation is an OnStar like system which we found was hit and miss and only works when you have a cell connection. Still, if itÃ¯Â¿Â½s our 20 grand, weÃ¯Â¿Â½re gonna buy a Fiesta. BTW, everyone always asks what I drive. Sorry to disappoint, but my Ã¯Â¿Â½88 Country Squire doesnÃ¯Â¿Â½t even have airbags. And I want you to be safe. For more Top 5Ã¯Â¿Â½s like this one, head on over top top5.cnet.com. I am Brian Cooley, thanks for watching.