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Mazda3 makes Coolest Cars list for the 11th time

Got less than $18,000 but want a new car? Think about these

Published: June 28, 2014, 5:00 PM

2014 Mazda3 - front 3/4 motion

If you’ve got a small budget but a hankering for a new car, Kelley Blue Book says you can’t do better than the perennially popular Mazda3. The K-car for our times tops the vehicle valuation specialist’s Top 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 (US) list “on the strength of a well-received redesign for 2014,” according to KBB.com’s Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst. The Mazda has made the list for every one of its 11 years in existence; it placed sixth last year.

The list puts “cool factor” at the top of its criteria, a subjective measure used by Kelley’s editors to come up with the rankings:

1. Mazda3

2. Hyundai Veloster

3. Kia Soul

4. Honda Civic Coupe

5. Volkswagen Jetta

6. Fiat 500

7. Dodge Dart

8. Ford Fiesta

9. Chevy Sonic

10. Nissan Versa Note

“Low-priced cars are getting cooler with each passing year and the mass-appeal, bread-and-butter small cars are becoming increasingly stylish and tech-savvy,” Nerad said.

Connectivity plays a significant role in making these vehicles more and more sophisticated, even at base trim levels, as evidenced by the second-gen Soul’s Bluetooth connectivity. The list gives kudos to the all-new Versa Note, a five-door sib for the Versa sedan, for being “exceptionally roomy and flexible” as well as for its “bunch of cool features” including an Around View Monitor. Dodge’s Uconnect infotainment system helped boost the Dart into seventh. Some made it for less techy reasons, such as the Hyundai Veloster and its “masterful mix of bold, unique style and famous Hyundai value.”

Good fuel economy is another common trait amongst most of the chosen vehicles.

KBB also released its list of best certified pre-owned luxury cars under $30,000 (US), all from MY 2011, topped by the BMW 3 Series. Rounding out the list were the Lexus ES, Acura TL, Audi A6, Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, Cadillac DTS, Volvo XC60 and Audi A4.