By Michael Zak | AOL AutosA recent Interest.com study looked at the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the United States to see which median-income households in those respective areas can afford to purchase a new car, the average price of which was $30,550 in 2012, according to TrueCar. The study found that in only one city can residents actually afford a car with this sticker price -- Washington, D.C.
MSRP: $25,495 - $27,495
Invoice: $24,327 - $26,112
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg City, 30 mpg Highway
The Subaru BRZ proves that driving bliss doesn't have to cost a fortune. The rear-wheel drive sports coupe is one of the most engaging vehicles on the road today, with utterly superb dynamics and looks. The best part? You can have one for $25,495.
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MSRP: $18,095 - $25,200
Invoice: $17,371 - $24,192
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 33 mpg Highway
Although the redesigned 2014 version of this handsome hatch will be on sale in the near future, the current generation is still worth buying. It's fuel efficient, fun and surprisingly versatile. Starting at less than $20,000, the Golf is also quite affordable.
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MSRP: $26,650 - $30,295
Invoice: $24,809 - $28,202
Fuel Economy: 44 mpg City, 40 mpg Highway
The Toyota Pirus v is essentially a bigger version of the popular Prius hybrid. This hatchback acheives stellar fuel economy while allowing for transport of numerous people and all of their stuff. Starting at $26,650, you can have all the benefits of a versatile hybrid for an agreeable price.
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MSRP: $20,995 - $28,595
Invoice: $20,396 - $27,771
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway
The Mazda CX-5 is one of our favorite crossovers here at AOL Autos even when taking more expensive ones into account. Remarkably fun to drive, fuel efficient and starting at a low price, there's a lot to love about this agile utility vehicle.
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MSRP: $16,695 - $21,115
Invoice: $16,208 - $20,218
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway
This small sedan continue to be the darling of both critics and consumers nationwide. Available with tons of standard features, great looks and sweet fuel economy, the Elantra is one of the best cars on the planet right now.
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MSRP: $18,995 - $32,820
Invoice: $18,770 - $31,334
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg City, 29 mpg Highway
The 200 is a holdover from when Chrysler was owned by Daimler and then private equity-firm Cerberus Capital. It's not that this car is awful, especially since the new Chrysler, managed by Fiat, made a series of improvements. It's that the other cars in this category are so good, and much better designed and engineered.
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Chrysler 200 Local Dealer Price Quote
MSRP: $18,725 - $21,815
Invoice: $17,789 - $20,725
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 31 mpg Highway
The Scion tC is intended to be a sporty coupe. The problem? It's not sporty. At all. In fact, the tC finds itself on the Consumer Reports list of the least fun cars to drive and we're inclined to agree with that assessment.
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MSRP: $18,995 - $30,795
Invoice: $18,800 - $29,276
Fuel Economy: 19 mpg City, 26 mpg Highway
Short on features and with pretty poor driving dynamics, the Dodge Journey is one you should skip if you're shopping for a sub-$30,000 crossover. We're looking forward to Dodge's next attempt.
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MSRP: $25,900 - $29,200
Invoice: $24,452 - $27,507
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway
Don't be fooled by the badge. This is not really a luxury car. With uninspired driving dynamics and a lackluster interior, you should pass on the ILX even though its low sticker price seems very tempting.
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MSRP: $12,490 - $17,890
Invoice: $11,616 - $16,638
Fuel Economy: 34 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway
The idea of the smart fortwo is great. It's the execution that's the problem. The fortwo is loud, terrible to drive and really isn't all that fuel efficient, considering its size. There are way better options between $10,000 and $20,000.
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