Car shoppers want a long list of features in a new car, even if that car is a compact sedan that starts around $16,000. That starting price usually doesn't include what many consider "must-have" features — chief among them an automatic transmission.
We took 11 compact sedans and looked at their prices when equipped with the following features:
- Automatic transmission
- Cruise control
- USB input
- Remote entry
- Tilt/telescoping steering wheel
- Steering-wheel audio controls
It may seem like a simple search, but if you're looking at a new Nissan Sentra, Dodge Dart or Volkswagen Jetta, you'll need to know the specific trim level, options and option packages to ensure you won't regret not having that one missing feature.
We took those as-equipped prices and then added five years of fuel costs to come up with the most affordable compact sedan on the market.
Having recently purchased our long-term Honda Civic that has all of these features in a base model, we thought it had a good shot of scoring well here. But the results were somewhat surprising, especially in terms of what car was No. 1.