It has been a great year for the auto-industry. Overall sales are up and people are spending more and more. According to Kelly Blue Book, the average transaction price for a new car has risen to $33,340. That’s a serious chunk of change, but how much car or truck are you getting if you’re dropping that much cash?

While most Jalops may prefer to follow Tavarish’s advice and spend way less on a pre-owned vehicle and get a lot more value after someone else has taken the depreciation hit, there’s still a sizable population of normal people who prefer that new car smell.

Here is a sampling of what $33k and change can put in your driveway.

Hatchback- Volkswagen GTI 4-door Autobahn

For a long time most American car buyers associated hatchbacks with “cheap” cars. While there are still plenty of bargain hatches to be found, the market for more “premium” 5-door models is growing.


I think the GTI really is at its best value under $30,000, but if you are going to spend $33k, you get an Autobahn with a manual transmission complete with all the bells and whistles you could want. This budget even allows you to add in what I consider the must-have Performance and Lighting packages. I may have a slight bias towards VW’s MK7 GTI, but I think many will agree that it’s a fantastic car for the money.

Mid-Size Sedan- Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited

With so many great mid-sizers available it is really hard to go wrong. While the Mazda6 may be the best driver’s car of the group, we voted the Hyundai Sonata the best overall value.


But I have a bit of bad news for you. In order to get the fully-loaded Sonata Limited with the 2.0T motor that has everything including navigation, forward collision warning, and Android Auto, you are going to have to overspend the average by an extra grand.

Large Sedan- Dodge Charger SXT

Some folks find mid-size sedans too small or would prefer something with a bit more attitude. Dodge will give you the looks, at least, with the Charger SXT. That car comes with a powerful V6 and rear-wheel-drive, but a Hemi V8 is going to put you over budget. You will have enough cash to upgrade the wheels and score navigation, which is nice.

Muscle Car- Ford Mustang GT

You might have been disappointed that you $33k does not get you a V8 in the Charger. However, if you can do without those two extra doors, Ford will sell you a 5.0 Mustang GT with a manual gearbox. If you prefer features over burnouts, step down to the EcoBoost premium to get a well loaded Mustang. We’d probably take the turbo over the V6 anyway.

Convertible- Mazda MX-5 Miata PRHT Grand Touring

You can get both the Mustang and Camaro in drop top version for around $33,000. However, you’re looking at rental car spec car with a V6, cloth seats, and not much in the way of extras. For more features and more fun with the top down, Mazda will sell you a loaded, hard-top MX-5 and you can keep about four grand in the bank for a set of track day wheels and tires.

Mazda has not yet launched the configurator for the all new 2016 MX-5, but it is probably safe to say the trim pricing will be about the same, give or take a few hundred bucks.

Truck - Chevrolet Colorado LT

Trucks used to be cheap, but the market has changed radically over the years and even “work” spec pickups can push thirty grand. Truck sales are so hot that according to Forbes, Ford dealers are raking in an average of $44,100 on F-150 models. If you don’t want to spend luxury car money on an open bed and four-wheel-drive, you can get a mid-level trim Colorado LT.


“Average” new car money will get you a Colorado with a 305 HP V6, a long bed and enough room for four along with some extra goodies such as a rear-camera, an 8 inch touch screen infotainment unit and 17 inch alloys. All of which will be plenty to get the job done and still give you an enjoyable commute.

Minivan- Honda Odyssey EX

I love my fast cars, but I’m going to make a confession to all of you Jalops. I love minivans. As a proud father of two little ones, when it comes to getting my family from point A to point B with minimal hassle, there is simply no better tool for the job.


If you have about 33 large to spend on a people mover, check out the Honda Odyssey. The EX trim will get you all the minivan “must-haves” such as: power sliding doors, multi-zone climate control, and a rear camera. At this price point Honda will even toss in “Lane Watch” for safe passing maneuvers.

Wagon- Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

Subaru is a small automaker compared to some of the the larger outfits, but they’re growing exponentially, and they make up for their size with excellent marketing and high quality vehicles. This has resulted in record sales for the brand. If you spend the exact “average” budget of $33,340, you will get an Outback 2.5i Limited with navigation, and sunroof, but you will have to give up the really popular Eyesight option.

Compact Crossover- Nissan Rogue SL

Just like the mid-size sedan segment, when it comes to compact crossovers $33k allows you to select from a number of high quality cars that loaded to the max. Again, there really is no wrong answer here as it just comes down to personal preference. Nissan offers a great value in the Rogue SL with “premium package” that includes: 3-rows of seats, navigation, and advanced safety features that are similar to Subaru’s Eyesight system minus the automatic braking. All this can be had for about a grand less than than the Outback.

Mid-Size Crossover- Kia Sorento LX V6

When it comes to the family hauler, the mid-size crossovers can get fairly expensive. Kia offers a nice combination of style and features in this class, but you will have to be happy with cloth interior and no navigation. For $32,595 you will get power seats, all-wheel-drive, UVO audio, and back-up camera. Not too shabby for a minivan avoidance machine.

Luxury Coupe- BMW 228i

You already know how much Jalopnik loves the BMW 2 series. However, if you only have an “average” budget you are most likely going to have to factory order your 228i, as few dealers will stock a car with no options. I would argue that the 228i is such a good driver’s car that it is worth giving up the extras for a small coupe with a manual transmission and rear-drive. Plus, your maintenance will be free for the first four years. Thanks, BMW!

Luxury Sedan- Audi A3

If you are in the market for a compact luxury sedan, Audi will give you a few A3 options and allow you to stay within budget. I’m of the opinion that if you are going to buy an Audi, you should get one with quattro all-wheel drive. An AWD equipped A3 premium with the 2.0 turbo motor and no other options, will set you back $33,200. However, if you can do without the quattro, you may find the GTI that sits on the same platform gives you more speed, more features, and more cargo space for your money.

Luxury Crossover- Mercedes GLA 250

If you absolutely must have a crossover with a three-pointed-star, you can score a GLA250 with some fancy paint, a panoramic sunroof, and a wheel upgrade for just a hair above the $33,440 ceiling. Though good luck finding one like this in the showroom because most of your Mercedes dealers will option them out closer to $40k.


For those of you that have the means to spend the “average,” you can buy a lot of car for your money if you stick with the mainstream brands. Once you start pricing out luxury cars, you are probably better off exploring your CPO options to get more equipment.

Of course these comparisons are all based on MSRP. I’m confident that all of you have learned enough car buying tricks by now to score a great deal well below sticker price.

If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at and be sure to include your Kinja handle.

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