There are plenty of alternatives to the mainstream affordable cars out there.

When it comes to affordable cars, such as a compact or midsize sedan, it seems that certain ones typically leap to the forefront of most buyers’ minds. Thanks to reputations of reliability and other attributes, shoppers have gravitated towards vehicles like the Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord, and Honda Civic. But in today’s hotly competitive market, there are other options to consider.

From styling and fuel economy to performance and the availability of a diesel engine the following three vehicles deserve a place on your shopping list:

Ford Fusion

Ford’s stylish midsize sedan is a strong choice for those looking for something slightly different from what you usually see on the road. Used Fusions offer four-cylinder power along with available all-wheel drive. Hybrid and plug-in hybrid models are available as well, which is a boon to the customer who wants to save on fuel. No matter the model year or generation, the Fusion offers a good-looking—and in some cases high-performing—alternative to the Camry or Accord. Depending on year and trim level, a used Fusion will cost about the same as a base new Corolla and several thousand less than a new Camry.

Nissan Altima

Nissan’s Altima offers two engine choices: A 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V-6. Fuel economy is the selling point here, as Nissan has promised maximum highway fuel economy from both the standard engine and the larger V6. The Altima is positioned to compete with the Accord and Camry, and a used one will save you anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000.

Chevy Cruze

The Cruze has been on the market for some time now, and it’s a worthy alternative to the Civic and Corolla. The Cruze is even available with a diesel engine, depending on the model year. Other available engines include two four-cylinders, one of which is turbocharged, and depending on the trim and model year, you can choose either an automatic or manual transmission. Look for a used Cruze to be $3,000–$6,000 less than a base new Corolla or Civic.

When it comes to shopping for affordable cars, there are lots of choices out there and plenty of reasons to look beyond the usual suspects.

Blank Profile

About the AuthorTim Healey

Tim Healey is a writer and reporter specializing in covering the automotive industry and reviewing new cars. He also has experience covering sports in a past journalistic life. The Chicago-based journalist loves cars, sports, and music, and can write passionately and knowledgeably about all three topics.