Dear Drive… Can I still get a nice new car for less than $30,000?

Prices may be rising, and 50 may be the new 30, but there are still some great options for new car buyers on a budget.

Dear Drive… Where we answer questions from readers, viewers and listeners. Something on your mind? Call us at the radio show or send us an email at [email protected].

A caller on 3AW radio asked:

I am looking to purchase a new car, ideally an SUV, for my daughter that will also double as a second family car. We don’t want to spend more than $30,000. What is available?

It’s no secret that new car prices have been on the rise of late. We’re a far cry from the four-figure prices that grace the hype (for what it’s worth, the last time a new car cost less than $10,000 was the Chery J1 in 2013; yours for $9990 drive), and even today there are only two options under $20,000.

So what will you get with a budget of $30,000?

As it turns out, you have several options in a sedan, hatchback, SUV, or even a ute, with some pretty impressive vehicles making up our 30 Under 30 list.


Based on our caller’s inquiry, if you’re looking for an SUV, there are 11 brands that can help you, at least in terms of RRP (recommended retail price). Please note that all prices are shown as RRP before en-route costs, unless otherwise noted.

Do Model starting price Specifications Price under $30K applies to…
suzuki ignis $21,490 GL Manual All variants of Ignis
hyundai Event $21,990 place manual All place variants
kia sonic $22,290 manual Stonic S and Sport manual or automatic
mazda CX-3 $23,510 neo sports manual Neo Sport, Maxx Sport manual or automatic, Maxx Sport LE automatic
mg ZS $23,990 to go excite car All ZS variants
mitsubishi ASX $23,990 manual GS, ES, MR and LS variants
hyundai Kona $26,900 kona car Also active automatic
mg ZST $26,990 to go automatic core Also Automatic Vibe
Toyota yaris cross $27,840 automatic GX Also GX Hybrid
nissan juke $28,390 automatic ST ST only
GWM haval jolion $28,490 to go premium car Premium Only
kia seltos $29,500 S automatic be alone
chery omoda 5 $29,900 automatic BX BX only
suzuki vitara $29,990 vitara handbook vitara manual only
ssang yong Korando $30,990 to go EX automatic EX only (listed as just over $30K drive-away)

There are plenty of good options, but our pick would be a Hyundai Kona Active Auto ($28,500 before highway costs) or the $29,500 Kia Seltos S which has a current sale price of $31,690.

sedans and hatchbacks

There are nine brands vying for your thirty gorillas whether you want to look at a sedan or a hatchback, as in many cases it doesn’t really matter as the cars are offered in both body styles.

Do Model starting price Specifications Price under $30K applies to…
kia spicy $16,290 manual All variants of Picanto
mg mg 3 $19,490 to go automatic core All MG 3 variants
kia River $21,190 sport handbook All variants of Rio
mazda Mazda 2 $21,390 Pure Manual G15 All Mazda 2 Variants: Sedan and Hatchback
Fiat 500 $23,100 automatic saloon Also Dolcevita self
suzuki Fast $23,490 GL Manual All Swift variants except Swift Sport car
hyundai i30 $23,720 i30 manuals Also Active auto: sedan and hatchback
Toyota Yaris $24,640 Sports Ascent Also SX gasoline only
volkswagen pole $25,750 life 70 manual Also Life 85 automatic
kia cerate $26,290 S automatic Also Sport car – sedan and hatchback
subaru impreza $26,490 L automatic AWD Also Premium AWD car: sedan and hatchback
mazda mazda 3 $27,160 G20 Pure Manual Pure, Evolve manual or automatic: sedan and hatchback
Toyota Corolla $28,630 Sports Ascent Sedan and hatchback, gasoline only

Again, there are some great options, including the all-wheel drive Subaru Impreza, but our pick would be the Driving Car of the Year 2017, the Hyundai i30 Active hatch with an automatic transmission, as it currently has a $29,990 roadside offer.


There’s a clear choice on this list, not just because the alternative has sold out and can’t be ordered anymore, but it’s nice to know that if you need one, you can get the 2.7-litre petrol Toyota HiLux. as a 4×2 cab chassis for less than $30,000.

Do Model starting price Specifications Price under $30K applies to…
Toyota hellolux $25,375 Workmate 4 × 2 cab chassis Manual and automatic (without tray)
Mahindra Pick $26,990 to go 4×2 manuals If you can find one…

Do you have a question about your next set of wheels or just need some advice on your car? No query is too big, small, or obscure! Call the radio show (Trent at 2GB Sydney 1:30pm Monday and 9:00pm Wednesday, 5AA South Australia 1:30pm Tuesday and James at 3AW Melbourne 9:00pm every Thursday)or contact us by email here: [email protected].

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