The Best Cars Under $35,000

Here’s a list of the 10 best cars that you can buy for under $35,000

If you are in the market for a new car, there are plenty of options available today. The price bracket doesn’t matter, because you have multiple offerings right from $20,000 to one million dollars, and even beyond that. The only difference is that the options are a lot more when you’re in the mass market segment, especially under $35,000. There’s no denying that the higher the choices, the more it can confuse a person. So, to help sort things for you to a certain extent, we’ve come up with a list of the 10 best cars under $35,000 that you can buy in 2022, and it includes vehicles ranging from crossovers to sedans to SUVs, and even cars from premium marques.

2022 Honda Civic - $22,550

The Best Cars Under $35,000 Exterior
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How can we not start our list with one of the most popular cars to have graced our planet? The 2022 Civic marks the debut of the 11th-gen model, which, surprisingly, is a lot more understated than anyone would’ve expected. Some call it boring, some call it mature, but we’ll let you be the judge. What we care about is how the Civic is as an overall package. The neutral looks (at least to me) hide a pretty well-balanced car that offers something for almost every potential customer in this segment. It is offered in four trims, with even the most expensive trim priced under $30,000. It comes with things like a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, etc. The base trims come with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, whereas the top trims are powered by a turbocharged four-pot mill that displaces 1.5 liters. The 2022 Civic now also comes with a host of driver-assistance features and a whole lot of other meaningful upgrades that make it one of the best cars in the segment. The 2022 Honda Civic starts at $22,550 and tops out at $29,150.

2022 Honda Civic
Engine  1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower 180 horses at 6,000 rpm
Torque 177 pound-feet between 1,700- and 4,500 revs
Transmission CVT
Drive Layout Front-wheel-drive
Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined) 33/42/36 mpg
Starting Price $22,550

2022 Buick Encore GX - $25,800

The Best Cars Under $35,000
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Buick isn’t exactly anyone’s first choice, especially when looking at it from an enthusiast’s eyes, but that doesn’t mean the brand doesn’t have impressive offerings. The Buick Encore GX has made it to our top 10 list of the best cars under $35,000 because of what it offers. The Encore GX ticks most of the boxes that people would have from a car in this range. It is spacious, offers good cargo space (up to 50.2 cubic feet), and has a decent cabin layout as well. It even comes with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the 2022 model. But, that said, the Buick’s cabin feels pretty utilitarian overall and lacks the feel-good vibes. Both the engine options aren’t up to the mark in terms of performance and will leave you disappointed if you’re having an adrenaline rush. On the flip side, they aren’t thirsty and offer a decent fuel economy. The 2022 Buick Encore GX starts at a shade over 25,000, which makes this a value-for-money proposition.

2022 Buick Encore GX
Engine  1.3-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder 
Horsepower 155 horses at 5,600 rpm
Torque 174 pound-feet at 1,600 rpm
Transmission CVT
Drive Layout Front-Wheel-Drive (AWD Optional)
Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined) 29/32/30 mpg
Starting Price $25,800

2023 Mazda CX-50 - $26,800

The Best Cars Under $35,000 Exterior
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The Mazda CX-50 is a nameplate fresh off the oven and it has made it to our list for a variety of reasons. It can be considered the CX-5’s successor, but for now, Mazda intends to sell both models side-by-side. The 2023 CX-50 is slightly larger than the CX-5 and is based on a new platform as well. It has Mazda’s typical understated looks, but with a pinch of ruggedness that adds to the sporty/off-road cred. Mazda came out all guns blazing with this model, and the fact that it’s sold in nine trims is a testimony to that. Things on the inside aren’t too bad either, with ample space for passengers and cargo available. However, it must be noted that the older CX-5 offers more headroom than the CX-50. If you’re a family of Michael Jordans, you might want to keep that in mind. As for the infotainment screens, the higher models feature a 10.3-inch touchscreen and the lower models come with a decent 8.8-inch touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are wireless. A 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine powers the 2023 Mazda crossover, but they are offered with and without forced induction. The former would definitely be our pick, but the naturally aspirated versions aren’t a deal-breaker either. The 2023 Mazda CX-50 starts at $26,800, and it should definitely be on your consideration list.

2023 Mazda CX-50
Engine  2.5-liter, four-cylinder 
Horsepower 187 horsepower at 6,000 rpm 
Torque 186 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm
Transmission Six-speed automatic 
Drive Layout All-wheel-drive
Fuel Economy (city/highway) 24/30 mpg
Starting Price $26,800

2022 Subaru Outback - $27,645

The Best Cars Under $35,000 Exterior
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There’s no denying that wagons are arguably the most practical breed of vehicles out there. So, how could our list not contain a wagon? We’ve picked this Japanese wagon because it features a rugged look and gives you the confidence to take it on any terrain without thinking twice. The Subaru Outback looks tough on the outside, offers a healthy ground clearance, comes with a spacious cabin, and starts at under $35,000. The 2022 Outback is offered in eight trims, thus catering to a wide audience. While half the lineup is powered by a 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine and the other half with a 2.4-liter, turbocharged four-pot mill, both the options come with all-wheel-drive as standard. But, if you’re looking for a car that can fill your adrenaline cravings every now and then, look elsewhere. Both the engines are far from enthusiastic and the CVT just makes matters worse. The 2022 Subaru Outback can tow up to 3,500 pounds on the turbocharged engine and 2,700 pounds on the Outbacks mated to a naturally aspirated mill. Three of its trims fall under the $35,000 bracket, thus making the Subaru Outback a strong contender in this list.

2022 Subaru Outback
Engine  2.5-liter, four-cylinder
Horsepower 182 horses at 5,800 rpm
Torque 176 pound-feet at 4,400 rpm
Transmission CVT
Drive Layout All-wheel-drive
Fuel Economy (city/highway) 32/26 mpg
Starting Price $27,645

2022 Kia Sorento - $29,590

The Best Cars Under $35,000
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The 2022 Kia Sorento is a jack of all trades. It covers all the bases that folks in this price segment will be looking at. The only major flaw in this SUV is the cramped third row. And, when I say cramped, it’s cramped for adults, not kids. The third row sure takes a hit on the cargo capacity as well, but if you’re okay with a few of these cons, the Sorento will serve you well. The Kia Sorento’s cabin otherwise is a nice place to be, with premium material used all around and enough tech features to keep the non-tech savvy people happy. The Sorento is also available with a plug-in hybrid setup, thus making it quite efficient when it comes to sipping gas. For a starting price of $29,590, the 2022 Sorento is a well-equipped package and it makes a strong case for itself to feature in this list of best cars under $35,000.

2022 Kia Sorento
Engine  2.5-liter, four-cylinder 
Horsepower 191 horses at 6,100 rpm
Torque 181 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm
Transmission Eight-speed automatic
Drive Layout Front-wheel-drive (AWD optional)
Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined) 24/29/26 mpg
Starting Price $29,590

2023 Mini Countryman - $29,600

The Best Cars Under $35,000
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Even though we’re an enthusiastic community, we understand that not everything is about what’s under the hood. Keeping that strictly in mind, we’ve added this novelty to the list – the Mini Countryman. Gone are the days when Mini produced namesake cars. Models like the Countryman are far from compact. In fact, it is the largest Mini model on sale and the automaker calls it an SUV. The quirky car grabs a lot of attention on the road even today. Step inside and you’ll be welcomed to a very practical cabin, something you couldn’t say about Minis of the yore. The circular elements still take prominence inside the cabin, like the infotainment system in the round housing, the circular door hands, round dials, etc. What will impress you the most is the space. The 2023 Countryman can seat five adults rather comfortably, but, it directly affects the cargo space, which is just about adequate. However, that’s not the worst thing about the car. The Countryman’s Achilles’ heel is its powertrain; especially the puny three-pot engine that struggles to lug the 3,400-pound car. If you opt for the 2023 Mini Countryman, we’d strongly suggest you choose the four-cylinder option that can be had for less than $35,000.

2023 Mini Countryman
Engine  2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder 
Horsepower 189 horses at 5,000 rpm
Torque 206 pound-feet at 1,350 rpm
Transmission Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic 
Drive Layout Front-wheel-drive (AWD optional)
Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined) 23/31/26 mpg
Starting Price $29,600

2022 Cadillac CT4 - $33,695

The Best Cars Under $35,000
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The Cadillac CT4 has just about made the cut since it starts at a little over $33,000. The CT4 is the entry-level Cadillac and gives you a taste of the premium segment at a not-so-high cost. Cadillac’s styling has always been pretty good, and the CT4 is no exception. This sedan looks smart and has a good road presence. Considering the price point and the fact that it sits at the bottom of the hierarchy, the 2022 CT4 doesn’t offer the utmost bang for the buck. It comes with things like an eight-inch touchscreen system, a dual-zone climate control, etc. that aren’t necessarily luxurious features these days. It isn’t the most spacious car in the segment either. The Cadillac CT4 comes with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-pot mill as standard, but a 2.7-liter engine is also available as optional. The car is known for its sharp handling dynamics and will keep you entertained when you push it hard. The higher trims are, of course, more desirable, but for the badge and the luxurious appeal, the CT4’s starting price of $33,695 is justified.

2022 Cadillac CT4
Engine  2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower 237 horses at 5,000 rpm
Torque 258 pound-feet between 1,500- and 4,000 rpm
Transmission Eight-speed automatic (10-speed optional)
Drive Layout Rear-wheel-drive (AWD optional)
Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined) 23/34/27 mpg
Starting Price $33,695

2022 Mercedes-Benz A-Class - $33,950

The Best Cars Under $35,000
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The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is the entry point into the German marque, and this is where you get to know what luxurious cars feel like. Mind you, it isn’t extraordinarily plush, but it isn’t your average run-of-the-mill car either. It has the signature Mercedes styling on the outside and the inside, and it is loaded pretty well, too. While it has a small footprint, the car is pretty spacious on the inside for a small car. But, all the space offered inside the cabin negatively impacts the cargo space. The 40/20/40 split seat, however, could provide some relief. A seven-inch touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an eight-speaker sound system round off the tech features. If we had to compare it to the entry-level cars from the other premium brands, we’d say that the 2022 A-Class sedan is a better package overall. That said, as is with any luxury brand, most of the creature comforts are available through packages, that will push the envelope a lot higher than $35,000. It must also be noted that the A-Class will exit the U.S. market after 2022.

2022 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Engine  2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder 
Horsepower 188 horses between 5,500- and 6,100 rpm
Torque 221 pound-feet between 1,600- and 4,000 rpm
Transmission Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive Layout Front-wheel-drive (AWD optional)
Fuel Economy (city/highway) 24/35 mpg
Starting Price $33,950

2022 Audi A3 - $34,800

The Best Cars Under $35,000 High Resolution Exterior
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If you’re a fan of Audi and have a $35,000-budget, you should look into the A3. Audi brought in the third-gen A3 for the 2022 model year, and it is an upgrade in pretty much every sense while retaining the driving dynamics that it is known for. It now comes with things like a 10.1-inch touchscreen system, a tri-zone automatic climate control, more tech features, and a plusher interior. In the U.S., the 2022 A3 is available only in the sedan form, whereas the other markets receive the Sportback version as well. The 2022 A3 is offered in three trims and all of them receive the same 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood. You can also opt for the famed Quattro all-wheel-drive system if you’re willing to shell out some more moolah. But, if all you want to do is get onto the German premium bandwagon with this near-perfect sedan, you’ll have to pony up a shade under $35,000.

2022 Audi A3
Engine  2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower 201 horses
Torque 221 pound-feet 
Transmission Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive Layout Front-wheel-drive (Quattro AWD optional)
Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined) 29/38/32 mpg
Starting Price $34,800

2022 Volvo XC40 - $35,100

The Best Cars Under $35,000 Exterior
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We’re breaking the ‘under $35,000’ rule here because the 2022 Volvo XC40 starts at $35,100, but it would be a sin to not include it just because it’s over the line by a hundred bucks. The 2022 XC40 might be our pick of this list for what it offers as a whole. The baby SUV from the Swedish company comes with the trademark understated Scandinavian aesthetics that probably has no haters. Although a compact SUV, Volvo has done a fantastic job of providing a spacious cabin and a well-designed layout. There is ample tech and doesn’t miss out on anything much at this price point, but the infotainment system is not as slick as what the rival premium brands offer. We would suggest you look at the higher trims as well, but if you’re on a strict budget and aren’t comfortable stretching beyond $35k, the Volvo XC40 crossover might be your best bet at getting a jack of all trades.

2022 Volvo XC40
Engine  2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower 187 horses
Torque 221 pound-feet 
Transmission Eight-speed automatic
Drive Layout Front-wheel-drive (AWD optional)
Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined) 23/32/26 mpg
Starting Price $35,100
Sidd Dhimaan
Sidd Dhimaan
Managing Editor, Truck Expert, EV Expert - siddhant.d@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. Fast forward to today, and he is currently serving as a managing editor, pickup truck expert, and EV expert.  Read full bio
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