• Least Expensive Car in the USA, UTV Side by side alternatives and Replacing an old Nissan Pathfinder [Ask Nathan]

    Roman and Nathan

    In this week’s Ask Nathan:

      • Where can I find the least expensive car?
      • Can’t even afford a very used side-by-side!
      • Can you help me replace my ’01 Nissan Pathfinder?

    This first question comes from a viewer who wants the least expensive car offered in the United States.

    2016 Nissan Versa Sedan
    2016 Nissan Versa Sedan

    Q:I know Roman does all of the expensive cars and Nathan likes cheap cars. Can you guys help me?

    Can you tell me which car is the least expensive to buy? I see prices in the $17,000 for “inexpensive” new and used cars and I become depressed. I want something that is mine from the very begging and something that I only pay $200 or less every month! I like driving a stick and that’s all my grandmother drove in India. An automatic or CVT is fine too.

    There has to be something I can buy. I start college soon and need something reliable that gets great MPG because I will be about 40 miles from campus. I live with my grandmother and I have no other overhead.

    What do you think Nathan?


    2015 Nissan Versa
    A: Greetings!

    Great question



    This next question comes from a fan who wants a fun off road buggy (side-by-side), but he has limited finances.

    Q:Greetings from Utah Nathan, I desperately want to buy an off road toy take to the hills.

    I blew all of my money on a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD and I love it. I love it so much, I don’t want to take it off road because I used it as my only transportation and work truck. I love 4X4 side by sides like what Honda and Polaris build, but they are SO EXPENSIVE! I was looking at used ones that have a capacity for four people and even the used prices are high!

    I can scrape together enough for a used, cheap Chinese knock-off two-passenger side by side, but it would be slow, 2X4 and I still want that back seat. I saw one for sale back east for eight grand and it needed a new engine. I’m pretty good with a wrench, but replacing a motor on something that costs that much makes no sense.

    Any suggestions? I would be most definitely grateful.

    Go Broncos!


    A: Hi Matt!

    Excellent question and one that I have thought about for some time. I have an unusual answer for you; why not buy and build-up a Suzuki Samurai? Seriously, they have a similar footprint to many side-by-sides, they are super cheap to buy and rebuild, they hold four people and the Suzuki Samurai is legal to drive on the road in all 50 states.

    I looked one up here in Colorado and a tin-top (non-convertible) in good shape with lots of new parts ran about $3,500.


    This last question comes from a viewer who wants a replacement for his 2001 Nissan Pathfinder.


    Q: Dear Nathan, I am interested in replacing my 2001 Nissan Pathfinder.

    I want something with similar capability, what would be your top choice (used), along with millage/year target to avoid major reliability issues.

    Thanks Brian


    A: Howdy Brian!

    You can’t go wrong with a Toyota 4Runner. The 2005 – 2012 Nissan Pathfinder (R51) is pretty beefy too, great vehicle.

    Either vehicle is affordable and are known for their toughness. Finding an affordable model that has less than 100K miles might be a challenge.

    Look for rust and try to avoid overly modified ones as they may have led a harsh life.

    Best of luck!


    Here’s the last pre-recorded video episode of “Ask Nathan!” After this, “Ask Nathan” will be live on TFLnow (on YouTube) either on Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 10 a.m. MST. We will upload the recorded live broadcast and replace the pre-recorded, studio shows with the recorded live one. Stay tuned!

    Waiting for VIDEO

    Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.

    From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that,as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.

    Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at: asknathan@tflcar.com.

    Nathan Adlen
    Nathan Adlen
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.

    Similar Articles

    6 thoughts on “Least Expensive Car in the USA, UTV Side by side alternatives and Replacing an old Nissan Pathfinder [Ask Nathan]

    1. Nathan… I don’t think that really helped him find the least expensive car.

      Nissan Versa base starts at $11,990.

      Mitsubishi Mirage starts at $12,995

      Chevy Spark starts at $13,000

      There could be incentives on either of them, helping to lower the price.

      If you’re able to finance around $13,000 at 5% (interest rates depend on credit), your payment would be around $210. If you can get 3% APR, it would be around $197.

      If you can score a deal for 0% for 72 months, and finance around $15,000, like maybe a Chevy Sonic, you’d be at $208 per month.

      If you have good credit, you’d be better off buying new, as used cars will command a higher interest rate versus new.

      Hope this helps, S.A.

      1. Agreed. Another point to consider – regardless of what interest rate you are offered/received, you can almost always then find a local credit union with excellent refinancing programs to refinance the loan. I used a credit union who offered a minimum of 2% off your current rate with a floor of 1.9% (so if your current rate was 3% they’d only drop it down as low as 1.9%), and my rate was reduces by 5%!

      2. I have a 2016 Chevy sonic loaded all options hot red 1.8 the car was 21,880 out the door and 380 payments as I and many have bad credit so my interest rate was like 10 percent I think if that helps

    2. Cheapest cars <$12k with discounts:
      Chevrolet Spark-get the manual
      Mitsubishi Mirage-get the manual hatchback
      Nissan Versa-avoid

      Cheap $12-15k with discounts:
      Chevrolet Sonic & Cruze
      Dodge Dart-avoid
      Ford Fiesta & Focus-get the manuals
      Hyundai Accent & Elantra
      Kia Rio, Forte, & Soul
      VW Jetta

    3. Nathan, I think you forgot to paste your answer to the first question.

      I would recommend staying away from the really cheap subcompacts and get a compact. Go test drive the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte. These can be bought for less than $14,000 before tax. Check out cars .com and autotrader .com.

    Comments are closed.