Price: $37,495, with up to a $7,500 credit bringing the final price as low as $29,995
The Chevy Bolt is a tough car to accurately price, which is ultimately why it's not actually ranked here. That's a shame, because we've driven it, and the Bolt's combination of efficiency, practicality, and surprisingly good ride and handling characteristics would land it right at the top of "Best New Cars Under $30,000 You Can Buy Right Now."
Theoretically, the $7,500 federal tax credit for EVs brings the effective price of the Bolt to $29,995. All the other cars on this list -- even those that barely squeaked in under the $30,000 limit on paper only -- are available at that price to everyone, but that's not the case with the Bolt, since the $7,500 credit isn't a full $7,500 for everyone. The credit is simply however much you owe in taxes, up to $7,500. So if you owe less than $7,500, you get less... thus making the car more than $30,000. It's confusing, perhaps, but unless every person with $30,000 burning a hole in their pocket can buy a given car, it's not qualified for this list.
Overall, is this list perfect? Not even close, but then again, no list can be. There are many factors that go into the car-buying process, and many of them are deeply personal, nuanced reasons, to which buyers adhere with an almost religious fervor -- Ford vs. Chevy, front- vs. rear-wheel drive, practicality over performance, and so forth -- meaning no one metric can ever be definitive. Perhaps the most interesting takeaway is that the Miata, the Subaru BRZ, and the Ford Fiesta ST -- all small cars that value sportiness above all else -- each fell by the wayside to cars with a more balanced approach. A similar factor left cars like the Chevy Spark EV and Ford C-Max Hybrid SE in the relegation zone for their singular push for efficiency.
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