Top 10 Affordable Rear-Wheel-Drive Cars: Catch ‘em While You Can

Top 10 Affordable Rear-Wheel-Drive Cars: Catch ‘em While You Can
Share this Article

1. smart fortwo -- $12,490

Bet you didn’t expect to see a smart car on this list, but believe it or not Daimler’s little runabout is actually rear-wheel drive. It also features a rear-mounted engine, just like the Porsche 911. But that’s where the similarities between these two vehicles end. Zuffenhausen’s legendary sports car is just that, an automotive icon, the smart is anything but. In fact it’s probably one of the worst cars on the road today. It earns that dubious title thanks to its absolutely horrifying driving experience courtesy of what is likely the clunkiest automatic transmission ever built; it also delivers pretty substandard fuel economy with enough noise and vibration to run a rock tumbler. Still, it’s affordable and rear-wheel drive, which has to count for something, right? No? Nevermind.

  • smartacus

    Thank You for completing your irrelevance to automotive journalism, Cole.  

    -Every last automotive ignoramus knows it’s an automated manual and not an automatic with a torque converter (if you don’t believe me, i defy you to ask ANY high-school cheerleader and undocumented worker)

    -Its “substandard fuel economy” is only the best non-hybrid non-diesel fuel economy for the last 5 years strong.

  • Hubert

    That’s a bit harsh and you’re a douche. Great article, but I don’t get it, why don’t the pictures in the tiles don’t line up with the cars. doesnt makesense.

  • smartacus

    Don’t misunderstand; I’m second to none in being happy for your considering me a “douche” :)
    But the author indeed lost his journalistic objectivity, thereby reflecting negatively on AUTOGUIDE. 

    Single unfortunate sentences or paragraphs have always been the proverbial “kiss of death” to many young aspiring people before and he won’t be the last to be let go for a hotheaded mistake.

    It’s part of the game.

  • Andy Milonakis

    Which sentence are you referring to?

  • http://dbcooper.livejournal.com P.F. Bruns

    Traditionally, “SS” at Chevrolet tends to stand for “Super Sport.” In this case, it might be understood to mean either that, “Sport Sedan,” or even both.

    Or was Mr. Cole making a funny? :)

  • smartacus

    Hi Andy Milonakis,
       on page 11; he calls it an automatic transmission when he knows full well it is not.  It is clearly a manual transmission in a vehicle without enough room for clutch pedal linkage. 
    He also tells us it has “substandard fuel economy”  when he is in complete knowledge that what he just wrote is exactly opposite of any reality or hallucination.  It has only the best non-hybrid and non-diesel economy in the USA for the last 5 years.

          Because his other articles are conveniently available for everyone to see,  it unfortunately becomes an inescapable and irrefutable fact that indeed he did not make an honest mistake.  He did know better, yet chose to MISINFORM. 

  • http://dbcooper.livejournal.com P.F. Bruns

     I think AutoGuide must have edited the slideshow since you posted. They’re lining up for me.

  • http://dbcooper.livejournal.com P.F. Bruns

     Okay, I’ll spot you the “worst car on the road today” opinion, as that’s certainly debatable.

    However, on fuel economy, I think a great deal depends on whose figures one accepts. The EU rates the smart fortwo at a combined city/highway fuel economy of 50 miles per (US) gallon, but the US EPA only rates it at a combined 36 miles per (US) gallon.

    The Chevy Spark gets 34 and spots you two extra seats and less NVH in the bargain. Sure, it’s front-wheel drive, but other than that, is one MPG per extra seat too much of a sacrifice?

  • smartacus

    Yep.  By your own reply; you are absolutely correct P.F.: It was categorically wrong for him to write “substandard fuel economy”  even when compared to a FWD Chevy Spark which has two extra seats.

     Imagine if he wrote an article describing the Spark as having “substandard fuel economy” because the Mazda5 has an extra row of seats, holds a ton more cargo, and tows a larger trailer.

    *He can write about worst car on the road today or  horrifying driving experience all he wants.  That’s still OK, that’s just personal opinion.  But once he crosses the line and starts writing non-truths about it- and then another non-truth; he loses that all important journalistic credibility that takes years to build up and minutes to lose, and razes the entire AUTOGUIDE down to nothing more than a blog that any valley girl can write.

  • Beauregard Jackson

    Can you people lay off? This whole line of discussion is absurd. While AutoGuide clearly would have escorted any other writer to the curb after such an egregious assault against the noble smart fortwo, Mr. Cole is a high-functioning mentally disabled person.

    I for one (by the way “forone” would be a fantastic name for a smart brand motorcycle) think the fine folks at AG should be offered a hearty handclasp for taking one of society’s whimpering castoffs into their employ. Before Cole rose up the ranks here at everyone’s favorite automotive informational website log, you would not have been surprised to find him swabbing the terracotta tiles or accidentally knocking over your Mr. Pibb at the local Long John Silvers.

    Making offputting Nazi references and calling an automated manual an “automatic”? These are not mere missteps or deliberate slights. This is the stuff of a disease-ravaged mind.

    So folks, I implore you to stop all your hand wringing and instead tip your hats to AutoGuide for taking one for the team. Be happy that this fellow is in his basement playing at being a journalist instead of outside of his van offering passersby bites of his fish sticks.

    P.S. – For all the hatred spewed haplessly by Cole and others about the smart transmission, I cannot bring myself to understand it. Having driven this four-wheeled wonder on multiple occasions, I find I quite like the sensation of a good sphincter clench, which is what happens each time you try to make a left turn through an intersection as the transmission pauses for a moment to shift into the next gear. Plus, my doctor tells me it’s good exercise for my heart. He’s a Ph. D. but still.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Valdez/1363915467 Richard Valdez

    LOL!!! the smart  in first place!!! 370Z should be at least top three !!

  • http://dbcooper.livejournal.com P.F. Bruns

    This would make sense if the Mazda5 were in the same class of car, as the Chevy Spark and the smart fortwo are.

    Both the Spark and the smart fortwo are classified as city cars. The Mazda5 is an MPV.

  • smartacus

    I believe you meant to say ” This would make sense if the Spark were RWD”

      *feel free to re-read the title of the article where it mentions something about um… what’s it called again- 
    Oh yeah, Rear-Wheel-Drive Cars

  • http://dbcooper.livejournal.com P.F. Bruns

     You don’t get to tell me what I meant to say. I said what I meant. I was comparing cars in the same class, regardless of drivetrain, and you weren’t. That the Spark is front-drive is immaterial for my comparison; it just means that the Spark didn’t qualify to be included in this article.

    FYI, neither would the front-drive Mazda5 (also available in four-wheel drive, but not rear-drive).

    So, snarkatus, please feel free to keep moving the goal posts, but you’re still going to fall short of the mark.

    You remain wrong.

  • smartacus

     Okaaaay so you meant what you said.

    Not only is Spark being front-drive NOT immaterial for your consumption comparison; in fact, it’s the most important aspect.

     At this time; I should introduce you to a brilliant discovery they call “physics”.
    Say it with me: fizix.  Very good!!  

    In this wonderful discipline “physics”  we find the axiom:
    IT TAKES LESS EFFORT TO PULL THAN PUSH

    Tomorrow, we learn about ” the birds and the bees”
                                                                           -snarkatus ;)

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3Y7XQFATNLYKNHD6WGJUWHCXYQ JT

    Scion IQ. 36 in town 37 on the highway. smart is 34/38. The IQ has 36.5 combined to smarts 36. Before you point out the smart has better highway MPG, lost of cars are rated at 38-40 on the highway. so no its not the best.

  • smartacus

    What do you mean lots of cars? 
    As in lots of cars that just came out in the last 16 months maybe?

    -And most of those wouldn’t even be around if it weren’t for three things:
    gas prices lifting off into orbit
    CAFE increases signed into law scheduled to start kicking in for 2016
    and seeing smart doing it.

    *For a Rear Wheel Drive car that was introduced way back in 2007 and is still the thriftiest non-hybrid non-diesel non-Geo… Not only is it incorrect to  say “it’s not the best”; but it’s incorrect to say “it’s one of the best”

  • John

    the  2013 Hyundai Elantra should be included with the most popular compact cars,much more reliable than the Caolla.

  • Alfred Bundy

    How can you not just LAUGH at anyone who drives a smart golf cart!  What a joke that is.  And I have a bridge to sell you if you believe the safety data on it!

  • Daz

    What a joke list. Waste of time reading it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.robertson.940 Randy Robertson

    Well even though it only gets 16 MPG , I won’t give up my 2011 Wrangler Unlimited,I don’t care what the Government says!!! The U.S. Government can kiss my Red White & Blue , Jeep Driving American Ass..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005098265793 Michael Todd

    Honda S2000 oh yea u forgot about this powerhouse!

  • Daniel Hannestad

    The cars are rated after price. :-)

  • Sky

    “Curiously named”? Instant loss of credibilty as a car person. Chevy has been badging their cars with the Super Sport logo, since they first sold the package on the 1961 Impala. The package was for ever linked with classic high performance Chevy V8 muscle cars like the Camaro, Chevelle, El Camino, Monte Carlo, and Nova and of course the Impala. Nazis? Ships? Are you serious? You might as well suggest that Ford’s Famous GT (Grand Turismo) badging might mean, Guatemalan Terrorist. That’s how stupid you sound. If you said that around a group car buffs, they shrug you off and ignore all your comments for the rest of the conversation. You sound like some chick, watching a football game and asking why the guys are all wearing helmets. “Where are they going? Space?” She’s the only one laughing, because she sounds dumb.

  • Sky

    Excuse my several typos. I meant, *forever*, *Gran Turismo* and *they would shrug you off*. Ford boldly borrowed GT from the Italians who badged cars like Ferrari with the grand touring designation. I’m sorry, but anyone who cracks dumb Nazi jokes, like they’ve never heard of GM’s long standing Super Sport line, does not sound very car savvy to me. I mean come on! The SS badging has been on GM products for well over 50 years now. It’s only “curiously named” if you know absolutely nothing about GM cars.

  • DoomsdayJesus

    The only reason it’s curiously named is because SS has always been an appendage to a name, not a standalone model. But yeah, they should have known it stood for super sport.

  • madman

    S2000 ended production a few years ago

  • Shawn Merrill

    Hows that Italian jeep?

  • 68Cougar

    You are absolutely right. Anybody who doesn’t know what SS stands for should not be writing about cars. I don’t even like Chevy but I know what they make.

  • Emperor_of_Night

    Too bad the Tata Nano is not sold outside of India. It would squarely beat the Smart on this list in price, passenger capability and looks.

  • Emperor_of_Night

    Having said that, I’ve never considered before the Smart Fortwo to be a “car”, more like a golf cart.

    However, last night I watched on Youtube one of those “Car walk around, engine sound, drive around” videos about the Smart, and I changed my mind, if I lived in the USA I would probably buy one for the following reasons:
    1) I’m a single man, and love big cities.
    2) Gasoline is freaking expensive over there.
    3) I like rear-engined cars and cheap cars.
    4) The engine exhaust sounds better than I thought.
    5) I’ve driven cars with sequential transmission before and they’re fun.
    6) Bad Petrolheads just HATE this car. (Just read the stupid Smart “review” on this same article for an example) I consider myself a “good” petrolhead, one who choose cars on what he really likes, instead of what would people think about him. And at least they won’t say I’m compensating for something haha :)

  • Chris

    You and everybody else complaining about the SS thing are pretty fucking
    dense or don’t know anything about history. That joke not only went
    over your head it skimmed the Moon and colonized Mars. The SS
    (Schutzstaffel) were Nazi special forces more or less. The joke being on the SS of Chevy. But since you seem more dense than a lead brick I doubt you’ll understand.

  • Tony

    The Chevrolet SS should no longer be on this list now as the official MSRP of it is around $44k. The Hyundai Genesis should replace the SS on the list as the MSRP of the Genesis is around $35k.

  • Raygun

    I own an older wrangler,love it except the 210 miles I get to a tank on 18 gallons.
    I bought a smart fortwo to supplement the Jeep 6 months ago. The Jeep has been started 3 times, 2 to move it and once to take it on the road just for the sake of charging the battery.

    People that complain about the transmission don’t understand it or don’t know how to drive it. I feel safer in this car than I do on any motorcycle every produced in the history of mankind. People that scoff at the mileage are morons, I get from 37 to 45 depending on how I drive and what that means is going from mad man to not so mad man. I constantly run the car at 85 and it feels fine.

    People that don’t like smart cars are people who like their cars to drive them.

  • Ed

    Hey GM!!! Four doors, Four cylinder turbo, RWD w/300+ hp , under 3k lbs, 6+ speed, 30+mpg, equipped
    under 30k… Got it???

  • liberal_forward

    The Honda S2000 smokes all these cars–the best RWD affordable sports car ever made. The 240 hp naturally aspirated engine combined with unbelievable handling has yet to be matched in the marketplace.

  • liberal_forward

    S2000 still the best RWD affordable car in the history of automobiles. Ten plus years after its introduction and still no worthy challnegers (the Toyobaru BRZ/FR-S comes close but falls short). Buy a used S2000–it’s a no brainer.

  • liberal_forward

    S2000 still the best RWD affordable sports car in the history of automobiles. Ten plus years after its introduction and still no worthy challengers (the Toyobaru BRZ/FR-S comes close but falls short). Buy a used S2000–it’s a no brainer.

  • Marvin

    I am fortunate enough to own a 2014 Shelby convertible that gets 18 mpg combined driving. This mileage has been attainable due to the fact that I don’t lift the front end every time I drive it or shift gears. Every now and then I put the pedal to the metal to make sure all the horses are still there but most of the time I just cruise. My wife’s 2011 V6 with 305 hp averages 26 mpg only because she has a lead foot but we both enjoy our Mustangs on short or long trips. It’s hard to beat performance, handling and comfort in these cars. BTW I also own a 1967 Shelby GT350 that gets 8-10 MPG as long as I don’t nail it in every gear.

  • pwnall1337

    Do you only drive on the high way or something? I had a 2012 v6 auto and I averaged 21 at best. I had a 2013 shelby gt500, I was lucky to get 13-14 averaged. explain this shit

  • pwnall1337

    2 doors and ford. it’s called 2015 ecoboost mustang.

  • Ed

    Sure, I like it, nevertheless it is slated over twice as heavy as my 93 operable fastback 2.3 while missing 2 doors for families and has been missing for over twenty years. I think I’ll opt for a ecoboost transplant into my 93 when the turnkey package comes back to earth and I think wait till GM or Chrysler or Ford offers what I and many others are waiting for, an inline, lightweight, ecoboost, rear wheel burning sedan. Peace

  • Jonathan

    Yes, how are these cars considered AFFORDABLE?!

  • Cypeq

    First of all this is not at all affordable cars… all of them are entry level performance cars.
    so… number one is considered absolutely terrible car but it’s number one on the list so it’s the best but also the worst how so? Did the author had a little bit of bipolar event ?

  • Arlan Moreno

    I know this car is not RWD, but what about the Subaru Impreza? AWD and below 20 grand. This is the base version not the WRX or STI.

  • Arias J. Aune

    The Chevy SS stands for Super Sport… The SS trim level as been around for (I wanna say over 50 years I think) I really wish their writers would do a little bit of research before making a dumbass comment like compairing the car to a Nazi war machine.

  • Guest

    I’ll never buy another Ford. I have a 2014 GT with track pack and have had nothing but trouble with eh driveshaft, tranny input bearing, and rear diff. These were all repalced at 5K and now they are up for replacement again at 15K. This car is a turd. All the power in the world means nothing, when the car is junk. #lemon.

  • Frank Joseph De Salvo

    I’ll never buy another Ford. I have a 2014 GT with track pack and have had nothing but trouble with the driveshaft, tranny input bearing, and rear diff. These were all replaced at 5K and now they are up for replacement again at 15K. This car is a turd. All the power in the world means nothing, when the car is junk. #lemon.

  • Ed

    With no boosted 4 cyl, RWD offered even still for 2015, WHY would GM offer this Gas Hog,
    W gas soon heading N. of $5.00 a gallon, considering Chinas recent title of greatest auto consumer? What a waste of money$$$$$$$$ and still NOTHING on 4 cylinder, RWD, Sedan?????????