Weekend Car Shopper: Cars for Greens and Teens

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Toyota Camry
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As car buyers go into the summer months pondering a new set of wheels, AOL Autos does the research on where to find the best July and August closeout deals and has the latest news on which brands offer the best quality.

Just in time for the spike in online car searches, J.D. Power and Associates has released its annual Initial Quality Study, which ranks brands and models based on surveying consumers during the first three months of ownership and the things they mark down as being great or not-so great. The big news for the 2013 ranking is how General Motors bested both Toyota and Honda. Check out the top ranked car in each of the major categories: compact sedan, mid-sized sedan, city car, etc.
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Have you been curious about clean diesel cars? Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes and BMW have long been offering clean diesel cars. VW designates its diesel cars with the "TDI" brand. Now Chevy and Mazda are getting into the game with diesel versions of the Chevy Cruze and Mazda6.

The image of diesels for most consumers ranges from confused to negative. But not only do they get excellent fuel economy (the VW Passat TDI gets well above 40 mpg on highway), but they provide great power and acceleration to the driver. And a University of Michigan study just released shows that a diesel owner can save thousands in overall car ownership costs over three to five years, even when diesel fuel costs more than regular unleaded gas most of the time. Check out the newest clean diesels coming to a showroom near you.

If you just can't get your head around buying a diesel but still want to buy green, then our friends at Kelly Blue Book have come up with their list of the Top 20 Best Green Cars of 2013. And AOL Autos throws in their picks for Worst Three Green Cars.

Shopping for new car for your teen either for high school or to go away to college with? AOL Autos editors, three of whom have children of their own, have picked the best choices for your teen driver to help keep them safe and give mom and dad some peace of mind. Spoiler alert: Neither the Chevy Camaro nor the Ford Mustang are on the list, kids.

Weekend Car Shopper: Cars for Greens and Teens

By Michael Zak | AOL Autos

A recent Interest.com study looked at the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the United States to see which median-income households in those respective areas can afford to purchase a new car, the average price of which was $30,550 in 2012, according to TrueCar. The study found that in only one city can residents actually afford a car with this sticker price -- Washington, D.C.

Households with an average income in Washington, D.C. can afford a payment of up to $628, which would allow for purchase of a $31,940 vehicle. The next closest city, San Francisco, can only afford $537 per month, equating to a $26,786.

While it's not news that Americans like to buy things that they can't afford, the data is a little surprising given how many great cars there are out there for well under $30,000. Solid hybrids, CUVs, sedans and sports cars can all be had for less than this.

We've racked our brains and come up with 5 of the best cars that are cheaper than the average car's purchase price. These are affordable, versatile, fun and fuel efficient. Of course, there are some stinkers in this price range, as well, so we've included 5 vehicles we think you should avoid.

Subaru BRZ

MSRP: $25,495 - $27,495
Invoice: $24,327 - $26,112
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg City, 30 mpg Highway

The Subaru BRZ proves that driving bliss doesn't have to cost a fortune. The rear-wheel drive sports coupe is one of the most engaging vehicles on the road today, with utterly superb dynamics and looks. The best part? You can have one for $25,495.

Research the Subaru BRZ
Subaru BRZ Photos & Information
Subaru BRZ Best Deals
Subaru BRZ Local Dealer Price Quote

Volkswagen Golf

MSRP: $18,095 - $25,200
Invoice: $17,371 - $24,192
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 33 mpg Highway

Although the redesigned 2014 version of this handsome hatch will be on sale in the near future, the current generation is still worth buying. It's fuel efficient, fun and surprisingly versatile. Starting at less than $20,000, the Golf is also quite affordable.

Research the Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen Golf Photos & Information
Volkswagen Golf Best Deals
Volkswagen Golf Local Dealer Price Quote

Toyota Prius v

MSRP: $26,650 - $30,295
Invoice: $24,809 - $28,202
Fuel Economy: 44 mpg City, 40 mpg Highway

The Toyota Pirus v is essentially a bigger version of the popular Prius hybrid. This hatchback acheives stellar fuel economy while allowing for transport of numerous people and all of their stuff. Starting at $26,650, you can have all the benefits of a versatile hybrid for an agreeable price.

Research the Toyota Prius v
Toyota Prius v Photos & Information
Toyota Prius v Best Deals
Toyota Prius v Local Dealer Price Quote

Mazda CX-5

MSRP: $20,995 - $28,595
Invoice: $20,396 - $27,771
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway

The Mazda CX-5 is one of our favorite crossovers here at AOL Autos even when taking more expensive ones into account. Remarkably fun to drive, fuel efficient and starting at a low price, there's a lot to love about this agile utility vehicle.

Research the Mazda CX-5
Mazda CX-5 Photos & Information
Mazda CX-5 Best Deals
Mazda CX-5 Local Dealer Price Quote

MSRP: $16,695 - $21,115
Invoice: $16,208 - $20,218
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway

This small sedan continue to be the darling of both critics and consumers nationwide. Available with tons of standard features, great looks and sweet fuel economy, the Elantra is one of the best cars on the planet right now.

Research the Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai Elantra Photos & Information
Hyundai Elantra Best Deals
Hyundai Elantra Local Dealer Price Quote

MSRP: $18,995 - $32,820
Invoice: $18,770 - $31,334
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg City, 29 mpg Highway

The 200 is a holdover from when Chrysler was owned by Daimler and then private equity-firm Cerberus Capital. It's not that this car is awful, especially since the new Chrysler, managed by Fiat, made a series of improvements. It's that the other cars in this category are so good, and much better designed and engineered.

Research the Chrysler 200
Chrysler 200 Photos & Information
Chrysler 200 Best Deals
Chrysler 200 Local Dealer Price Quote

MSRP: $18,725 - $21,815
Invoice: $17,789 - $20,725
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 31 mpg Highway

The Scion tC is intended to be a sporty coupe. The problem? It's not sporty. At all. In fact, the tC finds itself on the Consumer Reports list of the least fun cars to drive and we're inclined to agree with that assessment.

Research the Scion tC
Scion tC Photos & Information
Scion tC Specs
Scion tC Local Dealer Price Quote

MSRP: $18,995 - $30,795
Invoice: $18,800 - $29,276
Fuel Economy: 19 mpg City, 26 mpg Highway

Short on features and with pretty poor driving dynamics, the Dodge Journey is one you should skip if you're shopping for a sub-$30,000 crossover. We're looking forward to Dodge's next attempt.

Research the Dodge Journey
Dodge Journey Photos & Information
Dodge Journey Best Deals
Dodge Journey Local Dealer Price Quote

MSRP: $25,900 - $29,200
Invoice: $24,452 - $27,507
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway

Don't be fooled by the badge. This is not really a luxury car. With uninspired driving dynamics and a lackluster interior, you should pass on the ILX even though its low sticker price seems very tempting.

Research the Acura ILX
Acura ILX Photos & Information
Acura ILX Best Deals
Acura ILX Local Dealer Price Quote

MSRP: $12,490 - $17,890
Invoice: $11,616 - $16,638
Fuel Economy: 34 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway

The idea of the smart fortwo is great. It's the execution that's the problem. The fortwo is loud, terrible to drive and really isn't all that fuel efficient, considering its size. There are way better options between $10,000 and $20,000.

Research the smart fortwo
smart fortwo Photos & Information
smart fortwo Specs
smart fortwo Local Dealer Price Quote

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