Third-best back-to-school car: 2014 Chevrolet Sonic
Base price: $14,170
The Sonic is one of the lowest-priced cars on KBB's top-five list, but Allan says it's still "a surprisingly good, fun little car. It starts at under $15,000, yet it drives really well."
Available from General Motors (GM) as a sedan or hatchback, the Chevy combines an impressive amount of interior space with good road performance.The base model's manual transmission and 138-horsepower four-cylinder engine get a solid 26 mpg/city and 35 mpg/highway (an optional automatic transmission lowers city-driving efficiency by 1 mpg). There's also an available 138-horsepower turbocharged engine that boosts fuel economy to 29 mpg/city and 40 mpg/highway with a manual transmission or 27 mpg/city and 37 mpg/highway with an automatic. Standard electronics include Bluetooth phone connectivity and General Motors' OnStar emergency-contact system. Higher trim lines also offer satellite radio, smart-phone and iPod connectivity and Chevrolet's MyLink touchscreen stereo system.