BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Buying a inexpensive automobile used to mean settling for a bland hatchback or sedan, but no more -- as Kelley Blue Book's picks for 2014's Coolest New Cars Under $25,000 show.
"All of these cars are actually fun, stylish and desirable," says KBB Managing Editor Jason Allan, who led a team of Kelley Blue Book experts in finding the hippest models from among 104 new cars that typically sell for $25,000 or less.
Allan says modestly priced vehicles can sometimes offer better looks and handling than costly rivals because expensive models often come with big engines and extra features that add weight.
"When automakers are forced to go for lower price points, that can actually require them to make some compromises that end up making the cars more fun to drive," he says.
The editor adds that vehicles aimed at younger buyers often require fewer creature comforts and less interior space, giving manufacturers more freedom to focus on snazzy looks and sporty performance.
"Younger buyers are certainly in a better position to get something that looks good," Allan says. "For example, they're much more likely to buy a two-door model than someone with a family is."
Read on to check out the five cars KBB editors chose as this year's coolest models under $25,000.
Dollar figures refer to KBB's Fair Purchase Price, an estimate of what a given model is going for based on actual U.S. sales over the past week. Unless otherwise noted, prices also refer to each model's base trim line with manual transmission.