Home>News>Top 5 Affordable Cars under $40k for Budget-Conscious Buyers: A Comprehensive Review

Top 5 Affordable Cars under $40k for Budget-Conscious Buyers: A Comprehensive Review

Looking for a budget-friendly car that doesn't compromise on quality and features? Check out our comprehensive review of the top 5 cars under $40,000.

February 16, 2023·15 min read

Getting a new set of wheels is one of the most significant purchases many of us will make in our lifetime.

Whether you’re looking to buy a gas-powered car or switch to a hybrid or electric model, buying a car can be an exciting venture!

Part of that excitement comes from knowing that you’ll soon be able to cruise around town in style. But finding the perfect ride that fits within your $40k budget is a bit of a wild goose chase.

Don't sweat it! You're not on this journey alone. We get it; finding the ideal car is tough. That's why we've got your back with a list of the top 5 cars that won't drain your bank account and give you the perfect mix of affordability, reliability, and style.

From city cars that are easy to park to SUVs with plenty of room, there's a car for you on this list.

Get ready to explore the best cars on offer for under $40k!

Top 5 Cars Under $40k

MG ZST - Driveaway from $25,990* - $33,990*


The MG ZST is one of the top 5 cars under $40k in Australia, and it's got a lot to offer. This baby is wallet-friendly, starting at around $25k. That's a pretty sweet deal for a car loaded with specs. It's got a 1.5-litre turbo engine, which is pretty zippy, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that makes for a smooth ride.

Plus, it’s got plenty of safety features like lane departure and forward collision warnings, which is always a bonus.

When it comes to running costs, the MG ZST is extremely economical for a SUV. It's got a fuel efficiency of around 6.7L/100km, which is pretty good for a car its size. On top of that, this car has a seven-year warranty, which is fantastic insurance.


  • Great value for money - The MG ZST is an excellent value-for-money car that offers a range of features and capabilities at an affordable price point.

  • 7 unlimited km warranty – The comprehensive warranty far exceeds a standard 5-year warranty and gives you an edge in the resale market once you’re looking to trade in.

  • High-tech features - The MG ZST has an impressive range of high-tech features, including a large touchscreen display and a premium audio system.

  • Stylish design - The MG ZST is a stylish car that looks great on the road. It has a modern design with sleek lines and a distinctive front grille that sets it apart from other vehicles.


  • Limited rear space - While the front seats of the ZST are pretty spacious, the same can't be said for the rear seats. If you're planning on carrying adult passengers in the back, they may feel cramped.

  • Lack of all-wheel drive - The MG ZST is only available in front-wheel drive. It may not be the best choice for drivers who frequently encounter slippery or uneven road conditions. Of course, if you live in a mild climate and don't plan to take your car off-road, this may not be a big deal.

  • Sluggish infotainment - The infotainment system isn't the smoothest, which is a downside. We spend a lot of time in our cars, and having a responsive system is increasingly important.


Mazda CX-5 Maxx FWD G20 - Driveaway from $39,689*


Another top-notch car under $40k in Australia is the Mazda CX-5 Maxx FWD G20. And while this only just scrapes in under the 40k mark, we had to include it as it is one of the most affordable mid-sized SUVs on the market.

This baby comes with a 2.2-litre SkyActiv engine that will give you plenty of power for city cruising or hitting the open road for a weekend getaway. It's got a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. And it'll have you handling corners like an expert with its nimble suspension.

As for the running costs, the CX-5 Maxx FWD G20 is a budget-friendly option. The fuel economy is impressive, making it cheaper at the pump. Servicing costs are also reasonable, and you can count on it to be a reliable ride for many years to come.

When it's time to part ways with your car, you can expect a decent resale as Mazda’s are a trusted and reliable brand, synonymous with low maintenance and servicing costs.


  • Stylish and well-designed -It has sleek lines, a bold front grille, and LED headlights that give it a premium look.

  • Premium Interior Space - The interior is well-designed, with high-quality materials, comfortable seats, and a user-friendly infotainment system.

  • Smooth and agile handling - The CX-5 has responsive handling, making for a smooth ride. This makes it a pleasure to drive on both city streets and highways. The suspension system is tuned for sporty handling while still providing a comfortable ride for passengers.


  • Limited rear passenger space - While the CX-5 is a mid-size SUV, the rear passenger space is limited. Taller passengers may find the legroom and headroom tight, especially on longer journeys.

  • Pricey AWD option – The AWD Maxx Sport will bring the price up to $46,346* which is a big price difference for people needing a vehicle that can handle different terrain and weather conditions.


Kia Picanto GT Line automatic - Driveaway from $21,390* - $22,890*


The Kia Picanto GT line is a pint-sized hatchback packs a punch, and for just $21,390 for the automatic, you'll get one heck of a deal.

Kia offers competitive financing options. So, whether you want to buy it outright or make monthly payments, they've got you covered.

Now, let's get into the nitty-gritty of what makes this little car stand out. The Picanto GT comes with a 1.0-litre turbocharged engine that produces 100 horsepower and 172 Nm of torque. It's perfect for city driving and darting in and out of traffic. And with its six-speed automatic transmission, you'll be shifting gears like a pro in no time.

One beautiful thing about the Picanto GT is that it is widely available across Australia. And when it comes to running costs, the Picanto GT is a thrifty little number, with a fuel efficiency of 5.5 litres per 100 km. So, you'll have plenty of coins left over to hit the pub for a cold one after a long day.

If you're considering selling in the future, the Kia Picanto GT is guaranteed to hold its value as a premium and speedy hatchback.


  • Sporty styling - With a sleek body design, bold front grille, and distinctive LED headlights, The Kia Picanto GT has a unique and attractive appearance that sets it apart from other small cars.

  • User-friendly infotainment system - The 7-inch touchscreen display is located in the centre of the dashboard. It provides access to various features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite navigation. The system is user-friendly and intuitive, which makes it easy to control and operate while driving.


  • Limited rear passenger space - The Picanto is a small car, and as such, the rear passenger space is limited. It may be uncomfortable for taller passengers to sit in the back seat for an extended period. This can be a drawback for drivers who need to transport more than two people regularly.

  • Small boot space - Another limitation of the Picanto GT Line automatic is its small boot space. The car has a total boot capacity of 255 litres, which is smaller than other small cars in its class. However, the rear seats can be folded to increase the cargo space.

  • Average ride quality - The Picanto GT Line automatic has a firm suspension system optimized for sporty handling. While this provides good cornering ability and a fun driving experience, it can produce relatively harsh ride quality over uneven road surfaces. This can be uncomfortable for passengers, especially during long journeys.


Hyundai Tucson - Driveaway from $38,942*


The Hyundai Tucson is another affordable car within the compact SUV range, that does not compromise on quality for affordability. The Tucson is packed with all sorts of tech and features, making it one of the most well-rounded cars in its class.

We are sure with the many delays facing the new car market in Australia; you’ll be happy to know that Tucson is widely available across our dealer network. You won't have to search high and low to find a one in stock.

When it comes to specs, the Tucson is fully loaded. It comes standard with a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine. And you can even opt for a turbocharged engine if you want even more power.

The Tucson also has many safety features, like driver attention warning, forward collision-avoidance assist, blind spot collision warning, and lane departure warning. Plus, you'll love the infotainment system, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

We know you're probably thinking about the running cost, and the good news is that Tucson is cheap to run. It's fuel efficient, so you won't have to empty your savings at the pump. Maintenance and repair costs are also low, with pre-paid servicing plans available upon purchase.

The Tucson is a highly sought-after vehicle, making it easy to sell when it's time to move on. Plus, you'll likely get a decent return on your investment.


  • Spacious and comfortable interior - The Tucson offers a roomy and comfortable cabin. It also has a large cargo area, making it ideal for families and those who frequently travel with lots of gear.

  • Attractive styling - Crisp geometric angles, creases and edges provide a striking contrast with its sleek silhouette and powerful wedge lines. The Hyundai Tucson stands out as the next generation of SUV.

  • Affordable pricing - The Hyundai Tucson is competitively priced compared to other compact SUVs on the market. This makes it an excellent value for the features and capabilities it offers.


  • Limited powertrain options - While Tucson's standard engine is fuel-efficient, it may not be as powerful as some drivers prefer. The SUV only has one engine option, which may limit its appeal to some buyers.

  • Limited towing capacity - Tucson's towing capacity is limited, especially when compared to some other compact SUVs. This makes it less suitable for those who frequently need to tow heavy loads or equipment.


Toyota Corolla Cross GX – Driveaway from $36,817* - $39,392*


The Toyota Corolla Cross GX is highly recommended for those searching for a car under $40k as it gives you the option to choose from a 2.0l petrol engine or a hybrid all under the $40k mark.

So, if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly compact SUV that fits within your budget, the Corolla Cross is one of the only hybrid SUV’s available in Australia under $40,000.

The Corolla Cross GX is packed with high-end specifications. It comes equipped with a powerful 2.0-litre that operate naturally without forced induction, allowing for a smooth and responsive driving experience. Additionally, it features a full suite of safety technologies such as automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection, and lane departure warning.

The Corolla Cross GX is the next generation of the prolific Toyota Corolla, which is regarded as one of the most reliable cars on the market. This indicates a confidence in the resale value, you can bring to your next car purchase.


  • Versatile performance - The Corolla Cross has advanced features that allow you to enjoy a smooth and responsive ride no matter where you're going. This includes features such as traction control, stability control, and electronic power steering.

  • Advanced technology - an excellent choice for those who are looking for a car that offers both convenience and entertainment. It Includes: a premium sound system, a touchscreen display audio system, and a rear-view camera.


  • Basic interior features - While the Corolla Cross GX has various standard features, some may find the interior design and technology options basic. For example, the infotainment system lacks support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are increasingly popular features in new vehicles.

  • Limited rear visibility – The sloping roofline and small rear window can make it difficult to see objects behind the vehicle, which may be a concern for some drivers. Additionally, the rear-view camera image quality is not the best, which can hinder reversing.


Wrapping Up

Finding a quality car under $40K is absolutely possible! And we’re here to help!

We’ll take the time to research and compare options, considering factors such as safety, reliability, fuel efficiency, and performance, so you can make a well-informed decision that meets both your budget and your needs.

At carconnect, you can experience a hassle-free and time-saving way of purchasing your dream car. We take care of all the legwork, saving you time and money, and offer guidance from our team of car experts.

Say goodbye to visiting multiple showrooms and dealerships and head over to carconnect to find the right car that fits your budget.

Don't hesitate to give it a go and enjoy a stress-free car-buying experience today!


*RRP is representative of base models and may very based on final vehicle specifications, whilst carconnect makes every effort to keep these prices up to date these prices are subject to change based on manufacturer discretion. RRP may not be inclusive of on-roads, government charges, taxes or levies.
Whilst carconnect expects to be able to source these prices or better for our customers, actual prices will depend on use, final vehicle specifications, payment option, location and availability.


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