Volkswagen Golf | $24,115
The Volkswagen Golf offers two models for less than $30,000, and they’re both gold. Last year, all Golf models made our 10Best list because they drive like larger, more expensive cars, and their interiors have top-quality materials. The base Golf is powered by a smooth and spunky turbocharged 1.4-liter that makes 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and it’s still possible to get a six-speed manual gearbox. An eight-speed automatic is also available. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, push-button start, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and onboard Wi-Fi. Then there’s the hot hatch that started it all, the spicy Golf GTI, which is packing 228 horsepower. With the standard six-speed manual transmission, it squeaks under our $30,000 cap, but noses over that line with the optional seven-speed DSG automatic.