High tech, low price: Most tech-savvy cars under $30,000

Cars can be equipped with some truly amazing gadgetry these days, but everyone has a budget. For those whose lives don’t inspire the hatred of Occupy Wall Street, it’s all about getting the most features for the least amount of money.

We’ve already covered the most tech-savvy cars for under $20,000, so now we’re moving the bar up to $30,000. Within that $10,000 range, there’s a remarkable variety of tech-filled vehicles.

Much of the equipment mentioned here is optional, but each vehicle should still ring in under $30k when everything is tallied up, Check with your dealer regarding availability.

Chevrolet Malibu

It may look drab on the outside, but on the inside the Chevy Malibu packs tons of tech.

The 2015 Malibu was the first vehicle to get General Motors’ OnStar 4G LTE system and its built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. It’s also available with Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system, which features a seven-inch touchscreen and Pandora and Stitcher apps.

Apple users can also benefit from Siri Eyes Free, which allows Siri to operate through the car’s own controls and speakers for a less-distracting experience.

There’s a redesigned Malibu coming for 2016 with a host of new features, including an optional full-hybrid powertrain. But if you can’t wait to buy a new car, the current generation still provides plenty of tech for the money.

Ford Focus

Want your Ford a little closer to the ground? Check all of the option boxes and you can have a Focus with an 8-inch LCD touchscreen for its MyFord Touch system, plus a navigation system with integrated SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link services.

HD Radio is standard on the top Titanium model, and you can hear it through an optional 10-speaker Sony audio system.

For 2015, the Focus also gets a revised Sync AppLink feature and standard 4.2-inch central screen on models not equipped with MyFord Touch. Ford’s upgraded Sync 3 systems is coming for 2016 models.

Honda Civic

Honda’s stalwart compact gained some new tech features during a recent refresh. An available seven-inch touchscreen can be paired with the HondaLink system, which divides infotainment functions like navigation and third-party app management into their own “apps.”

Aha integration is part of the package as well, and Siri Eyes Free is also available for users with compatible iPhones.

Honda CR-V

The CR-V received a significant update

for the 2015 model year, adding features that make it a more attractive choice in terms of tech options. The facelift included more standard equipment, including a Display Audio system with 7.0-inch touchscreen (one EX models), plus Bluetooth, Pandora, and a built-in text-messaging function.

Connectivity features are matched by electronic aids that help the driver. The CR-V can be equipped with the Honda Sensing suite of safety technologies, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, and Honda’s Collision Mitigation Braking System and LaneWatch features.

Hyundai Sonata

Redesigned for 2015, the Sonata boasts available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as two major feathers in its cap. Hyundai claims to be the first carmaker to offer the systems, which provide a layer of functionality specific to their respective phone operating systems, on a volume production model.

The Sonata also features a comprehensive infotainment system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen and navigation, and Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics service. The latter even allows drivers to control certain car functions from a smartphone or smartwatch with an app. Things like locking and unlocking the doors can be done with a simple voice command.

Kia Optima

Kia’s midsize sedan boasts HD Radio and a 4.3-inch TFT gauge cluster on its option list, along with more-standard tech fare like navigation and standard Bluetooth voice control.

Also available is Kia’s Uvo eServices telematics system, which allows drivers to remotely monitor their cars via smartphone with features like geo fencing, speed alerts, and curfew alerts.


The Mazda3 offers tech-savvy buyers plenty of choices.

Its optional Mazda Connect infotainment system and navigation system can be controlled by voice or by a console-mounted rotary controller, something normally seen only in more upscale cars.

The seven-inch center-stack display is also a touchscreen, so it can be controlled that way as well.

There are also numerous audio options, including SiriusXM satellite radio and Pandora, Stitcher, and Aha Internet radio integration. So not only will passengers fight over which song to listen to, they’ll fight over which services to use.

Nissan Altima

“NASA-inspired” front seats aren’t the only space-age features of the Nissan Altima sedan. The available NissanConnect with Mobile Apps system includes apps for Google navigation, Pandora (Android only), Facebook, and iHeart Radio.

The Altima also features hands-free text-messaging, with a system that even includes pre-set responses such as “driving, can’t text” or “running late.”

Subaru Legacy

The freshly redesigned Subaru Legacy has several notable tech features. An LCD display is mounted between the new dashboard’s analog gauge pods, while an available 7-inch touchscreen sits on the center stack.

Subaru offers navigation and its Starlink smartphone integration system, as well as a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

Moving out from the cabin, the Legacy is also offered with EyeSight, Subaru’s camera-based safety system. EyeSight scans the road ahead for obstacles, and comes with both adaptive cruise control and automatic braking functions.

One more nifty feature is a set of fog lights that turn with the steering wheel for a little extra illumination on twisty roads.

Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is awash with apps. The available Entune App Suite includes Bing, Facebook Places, iHeart Radio and Pandora, among others, all accessed through a 6.1-inch touchscreen or voice controls.

Particularly relevant to drivers is the Yelp real-time information feature, which includes local traffic, weather, and fuel prices, as well as sports scores and stocks updates.

If those stocks take a plunge, you can call your broker hands-free using Bluetooth.

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