Just some random thoughts in case it helps anyone...
A non-car-guy work friend was having car problems and asked me to find him a new car. Naturally, I found him some some awesome used cars, and he immediately declined saying he wants to buy a new car. Single, 30, not a car guy, wants something that will last, doesn’t want to spend a lot.
So naturally that restricts things to Japanese manufacturers. My instinct was to go Rav4, but holy crap! MSRP on base model Rav4s are now $25k! Auto makers bitch that sales are down, and yet even mediocre cars start at over $20k. Yeah. So I had to actually put some effort into looking into new cars.
If cost is your primary concern but you want a lot of tech, the Nissan Kicks is incredible value. Under $19k gets you Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, and Rear Automatic Braking. But it also only comes with a CVT transmission, which until proven wrong, gives it a knock over a proven manual transmission.
What I ultimately recommended was a base model, 2.0L, naturally aspirated, manual transmission, AWD, Subaru Impreza Wagon with a luggage rack. Came in at just over $20k. Great value for an incredibly practical car. Can go on ski trips, haul his stuff 99% of the time, carry a reasonable amount of people, reasonable fuel economy, timing chain so hopefully no forced maintenance there, hopefully doesn’t blow head gaskets with the revised engine, etc.
But since he likes anime, I got to play the Initial D supah dorifto technique game. Last time I was in the market for a new car, the FR-S/BRZ/86 was just about to be released. And if they would have released it at a $20k price point, I would have bit. Instead, it came out at $25k MSRP, which allowed me to justify buying my 996 which I love and has been a great idea so far. Since then, the price has floated up slowly to $27k for a base model. Cool car, but the specs aren’t that different from the $20k Impreza. Really makes me think that Toyota and Subaru really dropped the ball on the FR-S/BRZ/86, as they could have gotten 90% of the performance and feel from a car based off of an existing Subaru or Toyota chassis, just with different body panels and a RWD versus FWD/AWD configuration. 90% wouldn’t have been as cool of a car, but if you could price it 20%+ cheaper, it would probably sell a lot more.
Meanwhile you have the Jalopnik hated 370Z. Yes it is dated, and yes “Your Dad’s 370Z” is your 370Z. But for $3k more than the beloved 86 ($1300 than the beloved BRZ), you can get a 3.5L V6 RWD sports car with an extra 130+ HP. Hate on Nissan all you want, but the Z has become the car equivalent of a KLR650. Dated, but the lack of changes carries over into reduced production costs which carries over into a lower MSRP.