Not long ago, the latest in new car technology came only with luxury models. But now, shoppers can find high-tech features -- from connections for smartphones to safety warning devices -- on lower-priced models. With buyers increasingly expecting such tech features, manufacturers are responding.
Analysts at Kelley Blue Book and its kbb.com website have come up with a list of tech-loaded cars for under $20,000. In some cases, adding all available options will take you over that price, but all models have a Kelley "fair purchase price" -- or average selling price -- that starts below $20,000.
Here is a closer look at seven of these 2015 cars.
The Mazda3 is praised by reviewers as fun to drive with excellent handling and precise steering. Kelley analysts say it is the "tech-savviest car you can get for under $20,000."
Safety features include rearview camera, lane departure warning and forward collision warning -- all features that started in luxury cars. And it's the only car on this list that offers so-called head-up display, which can show navigation and other information on the windshield for drivers to read without looking away from the road. The Kelley selling price is $17,441, although you'll pay more if you get all the tech options.
Boasting an especially roomy interior, the Fit is ranked as the No. 1 affordable small car by reviewers surveyed by U.S. News Best Cars. Standard tech features include a multi-angle backup camera and Bluetooth connection for smartphones. The Kelley selling price starts at $16,545. If you pay more for other tech options, they can include a blind spot camera -- the only one available among subcompact cars.
In the fast-growing subcompact SUV class, the Renegade is praised for its versatility. As shoppers would expect from a Jeep, it can handle difficult off-road terrain but still has a comfortable ride on paved highways. Kelley analysts like the easy-to-use Uconnect infotainment system with a 7-inch screen. The Kelley price for the Renegade starts at $18,325 with two-wheel drive but jumps to $20,255 if you opt for four-wheel drive.
Reviewers characterize the Corolla as a dependable, comfortable commuter car but less fun to drive than some competitors. Standard tech features include a Bluetooth connection for cell phones. Kelley analysts praise the optional Entune infotainment system as easy to use in looking at navigation, weather and traffic information. The Kelley price of the popular Corolla LE is $17,542.
Analysts at kbb.com praise the Dart for its roominess and sporty handling. And in an area analysts note that often frustrates new car owners, the Dodge Uconnect infotainment system is one of the easiest to use. In addition, the 8.4-inch touch screen is bigger than those from competitors. That system is among optional tech features, along with a backup camera and navigation. The Kelley price for the popular SXT version of the Dart is $18,628.
Reviewers praise the Impreza for its balanced handling and comfortable ride. And Kelley analysts point out that tech features here focus on safety. Like all Subarus, the Impreza comes with all-wheel drive, and a rearview camera also is standard.
The car's so-called Eyesight optional package includes some of the latest safety gear such as lane departure warning. Also adaptive cruise control keeps the car at a certain distance from the vehicle ahead, and pre-collision braking hits the brakes automatically if the system senses a collision is imminent. The Kelley price on the base Impreza is $19,070.
Reviewers praise the Forte for its roomy and well-designed cabin. Kelley analysts note that Forte tech features include LED accent lights and heated steering wheel. And they say the optional Uvo connection system makes it easy to manage music and phone calls. And the system lets you send a navigation destination from your computer straight to the Forte. The Kelley price on the base model is $17,325.