| -

IRVINE, Calif. — Foreign automakers dominated the list of the 2010 Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000 compiled by Kelley Blue Book editors.

However, the top overall choice went to a domestic manufacturer. Which model received this nod? The 2011 Ford Fiesta.

The rest of the list had two units from Honda, and one each from Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Scion and Suzuki.

Editors from Kbb.com explained that they considered raising the price threshold for this year's least to $20,000.

"Certainly, there are many good cars available for less than $18,000 that will get you from point A to point Z with a minimum of fuss," the editors conceded. "However, many of them also will do it with a minimum of fun."

Beyond examining the vehicles for standard features such as safety, fuel economy, interior size, comfort and technology, KBB noted that it want units for this list that had what it called "‘je ne sais quoi,' that separates the dullards from the brilliant."

Furthermore, fuel efficiency was another hallmark of all of the units the site chose among new vehicles with an MSPR below $18,000.

 "Every year, automakers step up their game in the sub-$18,000 category, and this year is no different from the rest," explained Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kbb.com.

"The marketplace for ‘cool,' versatile, affordable cars, bursting with personality and boasting the same (if not better) technology as some luxury cars with triple their price tags, is only getting more crowded," Nerad continued.

"This signals a great time for car buyers, especially younger first-time buyers or those just looking to save some cash, as steep competition in the under-$18,000 range will inevitably lead to great deals," Nerad went on to say.

Site editors offered additional comments about each of the units they chose for this list.

No. 1: 2011 Ford Fiesta

"Dear Honda Fit: We still really, really like you, and you're still one of the 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000, but we've met someone better looking, nicer inside and even more fun. The 2011 Ford Fiesta isn't just the best domestic sub-compact of all time (which isn't saying much, frankly), the new kid is already the coolest car in its class."

No. 2: 2010 Honda Civic

"The Honda Civic has been on a lot of our accolade lists throughout the years, so what makes it cool enough to be on this one? We like the Civic's futuristic styling inside and out, its highly efficient engine and its available options including a navigation system, Bluetooth and leather interior, all of which are backed by Honda's renowned reputation for reliability. Pretty cool, right?"

No. 3: 2010 Honda Fit

"The Honda Fit's versatility, fuel efficiency and fun-to-drive nature have kept this sub-compact on our list of cool cars since its American debut. Now in its second generation, the Honda Fit keeps its cool with available options like paddle shifters, a navigation system and iPod integration."

No. 4: 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring

"The Hyundai Elantra Touring may be a wagon, but this athletic little hauler turns heads on the road. Inside, the Hyundai hatchback combines clean interior styling, unexpected passenger and cargo room, and standard features like eight airbags and a 172-watt CD audio system with MP3 playback and USB connections to meet all your music needs."

No. 5 2010 Kia Soul

"The 2010 Kia Soul combines the versatility of a sub-compact cargo van, the confident style of a bull dog fashion model and tech-friendliness rivaling the Geek Squad's. It's one modern mix of cool, with a standard equipment list that includes Bluetooth phone connectivity, an auxiliary audio input and iPod integration."

No. 6: 2010 Mazda MAZDA3

"Value and economy are fine reasons to buy a MAZDA3, but there are even better reasons to do so. What makes the MAZDA3 so cool is that its pragmatic nature is accompanied by stand-out styling and legitimately sporting driving dynamics. The MAZDA3 is fun to drive, fun to look at and accessibly priced. In our book that's a hat-trick of cool."

No. 7: 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer

"The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer shares the aggressive styling and attitude of its high-performance Ralliart and EVO variants, but starts at about half the price. The Lancer's crisp handling provides a rewarding connection to the road, and there's enough off-the-line power to get you excited without getting you into trouble."

No. 8: 2010 Nissan Cube

"For the price you'd be hard pressed to find a more distinctly designed car than the Nissan Cube. Its ‘squares meets circles' hyper-modern aesthetic combines with a roomy, flexible interior and modest price tag making the Cube a cool yet practical choice for fashion conscious car buyers."

No. 9: 2010 Scion xB

"Starting trends is always cool. That's why it's no surprise that the Scion xB — the car that started the box-on-wheels trend in America — has made our cool cars list for several years running. Even though the 2010 Scion xB now shares the econo-box stage with the Nissan Cube and the Kia Soul, there's just something uber-hip about tooling around town in the distinctive-looking and fully customizable car that started it all."

No. 10: 2010 Suzuki SX4

"The 2010 Suzuki SX4 is a practical, roomy crossover that also boasts a long roster of standard equipment, including a standard Garmin navigation unit that displays traffic updates, local gas prices and text messages. And did we mention the SX4 is the least expensive all-wheel-drive vehicle available in America? A well-packaged and versatile car is always cool in our book."