It used to be true that if you wanted a beautiful car, you had to pony up some serious cash. Porsche, Maserati, BMW, Mercedes-Benz -- and those aren't even the truly exotic top of the heap. So, if you wanted attention in your new ride, paying $60K plus wasn't out of the question. But times have truly changed and more automakers have figured out how to infuse their more affordable cars with great style that attracts customers and makes them proud owners.

We've selected five great cars that show off some seriously attractive styling -- and all of them start with a base price less than $30K. Rather than having to settle for something distinctly unattractive and/or boring, any one of these vehicles will provide their owner with a sense of automotive style that just wasn't available at this price even a scant few years ago. And as car design improves and takes even more risks, we imagine they'll only get more attractive as time goes one, which is hard to imagine given the eye candy we see here.

Volkswagen Golf 

Volkswagen Golf

The Golf ($20,175 base MSRP) might not be the most dramatic car on earth, but its design is timeless. The essential shape hasn't changed much since its inception, though it has become more modern in the past two generations. Crisp, clean lines and simple front and rear fascia ensure that this zippy little hatchback will stay stunning for years to come. 

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Chevrolet Malibu

Chevy Malibu

The total redesign of the new Malibu ($21,625 base MSRP) makes the last one look like a bar of soap on wheels. It's clear evidence that designers are putting far more effort into bread-and-butter family sedans than ever before, attracting customers who need practicality but want some attitude. The creases in the Malibu's hood and side are beautifully done, making the car look artfully sculpted. 

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Mazda6

Mazda6

We can't stop praising the Mazda6 ($21,495 base MSRP) for its superb driving dynamics, but let's not forget about the sinewy body thanks to the Kodo design language. Looking like a sleek big car about to pounce, it easily qualifies as one of the best-looking mainstream cars out there. The taut grille and headlights taper back to some powerful fender haunches that seem appropriate for even the exotic cars.

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Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion

The Ford Fusion ($22,260 base MSRP) has been around for a few years now, but it shows no signs of aging. Like a bargain Aston Martin, it sports one the handsomest grilles in the industry, accentuated by thin headlights, a long crease that bisects the door handles and an aggressive hood that shows this family sedan is about looks as much as comfort. It'll be hard for Ford to top this one with the next model.

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Honda Civic 

Honda Civic

Honda has built its Civic ($18,640 base MSRP) compact sedan to look better than the big brother Accord. It sure garners more attention with the dramatic bracket taillights and fastback style. We're hard-pressed to find a more dramatically styled economy car out there and one that makes more expensive cars look desperate to catch up in the design department. It's also a sedan that just happens to look better than the coupe, and that's not easy. 

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