crossovers don't have to be subcompact to be priced at under $20k. In fact, there are a number of entry-level new suvs under $20,000 out there that straddle the line between the compact and mid-size segments. Some of these vehicles pride themselves on providing excellent passenger and cargo room, while others are more off-road oriented. There are a even a few that hone in on budget-conscious buyers by offering a healthy amount of entry-level equipment to go with their appealing price tags.
Let's take a quick look at seven of the best new SUVs under $20,000.
The 2013 Dodge Journey is a vehicle that is difficult to classify, as it offers seven-passenger seating like a minivan but also comes with the option of all-wheel drive as well as more crossover-like styling. The Dodge Journey's 173 horsepower, 2.4-liter base motor is reasonably thrifty with posted highway mileage of 26-mpg, but the 3.6-liter V-6 that is also available with the Journey provides a much more appealing 283 horses while only dropping a single mile per gallon in its highway rating. Four and six-speed automatic transmissions are offered with the Journey, and the SUV can be configured to haul up to 68 cubic feet of cargo.
Best New SUVs Under $20,000 - 02 - 2013 Jeep Patriot
The 2013 Jeep Patriot is perhaps the least-expensive off-road-capable SUV on the market. The Jeep Patriot can be ordered with the Freedom-Drive II Off-Road package, which installs a low-range four-wheel drive system, skid plates, hill descent control, and a few other all-terrain goodies. Of course, a less aggressive all-wheel drive system is also offered with the vehicle for those who will be restricting its travels to snowy highways and rainy back roads. The entry-level Patriot's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder mill generates 158 horsepower, while its available 2.4-liter four-cylinder is good for 172 horses (and is required for Freedom-Drive II). Transmission choices include a five-speed manual and a continuously-variable automatic, and fuel economy for the base engine is listed at 23-mpg city and 30-mpg highway.
Best New SUVs Under $20,000 - 03 - 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
The 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is an example of style and affordability intersecting at the same point. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport - which can seat five passengers, and haul up to 49.5 cubic feet of gear with the rear row folded forward - is also quite fuel efficient, delivering 25-mpg in stop and go driving and 31-mpg on the highway when ordered in front-wheel drive trim. The low cost at the fuel pump is made possible largely by the 148 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that serves as the only engine choice for the Mitsubishi, along with its available continuously-variable automatic transmission. A five-speed manual is standard with the compact SUV, while all-wheel drive can be ordered as an option.
Best New SUVs Under $20,000 - 04 - 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara
Suzuki's American operations might be in the throes of bankruptcy, but there's still time to snag a great deal on a basic, unpretentious SUV. The Suzuki Grand Vitara is a decent off-road all-terrain companion, as it features the availability of four-wheel drive and reasonable ground clearance, and for those who plan to stay on the pavement its rear-wheel drive dynamics are a pleasant change from the compact people mover norm. The Grand Vitara's interior is a bit on the austere side, but it does deliver a massive 70.8 cubic feet of total cargo space. Power is provided by a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder mill that produces 166 ponies, and fuel economy is a modest 25-mpg on the highway (via either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission).
Best New SUVs Under $20,000 - 05 - 2013 Kia Sportage
The 2013 Kia Sportage is a great-looking, well-equipped compact SUV that just happens to cost less than $20,000. The Kia Sportage is notable for its strong list of standard features, and also for the availability of the fun-to-drive SX trim. The five-passenger Kia comes with 54.6 cubic feet of total cargo space, and it offers buyers a choice between one of two four-cylinder engines. The first is a 2.4-liter, 176 horsepower unit, while the second displaces 2.0-liters but makes use of a turbocharger in order to push out a very respectable 260 horsepower. Fuel economy for the base model Kia comes in at 30-mpg highway, and the turbo version of the SUV delivers only two-mpg less for the same measure. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board, and all-wheel drive can be ordered as an option.
Best New SUVs Under $20,000 - 06 - 2013 Hyundai Tucson
The 2013 Hyundai Tucson is another value-focused Korean entry onto our list of the best new SUVs under $20,000, and its attractive styling is matched by its excellent handling dynamics and a top-notch interior. The Hyundai Tucson isn't as big inside as some of its competitors - providing five-passenger seating and just under 56 cubic feet of total hauling space - but its base, 165 horsepower 2.0-liter engine is a willing dance partner out on the highway where it provides adequate acceleration and fuel mileage of 29-mpg. The 2.4-liter mill that is also available with the Tucson is good for 176 horses and highway mileage that is one-mpg better, making it the optimal choice for those willing to spend a bit more money. The larger engine also opens up the availability of all-wheel drive, and transmission choices for the SUV include a five-speed manual (base model) and six-speed automatic (either motor).
Best New SUVs Under $20,000 - 07 - 2013 Jeep Compass
The 2013 Jeep Compass looks a bit like a baby Grand Cherokee, and while it might not deliver the same level of luxury or cargo capacity (62.7 cubic feet in total versus 69 cubic feet), it does cost significantly less. Like the Patriot, the Jeep Compass can be ordered with the Freedom-Drive II Off-Road package in order to give it legitimate trail capability (via four-wheel drive and related gear), and it comes with identical engine options (158 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a 172 horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder) and fuel economy. Differences can be found inside the truck, with the more pricier Compass providing a higher level of features and equipment. A five-speed manual transmission or a continuously-variable automatic are offered with the compact SUV.