If you’re looking for a good new car on a tight budget but worry that you’ll get stuck with a drab vehicle that you won’t like, don’t despair as there are many worthwhile contenders. In order to help you choose the best vehicle for the money the following list contains the 10 Best new cars Under $20,000. While none of the models can be considered lavish, all of them are comfortable, most are reasonably equipped, and some are good fun to drive. Whether you’re looking for a city car, a subcompact, or a compact, we’ve got something for you on the next few pages that will fit your budget.
10 Best New Cars Under $20,000
Photo Credit: Subaru
2018 Subaru Impreza
The compact 2018 Subaru Impreza earns a place on our list of the 10 Best new cars Under $20,000 largely thanks to its impressive combination of standard all-wheel drive and excellent fuel economy (with a combined rating of 32 miles per gallon). With a starting price of $18,495 for the sedan and $18,995 for the hatchback, it also comes with a good amount of standard equipment, including keyless entry, a 6.5-inch multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, and a rear-vision camera. The Impreza isn’t quick (this isn’t a WRX or STI model after all) but handling is very secure and the ride is comfortable. If you need all-wheel drive on a budget, the Impreza is where it’s at.
Photo Credit: Ford
2018 Ford Fiesta
The 2018 Ford Fiesta is a subcompact car available as either a sedan starting at $14,205 or as a hatchback for $300 more. Both models handle well and are fun to drive, especially with the manual transmission, but they could do with more power now that the 1.0-liter EcoBoost has been discontinued (though the ST version is still available if you’re willing to go slightly over the $20,000 budget.) Interior room is a bit tight, particularly in the rear, and materials are a bit plasticy but the ride is comfortable. A new Fiesta is already on sale in Europe and may or may not arrive in North America next year, as demand for the current model has been quite low.
Photo Credit: General Motors
2018 Chevrolet Cruze
The compact 2018 Chevrolet Cruze is available as both a sedan and hatchback, though the hatchback can’t be had for less than $20,000. The sedan on the other hand has a starting MSRP of $16,975, and comes standard with Chevrolet MyLink with a seven-inch touch-screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, a Rear Vision Camera, and OnStar. The interior is a bit monotone for our tastes and the materials could be a bit nicer, but it is comfortable and there is plenty of room. Unfortunately you won’t be able to step up to an automatic transmission (or to the extremely frugal diesel) if you want to stay on budget, but even the base model Cruze is fun to drive.
Photo Credit: Kia
2018 Kia Rio
The subcompact 2018 Kia Rio is new for this model year, with updated styling that gives it a modern and sophisticated look with particularly good proportions. The sedan starts at $13,900, and the hatchback is just $300 more. Though it is a bit short on options (with base models making do with manual windows for example) the Rio makes our list of 10 Best New Cars nder $20,000 thanks to its extremely reasonable price. The interior is a bit tight, with the rear suffering from a lack of head and legroom especially for taller passengers, but the Rio features a nice comfortable and fairly quiet ride, though some drivers will find it somewhat lacking in the fun department.
Photo Credit: Honda
2018 Honda Fit
Despite it’s subcompact dimensions the 2018 Honda Fit is one of the most practical cars on our list of 10 Best New Cars Under $20,000. There’s plenty of room for four adult passengers and cargo in the pleasant interior, and with the rear seats folded down you can carry more than you’d ever think possible in a car of its size. Standard features on the $16,190 base model include a 160-watt stereo and a five-inch touch-screen, though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are only available on higher-spec models. Where the Fit falls a bit flat is in the fun department, and though the 2018 refresh does improve things a tad with suspension and chassis tweaks, the steering is still a bit vague.
Photo Credit: Hyundai
2018 Hyundai Accent
The 2018 Hyundai Accent is a subcompact car that was redesigned for this model year and has a base price of just $14,995. The styling is a bit conservative, but it’s flat-sided design gives it a roomy rear seat and lots of luggage space (though it you want a hatchback you’ll have to look elsewhere as there isn’t one offered). Handling is pretty good and the ride is decent, and somewhat surprisingly the Accent is reasonably quick for a car at this price point, but it still isn’t anywhere close to a speed demon. The interior is nicely executed with thoughtful touches, though material quality could be a bit better and you don’t get many features in the standard model.
Photo Credit: Mazda
2018 Mazda Mazda3
The current version of the compact 2018 Mazda Mazda3 has been around for sometime, but it’s still one of the best handling vehicles in its class and therefore earns itself a spot on our list. Starting at $18,095 for the sedan, the Mazda3 is one of the most stylish cars on our list both inside and out, but the chic exterior styling does cut into interior space somewhat especially in the rear. Standard features include keyless entry, a seven-inch touch-screen, a six-speaker audio system, Smart City Brake Support, and a rearview camera. If you’re looking for a hatchback the 5-door model also squeaks in just under the budget parameters set in this list.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2018 Toyota Yaris iA
The 2018 Toyota Yaris iA is a four-door sedan that easily earns itself a place on our list of 10 Best New Cars Under $20,000 with an MSRP that starts at $15,950. Like most subcompact cars the iA isn’t particularly quick, but unlike many of the cars in its class it is fun to drive with extremely nimble handling and a comfortable ride. It also has a nice interior, with quality materials, a seven-inch touch-screen, and a fair amount of room. You also get keyless entry and a low-speed pre-collision system. Other than an automatic transmission the Yaris offers no options, so what you see is what you get, and that’s quite a bit.
Photo Credit: Chevrolet
2018 Chevrolet Spark
With an MSRP of just $13,050 the 2018 Chevrolet Spark city car is the cheapest vehicle on our list, but it’s also one of the best. Despite its low price it’s got a reasonable number of standard features, including a seven-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, ten airbags, a rear-vision camera, and even OnStar. Ride quality is good for a car of this size and handling is sound, though acceleration is a bit leisurely. Space is of course at a premium in a car this small, but front seat passengers have a good amount of room and there’s enough space for two smaller rear seat passengers to be fairly comfortable as well.
Photo Credit: Honda
2018 Honda Civic
If you have $20,000 to spend on a new vehicle and want to get the most car that you can, the 2018 Honda Civic is the way to go. With an MSRP starting at $18,840, the compact Honda Civic sedan will trick you into thinking it’s a larger car than it is, with plenty of room inside, good handling and a comfortable ride, though entry-level models are quite sparse when it comes to features. However, there’s more than enough power for most drivers, and the Civic is very economical with a combined rating of 32 miles per gallon. You can also pick up a coupe for less than $20k, but unfortunately the sportier hatchback is priced outside of our budget.