Top 5 new cars
Finding a car under $20,000 isn’t a difficult task, but choosing one that really stands out can leave you browsing car websites for days. These new and used cars have the safety scores, reliability ratings and price tag to make the top of our list.
Top 5 new cars
When choosing the new cars on this list, we focused on overall price, safety, reliability and fuel economy. We also took the features included with the base trim into account.
For the used cars on this list, we looked at each car’s overall qualities rather than a specific model year. Because prices will vary widely depending on where you live, whether you buy from a dealership or private seller and the car’s condition, we selected vehicles that had good fuel economy and decent ratings for model years ranging from 2014 to 2018.
These five cars earn top scores and have plenty of features included in the base trim.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla may be at the top of the $20,000 range, but it’s for good reason: fuel efficiency, safety and reliability are all some of the best in its class. But with a cramped rear seat and a base engine that lacks get-up-and-go power, it may not be the best choice if you plan on having a full backseat or zooming down the highway.
The Kia Soul often ranks well — and the 2019 model is no different, scoring first place on U.S. News and World Report’s best compact cars list. With a midrange price, high reliability and safety ratings and a top-of-the-line manufacturer warranty, it’s hard to beat the Soul when you’re looking at cars under $20,000. Add to that a strong engine and plenty of space, and it’s easy to see why the Kia Soul ranks so well.
While the 2019 Chevrolet Sonic doesn’t have the best fuel economy on this list, it makes up for it with plenty of tech features and a spacious interior. But if you’re going for the base trim, keep in mind that power windows and cruise control don’t come standard.
What the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta lacks in interior luxury and engine power, it makes up for with its great fuel economy. However, it also has one of the higher starting MSRPs and lower reliability ratings on our list.
The 2019 Nissan Versa is extremely affordable, which is why it makes so many top lists. While its known for its roomy seats and high reliability, it comes with a lower-end interior compared to competitors. If you want more tech features or power, a similar subcompact car might be a better choice. Still, it’s hard to beat a new car that comes in under $13,000.
These used cars typically come in under $20,000, but you may find some newer models in your area with a higher price tag. Because every used car varies based on mileage, maintenance upkeep and other factors, you might want to read our guide to buying a used car so you know exactly what to look for when you’re ready to buy.
The Toyota Camry has consistently ranked as one of the best cars for the money since 2014. While older models don’t have the world’s best gas mileage, its spectacular safety and reliability ratings mean you’re unlikely to have to pay an arm and a leg to repair it every few months.
Depending on the year, you might get a car that was ranked top of its class — or you could get one that was only so-so. Either way, the Honda Civic has consistently been named a decent car for the price. And you won’t be disappointed by its fuel efficiency, either.
The Toyota Corolla sits a little above average when it comes to reliability, and its fuel efficiency is decent — especially for older models. Base trims had engines that left a lot to be desired for some drivers, though. If you’re thinking of getting a Corolla, it may be worth it to find a more expensive trim with a little more power.
The Kia Soul is well known for its roomy cabin and has consistently ranked well when put up against other cars in its class. While every model year has subpar fuel efficiency, its reliability rating might make up for that.
Most of the recent Hyundai Sonata models have ranked near the top of the midsize car class, especially for drivers with families. While its fuel economy may not be the best, its high reliability makes it another strong contender for best used car under $20,000.
When you’re looking to buy a used car, stick to the summer months. Dealerships often hold sales for each of the major summer holidays. And at the end of the season, manufacturers begin debuting cars for the next model year. This means you may be able to get a good deal on a new car from this year or an even better deal on a used car from the previous model year.
When you’re comparing your options, keep these five points in mind:
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