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The Best New Cars You Can Buy For Under $20,000

7 minute read

By Chelsea Hammond

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle but don’t have a lot of cash for a down payment, this doesn’t automatically mean you need a large car loan. The idea is to find a high-quality, reliable car that fits your budget and complements your lifestyle.

You might prefer a new vehicle (over a used one) but have no idea what make or model is best. If you know your budget, however, you’re in the perfect place to start researching an affordable new vehicle. There are several new 2022 and 2021 cars you can buy for under $20,000.

Finding the Right Affordable New Car for You

Even sticking with a $20,000 budget, several different new car options are available. It can feel overwhelming picking the right one for you, though.

First, consider what features are most important to you. For example, are there any safety or infotainment options you absolutely must have? Do you want the best possible gas mileage? Another essential consideration is whether you need seating for four, five, or more people.

The final consideration to make is style. You’ll be driving your new vehicle for the foreseeable future, so you want it to be something you enjoy. Compare the available styles, colors, and interior options to see which you enjoy the most.


Hyundai Accent

The 2022 Hyundai Accent starts at just $16,645. The standard trim comes with 120-horsepower in a 1.6 liter, four-cylinder engine. The Accent receives an average of 41 miles per gallon on the highway. This fuel efficiency could help save significantly on future gas costs, making it an excellent choice for commuters.

A five-inch touchscreen display for audio with a rearview monitor comes with the standard trim, alongside a Bluetooth hands-free phone system. The rear seats feature a 60/40 split-folding design if you need more cargo room. Compared to last year’s model, the 2022 Accent has been upgraded with a standard engine immobilizer anti-theft system.

Source: Hyundai

Kia Rio

The 2022 Kia Rio starts at just $16,250. It provides a fuel economy comparable to the Hyundai Accent, with an average of 41 miles per gallon on highways. One nice feature for those living in colder climates are the heated outside mirrors, which could make clearing your car of snow that much easier.

The 2022 Rio is available as either a sedan or hatchback. Standard trims are equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen display, with a rear camera for safer and easier backing up.

Compared to last year’s model, this year’s Rio has new Kia emblems and now features a standard engine immobilizer. The Kia Rio S Technology package also adds rear disc brakes (but the standard trim doesn’t).

Source: Kia

Mitsubishi Mirage

The 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage averages 43 miles per gallon on the highway, with seating for five. Not bad, considering it starts at just $14,645. Although there are no upgrades to the standard trim from last year’s model, higher trim levels provide the option for remote engine starting. For some, this newest feature may be worth upgrading.

The Mirage has a seven-inch display screen with Bluetooth capabilities. A rearview camera also comes standard. The base trim is equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and even features a remote keyless entry. Folding side mirrors are perfect for fitting into tight spaces.

Source: Mitsubishi

Nissan Versa

The 2022 Nissan Versa starts at $15,080 for the standard trim and provides seating for five. With up to 40 mpg fuel economy on the highway, the Versa isn’t far behind the more efficient new cars under $20,000. The Versa has 122 horsepower and a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with four-wheel drive.

Although there aren’t any notable updates to this year’s model, the Versa does come with extensive infotainment and convenience features. The standard model has a seven-inch display, Bluetooth capabilities, and automatic rear braking. It also features a forward collision warning with pedestrian detection. Upgrading to the SV or SR trims (also under or around $20,000) provides many more options, so it may be worth the upgrade if choosing the Versa.

Source: Nissan

Subaru Impreza

The 2022 Subaru Impreza starts at just $18,795 for the standard trim. It’s the best new vehicle choice if you value safety over style. The Impreza features an Advanced Automatic Collision Notification that will alert an operator in the event of an accident. Roadside assistance is available at the touch of a button on the vehicle app. There’s also automatic emergency braking.

Besides its safety features, the Impreza is a long-lasting vehicle choice with ample passenger room when compared to similar models. There aren’t any significant updates to this year’s model, except for a new color in higher-level trims.

Source: Subaru

Chevrolet Spark

The 2022 Chevrolet Spark starts at $13,600 and is available in an incredible ten colors – significantly more than other options on this list. This small hatchback gets up to 38 mpg, which is decent fuel efficiency for a vehicle this size. However, the primary downside is there isn’t a lot of trunk or passenger space, so things could feel cramped.

While there are no significant changes to this year’s Spark from the previous model, the standard trim comes with rear vision cameras and a tire pressure monitoring system. Higher-level trims have numerous safety, infotainment, and style options available that will still keep this vehicle under $20,000.

Source: Chevrolet

Kia Forte

Starting at just $19,090, this year’s model comes with an updated design and enhanced technology. The Kia Forte gets an average of 41 mpg on the highway and has an exceptionally roomy interior for a compact vehicle. If space is important to you, the Forte is an excellent choice.

The car is equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen display with a rearview monitor and dynamic braking guidance. Safety features include automatic emergency braking capabilities and lane-keeping technology. With these features, you’ll never again have to worry whether you’re within your lane or not. However, despite safety features, it’s imperative you still stay alert while driving at all times.

Source: Kia

Chevrolet Trailblazer

The Trailblazer standard trim comes with the Chevy Safety Assist package. This package includes automatic emergency braking, following distance indicators and more. Starting at $19,000, there are five trim options, with the more expensive ones featuring additional safety and infotainment options. The standard trim comes with all-wheel drive and seats five in a sporty, stylish exterior.

The 2022 Trailblazer is noteworthy because it’s the only SUV on this list. If you’re hoping for a larger vehicle in this price range with potential off-roading capabilities, this offering from Chevy is your best choice. The roomy interior also makes it the perfect family vehicle, although there aren’t any significant upgrades to this year’s model when compared to 2021.

Source: Chevrolet

Volkswagen Jetta

Starting at just $18,995, the Volkswagen Jetta has a luxury car’s sophisticated look and sleek lines with an affordable price tag. The Jetta receives an average of 41 mpg on the highway, potentially equating to significant fuel savings. In fact, the improved fuel economy is the only big change from last year’s model.

Estimated miles left before empty can be viewed on the convenient phone app. Plus, from the same app, you can also check whether you locked your doors, how many total miles you’ve gone, and other valuable information. A digital display has replaced the traditional instrument cluster on the dashboard. Blind post monitoring, rear traffic alerts, and lane keep assist are a few of the safety features offered in the standard trim.

Source: Volkswagen

Kia Soul

Starting at just $19,290, the Kia Soul offers the perfect balance of style, technology, and comfort. This model earned the 2021 IIHS Top Safety Pick when equipped with optional advanced safety technology. In addition, Kia was ranked number one in J.D. Power’s vehicle dependability study.

This year’s Soul comes with 60/40 split-folding rear seats to help accommodate excessive or oddly shaped storage needs. Remote keyless entry options are a convenient feature that comes standard with all trim levels. The interior is roomier than comparatively sized options, offering plenty of leg and headroom for both passengers and driver.

Source: Kia

Remember to Research Local Price Trends

New cars don’t vary in price the same way that used vehicles might. However, it’s still possible to get a better deal at one dealership over another. The way to do this is to research local price trends to see what these new vehicles are actually selling for in your area.

Once you have an idea of the average price, look to find dealerships offering sales or discounts on the model you want. You could potentially save another few hundred (or even thousands) off your new car this way.


Chelsea Hammond


Chelsea Hammond is a content creator and marketer with over a decade of experience. She studied towards a bachelor's in English with a minor in media analysis at Arizona State University and received multiple marketing certifications from HubSpot Academy.



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