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

6 minute read

By Imogen Sharma

It doesn’t matter why you’re car shopping. Whether you’re looking for a second vehicle, a reliable automobile for the kids, or you just love a bargain, there’s definitely a used vehicle under $20,000 for you. While it’s undeniable that newer cars are safer, that doesn’t mean you need a brand-new model. In fact, the average car in 2012 has a fatality risk approximately 56% lower than in the 1950s.

This list uses data from Car and Driver magazine, Kelley Blue Book and U.S. News and World Report. Continue reading to find a used compact car, hatchback, sports car, SUV or truck to suit your budget of $20,000 or less.

1. Honda Fit

The Honda Fit makes the KBB, U.S. News, and Car and Driver lists of the most reliable and affordable small cars. If you’re looking to save money on a trusted brand, look no further. For example, you can get a 2012 Fit for between $9,050 and $9,902.

Considering it’s a subcompact car, it drives quite well and has an impressive amount of storage space. It’s ideal for new drivers heading to college or older adults looking to downsize, without compromising safety or comfort.

Source: Honda

2. Ford Mustang

There aren’t many cars with an iconic status that equals that of the Ford Mustang. If you’re looking for an achingly stylish, fast, yet still affordable vehicle, this muscle car needs to be at the top of your list. Making the list of best used automobiles in Car and Driver and U.S. News, this car is sleek, powerful, and offers exceptional handling.

The Mustang was freshly redesigned in 2015, Most models after that year run slightly over $20,000. However, It’s possible to get hold of a 2014 model for as little as $16,270. This American favorite straddles practicality and enjoyment with finesse.

Source: Ford

3. BMW Z4

Both KBB and U.S. News ranked the BMW Z4 as one of the best used sports cars that costs less than $20,000. It’ll keep the most thrill-seeking driver happy without breaking the bank. And if you’ve always dreamed of driving through town or out on the open road with the top down, this retractable hard-top model may be the answer.

The 2013 model costs as little as $18,142 and boasts surprisingly good fuel economy. Although it’s a two-seater, it’s got a decent amount of room and has an array of impressive safety features.

Source: BMW

4. Mazda MX-5 Miata

The experts agree that the Mazda MX-5 Miata is an excellent choice for anyone seeking a reliable used compact sports car on a budget. With an average used price falling between $11,267 and $14,234, for example, the 2012 Miata is a true bargain.

If you’re looking for a charming sports car (minus the intimidating engine) with responsive steering and strong brakes, the Miata is a solid choice. Even the base 2012 model comes with a soft top. It’s also a two-seater, though, so it’s definitely not a family vehicle. Nonetheless, if strong handling and aesthetics are your priorities, there aren’t many better options in this class.

Source: Mazda

5. Buick LaCrosse

Our sources list the 2013 Buick LaCrosse as one of the best affordable cars on the market. It comes with a long list of standard features and costs between $11,858 and $14,537. Its unique eAssist is a hybrid engine that improves performance and fuel economy without pushing up the price or weight of the car.

The full-color driver display is impressive and easy to adjust due to its positioning in your sight line. As a family car, it features excellent safety tech, including five airbags, child seat anchors, and both stability and traction control.

Source: Buick

6. Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius is one of the most reliable and affordable hatchbacks under $20,000. You can snag a 2016 model for as little as $19,708 and benefit from the modern tech that comes from a newer (but still used) car.

The great thing about a Prius is that it’s a hybrid. In addition to being cheap to buy, it’s an eco-friendly option that costs less at the pumps. It has tons of cargo space and the cabin is spacious. The 2016 model was redesigned to be more aesthetically pleasing and fun to drive. It’s great for older or younger drivers who prioritize safety and dependability.

Source: Toyota

7. Chevrolet Equinox

Car and Driver and U.S. News ranked the Chevy Equinox as one of the most affordable SUVs money can buy. With excellent reliability rankings and a price tag starting at $15,856 for a 2016 model, its value for the money is undeniable. While it may not be the most thrilling drive, it’s ideal for safe drivers who aren’t worried about high performance.

When it comes to safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives this model its highest rating and selected it as a Top Safety Pick. It came with a rearview camera as standard, but it’s recommended that you look for a used model with some optional safety tech installed. Forward collision warning, traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and lane departure warning were available safety options on this vehicle.

Source: Chevrolet

8. Ford Expedition

The Ford Expedition also makes the list of most affordable used SUVs. If you’re looking for a beast of an SUV with a roomy interior and serious towing power, this smooth rider is ideal. It’s available with a long wheelbase for those looking to pack additional cargo and has eight seats as standard. Despite its size and reputation, you can get hold of a 2013 Expedition for $17,963.

With a third row that’s easy to collapse (and suitable for adults), it targets owners who prioritize space. All models come with a voice-commanded audio system featuring Bluetooth and a USB port.

Source: Ford

9. GMC Yukon

Per U.S. News, the GMC Yukon is a great choice as an affordable SUV. You can get your hands on a 2013 Yukon for as little as $18,994 and make the most of its nine seats and exceptional towing capacity. Its hefty V8 engine makes towing a heavy trailer easy. Even still, it boasts decent fuel economy relative to its size.

It has a stylish boxy exterior and is suitably dependable. There’s plenty of room for both passengers and cargo. Additional safety features like blind-spot monitoring are available on SLT and Denali trims.

Source: GMC

10. Nissan Armada

With an excellent Bose media system, eight-passenger capacity, and 9,000-lb tow rating, the Nissan Armada was built for road trippers. This hefty SUV is affordable and reliable, with a 2014 model costing as little as $18,827. With great off-road capacity and a V8 engine, this vehicle makes the multiple lists as one of the most affordable used SUVs available.

The interior is highly customizable. The exterior is stylish and luxurious. Standard features on this model include rear privacy glass, head-curtain airbags for all rows, cruise control, and front and rear air conditioning.

Source: Nissan

11. Buick Enclave

With luxurious styling and an abundance of tech, the Buick Enclave is an excellent midsize SUV. You can pick up the 2013 model for between $15,534 and $18,473. If you do, you’ll benefit from its impressive infotainment system, standard rearview camera, and abundant cargo space. All of our sources rank it as one of the best affordable used SUVs on the market.

It’s ideal for families due to its steady handling and spacious interior. However, one of the best features is the in-vehicle noise reduction system. Even when driving fast, the inside of the vehicle remains quiet.

Source: Buick

12. Ford F-150

It’s even possible to get a full-size truck for under $20,000. The Ford F-150 comes in as one of the best. Considering the Ford F-Series is one of the best-selling vehicles in the United States, the F-150’s affordability is impressive. Savvy buyers can pick up a 2015 model for as low as $17,622.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives this vehicle a five-star safety rating. With a roomy, comfortable cabin and a ton of safety features, it’s an ideal all-around truck – even on a budget.

Source: Ford

Imogen Sharma


Imogen Sharma is a culture, science, tech and business expert with a passion for exploration and sharing her discoveries with others. She aims to help people improve their lives in some way, whether it's starting a business, learning new skills or getting more out of their free time.



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