AdvisoryHQ 2017 Guide to the Top Cars Under 20k

When it comes to purchasing a new vehicle, we all want to get the best bargain possible. Especially for most consumers, the concept of shopping on a budget is a strict reality that cannot be understated.

If you only have so much to spend, what are the best cars under 20k available today?

While you may not find the world’s sportiest car as one of the fastest cars under 20k, you will find some that have some serious power.

New cars under 20k can offer more than what many consumers may be led to believe, ranging from powerful engines to advanced interior features and capabilities.

Best New Cars Under $20,000

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best New Cars Under $20,000

You want to be rest assured that you are making a wise investment when it comes your next car purchase. It is likely the second-largest investment that you’ll ever make (second only to real estate for most people). You should know that you’re going to be getting one of the best new cars under $20,000 that will last you for years to come.

In our ranking, we’ll take a look at all of the information that consumers need about these cars under $20,000. From their engine to their fuel economy, we’ll weigh important specifications alongside their price to give you the top cars under $20k.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Cars Under $20k

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the vehicles below to go directly to the detailed review section for that car):

Top 6 Best Cars Under $20k | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Cars Under $20k


Highway Fuel Economy


FIAT® 500 Turbo


34 mpg


Honda Civic LX


42 mpg


Honda Fit


41 mpg


Hyundai Elantra SE


38 mpg


Kia Soul+


31 mpg


Mazda 3 Sport


37 mpg


Table: Top 6 Best New Cars Under $20,000 | Above list is sorted alphabetically

Tips for Purchasing New Cars Under $20,000

Most shoppers enter the car-buying process with a great amount of trepidation, particularly when they’re planning to purchase a brand new vehicle. They want to make sure that they get the best quality new cars for $20,000 or less. After all, such a large investment should last for plenty of years ahead.

What tips do you need to know to make it easier to buy new cars under $20,000?

Most experts would recommend doing your own research on the various makes and models from the comfort of your home. Doing so allows you to actually discover the best new cars under $20,000 instead of being swayed by the opinions of sales professionals who make money from your purchase.

Once you’ve selected the make and model, as well as the features that are important to have in your new cars under $20,000, most people would believe it’s time to head to a local dealership.

New Cars Under 20000

Image Source: Pexels

Unfortunately, this is where many consumers make a mistake purchasing their cars under $20,000. Financial experts recommend searching for financing terms on your own at home. You can see offers from various lenders and get pre-approved before facing high-pressure sales tactics.

If you know what loans you’ll be offered and what you can ultimately afford, it puts you in a position of control. You can control which of the new cars for $20,000 interest you the most and make practical sense for your budget. Knowing what loan options you have in advance also prevents you from taking the first financing option offered by the dealership for their best cars under $20k.

According to Consumer Reports, having the intricacies of your financing worked out in advance for any of the cars under $20k keeps negotiations at the dealership as simple as possible.

Consider doing more of the work from home before you head out to the dealership to purchase any of these top cars under $20k. It will make your life simpler and may even help you to get a better deal in the long run.

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Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Cars Under $20k

Below, please find the detailed review of each vehicle on our list of fastest cars under $20k. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these new cars under $20,000 to score so high in our selection ranking.

FIAT® 500 Turbo Review

Fans of the compact Italian cars under the FIAT® label may want to take another look at the FIAT® 500 Turbo. Now considered to be one of the top new cars under $20,000, the FIAT® 500 offers a sporty appearance with plenty of get up and go. Drivers will thoroughly enjoy the drive in these top cars under $20k.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Top Cars Under $20k

Find out more detail on how this model came to earn its place on our ranking of the fastest cars under $20k.


The FIAT® 500 Turbo will feel like one of the fastest cars under $20k that you can possibly find. It packs an incredible 135 HP engine with sport-tuned suspension into the tiny body that this manufacturer is known for. Compared to the other versions of the FIAT® 500, the Turbo version boasts a 34% increase in the amount of horsepower available.

Two turbocoolers are installed as well to maximize the air flow and keep your engine running smoothly. New cars under $20,000 that pack powerful engines like this one will need turbocoolers under the hood.

Even the fuel economy allowed this model to be considered a top contender when it came to new cars under $20,000. This sporty little vehicle boasts an impressive 34 miles to the gallon.


What can you expect to pay for these best cars under $20k? Well, the FIAT® 500 itself has several different versions of the same basic model. Each one has different specifications, performance standards, and fuel economy.

In our review, we took a closer look at the Turbo version as one of the fastest cars under $20k. The base price on these new cars for $20,000 came in pretty close to our maximum price on the ranking: $19,700.

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Honda Civic LX Review

Various versions of the Honda Civic have made the best cars under $20k list for several years running. These reliable vehicles are easily one of the top cars under $20k that money can buy. You get the reliability of the Honda name with a sedan that can carry you for years to come when you buy one of these new cars under $20k.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Top Cars Under $20k

The Honda Civic already boasts plenty of awards, most notably that from Kelley Blue Book for the overall best buy. What other features allowed us to consider it for our ranking of the best cars under $20k?


The Honda Civic is better known for its reliability than it is for an impressive performance. Not many would consider this to be one of the fastest cars under $20k. However, it does have some impressive specifications that could be beneficial to drivers:

  • 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with 158-HP
  • LED daytime running lights
  • 5-inch color LCD screen
  • Multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines

The Civic may not be one of the fastest cars for under $20k, but it does boast some impressive fuel savings. With one of the most fuel efficient models included on our list of the best new cars under $20,000, your gas budget will shrink with an estimated 42 miles per gallon on the highway. City driving will get you slightly less at 32 miles per gallon in these cars under $20k.


This model is very close to not making the cut for the best new cars under $20,000. As a matter of fact, there are several models of the Honda Civic, but only the LX comes in under our price cap for the purposes of this ranking.

The base price for a six-speed manual transmission on the Honda Civic LX starts at $18,740 according to the MSRP. An automatic transmission will boost the cost almost $1,000 for a grand total of $19,540.

Honda Fit Review

The Honda Fit is another model from this popular manufacturer that is frequently mentioned in reviews of the best cars under $20k. Unlike some models from Honda that offer several selections (few of which are under $20,000), you have two options on the Honda Fit: the LX and the EX.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Top Cars Under $20k

Much like the Honda Civic, the Honda Fit has its own collection of awards that its engineers and designers are incredibly proud of. It was granted a five-star safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Why else did this model qualify as one of the top cars under $20k?


How could you expect these top cars under $20k to perform when you’re out on the road? Well, it helps to know what type of features are included standard:

  • Multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines
  • Daytime running lights
  • Cruise control
  • Bluetooth capabilities

The LX model of these best cars under $20k includes more advanced tech features. You can make good use of the SMS text message function, smart entry, push button start, and a powered moon roof.

Both of these cars under $20,000 have a 130-HP 4-cylinder engine, which means that they may not be top of the list for the fastest cars for under $20k.

However, the fuel economy on these $20,000 cars is a spectacular feature that may make up for speed. They are estimated to get 33 miles per gallon in the city and 41 miles per gallon on the highway.


Between the two different Honda Fit models, there is a base price for the LX edition that begins at just $16,090. This includes the basic capabilities, but it is still one of the new cars under $20,000 that consumers will want to consider highly.

After all, the price tag comes in considerably lower than many of the other best new cars under $20,000 included on our ranking.

Even the Honda Fit EX, with the more advanced features, starts at a base price of $18,000. While both models qualify as strong contenders for the best choice when it comes to fastest cars under $20,000, they both have some room leftover for upgraded features.

Fastest Cars Under 20k Honda Fit

Image Source: Honda

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Hyundai Elantra SE Review

According to some sources, the Hyundai Elantra is rapidly coming up on the same reliable status as the Honda Civic. The engine is incredibly powerful, given its relatively “tame” review status. Most consumers know exactly what they will get with this $20,000 car.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Top Cars Under $20k

See more details on why the Hyundai Elantra is considered one of the best and fastest cars under $20k on today’s market.


As most consumers would expect from a pricier model, the Hyundai Elantra offers some serious ability to reach top speeds. These new cars under $20,000 have a powerful engine that enthusiastic drivers will certainly love. It is a 147-HP 2.0L 4-cylinder engine for powerful acceleration and great driving ability.

Of course, the interior also has features designed for the driver’s comfort level above all else. This is one of the most highly sought-after new cars under $20,000 because of its features and capabilities from the interior of the vehicle:

  • 7-inch display audio
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone system
  • Cruise control
  • 60/40 split-folding rear backseats

Fuel economy is also superior on these new cars under $20,000. Drivers can expect to travel 29 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway.


Not many of the Hyundai Elantra models can come in under our maximum price for new cars under $20,000. Even the value model has a starting MSRP of just over this amount ($20,250).

Fortunately, the manufacturer recognized how crucial it is to have an option for consumers who need the fastest cars under $20k. They now offer the SE version, which is a stripped-down and basic model compared to its more luxurious counterparts. However, pricing will start at just $17,150.

Kia Soul+ Review

Do you need more room than what many of the sedans are offering? In a world where most of the new cars under $20,000 happen to be sedans, the Kia Soul+ offers a unique aesthetic for a modern-day station wagon. You won’t be embarrassed to be seen in this model, recognized as one of the best cars under $20k available this year.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Top Cars Under $20k

When it comes to buying new cars under $20,000, you wouldn’t often find a station wagon included on the listing. Find more information on what allowed this unique selection in the detailed review section below.


The base model available for the Kia Soul doesn’t inspire much interest for drivers who wanted the fastest cars under $20k. If you start to look just one step up, at the Kia Soul+, you’ll find an enhanced engine that offers quite a bit of horsepower for a car like this one.

With the upgrade to the Soul+ model, drivers will find a little more vigor behind the wheel. This is a large factor in what allowed us to consider this model as one of the top cars under $20k. Experience a 160-horsepower 2.0L Inline 4 engine for the ultimate in station wagon driving.

Of course, it also comes standard with other capabilities that consumers would expect from new cars under $20,000 these days. Enjoy a 5.0” color touch-screen audio display, a rear-camera display, and six speakers with dash-mounted tweeters.

Even the fuel economy is excellent for these new cars for $20,000. They receive an estimated 26 miles per gallon in the city and 31 miles per gallon on the highway.


What can you expect to pay for the station wagon version of these fastest cars under $20k? The base model for a Kia Soul starts at $16,100, but most drivers will want to take another look at the Soul+ model. With a more powerful engine and more get up and go, this model has more to offer.

Top Cars Under 20k Kia Soul+

Image Source: Kia

Consider upgrading to these best cars under $20k for a few thousand more. Base prices start at $19,800 with plenty of upgrade options depending on your preferences.

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Mazda 3 Sport Review

The Mazda 3 Sport edition offers another sporty aesthetic that is fitting for the top cars under $20k. These new cars for $20,000 have a sleek appearance in addition to a great engine and interior features. Drivers won’t be disappointed with the standout Mazda 3 Sport anytime soon.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Top Cars Under $20k

At first glance, the Mazda 3 Sport doesn’t look much different than some of the other top contenders for the best cars under $20k. You’ll find additional details on how we were able to qualify it among the top cars under $20k in the review below.


The Mazda 3 Sport is the most basic of all the models presented under this title. However, you can’t allow the basic title of these cars under $20,000 to fool you because it certainly contains a lot of features in their standard issue. For example, the interior comes equipped with the Mazda CONNECTTM infotainment system as well as a rearview camera.

When you pop the hood, you’ll be impressed by the 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that packs in 155 horsepower. You can choose between a manual or automatic transmission depending on your personal driving preferences.

Fuel economy for these best cars under $20k comes in at a combined gas mileage of 31 miles per gallon. On the breakdown, you can estimate 27 miles per gallon in the city and 37 miles per gallon on the highway.


These fastest cars for under $20k give you a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to your budget. It is a little bit under the maximum price for new cars under $20,000 at $17,845.

You have some room for upgrades or to stay under your budget with these options for the fastest cars under $20k.

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Conclusion—Top 6 Best Cars Under $20k

Cars under $20,000 are easily available on today’s marketplace for consumers who need or want a new vehicle. New cars under $20,000 can offer a lot in the way of technological features, powerful engines, and luxurious rides. The question really remains of which of these new cars under $20k will appeal to you the most.

If you’ve been looking for the fastest cars under $20k, you’ve likely already heard of many of these models. Most of them are known for their sporty aesthetics or the reliability of their basic sedan models. While they aren’t going to pack as powerful of a punch as the higher-end luxury models, these best cars under $20k will definitely allow you to have fun while you drive.

Consider these $20,000 cars for your next large auto purchase. You’ll enjoy the reliability and the speed that these top cars under $20k can offer.

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