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Best New Sedans Under $20,000

Best Sedans Under 20K

Best Sedans Under 20K

Any listing of the best sedans priced under $20,000 presumes that car shoppers looking here have already resigned themselves to foregoing a host of luxuries for the sake of economy.

Unfortunately, inflation being what it is, a couple of models that might have made the list in previous years have inched past the $20K mark – the 2022 Toyota Corolla being the most regretful loss to the category.

Another point is that the sedan marketplace has shrunk considerably over the past decade, and with it, the choices have whittled down as well.

Read about how we rank our vehicles >>

Best New Sedans Under $20K Comparison

Best Economy SedansSubaru ImprezaVolkswagen JettaHyundai AccentKia ForteMitsubishi Mirage G4
Base Price
$18,795
$18,995
$16,645
$19,090
$15,645
Passenger Volume
99.8 cu. ft.
94.7 cu. ft.
90.2 cu. ft.
96 cu. ft.
89.2 cu. ft.
Trunk Volume
12.3 cu. ft.
14.1 cu. ft.
13.7 cu. ft.
15.3 cu. ft.
12.4 cu. ft.
Engine Size / Type
2.0L H-4 GDI
1.4L I-4 Turbo GDI
1.6L I-4 Port/DI
2.0L I-4 MPI
1.2L I-3 MPI
Horsepower
152 HP
147 HP
120 HP
147 HP
78 HP
EPA Combined MPG (Best)
32 MPG
34 MPG
36 MPG
35 MPG
37 MPG

1. Subaru Impreza (4-Door) - $18,795

Subaru-Impreza-Best-New-Sedans-Under-$20,000The Subaru Impreza 4-door with a 5-speed manual transmission tops our list because it’s the only one of this group of economy cars offered with all-wheel drive. Safety is a hallmark of the brand and the Impreza doesn’t disappoint. Just take a look at all its high marks for crashworthiness from the IIHS.

It is worth noting that only the base manual transmission model technically makes our list since the CVT-equipped version just crosses over the top at $20,095. Unfortunately, the much awarded EyeSight Driver Assist Technology comes standard with the CVT models only.

Not that technology is lacking in the manual transmission model. Even at this entry-level, there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, and a convenient 6.5-inch touchscreen multimedia system to enjoy. Plus, its performance is the most robust of the group with Subaru’s horizontal Boxer engine producing a bit more horsepower than the Volkswagen Jetta’s turbocharged inline four.

Pros

  • All-Wheel Drive
  • Crashworthiness
  • Roominess

Cons

  • CVT model just over $20,000
  • EyeSight Driver Assist w/ CVT only
  • Fuel Economy Much Better w/ CVT

Current Subaru Impreza Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021SubaruImpreza0.00%11/30/2021
2022SubaruImpreza1.90%$215/month for 36 months, $2,015 due at signing11/30/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Subaru deals and average prices paid.

2. Volkswagen Jetta - $18,995

Volkswagen-Jetta-S-Best-New-Sedans-Under-$20,000Whether the Jetta will be able to remain in this under $20K group for 2022 is questionable. For now, the 2021 Jetta S squeaks under the money bar in both manual and automatic transmission models.

For Volkswagen, the Jetta is its bread and butter vehicle. Over three decades it has led sales for the brand. Not only does it make new car ownership affordable, but it does so without making one feel totally second rate.

Standard infotainment features are on par with the Impreza, and both are the only sedans on the list that benefit from 16-inch wheels. An optional Driver Assist Package with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear traffic alert is certainly worth the extra $500, even if it puts you over the budget threshold.

Then again, if you hold out for the 2022 model, Driver Assist comes standard and you’ll be rewarded with refreshed styling as well as upgrades under the hood that further improve its highway mileage rating. But will it come in under $20,000?

Pros

  • Retains Value
  • Infotainment Technology
  • Turbocharged Performance

Cons

  • Driver Assist Safety Not Standard
  • Hard Interior Plastic Too Obvious
  • Rivals Have Better Warranty

Current Volkswagen Jetta Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021VolkswagenJetta GLI
2021VolkswagenJetta0.00%$279/month for 39 months, $0 due at signing11/30/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's VW deals and average prices paid.

3. Hyundai Accent - $16,645

Hyundai-Accent-Best-New-Sedans-Under-$20,000For a couple grand less than the Jetta or Impreza, there’s the Hyundai Accent. For the most part, the Accent and its corporate sister the Kia Rio sedan are twins that offer superb fuel economy for the money. In fact, go all the way up the three-trim roster of the Accent and you’ll still stay under the $20K threshold.

No question, there are some sacrifices going downmarket. While front legroom remains competitive, overall interior space is a bit cramped, especially for rear-seat passengers. Plus, the 5-inch infotainment touchscreen in the base SE is a bit small by current standards. It’s well worth the move up to the SEL just for the 7-inch display and Apple CarPlay / Android Auto integration.

In general, if you’re looking for a bit more cabin luxuries, safety tech, and curb appeal, definitely seek out the higher trims. At the top-of-the-line, the Limited, which checks in at $19,600, brings lots more with it including heated front seats, forward collision avoidance, 17-inch wheels and LED headlights.

Pros

  • 41 MPG Highway Rating
  • Multiple Trim Choices Under $20K
  • Available Infotainment & Safety Tech
  • 10-Year, 100K-Mile Powertrain Warranty

Cons

  • Cramped Rear Seat
  • No All-Wheel Drive Option
  • Downmarket Performance

Current Hyundai Accent Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021HyundaiAccent$1,000 0.00%1/3/2022

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Hyundai deals and average prices paid.

4. Kia Forte - $19,090

Kia-Forte-Best-New-Sedans-Under-$20,000The Forte is a definitive step up in the Kia lineup from the humble Rio. Not only does it offer a considerable bump up in performance from the Rio but it is clearly more spacious.

Of all the models in this comparison, the Forte offers the best mix of interior space and trunk volume, and the most standard advanced safety technologies such as forward collision avoidance and lane keeping assist. Plus, its standard infotainment package features an 8-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay / Android Auto integration.

For 2022, the rock-bottom-priced manual transmission FE trim is no longer available. The good news is that the FE with the CVT saw only a modest $300 price bump going into the new model year, thus keeping it under $20,000.

Overall performance is more than adequate for this price point, while its outstanding 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty puts it on par with the Hyundai Accent and the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 in that department.

Pros

  • Roomy Cabin & Trunk
  • Standard Advanced Safety Tech
  • 41 MPG Highway Rating
  • 10-Year, 100K-Mile Powertrain Warranty

Cons

  • No Base Manual Transmission Model
  • 15-inch Steel Wheels
  • Limited Exterior Colors in Base Trim

Current Kia Forte Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021KiaForte$7500.90%$159/month for 36 months, $2,799 due at signing1/3/2022
2022KiaForte1.90%$179/month for 36 months, $2,799 due at signing1/3/2022

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Kia deals and average prices paid.

5. Mitsubishi Mirage G4 - $15,645

Mitsubishi-Mirage-G4-Best-New-Sedans-Under-$20,000Some might consider the Mirage G4 the oddball in this group of sedans. It generally gets the least admiration in the realm of econo-cars. Nevertheless, it stands as a viable, affordable alternative to other small sedans provided you’re fine with a three-cylinder engine under the hood.

Viscously underpowered, the Mirage takes a good 12 seconds to move its featherweight 2,100+ pounds from zero to 60 mph. If there’s a reward in that, it can only be in fuel efficiency. Of all the vehicles in this comparison, the Mirage G4 with the CVT garners the best fuel economy, boasting a combined city/highway rating of 37 mpg. You can expect to get 41 mpg on the highway.

There are other rewards, too, for those who choose to be so economy-minded. Certainly finding a 7-inch infotainment display inside with Apple Carplay and Android Auto to boot is uncommon at this price point, as is forward collision mitigation technology.

Ultimately, having a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty is the tipping point that makes the Mirage G4 relevant to this category.

Pros

  • Low Price
  • Fuel Efficiency
  • Infotainment & Safety Tech
  • 10-Year., 100K-Mile Powertrain Warranty

Cons

  • Underpowered Performance
  • Small Trunk Space
  • Mixed IIHS Crashworthiness Ratings

Current Mitsubishi Mirage Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021MitsubishiMirage
2021MitsubishiMirage G4

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Mitsubishi deals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What sedan has the lowest MSRP?

In this group, the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 has the lowest MSRP. If you need to go lower, check out the Nissan Versa, which comes in at $14,980 for a 2021 model with a manual transmission.

What’s the lowest-priced all-wheel drive sedan?

The Subaru Impreza – in the under $20K group of sedans, it is the only one with AWD.

Which is the best econo-box sedan?

For this comparison, the Impreza topped the list because of its AWD. If it’s the best performance you crave, turn to the Volkswagen Jetta.

What’s the most fuel-efficient cheap sedan?

The combined EPA numbers tell one story, but you really have to understand your own driving habits. If you do a lot of city driving and are heavy on the pedal at takeoff, then study the city ratings. On the other hand, if you commute long distances on interstate highways for most of your driving, check the highway ratings to better determine the car that will give you the most economy. As far as numbers go, the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 with the CVT scored the highest ratings.