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Best New SUVs Under $20,000

Best New SUVs Under 20K

Best New SUVs Under 20K

Hankering for a new set of wheels but don’t have much scratch? Don’t fret - automakers still offer a few bargains in their lineup.

While these models aren’t loaded up with the latest goodies, they are a far, far cry from the bare-bones models that were once the only choice for penny pinchers.

With the current trendiness of SUVs, we’re casting a spotlight on the sub-$20,000 crossovers that are currently on the market.

Spoiler Alert: There are only five such models on the market, and the cheapest starts at nearly $18,000.

Check out all our picks for the best SUVs >>

Read about how we rank our vehicles >>

Best New SUVs Under $20,000 Comparison

SUVs Under $20KKia SoulHyundai VenueNissan KicksChevrolet TrailblazerFord EcoSport
Base Price
$17,490
$18,750
$18,870
$19,000
$19,995
Passenger Volume
101 cu. ft.
92 cu. ft.
94 cu. ft.
98 cu. ft.
93 cu. ft.
Max Cargo Volume
62 cu. ft.
32 cu. ft.
57 cu. ft.
54 cu. ft.
50 cu. ft.
Min. Ground Clearance
6.7 in.
6.7 in.
6.9 in.
7.0 in.
n/a
HP (Top Trim)
201 HP
121 HP
122 HP
155 HP
123 HP
EPA Combined MPG (Base Engine)
30 MPG
31 MPG
33 MPG
29 MPG
28 MPG

1. Kia Soul - $17,490

Kia Soul Best SUV Under 20KAt less than $18,000 before destination fees, the Kia Soul may offer the best quotient of spunk per dollar. The Soul oozes charm and charisma with its funky-hip styling. We doubt the other entrants in this category would try so hard stylistically if it weren’t for the aesthetic success of this cheap, cheerful runabout.

Under the hood of the Soul is a mere 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder, but it has enough zip to keep things punchy. A manual transmission is standard, but most buyers will likely opt for the $1,500 CVT.

Lots of interior room - including the most cargo space among the crossovers profiled here - and decent material quality round out the Soul’s attributes. It isn’t fancy or luxurious whatsoever, but the 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto should more than appease its clientele. So will the standard automatic emergency braking and Kia’s famous 10-year/100,000-mile warranty. You can’t get all-wheel drive in any trim, however. This Kia is strictly driven by its front wheels.

Not only is the Soul the cheapest crossover on the market - it also just might be the best, thanks to how well it balances affordability with practicality and genuine character. As the intersection between fun and affordable, the Soul is an excellent choice for those looking for a small SUV.

Pros

  • Bargain price
  • Cool styling
  • Still comes with a manual gearbox

Cons

  • 10-year warranty
  • No all-wheel drive option
  • Popular CVT costs extra

Current Kia Soul Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021KiaSoul
2022KiaSoul$7500.90%$189/month for 36 months, $2,799 due at signing11/1/2021

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

2. Hyundai Venue - $18,750

Hyundai-Venue-Best-New-SUVContrary to popular belief, the little Hyundai Venue doesn’t share a platform with the Soul but rather with the Hyundai Accent, a subcompact hatch that represents the absolute cheapest end of the new car market. The Venue does the same among crossovers, with its $18,750 base price undercutting all competitors save the Kia Soul.

Despite the modest price, the Venue is nicely outfitted even in its base duds. An 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone integration is standard, as is blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking. Old-fashioned rear drum brakes and torsion-beam suspension are the only major giveaways as to how Hyundai has kept the price so low.

Like the Soul, front-wheel drive is the only choice. A 121-horsepower four-cylinder engine comes with all models; despite its lack of horsepower, buyers can expect up to 30 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

While the Venue won’t razzle and dazzle, it is a competent small quasi-crossover that is more affordable than nearly anything else in its segment. Great standard tech makes even the base model a great value, making the Venue a top choice when your budget is tight.

Pros

  • Great standard tech
  • Excellent base price
  • 10-year warranty

Cons

  • Styling more cute than cool
  • No all-wheel drive option
  • No optional powertrains

Current Hyundai Venue Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021HyundaiVenue$1,500 0.90%$149/month for 36 months, $2,399 due at signing11/1/2021

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

3. Nissan Kicks - $18,870

Nissan Kicks Best SUV Under 20KFor a few dollars more than the Hyundai, there’s the Nissan Kicks. Nissan has been trying to command the low end of the market for years now, first with the Versa and Versa Note - the former of which remains one of the cheapest new cars available - and now with the Kicks.

Like the Hyundai-Kia products, the Kicks tries to make up for its lack of pomp and performance with fun styling and a practical interior littered with thoughtful touches. The cheapest model gets a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and smartphone integration, USB connectivity, and a driver’s-side armrest, among other things. Room abounds, including best-in-class front legroom.

In the downmarket horsepower wars, the Kicks outdoes the Venue by all of one horsepower, for a total of 122 horses. Its CVT-and-four-cylinder combo is paired with mandatory front-wheel drive - like the other models profiled here, no all-wheel drive is available.

Like anything else where the speedometer reads higher than total horsepower, things are more leisurely than quick. City drivers typically won't notice the slower acceleration. Up to 36 mpg highway is possible.

For such a low price, the features, fuel economy, and compact SUV styling make the Kicks a tempting proposition.

Pros

  • Up to 36 mpg highway
  • Best-in-class front legroom and excellent interior room overall
  • Affordable in all trims

Cons

  • No all-wheel drive option

Current Nissan Kicks Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021NissanKicks0.90%11/1/2021

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

4. Chevrolet Trailblazer - $19,000

Chevy Trailblazer Best SUV Under 20KRemember the old Trailblazer, a ruddy SUV that preferred the woods to the highway? The new Trailblazer isn’t quite so off-roady. It blazes a new trail for the nameplate, one that leads to the doorstep of the Soul, Venue, Kicks, and other cheap crossovers whose aspirations are entirely pavement-based.

The Trailblazer is notable in this segment for its use of a three-cylinder engine. Despite being down a cylinder compared to its competition, the turbo helps make 137 horsepower - more than the Venue and Kicks. The EPA estimates up to 31 mpg highway for this engine.

This Chevy is unique among the sub-$20,000 crowd for offering all-wheel drive, though selecting it necessitates the purchase of the optional 155-horsepower turbo-three. Still, it’s an option that’s not available for any price on the models profiled above.

If you don’t mind white paint and hubcaps, the base Trailblazer isn’t much worse off than its competitors in terms of standard equipment. A 7.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keep assist are all part of the package. Chevy rounds out the cabin with surprisingly nice materials (relative to the price point, of course) and a commanding driving position.

The reborn Trailblazer brings some bold, Americanized style to a segment typically associated with the sort of cheeky looks popularized by the Kia Soul. It’s a viable, affordable alternative to other small crossovers, provided you’re fine with a three-cylinder under the hood.

Pros

  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Good driving position
  • Well-built interior
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Turbo-3 power only
  • Base model is a bit limited in colors and features

Current Chevrolet Trailblazer Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021ChevroletTrailblazer$500$219/month for 39 months, $2,549 due at signing11/1/2021
2022ChevroletTrailblazer$500$199/month for 39 months, $2,559 due at signing11/1/2021

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

5. Ford EcoSport - $19,995

Ford-EcoSport-Best-New-SUVSneaking in under our threshold is the Ford EcoSport, a dowdy-looking subcompact crossover that may be the most modest and pragmatic choice on our list. It has its roots in overseas Ford products and features the most tenured bones of anything we’ve profiled here.

For that reason, the Ford feels outclassed even in this segment, where it falls short in tech, features, and styling. While other models offer 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreens right out of the gate, the base EcoSport is saddled with a basic display that only features Bluetooth compatibility. The upgraded 8.0-inch unit on higher trims is more competitive, however.

The standard three-cylinder engine makes 123 horsepower, right in line with the competition. An available 2.0-liter four with 166 horses is the better choice, though it drives up the price rather significantly. That engine also pairs with all-wheel drive, however, making the EcoSport and the Trailblazer the only models here to offer such a feature.

Don’t expect great mileage from this pint-sized SUV, either. The EPA rates it for 28 mpg combined - weaker than most other similarly-sized crossovers and even many larger models.

The Ford lacks the character, the technology, and even the pricing advantage to make any waves in this crowd. Had the Ford and Kia swapped price points, our comments and critiques of both models wouldn’t change - they’d actually make more sense.

Pros

  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Good driving position
  • Lots of available trims

Cons

  • Feels overpriced, even in this segment
  • Lacks competitive array of standard tech
  • Poor fuel economy

Current Ford EcoSport Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021FordEcoSport$1,500 1.90%$247/month for 39 months, $2,768 due at signing11/1/2021

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest crossover or SUV?

The Kia Soul, which starts at $17,490 before destination. It’s more of a hatchback than a crossover, though, if we’re splitting hairs.

What’s the cheapest all-wheel drive crossover?

The Subaru Crosstrek, which starts at about $22,000 and comes standard with all-wheel drive. A base Crosstrek is actually cheaper than ordering all-wheel drive on the Trailblazer or EcoSport, despite the cheaper base prices of the latter options.

What’s the best cheap crossover?

In our eyes, the Kia Soul, thanks to its excellent price point, funky styling, and great tech. There’s a reason the Soul is so popular, and we’re just as convinced of its merits as its happy, loyal customer base.

What’s the most efficient cheap crossover?

The most efficient crossover under $20,000 is the Nissan Kicks. It gets an EPA estimated 33 mpg combined, with 36 mpg possible on the highway.