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With the average price of new cars hitting record highs, it can be challenging to find one that won’t do some serious damage to your budget. Also, you might have to sacrifice quality to get an affordable vehicle, resulting in lower reliability. However, there are some exceptions. After its annual Auto Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports only recommends two new cars under $20,000: the 2023 Subaru Impreza compact car and the 2023 Kia Soul subcompact SUV.

The 2023 Subaru Impreza and 2023 Kia Soul give excellent value at under $20,000

An orange 2023 Subaru Impreza at the Tokyo Auto Salon in Chiba, Japan
2023 Subaru Impreza | Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Affordability is a key factor in an automotive buying decision. It’s also ideal to get a cheap and reliable car. Higher quality typically results in a more expensive vehicle, though. However, you can benefit from both affordability and reliability for the 2023 Subaru Impreza ($19,795 MSRP) and the 2023 Kia Soul ($19,890 MSRP). They are the only new cars for less than $20,000 that Consumer Reports recommends.

CR is one of the most trusted authorities for automotive evaluations, so the recommendations for the Impreza and Soul carry a great deal of weight. The organization has decades of experience analyzing cars, and many people make buying choices according to the recommendations. Also, the fact that Consumer Reports doesn’t recommend many vehicles in the lowest rung for affordability makes the recommendations for the Impreza and Soul especially impactful. 

Recommendations for affordable Subaru Impreza and Kia Soul based on Auto Reliability Survey

While Consumer Reports looks at multiple aspects of vehicles in determining the recommendations, it strongly emphasizes reliability. A car can be good in other areas, such as performance and interior comfort, but if it’s not reliable, CR typically won’t recommend it. 

And Consumer Reports bases the reliability of cars, and the resulting recommendations, on the annual Auto Reliability Survey. For the Auto Reliability Survey, CR analyzed 17 potential problem areas from owner surveys submitted for over 300,000 vehicles during the previous year. Some examples of problem areas include paint, leaks, engines, noises, brakes, and electrical systems. 

The 2023 Subaru Impreza and the 2023 Kia Soul had minimal issues in the problem areas, so both earned a recommendation. The Impreza was also recommended for the 2022 model year, while the Soul is a newly recommended model.

Other affordable options for new vehicles

The affordable 2023 Subaru Impreza and the 2023 Kia Soul are the only new cars under $20,000 that are recommended by Consumer Reports. However, there are quite a few new models that you can take a look at.

Drivers looking for a competent SUV on the smaller end have options like the 2023 Nissan Kicks ($20,290 MSRP) and the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek ($23,645 MSRP). If you’re looking to stay more in the sedan range, old reliable is right there in the 2023 Toyota Corolla ($21,550 MSRP) as well as the spirted 2023 Mazda3 ($22,550 MSRP).

You don’t have to destroy your bank account to get a reliable car. This is evidenced by the Impreza, Soul, and other affordable new cars that won’t disappoint you if you’re in the market for an affordable new car.