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While the affordable subcompact class seems to have fewer options every year, there are still affordable options for consumers looking for a new car at a used car price. One of these cars is the Kia Rio, which has been in production since 1999. Today, the 2022 Kia Rio stands out from the competition due to its refined ride, smart and simple interior, and wireless smartphone integration. However, the Rio does suffer from a cramped rear seat and a lack of cargo space. If you are looking for an alternative to the Rio, here are three cheap Kia Rio alternatives under $20,000.

A blue 2022 Kia Rio driving
2022 Rio | Kia

The 2022 Hyundai Accent is an affordable Kia Rio alternative

First, let’s talk about the Accent. The Hyundai Accent is a subcompact car that seems to get better every year and is a Kia Rio alternative worth your consideration. In fact, the 2022 Hyundai Accent was included on Car and Driver’s Editors’ Choice list due to its refined looks and incredibly affordable price point. 

The Hyundai Accent comes in three separate trim levels, the SE, which acts as the base-level trim and starts at $17,740 MSRP, the SEL mid-level trim, which starts at $18,995 MSRP, and the Limited, which extends the price just over our $20,000 threshold at $20,695.

Every trim level of the Hyundai Accent comes standard with a 120-horsepower four-cylinder engine with a CVT transmission. Sadly, the manual transmission was dropped for this most recent model. However, drivers can expect excellent fuel efficiency, with the Accent reaching 33 mpg city/41 mpg highway.

The Nissan Versa is a cheap new car for under $20,000

Say the Hyundai Accent isn’t quite your style. The 2022 Nissan Versa is another Kia Rio alternative to consider. This cheap car has stood the test of time and remains a favorite in the affordable subcompact class. The Versa may lack some popular features on the lower trim options, but this car is affordable and drives so well, it’s tough to complain. 

The Versa comes in three different trims, the S, which acts as the base model and starts at $16,675 MSRP, the SV, which is the mid-level trim and starts at $19,485 MSRP, and the top SR trim, which starts at $20,085 MSRP. Every trim level of the Nissan Versa is powered by a 122 horsepower four-cylinder engine which comes standard with a manual transmission on the base model. Still, every trim level can be had with a CVT transmission.

According to Car and Driver, the Nissan Versa’s interior is modern and attractive compared to previous models that lacked any refinement and consisted of cheap plastics. The Versa also has excellent cargo space to hold six carry-on suitcases in the trunk. 

The base-level S trim lacks features that might surprise you, such as Apple CarPlay and Andriod Auto. While the Versa is pretty trim-level dependant on features, it offers incredible fuel economy with an EPA estimated 32 mpg city/40 mpg highway with the CVT transmission.

A red 2022 Nissan Versa parked, the Versa is a Kia Rio alternative and new car under $20,000
2022 Nissan Versa | Nissan

You can’t go wrong with a 2022 Toyota Corolla 

Can you make a list of the best compact cars without the Toyota Corolla? The Corolla is consistently listed as one of the best and most reliable cars you can buy overall and makes our list of Kia Rio alternatives. However, it is slightly out of the price range at $20,425 MSRP for the base L trim.

The extra price spent on a Corolla is well worth it, with the Corolla offering a ton of standard technology and safety features. The Toyota Corolla also comes in a wide variety of trims, including the base L trim, LE, SE, SE Apex, Nightshade, XLE, XSE, and XSE Apex. The Corolla is also available as a hybrid for those after the most fuel-efficient ride possible.

With a Toyota Corolla, you get a tried and true four-cylinder engine making anywhere from 139 to 169 horsepower, depending on the trim level. For an alternative to the Kia Rio at the Kia Rio price point, the L model offers incredible reliability, seating for five, a comfortable ride, and excellent gas mileage at an EPA-estimated 31 mpg city/40 mpg highway.

No matter what Kia Rio alternative you are looking for, you are bound to find a solid car on this list that will give you many years of reliable operation.


The 7 Best New Cars for Under $20,000