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The Kia Rio has long been a popular choice for drivers seeking an affordable and reliable economy car. If you’re in the market for a subcompact car and want to consider something beyond the Rio, three models are worth exploring for under $20,000.

1. Hyundai Venue

A bright green 2023 Hyundai Venue subcompact SUV model parked on a highway overpass with skyscrapers behind it
2023 Hyundai Venue | Hyundai Motor America

If you’re in the market for an affordable subcompact SUV, the Hyundai Venue is an excellent alternative to the Kia Rio. According to Hyundai, starting at just $19,650, it’s one of the most budget-friendly options on the market. The Venue’s small size makes it an easy car to maneuver, and it’s perfect for city driving. The vehicle has a continuously variable-speed automatic transmission and a base engine size of 1.6L, delivering 121 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque. The Venue has a good fuel economy of 29/33 city/highway mpg, with a combined rating of 31 mpg.

In terms of standout features, the Venue impresses with its well-equipped interior and easy-to-use controls. It has a spacious cargo area with a maximum capacity of 31.9 cubic feet. The car also has standard stability and traction control for added safety.

One downside of the Hyundai Venue is that the engine can be noisy and unrefined at higher speeds. It also lacks all-wheel drive, which might be a disadvantage in harsh weather conditions. Lastly, the Venue’s small size can make it feel cramped inside, even for a subcompact SUV. However, that should be expected for an economy car choice.

2. Mitsubishi Mirage and Mirage G4

The Mitsubishi Mirage and Mirage G4 are two budget-friendly subcompact cars offering exceptional fuel efficiency and attractive prices. Mitsubishi states that the Mirage has a starting price of $16,245, making it one of the most affordable cars available on the market. It boasts an impressive EPA fuel economy combined rating of 39 mpg, making it a great choice for those looking to save on gas costs.

The Mirage G4 has a starting price of $17,245 and offers a bit more cargo space than the Mirage, with a maximum capacity of 12.4 cubic feet. Both cars have a 1.2-liter inline-three engine that produces 76 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque, which might feel underpowered for some drivers.

One downside to the Mirage and Mirage G4 is their slow acceleration, which can feel sluggish at times. The engines are also noisy and unrefined, leading to a less-than-stellar driving experience. However, both cars have a generous warranty, and the Mirage G4 offers standard dual front side-mounted airbags for added safety. While the Mirage and Mirage G4 may not have the most impressive performance or features, they provide exceptional fuel economy and affordability, making them appealing options for those on a tight budget.

3. Subaru Impreza

The Subaru Impreza starts at a reasonable price of $19,795, making it an excellent value with its standard all-wheel drive and roomy cabin. According to Edmunds, the EPA estimates its fuel economy at 28/36 city/highway mpg, with a combined rating of 32 mpg. Its base engine size is 2.0L with a flat-four configuration, delivering 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. Cargo capacity with all seats in place is 12.3 cubic feet, and it comes standard with lane-keeping assist and plenty of advanced driver safety features.

The Impreza does have its drawbacks, including slow and unrefined acceleration and inferior interior materials compared to several competitors. Another point to consider is that it can be hard to reach the fuel economy estimates in the real world, which can be a concern for budget-conscious buyers. However, the Impreza’s spacious cabin is quiet and comfortable, with plenty of advanced safety features that provide peace of mind to drivers.

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