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While most affordable used cars and SUVs are usually found in the $30,000 range to start, it doesn’t mean you can’t find one that’s more budget-friendly. In fact, you can find four subcompact SUV models that have a starting price that comes in under $20,000. Which ones are they, and what do they offer?

2020 Kia Soul

The 2020 Kia Soul is the highest-rated subcompact SUV on the list, and for good reason. Reviewers at U.S. News were impressed with the large amount of space in the cabin and cargo area. The vehicle testers were also happy with the turbocharged engine and easy-to-use infotainment technology. 

According to U.S. News, Most trims come with a four-cylinder engine that produces 147 hp. But with the GT-Line Turbo version, you get a turbocharged variant generating 201 hp. The base model offers a manual gearbox, while the other trims have the CVT, except the GT-Line, which offers a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. 

As for fuel economy, the manual gearshift offers 25 mpg on city roads and 31 mpg when traveling on the highway. The CVT model gets you slightly more at 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. With the seven-speed transmission, the Soul can get 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. 

Features include a rearview camera, cloth upholstery on the lower trims, a 7-inch touchscreen, a six-speaker stereo, and driver attention monitoring. For the upper trims, you get a 10.25-inch screen, HD Radio, wireless device charging, and push-button start. You can get all this for a starting price of $17,725.

2019 Hyundai Kona 

The Kona, like the Soul, is also has the first spot on the list. It’s not hard to imagine since this Hyundai model has a refined interior, user-friendly infotainment system, and athletic driving dynamics. For a starting price of $19,241, you get a lot. First, there’s the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 147 hp and an available 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder generating 175 hp. Paired with them is a six-speed automatic, but you can opt for a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. 

As for fuel economy, the front-wheel drive version offers 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The available all-wheel drive gets you three miles per gallon less when traveling on the highway. With the turbocharged engine, you can expect to get 28 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, but if you have the all-wheel drive model, you’ll get 26 mpg on city roads and 29 mpg when traveling on the highway. 

Features on this model include cloth seats on the lower trims, remote keyless entry, rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, and push-button start. The upper trims offer leather seating, an eight-speaker stereo, LED headlights, a sunroof, high-beam assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. 

2018 Buick Encore

A blue 2018 Buick Encore, which is now a used subcompact SUV.
2018 Buick Encore | Creative Commons

The third SUV on the list, also takes the number one spot is the 2018 Buick Encore. This model offers plenty for the price, which should be about $19,113 on the used market if you find one with relatively low miles. The Encore found its way to the top because of the smooth ride quality, high safety scores, and roomy cabin. 

What do you get for the price? Well, the Encore offers a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 138 hp. There’s also an available variant generating 153 hp. Both are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. For fuel economy, the model offers 25 mpg on city roads with the 138 hp front-wheel drive version. The AWD model offers slightly less at 24 mpg in the city 30 mpg on the highway. With the 153 hp engine, you get 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway for the FWD version and 26 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway for the all-wheel drive model. 

As for features, you won’t be disappointed. You get cloth upholstery, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, voice recognition, a USB port, and rear cross-traffic alert with the lower trims. For the higher levels, you get blind-spot monitoring, leather-appointed seats, driver’s seat memory, a heated steering wheel, a seven-speaker Bose stereo, and front and rear parking sensors. 

2016 Honda HR-V

Jumping to fourth on the list is the Honda HR-V, which is an older model from 2016. This SUV offers a lot of cargo space, a roomy interior, and a smooth ride. You can get quite a lot at the starting price of $17,590. 

First, there’s only one engine option: a 1.8-liter four-cylinder producing 141 hp. Paired with it is a six-speed manual, but a CVT is available. The fuel economy isn’t too bad. You can get 28 mpg when traveling in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. 

As far as standard features are concerned, you get a fair amount. These include a 5-inch LCD display, USB port, and Bluetooth connectivity. Optional items include a moonroof, a 7-inch touchscreen, automatic climate control, and touch controls to replace some of the physical buttons on the dash. 

If you’re looking for a good SUV but don’t want to pay exorbitant new vehicle prices, a few models won’t break the bank. The top four versions that offer a good deal for under $20,000 are the 2016 Honda HR-V, the 2018 Buick Encore, the 2019 Hyundai Kona, and the 2020 Kia Soul. 


Used SUVs Under $20,000 from 2013 That Might Last More Than 200,000 Miles