The 7 Best New Cars for Under $20,000

New cars might be hard to come by these days, but the good news is that you can find great cars at almost any price point. The sub-$20K crowd is looking especially tempting these days. These models may not be the cheapest new cars, but they are the best. See the seven best new cars under $20,000 in 2022 so far, ordered by most to least expensive.

7. 2022 Hyundai Elantra $19,850

The 2022 Elantra is just barely under the budget line, but still worth thoughtful consideration because it’s also one of the most reliable new cars under $20,000. It’s cheap without looking cheap, and it has lots of standard features on even the base model. The Elantra’s base four-cylinder engine is good for 147 horsepower.

U.S. News scored the 2022 Elantra 8.0 out of 10.

Side view of a red 2022 Hyundai Elantra sedan, one of the best new cars under $20,000, parked in front of a large mural
2022 Hyundai Elantra | Hyundai

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6. 2022 Nissan Sentra $19,510

The 2022 Sentra slides in at pretty close to the price point, but this compact sedan does fit the budget. It feels premium and looks good for being so affordable. It offers nicer cabin materials than you’d expect for a new car under $20,000, and it comes standard with smartphone connectivity apps for convenience. It only offers 149 horsepower, but does give you up to 39 mpg on the highway.

U.S. News scored the 2022 Elantra 7.4 out of 10.

Front angle view of a blue 2022 Nissan Sentra parked on a concrete pad
2022 Nissan Sentra | Nissan

5. 2022 Kia Soul $19,190

Why the 2022 Soul? Kia’s breadbox offers wide views and great visibility while driving, and 24.2 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk area. That alone makes it a serious contender for the best new car under $20,000. The Soul offers good, but not great, interior room for adults and comes standard with a 147-horsepower four-cylinder engine. These features also make it a great rental car.

U.S. News scored the 2022 Soul 8.4 out of 10.

Rear view of a red 2022 Kia Soul, a new car under $20,000, driving along a paved road in the desert
2022 Kia Soul | Kia

RELATED: Consumer Reports Names the 2022 Kia Soul the Best Compact Car for Tall Drivers

4. 2022 Kia Forte $19,090

U.S. News called the 2022 Forte “the best blend of value, comfort, performance, and practicality in a car costing under $20,000,” which is big praise for this sedan. It has a firmer ride than many of its competitors, but it does return around 40 mpg on the highway, making it one of the more fuel-efficient options. It comes with yet another standard 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It’s almost like multiple cheap new cars on this list are running on the same cheap new engine…

U.S. News scored the 2022 Forte an impressive 8.5 out of 10.

Side view of a silver 2022 Kia Forte, the best new car under $20,000
2022 Kia Forte | Kia

3. 2022 Subaru Impreza $18,795

The 2022 Impreza checks multiple boxes. Along with being one of the best and cheapest new cars, it’s also one of the cheapest all-wheel-drive cars you can buy new. With 152 horsepower on its spec sheet, it’s also the most powerful car on this list and one of the fastest new cars under $20,000. It sees up to 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, and offers both sedan and hatchback configurations.

U.S. News scored the 2022 Impreza 7.8 out of 10.

Side view of a black 2022 Subaru Impreza, one of the best and most reliable new cars under $20,000
2022 Subaru Impreza | Subaru

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2. 2022 Hyundai Accent $16,645

The 2022 Accent is a subcompact sedan that’s easy to get along with and cheap, cheap, cheap. It looks a little cheap on the outside, it feels a little cheap to drive, but it gets the job done and it’ll do so with gusto. Well, what gusto it can muster from it’s 120-horsepower four-cylinder engine, that is. The trade-off for tiny power is fantastic fuel economy: up to 33 mpg in the city, 41 mpg on the highway.

U.S. News scored the 2022 Accent 7.9 out of 10.

Side angle view of a red 2022 Hyundai Accent, one of the best new cars under $20,000
2022 Hyundai Accent | Hyundai

1. 2022 Nissan Versa $15,180

If you’re looking for out-of-the-box cheap, the 2022 Versa is your best bet. It is the cheapest among these best new cars under $20,000, and it’s actually kind of awesome. It’s a subcompact car, but there’s more room in the cabin that meets the eye. It’s easy to like this little Tardis—it’s bigger on the inside, and offers 15 cubic feet of storage space in the trunk. It’s not very powerful, but it sips fuel like a debutante sips a mocktail, offering up to 40 mpg on the highway.

U.S. News scored the 2022 Versa 7.9 out of 10.

Side angle view of a black 2022 Nissan Versa sedan, the cheapest and one of the best new cars under $20,000
2022 Nissan Versa | Nissan

U.S. News’ honorable mention: the Kia Rio

The 2022 Kia Rio didn’t make it onto U.S. News’ list for the simple reason that it hadn’t yet been scored—so it couldn’t officially be called one of the best. However, it’s $16,150 starting price is exceptionally good for what you get. The 2022 Rio rides better than you’d think, its tiny size is easy to maneuver, and it’s surprisingly roomy. It’s fuel-efficient, returning up to 33 mpg city and 41 mpg highway, but the trade-off is a mere 120 horsepower. Also, this is a very cheap car, so the inside of the base model may feel… well, very cheap.

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