Trucks & SUVs

Cheap SUVs That Aren’t a Terrible Deal

If you’ve got $20,000 or can swallow the payment for a $20,000 SUV there are some great choices. These won’t be full-size, but they’ll exhibit a quality that just a few years ago you would only find in more premium vehicles. We’ve found the lowest-priced SUVs based on MSRP. Since it’s the end of the year you might actually find even better bargains. These are all base models, but today they come standard with features-especially safety features, that in years past would have been strictly optional.

5. Honda HR-V: $20,620

2019 Honda HR-V Sport
2019 Honda HR-V Sport | Honda

There’s a lot to rave about Honda’s HR-V. Besides the lower buy-in, for starters, you’ll find terrific gas mileage. Highway mileage is 34 MPG with City at 28 mpg. It’s also an IIHS “Top Safety Pick” and received a five-star crash rating from the NHTSA. The HR-V was refreshed inside and out, and the interior seems to be out of a more expensive model. It also comes with Honda’s Magic Seat, which folds and maneuvers to make room for different types of cargo while still accommodating passengers.  

4. Mazda CX-3: $20,390

Mazda CX-3 | Mazda

The Mazda CX-3 has a lot of the same things we like about the Honda HR-V. Nice interior for the price and great economy at 34 Highway mpg and 29 City mpg. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and low-speed automatic emergency braking all come with the base CX-3. For a little bit extra you can get all-wheel-drive, but even with front-wheel-drive the handling and overall feel of the car are excellent. The only downside is the interior has a bit less rear passenger space and also less cargo space than the HR-V. 

3. Ford EcoSport: $19,995

Ford EcoSport
2019 Ford EcoSport | Ford

There is a lot going for the EcoSport, but some negatives as well. Cargo space is excellent, and Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment has cured a lot of the early bugs. Unfortunately, it is only available on upper range EcoSports. Safety technology enhancements are non-existent, and even when you get into the upper models there is not much available. It does come with Ford’s MyKey system that allows you to electronically establish caps on speed, music levels, and seatbelt usage. Power is a bit anemic and it buzzes when it’s strained. Still, it is worth looking at for comparison. 

2. Hyundai Kona: $19,990

2019 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai
2019 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai

Reliability, standard features, and an excellent warranty are all plusses that go with the Kona’s low price. The powertrain warranty is good for 10 years or 100,000 miles, which is hard to top. Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and driver attention monitor. This all ties into its IIHS “Top Safety Pick +” rating, its highest safety score. A 2.0-liter engine is standard, while a 1.6-liter with a turbocharger is optional and doesn’t swallow more gas than the base engine. 

1. Nissan Kicks: $18,540

2018 Nissan Kicks Blue-source
2019 Nissan Kicks Blue | Nissan

That price should get your attention, and puts the Kicks at the top of this list. But are its features lacking for such a low price? No. Great fuel economy and a large amount of room inside for both passengers and cargo make it a versatile SUV. It features automatic emergency braking standard and blind-spot monitoring and surround-view camera as optional safety equipment. It scored an IIHS “Top Safety Pick” ranking. Fuel economy is 31 mpg for City and 26 mpg for Highway mpg. If there is any downside it’s that the Kicks is a bit down on power, but there is expected to be some tradeoff for such a cheap buy-in with these features.