The Fastest Brand New Sedans Under $20,000

Earning that new car smell takes some elbow grease. Finding out what type of car you need is a good start, but then you might want to figure out which is the most reliable. After that, it’s time to figure out the budget. If that budget happens to be lower than the going rate of a Bugatti Veyron, then don’t worry. Most cars are. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider speed as a criteria. It helps get out you of tight situations, and it’s always nice to have passing speed on the highway. Here are a few brand-new sedans that can help with that. 

The 2022 Hyundai Accent Limited offers a lot for very little

The Hyundai Accent Limited is one of the higher models. True to Hyundai sedan fashion, it’s extraordinarily lightweight for a brand new sedan at 2,679 pounds. It uses a 120-hp 1.6-liter inline-four and gets gas mileage good enough to rival some hybrids. Its starting MSRP is $19,600, with a continuously variable transmission helping the Accent reach 60 mph in 8.5 seconds and max out at 120 mph.

2022 Hyundai Elantra SE: light and powerful brand new sedan

2021 Hyundai Elantra brand new sedan parked outside
2021 Hyundai Elantra | Hyundai

The Elantra slides in at just a hair more expensive at $19,850. It offers a 2.0-liter engine, good for 147 horsepower. It gets better mileage than the Accent and weighs just a bit more at 2,868 pounds. Though it has the same top speed, it gets to 60 mph just a bit quicker at 8.1 seconds. The extra power makes this brand new sedan worth the $250 extra, as very little else separates it from the Accent.

The 2022 Subaru Impreza is one of the weakest brand new sedans

2022 Subaru Impreza brand new sedan parked outside of a coffee shop
2022 Subaru Impreza | Subaru

Horsepower goes way up from the Accent, but the times get much slower. Although the Subaru uses its 152-hp 2.0-liter flat-four to sustain the same top speed, it fails dismally in a sprint, eventually reaching 60 mph in 9.4 seconds. This could come down to its extra weight. At least it comes with a manual transmission, although Car and Driver evaluated it as “lousy”. The Subaru Impreza stands as one of the weaker brand new sedans.

2021 Nissan Sentra S barely beats the Subaru

2021 Nissan Sentra brand new sedan driving down the street
2021 Nissan Sentra | Nissan

Nissan’s Sentra S, although slow in a sprint, is one of the better-looking brand new sedans. It starts at $19,510, and with that comes a 150-hp 2.0-liter inline-four, mated to a CVT. The combination allows the Sentra to hit 60 mph in 9.2 and max out at 120 mph. It’s certainly a step up from the Subaru, but only just, as those 0.2 seconds cost an extra $215. 

2021 Volkswagen Jetta S: fastest brand new sedan by a long way

2021 Volkswagen Jetta on display in Chicago
2021 Volkswagen Jetta on display in Chicago | Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty

The Volkswagen Jetta S is the fastest car on this list by some margin. It hovers under the Elantra SE’s 0-60 sprint but vaults ahead with a 126 mph top speed. The Jetta isn’t even the most expensive, as it’s cheaper than the Elantra as well. Like the Subaru, the Jetta also has a manual transmission and uses a turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-four that sends 147 horsepower to the front wheels. As a brand new sedan on paper, the Jetta is nothing to sneeze at. 

Which one is the best?

Most of these cars reach 120 mph, which is a respectable speed. While Volkswagen stands out as the top performer on this list, the most well-rounded vehicle is probably the Elantra. It gets decent mileage, has the same horsepower, and might end up being more reliable, judging from VW’s track record of engine building. 

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