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New cars aren’t cheap; vehicle buyers will have to spend an average of $48,000 for a new ride. That means options for a budget-friendly new ride are limited. Still, drivers who want to avoid the used car market can find a new vehicle for under $20,000 if they look hard enough. However, potential owners might not want a new car under $20,000 when they get a glimpse of the options, like the 2023 Nissan Versa and Kia Rio. 

What new cars start at under $20,000?

As of springtime 2023, only three new cars start at under $20,000. 

  • 2023 Nissan Versa
  • 2023 Kia Rio
  • 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage
A new 2023 Nissan Versa compact car starts under $20,000 and shows off its front-end styling.
2023 Nissan Versa | Nissan

The most affordable mass-production car on the market in the United States right now is the 2023 Nissan Versa, which starts at about $15,830. However, the paltry power, cheap cabins, and limited storage capacities of the Versa, Rio, and Mirage might drive you to find another option. In fact, none of the budget-friendly compact sedans earned over 8.0 out of 10.0 from U.S. News, with the Mirage earning a dismal 5.0. 

Is the Nissan Versa considered a good car?

The 2023 Nissan Versa boasts excellent value for a new car, as well as up to 35 mpg combined and seating for five. However, the tight back seats, cheap cabin materials in the base model, and an anemic 122-horsepower 1.6L engine make the entry-level Versa S a less-than-exciting option. 

Instead, the $21,700 Toyota Camry produces an extra 16 horsepower, packs an airier cabin, and has higher fuel economy than the Versa with its hybrid trims. However, the Versa’s budget-friendly starting point and spacious interior make it unrivaled in terms of overall value.    

Is the Kia Rio expensive?

The 2023 Kia Rio starts at around $17,875, making it one of the three new cars with a starting point below the $20,000 mark. Moreover, with a five-year, 60,000-mile basic warranty and an optional hatchback, the 36-mpg Kio Rio boasts serious value. 

A new blue 2023 Kia Rio compact car cruises an urban street.
2023 Kia Rio | Kia

However, the Rio’s lazy 120-horsepower 1.6L four-cylinder engine sacrifices urgency for fuel economy; it takes the new Kia compact car 9.0 seconds to hit 60 mph. Moreover, road, engine, and transmission noise can easily penetrate the cabin at higher speeds. Good thing the diminutive Rio has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

How much should I pay for a Mitsubishi Mirage?

The 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage starts at around $17,290 for the entry-level ES trim. Moreover, with up to 39 mpg combined and a hatchback with over 17 cubic feet of storage, the Mirage is a comparable value to the Kia Rio. 

While that starting point is on par with its closest competitors, the Mirage is far and away the least powerful new mass-production car on sale in America today. Specifically, the Mirage produces just 78 horsepower, around 42 fewer than a comparable Nissan Versa. 

Still, with lackluster interiors, anemic engines, and missing hybrid options, fans might be better off finding a used Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Blue or Toyota Corolla Hybrid.


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