The Automobl Top Twenty Under Twenty ($20,000)
As people gradually come out of isolation and return to work, they’ll have a decision to make. Will they take public transit, commute by taxi or bicycle, or take their own vehicle? Transit operators are under incredible stress to maintain service in the face of a catastrophic health emergency. Even the Toronto Transit Commission has cut service during peak hours because, well, there aren’t any peaks right now. Many people are continuing to work from home, which makes traffic far more bearable.
Will people be comfortable crowding back into busses and subways? Or will they pivot to driving their own vehicle? What kinds of vehicles would they drive?
Affordable cars = pleasant experience?
Driving to work might be a new expense. Parking, insurance, fuel, monthly payments will all be more than the cost of a transit pass. But to many, these expenses are worth it. If cost is the driving (pun intended) factor here, let’s look at a number of vehicles available under $20,000 US and what that means in terms of amenities and drivability. For the most part, many of their Canadian counterparts are also available under our $20K ceiling.
Cheap cars? Think again
There’s nothing ‘cheap’ about these vehicles. First, there’s a surprising degree of choice. German, Japanese, North American and Korean models are represented. Second, front wheel drive dominates, but there’s even a couple of all-wheel drive models available. Third, there’s lots of variety: hatchbacks, sedans and even a small sport utility. Fourth, for some, you’ll need to shift for yourself, while the majority have a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to help maximize fuel economy. And finally, many offer an impressive array of safety features found on vehicles costing thousands more.
You won’t be throwing these vehicles into a corner, but they’ll all have a decent ride. They’ll be easy to park, and the insurance costs shouldn’t break the bank.
Car buying on a budget can be fun! Here’s a brief introduction to each of our Top Twenty Under Twenty ($20,000) vehicles on Automobl.
The Top Twenty Under Twenty
The prices are quoted are without destination and dealer preparation fees. As usual, check with your dealer for all costs associated with your vehicle purchase.
- Chevrolet Spark offers six trim levels, from the base LS manual to the 2LT with a Driver Confidence Package. This package includes Automatic emergency braking, Forward collision warning and Lane departure warning. These would all be great features to have available especially in stop and go traffic where the unexpected often happens.
- Honda Civic sneaks in just under the $20K mark with the LX Sedan equipped with a manual transmission. At $19,750, the automatic transmission equipped Civic will push the price over $20K. But even at this price, you get great features like Adaptive cruise control, Traffic stop and go, Forward collision warning, Lane departure warning system, Lane keeping assist and a rear view monitor. Couple these with Honda’s terrific 2.0L engine, and you’ll have a great vehicle for a long time to come.
- Honda Fit is also represented with its full line up except for the leather trimmed EX-L coming in under $20K. The Fit is the Swiss Army Knife of small cars. If you’ve ever tried to carry anything tall like a house plant, the second row Magic Seat will make it a snap.
- Hyundai Accent has exceptional good looks in a small package. Under $20K, you can choose from the SE, SEL and Limited trim levels; something for everyone.
- Hyundai Elantra has two models, the SE and SEL under $20K. The SEL is a great value including Alloy wheels, Heated mirrors, Rear cross traffic alert, Blind spot monitoring, Satellite radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
- Hyundai Venue is Hyundai’s entry level SUV. The SE and SEL trims come in under $20K. Choose the SEL for Drive Mode Select with Normal, Sport and Snow driving modes, Alloy wheels, Chrome grille, Roof rack, two additional speakers for the audio system, Automatic temperature control for the interior and Auto up on the driver’s window.
- Kia Forte is the sister ship to the Hyundai Elantra, and is well equipped at the FE level. Try to stretch to the LXS level for Alloy wheels, wider tires and a Rear folding split bench seat which really comes in handy to load long items in a small car.
- Kia Rio gives you a smaller package than Elantra, but with more amenities in two trim levels (LX, S) under $20K.
- Kia Rio 5-door is great for those looking for a Rio with the practicality of a rear hatch. Build on the base S trim level with an available Tech package which is still under $20K. The Tech package includes LED headlights, Automatic emergency braking, Forward collision warning and Satellite radio.
- Kia Soul is the small wagon that has a loyal following. Its boxy shape is great for carrying lots of cargo, and its small size makes it a breeze to park and maneuver in traffic.
- Mitsubishi Mirage is one of the lowest priced vehicles on sale today, starting at $13,995. All four trim levels (ES, LE, SE, GT) are under $20K. Check out the SE model ($16,745 including CVT) with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Proximity key, Push button start, Leather wrapped steering wheel, Alloy wheels and Fog lights.
- Nissan Kicks is their smallest hatchback in the US. It’s gotten great reviews for drivability and sharp looks in a small package. The base Kicks comes with a Continuously variable transmission; you don’t pay extra to have Kicks shift for itself. Safety features include Automatic emergency braking, Blind spot monitoring, Rear cross traffic alert as well as Backup automatic emergency braking. The exterior has a number of design features for a sporty look. These include Body side moulding and cladding and fender lip mouldings.
- Nissan Sentra was freshly designed for the 2020 model year. It takes the great looks of the Maxima and brings them 3/4 scale to Sentra. From its thrifty 149 horsepower engine to the very long list of safety features, Sentra should be on your shopping list.
- Nissan Versa was revised for 2020 and carries the same smart looks as its siblings. Choose from S, SV, SR trim levels. The SR trim level has a Convenience Package that adds Adaptive cruise control and Heated front seats, a great deal at only $300 extra.
- Subaru Impreza gives you all-wheel drive at a below $20K price. Equipped with a CVT, it just sneaks in at $19,995. But it’s very well equipped with 152 horsepower, Hill start assist, Automatic emergency braking and Adaptive cruise control. Traffic stop and go is just the thing to follow the vehicle in front of yours in heavy traffic without you having to constantly jump from the accelerator to the brake to keep moving.
- Subaru Impreza 5-door brings everything from the sedan in a hatchback configuration. You’ll have to shift for yourself at the under $20K price with 5-speed manual transmission.
- Toyota Corolla has one model under $20K, but with a lot of features for the money. Rare at this price is Toyota Connected Services where you can access the internet through the vehicle. Corolla’s thrifty 139 horsepower will keep your fuel bill down, and the Toyota Safety Sense suite of features will help get you to your destination safely.
- Toyota Yaris is the smallest sedan in the Toyota line-up. Available in L, LE and XLE flavours, standard equipment across the lineup includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, push button start, power windows and locks.
- Toyota Yaris Hatchback brings the attributes of the Yaris Sedan to a five door hatchback body. The hatchback includes a handy cargo cover to keep prying eyes away from valuables stowed in the cargo area.
- Volkswagen Jetta is VW’s value proposition. You’ll find taut, German engineered handling, an interior that belies its humble price, an automatic transmission AND still stay under $20K. The turbo four cylinder engine delivers 184 ft-lb of torque, so taking off from a stop will be sporty rather than sedate.
Do our choices add up for you?
There you have it. Car buying on a budget doesn’t have to be painful with Automobl’s Top Twenty Under Twenty. See for yourself using the Automobl Comparison Tool to help you sort out which vehicle fits your needs and delivers the value you want. There’s nothing like a new car to make the grind of a commute far more bearable.