Just because the average new car price has soared in recent years, doesn't mean that you need to tap into your kid's college fund to buy a 2020 model. While the price tag of an average new vehicle is pushing $40,000, this is largely due to the fact that shoppers are gravitating towards large SUVs and pickup trucks instead of affordable sedans and small crossovers. These 5 options fall into the latter category with starting MSRPs below $20,000 and will fit the bill for shoppers looking for a reliable, fuel-efficient, and stylish new vehicle without breaking the bank.
1. 2020 Hyundai Accent
The Hyundai Accent was redesigned in 2019 to give shoppers more room, improved styling and safety, and a lot more driving fun. Despite its small exterior size, the Accent offers a surprisingly generous amount of passenger and cargo space. The styling makes this subcompact car look far from cheap thanks to sporty elements borrowed from the larger Elantra.
The Accent not only saves you money at the dealership, but it is also very affordable to own thanks to improved fuel-efficiency. For 2020, the Hyundai Accent gets a new Smartstream G1.6 DPI 4-cylinder engine with Continuously Variable Valve Timing. The new powertrain increases the Accent’s EPA estimated fuel economy to 36 combined (up from 32 combined mpg rating of the 2019 model). The new, fuel-efficient engine offers 120 horsepower and 113 lb.-ft. of torque, and helps the 2020 Hyundai Accent earn the "Best Value in America" award from automotive data company, Vincentric.
Starting MSRP $15,295
2. 2020 Kia Rio
Available as a sedan or a 5-door hatchback, the 2020 Kia Rio offers a complete package of style, comfort, and driving fun at a bargain price. The styling of the Rio 5-door, which we tested, is Euro-inspired, understated, and handsome, making it look more mature and upscale than its price suggests. Even the base trim is packed with standard technology features like a 7-inch Touch-Screen Display with Rear Camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Kia Rio's new 1.6-liter 4-cylinder is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and is good for 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque. Like its cousin, the Hyundai Accent, the Rio becomes more fuel-efficient with an EPA rating of 33 city/41 highway/36 combined. Despite its small stature and seemingly unimpressive horsepower, the Kia Rio is fun to drive, agile, and well-balanced.
Starting MSRP $15,850
3. 2020 Chevrolet Sonic
Like the preceding vehicle on this list, the 2020 Chevy Sonic can be had in a sedan or hatchback body style. Both offer generous cargo space, a roomy cabin, and user-friendly infotainment. Compared to the rival subcompacts on this list, the Chevy Sonic stands out with its generous cargo space. Drivers who haul a lot of gear will be accommodated by the sedan's 14.9 cubic feet of trunk space, while hatchback owners get a maximum of 47.7 cubic feet with the seats folded.
One engine option is offered for the Sonic which is a 1.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder for 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Manual transmission enthusiasts should note that the 2020 Sonic no longer offers a manual option. Instead, the 1.4-liter turbo is paired with a six-speed automatic. Compared to the other subcompact rivals on this list, the Sonic gives shoppers a more potent engine and better handling, culminating in a sportier driving experience.
Starting MSRP $16,720
4. 2020 Kia Soul
One of our only qualms with the 2020 Kia Soul is its lack of AWD. Otherwise, it makes an ideal crossover for shoppers on a budget. Thanks to a redesign for 2020, the popular Kia Soul offers even more benefits like improved styling, refinement and sportiness. With a starting MSRP of just $17,490, the Soul's unique, boxy styling gets upgraded to look more mature. Despite its small outward appearance, the Kia Soul is surprisingly spacious inside, offering plenty of room in both rows and the cargo area.
The Soul's base engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder good for 147 horsepower. Opt for the sporty GT-Line Turbo trim to get a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that packs 201 horsepower. The Kia Soul makes a great city vehicle thanks to its nimble handling, small exterior size, and versatile passenger and cargo space.
Starting MSRP: $17,490
5. 2020 Kia Forte
You've likely caught on that Kia dominates this list with three out of the five cheapest 2020 vehicles. The automaker has increased the value in nearly its entire lineup while keeping prices affordable, and the 2020 Kia Forte is no exception. After a redesign for 2019, the Forte gets handsome styling which borrows cues from the Kia Stinger sports sedan. Inside the cabin, drivers will find high-quality materials, good ergonomics, intuitive technology, and plenty of space in the front seats. Second-row passengers, on the other hand, may complain about the tight legroom.
Under the hood, the 2020 Kia Forte gets a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder for 147 horses and 132 lb-ft of torque. Although the Forte isn't as fun to drive as segment-rivals like the Mazda3 or Honda Civic, it holds its own with a firm, composed, and comfortable ride. The engine makes this small car feel quick, while its handling is balanced with little body roll.
Starting MSRP: $18,715