It's hard to narrow down your selections for your next vehicle purchase, and you're really trying to stay on budget and not break the bank to get a good one. As we've said more than a couple of times, the average new car price hovers around $39,000. That's a lot of money. For the purposes of this article, we're looking at the most popular segment in the car industry, crossovers, and we're aiming for a reasonable $25,000 as the purchase price after destination charges (but before tax, tags, and title). 

mazda cx3
As much as we like the Mazda CX-3, it just doesn't check off all the right boxes.

If you put down 20% ($5,000) and have decent credit, you might get about 4.59% APR financing for 5 years (60 months) on $20,000. Your monthly payments will be around $373, which seems somewhat manageable. Nearly as important, there are some crucial expectations for a crossover in terms of features, technology, looks, safety, reliability, driving experience, and even the warranty. 

The Honda HR-V Sport is well-equipped but comes in at just over $25K.

An affordable crossover still has to accomplish a lot in terms of overall capability, especially for a buyer who needs value, practicality, and four-seasons capability. Though you can't get a large crossover for $25K, it's important to have room for four and some cargo capacity, too. You also need good in-car technology and a feature-rich interior. Here are the vital criteria we looked at in terms of standard equipment:

  • Sub-$25,000 price before tax, tags, and title
  • All-wheel drive
  • Independent four-wheel suspension
  • Alloy wheels
  • Heated front seats
  • 60/40 Split-folding rear seat
  • Touchscreen infotainment with Bluetooth/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • Robust set of safety technology; IIHS Top Safety Pick Rating (or better)
  • Pushbutton Start; Remote Keyless Entry; Proximity Key Entry
  • 27 mpg combined EPA rating with All-Wheel Drive
  • 60,000-Mile Powertrain Warranty; 36,000-Mile Limited Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty

The Winner: 2020 Hyundai Kona SEL

hyundai kona
The Hyundai Kona is a big surprise in the world of subcompact crossovers. 

Hyundai has a great reputation for giving its models a crap ton of great standard features, and lately they've been giving their offerings superb technology, great safety, and even top-notch driving fun. The Kona, however, is a surprise that checks all these boxes and then some. It's actually hard for us to fathom the fact that the Kona has so much to offer, and the SEL trim is two notches below the top Limited trim, but you still get a lot. 

kona interior
The Kona's interior is ergonomically excellent, and everything is easy to operate while driving.

The Kona SEL exceeds our expectations, and the SEL isn't even the base model, which means it gets quite a bit more than a rudimentary set of features. Also, the Kona happens to be one of the best driving affordable vehicles we've reviewed in 2019 with taut steering and road manners. It just so happens that even in mid-grade trim, it comes packed with standard features no other crossover at this price can offer.

  • $24,395 price (includes $1,095 freight charge and $1,400 for AWD)
  • 2.0-liter, 147 horsepower engine; 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift and Sport mode
  • 17-inch Alloy wheels
  • Four-wheel independent suspension (MacPherson struts in front, multi-link rear)
  • Blind Spot Collision Warning, Lane Change Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Rating
  • Automatic headlights
  • Heated exterior mirrors
  • Heated front seats
  • 60/40 split-folding and reclining rear seats
  • 7-inch color touchscreen with Bluetooth/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • HD Radio/SiriusXM Satellite Radio
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
  • Tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • 3.5-inch Multi-information Display
  • Remote Keyless Entry with alarm and panic; Proximity Key with pushbutton start
  • 100,000-Mile Powertrain Warranty; 36,000-Mile Limited Powertrain Warranty
  • 26 mpg city / 29 mpg highway / 27 mpg combined EPA rating

There's no question even one of the lower trimmed Kona's comes with a serious set of features and benefits, making you wonder why anyone would need to spend $40K or more on a new crossover. You might sacrifice a little bit of rear passenger room, as well as amenities like leather, adaptive cruise control, and heated second-row seats (which you can get on the 2020 Kona Limited, and it's still less than $30K even with a more powerful 176-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine).

hyundai kona limited blue

Hyundai also has the best powertrain warranty in the industry and a solid reputation for reliability. In terms of thrills per dollar, the Kona is seriously fun to drive with the kind of steering and handling reserved for sporty cars. It's our pick for a top-notch crossover for less than $25,000, and that's one serious value. 

Find Local Discounts on the Hyundai Kona

Want to know more about the superb Hyundai Kona? Read our review below:

2019 Hyundai Kona Limited AWD Review

hyundai kona limited