New cars are more expensive than ever in today’s economy. Inflation, low inventories and now rising interest rates have all put a strain on prices. Last week, the Fed raised interest rates for the fourth time this year, exacerbating the problems facing car buyers. Yet despite the higher prices, many Americans have an insatiable appetite for trucks and SUVs, which is why automakers continue to add SUVs to their lineups and discontinue under-selling sedans. As a result, there is both a shortage of entry-level models and a higher cost just to get into a new vehicle.
With this in mind, Edmunds experts have compiled a list of the highest scoring vehicles occupying the lower end of the price spectrum, about $ 20,000.
Those who can’t go up to $ 20,000 but want a new, reliable and fuel-efficient vehicle should consider the Nissan Versa 2022. Despite its small footprint, the Versa offers excellent passenger space and a spacious trunk. Driving aids such as forward collision warning and lane departure warning are standard. Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats are ergonomic, although some of our editors found it lacked lumbar support.
The Versa looks well built and can also be fun to drive, but don’t expect much in the way of acceleration. In addition to a price that leaves room for options, Versa buyers will save at the pump with an EPA estimate of 35mpg combined. (We averaged 41mpg on our rating path.)
Starting Price: $ 16,675
Do you want a more practical shape? The 2023 Kia Soul is one of the few well-reviewed budget sedans on sale. With car-like handling and SUV-like interior dimensions, the Soul is broadly attractive. A standard 2.0-liter engine is lively for city driving, although passing maneuvers require some forethought. The continuously variable transmission mimics automatic gear changes, eliminating the usual hum. Maneuverability is on par with sportier competitors thanks to balanced steering and controlled body movements.
The boxy exterior of the Soul allows for easy entry and exit, as well as ample headroom for passengers. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standards are accessible via an easy-to-use touchscreen. The EPA puts its fuel economy at 30mpg combined, although we only managed 26.8mpg in our tests.
Starting Price: $ 21,085
The line between a hatchback and an SUV can sometimes be faint, and the front-wheel drive Hyundai Venue is trapped in the middle. While it offers comparable ground clearance to other small SUVs, the Venue doesn’t have all-wheel drive as an option. However, priced just north of $ 20,000, the Venue is one of the cheapest ways to sneak into the more popular segment.
An 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and navigation is standard and easy to use. Given its small size, the Venue has impressive cargo and passenger space. The seating and ride comfort is excellent for the segment and the power is adequate. The EPA rates the 2022 venue at 31mpg combined, but we average 29mpg in our driving circuit.
Starting Price: $ 20,295
Just because affordable sedans are primarily front-wheel drive doesn’t mean all-wheel drive is unattainable. The 2022 Subaru Impreza is the least expensive way to get the all-season warranty of all-wheel drive in a sedan or sedan. With a comfortable, spacious cabin and intuitive technology, Impreza treats passengers well.
Steering and handling are solid, although lackluster acceleration and a buzzing CVT detract from the driving experience. Standard driving aids such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane keeping assistance provide convenience and safety. The EPA estimates that CVT-equipped Impreza sedans will receive 32mpg in combined city / highway driving. Unfortunately, we struggled to achieve an average of even 28mpg.
Starting Price: $ 20,290
When the practicality of a hatchback or small SUV isn’t enough, buyers can turn to small pickups like the Ford Maverick. After going out of style for a while, these compact light duty trucks are back to offer an affordable alternative for DIY enthusiasts. The Maverick’s clever internal storage and a 4.5-foot bed offer versatility, while a standard hybrid powertrain surpasses its EPA estimates at 37mpg combined.
That’s better mpg than even the most frugal compact sedans, plus you get sturdy pickup style, stellar passenger space, and crossover-like handling. Ride quality is a bit choppy and hard plastic panels can bump uncomfortably against your knees, but the Maverick’s low price and utility can help offset the cons. Note that all 2022 model year Mavericks are sold out, but Ford has begun taking orders for 2023 vehicles.
Starting Price: $ 22,490
Note that these cheap prices are for base models, which may not be carried by dealers in the current market. You may need to plan ahead and order the vehicle if needed.
Biography of the author:
This story was provided to the Associated Press by the Edmunds automotive website.
Miles Branman is an Edmunds collaborator and is active Twitter.