Buying Advice

Least Expensive Cars: These 20 new models are all under $20,000

Despite the price of cars continuing to rise, there are still quite a few that come in under $20,000.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Cars are an expensive commodity. Since many Americans are not purchasing houses, an automobile can often be the highest priced purchase of a lifetime. According to analysts at Kelley Blue Book, the average transaction price for a new car is now approaching $39,000 (based on December 2019 data), but there are plenty of options available well below that average for folks on a budget. With prices starting around $13,000, quality new vehicles are available, complete with new car warranties and a surprising number of standard features.

Here's a look at the least expensive 2020 models available in America — all priced below $20,000. We'll start with the most expensive first.

2020 Honda Civic

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Base MSRP: $19,850
The 10th generation of this popular car debuted early in 2017 featuring fresh styling, improved aerodynamics, new vehicle architecture, a more spacious interior and two new engines.

Last year Honda gave the Civic a light refresh and added more content. The Civic LX sedan with a six-speed manual transmission is the least expensive in the lineup but it is built in limited numbers with the manual gearbox. Every LX has automatic climate control, a 160-watt audio system, a 5.0-inch LCD display screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, automatic high-beam headlights and LED daytime running lights. Standard equipment on the Civic also includes Honda Sensing, which has automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

2020 Toyota Corolla

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Base MSRP: $19,600
Toyota offers an all-new Corolla for the 2020 model year; although a bit more expensive than the outgoing model, it still has a starting price below $20,000. Introduced more than 50 years ago, this compact sedan has been around for 12 generations.

The Corolla L is the lowest priced trim in the lineup and comes well equipped with an AM/FM audio system with six speakers, a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera and LED headlights. Also standard is Toyota's Safety Sense 2.0, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control and road sign assist.

​2020 Hyundai Elantra

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Base MSRP: $19,150
Hyundai gave its best-selling Elantra a complete styling update for the 2019 model year, including a new hood, front fascia, grille and headlights. Taillights are also new, as are the wheel designs. The 2020 model gets a bit of a price increase; however, Hyundai has added more standard equipment.

The lowest price SE comes equipped with dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, projector headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a 5.0-inch touchscreen display, forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist and driver attention warning. Also standard is Hyundai's new Intelligent Variable Transmission, which replaces the six-speed automatic and 6-speed manual.

2020 Nissan Sentra

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Base MSRP: $19,090
A member of the Nissan lineup for more than 35 years, Sentra is all new for the 2020 model year. With styling that matches the rest of its siblings, the 2020 Sentra gets added safety features, more power, better handling and a range of other improvements.

The entry-level Sentra S comes well equipped with air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, a 7.0-inch color touchscreen display, an AM/FM audio system with four speakers, a USB port, pushbutton start, a rearview monitor, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat and 16-inch steel wheels with covers. Also standard is Safety Shield 360 which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, rear-door alert, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist, rear automatic braking and lane departure warning.

​2019 Nissan Frontier

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Base MSRP: $19,290
As one of the oldest models in the Nissan portfolio, the Frontier pickup is clearly holding its own. Featuring more than 20 different configurations, Frontier can be had as a King Cab or Crew Cab, with rear- or four-wheel drive, as well as with long or short truck beds. Two engines are available: a 2.5-liter 152-horsepower 4-cylinder unit or a 4.0-liter V6 producing a more respectable 261 horsepower.

For those willing to spend a bit more, Frontier can be equipped with a variety of features including a heavy-duty suspension, available off-road-tuned Bilstein high-pressure performance gas shock absorbers, skidplates (PRO-4X grade), and an innovative Utili-track Cargo System for easy cargo securing. Rumors of a new Frontier have been swirling about lately, although Nissan has not confirmed the speculation.

2020 Volkswagen Jetta

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Base MSRP: $18,895
Last year Volkswagen introduced an all-new Jetta built on a completely new platform, and it has a sleek coupelike design giving it a sporty look. The car is longer, wider and taller than the previous version, which not only gives the Jetta its new look, it translates into a more spacious cabin.

The S trim anchors the Jetta lineup, well equipped with standard features that include LED headlights, a 6.5-inch color touchscreen, two USB-C ports, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, automatic post-collision braking and 16-inch alloy wheels. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on the Jetta S; an available eight-speed automatic adds $800 to the price

2020 Nissan Kicks

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Base MSRP: $18,870
An all-new model in the Nissan lineup for 2019, Kicks takes its place as an entry-level crossover positioned below the Rogue Sport. One of a growing number of crossovers that do not offer all-wheel drive, the front-drive Kicks is available in three trims.

The base-level S comes well equipped for the price, featuring air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, a 7.0-inch color touchscreen display, an AM/FM/CD audio system with eight speakers, a rearview camera, three USB outlets and 60/40 split-folding rear seats. For 2020 Nissan adds the full Safety Shield 360 suite of safety features that includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking and lane departure warning.

2020 Hyundai Veloster

Base MSRP: $18,800
An all-new Veloster rolled out last year with a refreshed design as well as other improvements. This sporty coupe continues to stand out with its unique three-door configuration: one door on the driver's side, two on the passenger side.

The base Veloster 2.0 is powered by a 147-horserpower engine and comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple Carplay, Android Auto, a rear spoiler, a 6-speed manual transmission and 17-inch alloy wheels. Forward collision avoidance and lane-keeping assist are also standard.

2020 Subaru Impreza

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

Base MSRP: $18,695
Subaru's compact entry gets a slight refresh for the 2020 model year and is still equipped with a 2.0-liter Boxer engine producing 152 horsepower directed to Subaru's full-time all-wheel-drive system. The stylish small car is also fuel efficient, achieving up to 36 mpg on the highway when equipped with the continuously variable transmission.

Standard features on the base-level Impreza include a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a split-folding rear seat, a rearview camera and a five-speed manual transmission. The CVT adds $1,300 to the price, but CVT-equipped Imprezas also come with Subaru's EyeSight driver assist technology.

2020 Kia Forte

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Base MSRP: $17,890
Completely redesigned last year with updated features and a fresh new look, the Kia Forte is powered by a 2.0-liter 147-horsepower engine matched to a six-speed manual gearbox; the base-level Forte FE is EPA rated at 37 mpg on the highway. Standard equipment on this small sedan includes air-conditioning, an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera with dynamic parking guide, Android Auto / Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity, forward collision avoidance, lane-departure warning and driver attention warning.

2020 Kia Soul

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Base MSRP: $17,490
The Kia Soul is all new for the 2020 model year featuring fresh styling and an array of new features. Even as the Soul retains its iconic shape, it receives a modern look with slim headlights, LED daytime running lights and boomerang-shaped taillights that frame the rear window.

Available in multiple trim levels, the Soul's entry-level LX comes with cloth seat trim, a trip computer, a 7.0-inch color touchscreen display, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity, one USB outlet, a split-folding rear seat and 16-inch steel wheels.

2020 Hyundai Venue

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Base MSRP: $17,350
Hyundai adds to its SUV lineup with the all-new Venue. Now Hyundai's smallest crossover, the Venue brings its own unique style to the brand. All trims are front-wheel drive, powered by a 1.6-liter engine producing 121 horsepower, teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission.

The base-level Venue S features air-conditioning, an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, an AM/FM/HD audio system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity. All Venues come with Hyundai SmartSense as a standard feature, which includes forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist and driver attention warning.

2020 Chevrolet Sonic

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Base MSRP: $16,720
There was a time when few quality domestic-brand small cars existed for the U.S. market — thankfully that's no longer the case, and the Chevrolet Sonic shines as a great example with more than 30 percent of its buyers below the age of 35.

All Sonics are powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that produces 138 horsepower, teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission. (The 6-speed manual is no longer available.) Standard equipment on the base-level Sonic LS includes air-conditioning, a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth streaming for two devices, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and an available Wi-Fi hotspot.

2020 Honda Fit

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Base MSRP: $16,190
Honda introduced an updated Fit two years ago with revised styling, a more dynamic driving experience, as well as new technology and entertainment features. The Fit has always excelled at space management — a prime example of a car that is small on the outside yet seems big on the inside.

Powering the Fit is a 1.5-liter engine producing 130 horsepower and achieving up to 36 mpg on the highway for the LX with a standard 6-speed manual gearbox. The base-level Fit LX comes equipped with a rearview camera, LED brake lights, air-conditioning with air filtration, a 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio system, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity with audio streaming and active safety features.

2020 Kia Rio sedan

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Base MSRP: $15,850
The least expensive car in the Kia lineup, Rio was recently redesigned with the latest version of Kia's "tiger nose" grille that brought the entry-level car in synch with the rest of the Korean automaker's lineup. The Rio gets power from a 1.6-liter engine producing 120 horsepower while delivering up to 41 mpg with the new Intelligent Variable Transmission.

As the entry-level trim of the Rio, LX standard features include a 6-way adjustable driver's seat, a split-folding rear seat, air-conditioning, a new 7.0-inch display with an AM/FM/MP3 audio system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a rearview camera.

2020 Toyota Yaris

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Base MSRP: $15,650
Yaris is the least expensive Toyota for the U.S. market, and it received a refreshed look for the 2018 model year. All trims of the Yaris get power from a 1.5-liter engine producing 106 horsepower, rated as high as 40 mpg with the automatic transmission.

The base-level Yaris L comes with Toyota Safety Sense C, which includes a pre-collision system, lane departure alert, and automatic high-beam headlights. For 2020 Toyota adds a 7.0-inch display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality to the Yaris L, in addition to features such as pushbutton start, two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, a backup camera and an AM/FM/HD/SAT audio system with six speakers.

2020 Hyundai Accent

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Base MSRP: $15,295
A few years ago Hyundai updated the Accent with fresh styling that fits nicely with the rest of the lineup. For 2020 this lowest priced Hyundai gets an updated Smartstream 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine producing 120 horsepower. When teamed with the new Intelligent Variable Transmission, fuel economy improves to 41 mpg on the highway.

The base-level Accent SE is the only trim with a six-speed manual transmission, and it comes with air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, a 5.0-inch display screen, a rearview camera, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with four speakers, and 15-inch steel wheels.

2020 Nissan Versa

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Base MSRP: $14,730
The Nissan Versa had been the lowest priced car in America for a number of years, but for 2020 the Japanese brand gives up that title with the introduction of an all-new Versa. The 2020 Nissan Versa gets new styling, a premium interior, the latest high-tech safety features and a much-improved ride.

The base-level Versa S is equipped surprisingly well for the price, with features that include Zero Gravity front seats, a pushbutton start, three USB ports, a 7.0-inch color touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity and streaming, a rearview monitor and 15-inch steel wheels. Also standard is Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic emergency braking, high-beam assist, rear automatic braking and lane-departure warning.

2020 Mitsubishi Mirage

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Base MSRP: $13,995
Not only one of the most affordable new cars in America, Mitsubishi's entry subcompact Mirage is also the lowest powered car with a mere 78 horsepower from its 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine. Even though power is low, the Mirage delivers great fuel economy with an EPA-rated 36 mpg city/43 mpg highway. Standard features on the base-level Mirage ES include automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and streaming, a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, an AM/FM audio system with four speakers, intermittent wipers and 14-inch steel wheels.

2020 Chevrolet Spark

2020 Chevrolet Spark

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Base MSRP: $13,220
The least expensive new car available in America, Spark received updates last year; most notable were fresh styling as well as a new infotainment system. Stylish and fun to drive, Spark comes in several bright colors with funky names such as Passion Fruit, Toasted Marshmallow and Red Hot.

The 1.4-liter engine produces 98 horsepower while delivering up to 38 mpg on the highway. Standard equipment on the base-level Chevrolet Spark LS includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, two USB ports, a rearview camera and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

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Hyundai has completely refreshed the Santa Fe for 2021.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Santa Fe is getting more than just a traditional mid-cycle update for the 2021 model year. It's closer to a generational shift with new powertrains, a new platform, and more premium features.

If you're saying to yourself, "Didn't they just change it?" to yourself right now, you're not wrong. The current Santa Fe shifted generations just about two years ago as the company prepared to introduce the three-row Palisade. When the Palisade arrived, the Santa Fe was relegated to the new two-row Santa Fe and a holdover three-row Santa Fe for a year before going to just a two-row model for 2020.

The SUV has a fresh grille and headlamp design as well as new front and rear fascia.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe has a face that looks like a blend of the Palisade and the Vision T concept car, which was first shown at last year's LA Auto Show. Its headlights carry over the Spartan helmet-like design that first appeared on the Kona. T-shaped LED daytime running lights flow from the headlights to the sides of the grill. The lower grille eschews the crucible-shape that is on the Palisade and offers a new, sophisticated look.

Hyundai has made the car beefier looking but also gentler with posterior that's sophisticated with arrow-like taillights that are connected through the center of the tailgate by a light bar.

Twenty-inch wheels are available as part of a Luxury Package that includes front and back lower bumpers and side cladding that match the body paint color, rather than the traditional matte black.

Hyundai has already revealed that the 2021 Santa Fe will come with hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants in Europe. They have not confirmed which, if either of those powertrains is coming to the U.S. More information is expected to be revealed soon.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai aimed for a premium SUV with the Palisade, to thunderous applause from industry experts and buyers, and it looks like that design mantra is holding true in the New Santa Fe. The company promotes the model as having more "space, comfort, and convenience" than the outgoing model. That's thanks in large part to the new platform the SUV is riding on.

The new third-gen Hyundai platform allows for improvements inn performance, handling, fuel efficiency, and safety. Additionally, it features more crash resistance. With the SUV market growing increasingly competitive, it's understandable that Hyundai would want to shift the model to the new underpinnings ASAP.

The lower half of the dashboard has been redesigned for 2021 and the cabin has been outfitted with soft-touch materials. The center console has also been redesigned and now floats and features similar instrumentation to the Hyundai Nexo and Palisade. This leaves a good amount of space between driver and front passenger for storage.

A new 10.25-inch infotainment screen floats on the dashboard.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The new 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen appears to float above the dashboard. A new 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster sits in front of the driver.

The new Santa Fe will be available in Europe starting September 2020. There is not yet confirmation as to when it comes to the U.S. or what it will cost.

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The 1 millionth vehicle off the line was a red Passat.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant is celebrating the 1 millionth vehicle to roll off its assembly line - Aurora Red Metallic 2020 Volkswagen Passat R-Line. The milestone was reached later than initially anticipated due to production shutdowns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's gratifying to me that our team is back to work and able to mark yet another key milestone since the opening of VW's Chattanooga plant," said Tom du Plessis, president and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga. "Part of us getting back to normal is taking time to recognize these important achievements which are only possible because of the hard work and commitment of our exceptional team here in Chattanooga."

2020 Volkswagen Passat Volkswagen's plant employs approximately 3,800 people.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Before the Chattanooga plant opened, Volkswagen hadn't made a vehicle in the U.S. in 22 years following the closing of the Westmoreland facility in Pennsylvania.

The Passat got its start as a vehicle designed specifically for the North American market.

Ground was broken on the Tennessee plant in 2009 and in 2011 it began producing Passats. It currently employees approximately 3,800 people. In the last nine years, the plant has produced more than 700,000 Passats and 100,000 Atlas SUVs. The new 2020 Atlas Cross Sport and the refreshed 2021 Atlas recently began production.

The Chattanooga facility doesn't just produce vehicles for domestic sale. Chattanooga-assembled vehicles have been exported to Canada, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, and the Middle East.

Volkswagen has announced that the plant will be the company's North American base for manufacturing electric vehicles including the ID.4, representing an approximately $800 million investment, starting in 2022. The expansion to enable U.S. production of long-range EVs began in November 2019.

Volksagen Chattanooga line The Chattanooga plant produces a number of vehicles.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen isn't just committed to the cars it produces in Chattanooga. The company has invested in its community too. Late last year, Volkswagen donated $1.25 million to The Conservation Fund to purchase land near the plant so it could be donated to the U.S. Forest Service.

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