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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The Nissan Ariya has wind glide over it in the testing tunnel.

Photo courtesy of Nisan Motor Company

Nissan is targeting a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.297 for the Ariya all-electric crossover. If it can make that number, it will be the company's most aerodynamic crossover to date. What does that mean? Let's take a closer look.

What is drag?

Simply put, drag is an aerodynamic force. It's mechanical in nature, so it is the result of the interaction of a solid body and a liquid. In the case of a car, this liquid is air. (Yes, air is a liquid.) It only occurs when one part of the equation (the solid body or the liquid) is in motion. If there is no motion, there is no drag.

Drag only occurs in the opposite direction of the object's movement. Think of a car cutting through the air as it drives down a north-south road. As the car heads north, the air it passes through is pushed south. The car is in motion; there is drag.

2022 Nissan Ariya

Photo courtesy of Nisan Motor Company

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What is coefficient of drag?

The coefficient of drag, also called a drag coefficient, is a number that aerodynamics professions (aerodynamicists) use to determine the shape, inclination, and flow conditions on a vehicle's drag. The shape of an object (bullet vs. square vs prism, etc.) has a large impact on the amount of drag created by airflow surrounding a vehicle. Objects with narrower front ends tend to have a lower coefficient.

Scientists and vehicle designers want to keep air moving around the car for maximum efficiency. The inclination of the airflow to either move in a smooth, connected pattern, or to be broken up with air sitting, stalling in one particular part of the vehicle, lessening airflow and making the vehicle less aerodynamic.

A vehicle's Cd is determined by plugging various measurements into an equation. Cd is equal to drag (D) divided by the quantity of density (r) multiplied by half the velocity (V) squared multiple by the reference area (A). As an equation, it looks like this: Cd = D / (A * .5 * r * V^2).

The smaller the Cd, the more aerodynamic a vehicle is.

2022 Nissan Ariya

The Nissan Ariya employs aerodynamic wheel design, made to help it cut though the air with greater ease.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

What is the coefficient of drag of the Nissan Ariya?

"With the growing shift towards electric mobility, aerodynamic testing is becoming increasingly important. The aerodynamics of electric vehicles are directly linked to how efficiently the vehicle moves – less drag and better stability allows the customer to drive longer distances before having to recharge," said Sarwar Ahmed, Aerodynamics and Aeroacoustics Engineer at Nissan Technical Centre Europe.

Nissan is targeting a 0.297 coefficient of drag for the Ariya. How will it achieve that number? By utilizing precisely shaped body lines and strategically placed air ducts, among other components. There's a bonus to better aerodynamics when it comes to EVs.

"Following official homologation of the Nissan Ariya later this year, we anticipate the range to improve compared to the 310 mile figure shared in 2020 during the World Premiere. This will give drivers more efficiency and confidence to go even further on a single charge," said Marco Fioravanti, VP Product Planning, Nissan Europe.

How does the Ariya's coefficient of drag compare to other Nissans?

The newest Nissans, the Kicks, Pathfinder, and Frontier, don't have their Cd publicly available yet, but other models have their results. The targeted 0.297 Cd in the Ariya is less than that in the 2021 Armada, Murano, and Rogue. But, it's higher than the Nissan Leaf.

The fact that it's higher than the Leaf is not surprising. Shorter cars tend to be more aerodynamic because they sit lower to the ground and have a smaller profile. That also explains why Nissan's largest and boxiest SUV, the Armada, has the highest number on the list.

How does the Ariya's coefficient of drag compare to numbers from other EVs?

The Nissan Ariya's coefficient of drag is higher than that of most other electric cars, crossovers, and SUVs sold in the U.S. Here's where the others measure up:

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Toyota is mobilizing, putting its money where its mouth is to help Texas affected by severe winter weather.

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

Winter Storm Uri impacted nearly every single one of Texas's 254 counties. North Texas-based Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) has pledged $1 million in relief for those affected by the storm. The aid is slated to serve both Toyota and Lexus customers and a variety of Texas-based non-profit organizations.

Over 60 Texas counties were part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) recent Texas Severe Winter Storms (DR-4586-TX). It is currently categorized as an active disaster.

"We take our role as community leaders seriously, so when winter storms affected millions right in our back yard, our top priority became helping Texas get back on its feet after this ordeal," said Sean Suggs, group vice president of Social Innovation, TMNA. "Texans have supported our company in myriad ways, and we want to help our neighbors emerge from this storm stronger than ever."

The $1 million relief effort includes:

North Texas/DFW Metroplex

  • United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, in support of North Texas Cares and West Dallas nonprofits to quickly distribute funds to grassroots organizations: $450,000
  • North Texas Food Bank: $100,000
  • The Family Place and Genesis Women's Shelter to fund hotel rooms, food, and transportation for their clients: $30,000
  • Toyota employees will be able to support the needs of four North Texas community partners significantly impacted by the storms by purchasing items from their Amazon Wish Lists.

San Antonio

  • SAWS Community Pipe Repair Fund, through the San Antonio Area Foundation to assist individuals and families stay in their homes safely with funds for plumbing repairs: $100,000
  • Let's Help SA Fund to provide food, water and shelter: $200,000

Houston

  • United Way of Greater Houston to support the Greater Houston 2021 Winter Storm Relief Fund that supports local home repairs: $50,000
  • Houston Food Bank: $50,000
  • CrowdSource Rescue to provide food, water and fuel: $20,000

Additionally, Toyota will match up to $10,000 in individual employee contributions to nonprofit organizations recovering from the storm.

Toyota and Lexus Financial Services customers who are looking for loan and lease payment relief, and were impacted by the storm, may be able to receive assistance under a new Toyota program that has a variety of options for clients.

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