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The Best Cars (New and Used Alike) You Can Buy for Less Than $20,000

$20K isn't a lot to spend, but you can still find some decent values — especially if you're willing to consider a sedan.

vw jetta

We’ll be straight with you: $20,000 is a lot of money, but not when you’re buying a new car. Factoring in the mandatory destination charges, the Big Three combined sell only one new car within that budget, and it’s the 98-horsepower Chevy Spark.

You can purchase a quality car for $20,000, but you’ll have to make sacrifices. You’re foregoing trucks and crossovers for the wonderful, undervalued world of sedans. You’re not going to get that slick new hybrid, or the more powerful engine. And at this price point, you really should consider getting a bit more value in a gently used car coming off a lease.

That said, here are some great new and (slightly) used car options within a $20,000 budget.

subaru impreza
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New: 2021 Subaru Impreza

You can get in on that Subie-life for under $20,000 with the Impreza, which starts at $18,795 in four-door form. The Impreza comes with Subaru's excellent all-wheel-drive system standard and the Subaru Eyesight active safety suite. It also offers a manual transmission.


volkswagen jetta
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New: 2021 Volkswagen Jetta

The Jetta is no longer almost literally the sedan version of the Golf. But it's a sharp-looking, torque-laden, German-engineered, manual transmission sedan with a bit of caché —that you can get for less than $20,000.


kia forte
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New: 2021 Kia Forte

The Forte is a classic Hyundai/Kia/Genesis value play. It looks good, the driving dynamics are solid enough, and the starting MSRP is $17,980. So even after the destination charge, you can live it up a little and get some floormats.


all new f 150 lariat in rapid red metallic tinted clearcoat
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volkswagen sportwagen review gear patrol slide 4
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Used: 2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen

Volkswagen killed off the Golf Sportwagen in America. But it's a super-practical wagon that still maintains much of the Golf's fun to drive character while also being affordable. You can opt for AWD or a manual, but not both. The 2018 ones coming in off leases should be under $20,000.


toyota camry
David Dewhurst Photography
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Used: 2018 Toyota Camry

Sure, the Toyota Camry is boring. But remove your heart from the equation, and it's the most sensible purchase you can make. The Camry is bulletproof; it will run as long you need it to, and even get 40-plus mpg on the highway in base spec. Plus, you'll get added resale value on the back end.


volvo s60
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Used: 2018 Volvo S60

The Volvo S60 sedan is one of the vehicles that depreciate the most over three years. That can push base trim versions from 2018 under $20,000 coming off a lease. It's the last model year of the old generation S60, but it's still a safe, reliable, efficient 240-hp Volvo. And it's also a quasi-premium marque.


jeep cherokee
Pilimas LLC/Flickr
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The Best Used 4x4s We’d Buy for $10,000 Right Now

Need a four-wheel-drive SUV or truck, but don’t have a lot of money to spend?


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