When car shopping, we all have to decide whether to buy new or used

By Matt Hill

AAA World Article

Most of us are on a budget, particularly when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. When car shopping, we all have to decide whether to buy new or used.  We’re often torn between the financial appeal of a used car and the shininess and reliability of a new car. Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Are there new cars available that are truly affordable? We’ve explored the question by considering the market availability of new cars with a cost of $20,000 or less.

In the subcompact class, you will find models under $20,000 available from most every major car manufacturer.  And not only will you save money on your initial purchase, but gas payments will be comparatively lower as well compared to larger vehicles. 




Nissan Versa


Chevrolet Spark


Ford Fiesta


Mitsubishi Mirage


Hyundai Accent


Honda Fit


Kia Rio


Chevrolet Sonic


Toyota Yaris


Fiat 500


Kia Soul


Hyundai Kona



Many of these vehicles are both affordable and reliable. The Chevrolet Sonic and Kia Soul for instance, were named by JD Power as the most dependable small car and most dependable compact multi-purpose vehicle, respectively.

Defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as having an interior volume index of 100-109 cubic feet, compact cars are often quite affordable as well. 




Kia Forte


Ford Focus


Nissan Sentra


Honda Civic


Chevrolet Cruz


Hyundai Elantra


Hyundai Veloster


Subaru Impreza


Volkswagen Jetta


Toyota Corolla



Although our research found no commercially available SUVs with an MSRP list of below $20,000, a number of the previously listed subcompacts and compacts offer hatchback models, which might offer a bit of the sportiness of an SUV, albeit with less spacious cargo and passenger areas. Those in search for low-cost trucks will be pleased to know that you can in fact find a truck with a list price below $20,000. The Nissan Frontier, listed at $19,090, is also named the most dependable midsize pickup by JD Power, representing another great example of an affordable and reliable vehicle. 

If like me you’re on a budget, it’s encouraging to realize that such a wide range of vehicles are available for purchase right off the lot for less than $20,000. What’s more, many of these vehicles are touted in the industry for their reliability, regardless of their price. With both affordability and reliability, you can have your cake and eat it too.