Priced Below $20,000
The average purchase price of a new car in America is about $34,000, according to Kelley Blue Book. For some shoppers, prices in this range are simply too high, so many think their only option is a used vehicle. However, many quality new vehicles have prices that start at about half the average new-car transaction. There are advantages to buying new: a full warranty, the latest safety features, new convenience features and — in many cases — better performance and fuel economy. What follows are the 35 least expensive new cars in America, all starting below $20,000. Prices shown are Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices for the entry-level trim without destination charges.
2017 Nissan Versa
Starting MSRP: $11,990
The Nissan Versa retains its crown as the least expensive new car available in America. For that low price you get much more than a bare-bones econobox. Versa comes standard with air-conditioning, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, an AM/FM/CD audio system and a trip computer. Also standard are traction and stability control as well as anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution. The 109-horsepower engine is teamed with a 5-speed manual transmission — although the Versa won’t win any races, it is rated at 36 mpg on the highway. And you can smile all the way to the bank.
2017 Mitsubishi Mirage
Starting MSRP: $12,995
Mitsubishi’s entry subcompact Mirage is redesigned for the 2017 model year with fresh styling inside and out. Mirage’s efficiency and performance improve over the previous generation with a more aerodynamic exterior as well as a power increase to 78 horses from its 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine. Mirage is the lowest-powered car in America; however, it does deliver great fuel savings, with an EPA-rated 37 mpg city / 43 mpg highway.
2017 Chevrolet Spark
Starting MSRP: $13,000
The least-expensive new domestic car available in America, the Spark was completely redesigned for the 2016 model year. Stylish and fun to drive, Spark can be had in several bright colors with fun trim names such as Splash, Salsa and Lime. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes and 10 airbags. Spark also comes equipped with a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and access to GM’s OnStar communication service. Power comes from a 1.4-liter engine producing 98 horsepower with fuel economy ratings of 30 mpg city / 38 mpg highway.
2017 Ford Fiesta
Starting MSRP: $13,660
Fiesta continues the trend of small, economical cars that are actually fun to drive. Available as a sedan or hatchback ($300 more), the Fiesta comes with a 120-horsepower 1.6-liter engine rated at 37 mpg on the highway. The updated Sync 3 communication and entertainment system was new for 2016 and features enhanced voice recognition, a 6.5-inch display screen with pinch-to-zoom capabilities and smartphone integration.
2017 Kia Rio
Starting MSRP: $14,165
This Korean automaker has made huge strides since first exporting cars to the U.S. Initially they were just inexpensive — now they’re inexpensive and good. Refreshed for the 2016 model year, the Rio is a fine example of a great entry small car with a stylish design and impressive list of standard features, including an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, a trip computer, air-conditioning, multiple airbags and traction/stability control. “The Rio signifies everything the Kia brand has evolved into since coming to the U.S. market more than 20 years ago,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of Kia product planning. The Rio’s 1.6-liter engine puts out 138 horsepower, which is strong for this class of car but still impresses with EPA fuel economy ratings of 27 mpg city / 36 mpg highway.
2017 smart fortwo
Starting MSRP: $14,650
Not only is the smart car inexpensive, it is also the smallest production car in America. Redesigned for the 2016 model year, the tiny fortwo is just 8.8 feet long — about four feet shorter than the MINI Cooper. The fortwo has limited use given that it only seats two and doesn’t offer much cargo space, but for city dwellers the smart could be a perfect fit. The tiny car is easy to park given its impressive maneuverability — the turning circle is a mere 22.8 feet. As expected, fuel economy for the coupe is good with EPA ratings of 33 mpg city / 39 mpg highway / 35 mpg combined when equipped with the twinamic transmission.
2017 Hyundai Accent
Starting MSRP: $14,745
Hyundai vehicles are typically good values and the Accent is no exception. The base-level SE sedan has an attractive interior that doesn’t feel cheap. Features include a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat, a split-folding rear seat, air-conditioning, power windows and door locks and an AM/FM/MP3/CD audio system with six speakers. The door locks are part of an innovative new security system which bolsters the security of the car, reputed to not give way even to the Top Locksmith UBC. The Accent’s 1.6-liter engine puts out 137 horsepower, and when teamed with the standard 6-speed manual transmission it’s rated at 38 mpg on the highway. All this plus Accent’s 10-year/100,000-mile warranty makes this entry-level Hyundai a great value.
2017 Fiat 500
Starting MSRP: $14,995
At just over 11 feet long, the Fiat 500 is one of the smallest cars on U.S. roads. This little Italian model features an equally tiny 1.4-liter MultiAir 4-cylinder engine producing just 101 horsepower. Despite the meager power, fuel economy is good — EPA rated at 31 mpg city / 38 mpg highway with the 5-speed manual transmission. The 500 Pop is the entry-level version and comes equipped with air-conditioning, a trip computer, remote-keyless entry, and Uconnect AM/FM stereo with 6-speakers and Bluetooth streaming.
2017 Chevrolet Sonic
Starting MSRP: $15,145
It’s nice to see American brands delivering high-quality, economical small cars — the Sonic is an excellent example. Available as a sedan or 5-door hatchback (the 5-door runs an additional $2,435). Redesigned for the 2017 model year, the sporty little sedan offers good performance with a fuel-efficient 1.8-liter engine putting out 138 horsepower and delivering up to 38 mpg on the highway. Standard equipment includes air-conditioning, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and six months free of OnStar Guidance Plan, which gets you Automatic Crash Response, Stolen Vehicle Assistance, Roadside Assistance and Turn-by-Turn Navigation.
2017 Toyota Yaris
Starting MSRP: $15,250
Yaris is the least-expensive Toyota on the U.S. market and comes as either a 3-door or 5-door hatchback. The 3-door Yaris L is the entry-level version, powered by a 1.5-liter engine producing just 106 horsepower and 37 mpg on the highway when matched with a 5-speed manual transmission. Standard on all Yaris variants is the Entune audio system that includes a 6.1-in. touch-screen, an AM/FM CD player with MP3, six speakers, HD Radio, a USB port with iPod connectivity and control, hands-free phone capability, voice recognition, and Bluetooth music streaming.
2017 Nissan Versa Note
Starting MSRP: $15,480
Nissan added the Note to the popular Versa lineup for the 2014 model year, providing an economical 5-door hatchback for customers who need a bit more space. With more rear-seat legroom and cargo space than many of its compact competitors, the Versa Note offers an adjustable floor in the cargo area, providing a space below the floor to hide valuables. A 60/40 split-folding rear seat adds to the cargo-carrying versatility. With the same 109-horse powerplant as the standard Versa, the Note is rated at 39 mpg on the highway with Nissan’s standard Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission.
2017 Toyota Yaris iA
Starting MSRP: $15,950
Previously a Scion product until Toyota shuttered the youth-oriented brand, the Yaris iA gets power from a 1.5-liter engine producing 106 horsepower, teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission. Although there may not be a lot of power, the Yaris iA’s fuel economy is impressive — EPA ratings are 39 mpg on the highway, 30 mpg in the city (slightly higher with the optional automatic transmission). The Yaris iA is also one of the least expensive vehicles to earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick + rating, coming standard with a Low-Speed Pre-Collision System that uses an infrared laser sensor in the windshield to determine if a frontal collision is imminent, and then automatically applies the brakes in certain low-speed situations. In the IIHS Low-speed Autobrake test, the Yaris iA was able to avoid the collision entirely from 12 mph.
2017 Honda Fit
Starting MSRP: $16,090
The Honda Fit excels at space management — the perfect example of a car that’s small on the outside but large on the inside. The rear seats are unique, able to be configured in many ways to allow for cargo storage of all shapes and sizes. Power comes from a 1.5-liter engine producing 130 horsepower and achieving up to 36 mpg on the highway with the standard 6-speed manual transmission. Standard equipment includes air-conditioning with air filtration, power windows and door locks serviced by the locksmith in Sacramento, a 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio system, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity with audio streaming and a number of active safety features.
2017 Kia Soul
Starting MSRP: $16,100
The Soul is not your typical compact car — and that’s a good thing. The cute, boxy hatchback makes great use of space; it has a small footprint but a surprisingly roomy interior for passengers and cargo. Completely redesigned for the 2017 model year, Soul’s 1.6-liter engine puts out 130 horsepower and delivers up to 30 mpg on the highway. Soul comes standard with many high-value features, including an AM/FM/MP3 player, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning and a trip computer. Anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, hill assist control and a brake assist system are also standard.
2017 Kia Forte
Starting MSRP: $16,600
One of three Kia models on this list of inexpensive new cars, the refreshed Forte offers attractive styling as well as an impressive list of standard features. The equipment list includes an AM/FM/CD/MP3/SiriusXM audio system, USB input jacks, Bluetooth connectivity, a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The Forte’s 2.0-liter engine puts out 147 horsepower and is rated as high as 34 mpg on the highway when equipped with the standard 6-speed manual transmission.
2017 Ford Focus
Starting MSRP: $16,775
One of the best-selling cars in America, the Focus is available as a sedan or hatchback; however, the entry-level S trim is only available as a sedan. The standard powerplant for Focus S is a 2.0-liter 160-horsepower engine; fuel economy for the entry S sedan is EPA rated at 25 mpg city / 34 mpg highway with a 5-speed manual transmission. Focus also comes standard with a rearview camera, an air-filtration system, multiple safety features and the SYNC voice-activated communications and entertainment system with hands-free calling.
2017 Nissan Sentra
Starting MSRP: $16,900
Nissan’s popular compact sedan received a refresh for the 2016 model year with updated styling and several new safety and convenience technologies. Standard features include an AM/FM/CD audio system, remote keyless entry, multiple airbags, a split-folding rear seat and 16-inch steel wheels. Safety features such as vehicle dynamics control, traction control and anti-lock brakes are also standard. Power comes from 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 130 horsepower. Fuel-economy ratings are quite good — Sentra is rated at 27 mpg city / 35 mpg highway when equipped with the manual transmission. Upgrading to the Xtronic CVT jumps the mpg numbers to 29 and 37, respectively.
2017 Chevrolet Cruze
Starting MSRP: $16,975
Cruze continues as one of the most successful small cars the Detroit-based automaker has ever delivered, and is currently one of the best-selling cars in America. The Cruze was updated for the 2016 model year — it’s larger and lighter than the outgoing model. In addition to fresh styling, Cruze received the latest safety technology as well as a new 1.4-liter turbocharged 153-horsepower engine that’s EPA rated at 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway with a manual transmission (30 mpg city / 40 mpg highway with the automatic transmission). But the big news for Cruze in 2017 is the addition of a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine with an EPA-estimated 52 mpg highway when equipped with a manual transmission (the automatic gets 47 mpg)
2017 Hyundai Elantra
Starting MSRP: $17,150
All new for the 2017 model year, the Elantra is slightly longer and wider than its predecessor yet considerably more aerodynamic. Elantra comes well equipped with air-conditioning, premium cloth trim, an AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 6-speaker sound system with USB input, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes and multiple airbags. The standard engine powering Elantra is a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit producing 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque; EPA fuel-economy ratings are an impressive 29 mpg in the city / 38 mpg on the highway.
2017 Mitsubishi Lancer
Starting MSRP: $17,795
Refreshed for the 2016 model year, the Lancer is Mitsubishi’s stylish compact sedan. Not as well-known as its more powerful former sibling — the Lancer Evo — the Lancer sedan offers up an impressive list of standard features including automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, fog lights and a high-end audio system. Lancer is also safely equipped, featuring Mitsubishi’s patented Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution safety cell body construction. The Lancer ES is powered by a 2.0-liter engine putting out 148 horsepower.
2017 Mazda Mazda3
Starting MSRP: $17,845
Mazda’s long-lasting advertising slogan is “Zoom-Zoom,” and if you’ve ever driven a Mazda you know why that phrase persists. Available as either a 4-door sedan or hatchback, the refreshed 2017 Mazda3 offers a versatile interior in a stylish design that slots well within the Mazda lineup. Standard features include a MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system, a rearview camera, a 7-inch full-color touchscreen display and Pandora, Stitcher and Aha internet radio. But the best part is the driving experience — the Mazda3 makes every drive feel sporting, even the daily commute. The base Mazda3 sports a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 155 horsepower while delivering 28 mpg city / 37 mpg highway.
2017 Volkswagen Jetta
Starting MSRP: $17,895
One of the best-selling passenger cars in America, the VW Jetta offers great value in a fun-to-drive 4-door sedan. The base-level Jetta S has a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that produces 150 horsepower while delivering up to 40 mpg on the highway, 28 in the city with its 5-speed manual transmission. Features such as Bluetooth with audio streaming, a USB port, a multi-function trip computer, a color touchscreen display and cruise control are standard.
2017 Jeep Renegade
Starting MSRP: $17,995
The smallest model in the Jeep lineup, Renegade joined the growing subcompact crossover segment for the 2015 model year — a fuel-efficient package that still offers the off-road capability expected from a Jeep. The Renegade Sport and Latitude trims are both powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine with a 6-speed manual transmission, or an available 2.4-liter Tigershark engine with 9-speed automatic transmission — which is standard for Renegade Limited and Trailhawk trims. EPA fuel-economy ratings for the entry trim levels are 24 mpg city / 31 mpg highway.
2017 Jeep Patriot
Starting MSRP: $18,040
Jeep still calls Patriot the “best priced SUV in America,” even though the Renegade has a starting MSRP that happens to be $45 less. The Patriot is available with front-wheel drive or multiple levels of 4WD capability. The 2WD Patriot Sport is the least expensive version in the lineup — adding 4WD bumps up the price by $2,000. A 2.0-liter 158-horsepower 4-cylinder engine is standard on all Patriots, teamed with a 5-speed manual transmission on 2WD versions. EPA fuel-economy ratings for this powertrain package are 23 mpg city / 30 mpg highway. Standard features include fog lamps, stability control, electronic roll mitigation, traction control, multiple airbags, Bluetooth connectivity and an AM/FM/CD audio system.
2017 Hyundai Veloster
Starting MSRP: $18,100
The Veloster is a sporty front-wheel-drive coupe that features a rather unique design. The left (driver’s) side has a single door, while on the right two doors provide easy access to the rear seat. Veloster is available with a 1.6-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine producing 132 horsepower, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission (a 6-speed EcoShift dual clutch automatic transmission is available). Standard features include a 7-inch display with AM/FM/SiriusXM as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a rearview camera, a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
2017 Nissan Frontier
Starting MSRP: $18,390
As Nissan’s entry in the midsize pickup truck market, the Frontier has more than 20 configurations. The base-level S King Cab trim features a 152-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, achieving an EPA-estimated 19 mpg city / 23 mpg highway. Other S features include an anti-lock brake system, vehicle dynamics control, a tire-pressure-monitoring system, two 12-volt power outlets, a chrome grille and 16-inch wheels.
2017 Subaru Impreza
Starting MSRP: $18,395
All new for the 2017 model year, the Subaru Impreza is available as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback. Trim levels include the 2.0i, Premium, Sport and Limited. All trims of the Impreza are powered by a revised 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Boxer engine producing 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard as well as air-conditioning with filtration, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry and a rearview camera. Further standard features include a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, iPod control capability, and smartphone integration featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. EPA fuel-economy ratings are up to 28 mpg city / 38 mpg highway.
2017 Toyota Corolla
Starting MSRP: $18,500
According to Toyota, more than 40 million Corollas have been sold since its introduction, and it is currently the best-selling compact car in America. Refreshed for 2017, Corolla gets power from an efficient 1.8-liter engine that achieves 132 horsepower while delivering 35 mpg on the highway when equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission (the standard CVT gets 36 mpg). Corolla features an Entune Audio system with a 7-inch touchscreen display, a USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, music streaming via Bluetooth and Siri Eyes Free. The 2017 Corolla also achieves recognition as an IIHS Top Safety Pick +.
2017 Honda Civic
Starting MSRP: $18,740
A perennial favorite among new-car buyers, the redesigned Honda Civic is currently the best-selling passenger car in America. The tenth generation of this popular car features fresh styling, improved aerodynamics, new vehicle architecture, a more spacious interior and two new engines. Fuel economy is also impressive — rated as high as 42 mpg with a new 2.0-liter turbocharged powerplant. Standard features include a 5-inch color LCD screen, LED daytime running lights, and electric parking brake with automatic brake hold, a multi-angle rearview camera, a capless fuel filler, and Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and streaming audio.
2017 Honda HR-V
Starting MSRP: $19,465
A brand-new model for 2016, the HR-V is the smallest entry in the Honda crossover lineup with a design that has a more couplelike profile. The surprisingly spacious interior can handle cargo of myriad shapes and sizes with its configurable second-row “Magic Seat.” The entry-trim LX has a 141-horse 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission offering reasonable performance and good entry-level ES is motivated by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (148 horsepower, 145 pound-feet) that fuel economy in this very competitive market segment. EPA fuel-economy ratings with the manual transmission are 25 mpg city / 33 mpg highway.
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Starting MSRP: $19,795
A 5-occupant compact crossover, the 2017 Outlander Sport get refreshed for the new model year.
Standard ES features include a 2.0-liter engine, a 5-speed manual transmission; a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional. Other worthy features include 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, remote locking and unlocking, cruise control, automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a driver information display, a Bluetooth and a 4-speaker audio system. Options include rear parking sensors, remote ignition, a nav system a 7-inch touchscreen and voice controls and interior ambient lighting. EPA fuel-economy ratings for Outlander Sport are 24 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
2017 Volkswagen Golf
Starting MSRP: $19,895
Voted one of Car and Driver magazine’s 10Best cars 10 years in a row, the popular VW Golf has seating for five occupants, and with rear seats folded flat it has 52.7 feet of cargo space. The Golf 1.8T 4-Door S sports a 1.8-liter 170-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic and Sport Mode. This German compact has EPA fuel-economy ratings of 25 mpg city / 36 mpg highway with the manual transmission. Standard features include a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a Composition Media touchscreen sound system, VW Car-Net App-Connect for smartphones, an anti-lock brake system, stability control, side curtain airbags front and rear, an immobilizing theft-deterrent system and Intelligent Crash Response.
2017 Jeep Compass
Starting MSRP: $19,940
Similar to its sibling Patriot, the Compass is likely in its last year of production before Jeep introduces a new model for next year that will replace both vehicles. Premiering as a 2007 model, Compass has a 2.0-liter 158-horsepower 4-cylinder engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Fuel-economy estimates from the EPA are 23 mpg city / 30 mpg highway. Standard safety features include electronic roll mitigation, stability control and hill start assist.
2017 Mazda CX-3
Starting MSRP: $19,960
Mazda added a new subcompact crossover for 2016 — the CX-3 joined the lineup as the smallest crossover alongside the compact CX-5 and midsize CX-9. Mazda CX-3 boasts a dynamic design, signature Mazda sporty driving characteristics and an available sophisticated i-ACTIV AWD system. Powered by a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine combined with the SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed automatic transmission, the CX-3 AWD delivers impressive fuel efficiency of 31 mpg combined for the 2WD variant, and 29 mpg combined with 4WD. The popular crossover has been an IIHS Top Safety Pick + since its introduction.
2017 Volkswagen Beetle
Starting MSRP: $19,995
Possessing one of the most recognizable automotive shapes of all time, the VW Beetle has a long line of devotees from Wolfsburg, Germany to Walla Walla, Washington — and most places in between. The 2017 Beetle has the same power unit as the Golf: a turbocharged 1.8-liter 170-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, although it gets mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Sport Mode. The Beetle has EPA fuel-economy ratings of 24 mpg city / 33 mpg highway. Features on this iconic compact include retro-modern gauges, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a rearview camera, a Composition Color touchscreen sound system, 16-inch alloy wheels, and Bi-Xenon automatic headlights with LED daytime running lights.