Since the invention of the crossover car, its popularity has increased to the point where nearly every auto manufacturer still in business is putting its engineers to work designing the new crossbreed. Unfortunately, that increase in demand has resulted in a lift in pricing on these new animals as well, putting most of them out of the price range for many economy buyers. Still, if you look hard enough, you can still find the best crossover cars under $20,000. Many of them come with all the same warranties, amenities and comforts of much higher priced models. After researching what the automotive experts had to say after testing these new breeds, here are the best crossover cars under $20,000.

1. 2010-2011 Kia Sportage              MSRP: $16,995

Don’t expect miracles in this price range but by all standards the Sportage remains the most solid choice for anyone looking for an affordable compact crossover. The optional 2.0L 4-cylinder and the 2.7L V6 are both covered by one of the best powertrain warranties in the industry at 10 years/100,000 miles. Neither engine matches its rivals in power or performance but the ample cargo space, variety of amenities and nimble handling put the Sportage at the top of the list for value-priced crossovers. (www.edmunds.com, www.consumerreports.org, www.kbb.com)

2. 2010-2011 Hyundai Tucson             MSRP: $18,995

“The Hyundai Tucson may not be as big as its main rivals, but it makes amends with a handsome cabin, an ample features list, sporty handling and a low price. It’s a top pick for a small crossover.” The 2.4L 4-cylinder engines packs one of the best fuel economies of any crossover at 23/31 mpg (city/highway) and is available as an All-Wheel Drive model. The interior styling is one of the best available with a contoured dash, two-tone color scheme and a telescoping steering wheel that provides a comfortable driving position for nearly any driver. Less cargo space (55.8 cubic feet) than competitors is the one drawback. (www.edmunds.com, www.consumerreports.org)

3. 2010-2011 Suzuki Grand Vitara             MSRP: $19,099

“Though it’s outclassed in many areas, the Suzuki Grand Vitara still represents an interesting alternative to other compact crossovers, especially if you’re on a tight budget. To Suzuki’s credit, the new revisions remedy some of the Grand Vitara’s shortcomings.” The engine options of 2.4L 4-cylinder and 3.2L V6 are both a bit noisy for the amount of power provided but remain competitive in fuel efficiency at 19/25 mpg. The 4WD option makes it tougher than many in this class and the amount of cargo space is definitely adequate. However, the firm seats and tight space in rear seating make it a poor choice for long road trips. (www.edmunds.com, www.consumerreports.org)

4. 2010-2011 Jeep Compass              MSRP: $15,365

Though it is outranked in many areas by competitors, Jeep ruggedness and the low price keep the Compass on the list. It is without a doubt one of the most economy-minded crossovers available. Compared to other crossovers, it is limited in cargo space, stiffer in ride and weaker in overall power. On the other hand, this one of the safest and most reliable crossovers on the road for the price. The choice of 2.0L and 2.4L 4-cylinder engines leave it without a 6-cylinder option which would improve its chances of moving higher on the list in the future. It does offer “some useful storage spaces, including an open bin on the passenger side of the dash.” (www.edmunds.com, www.consumerreports.org)

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