Trunks, be gone! You can’t fit a drum set into a trunk. You can’t get a 52” flat screen TV in a trunk (at least, not coupled with the stand it needs to sit on). And you can’t throw your pet carrier in the trunk to haul Spot to the vet (at least, not if you want him to live). The best bet for hauling any of these items, and countless others, is the hatchback. Hatchbacks have been around for decades, since the days of the old Ford Pintos and Chevy Chevettes. Thankfully, they’ve improved since then. They are still one of the most reliable, fuel efficient vehicles on the road; and, they can be had for half the price of what most sedans cost. Here are some of the best hatchbacks available for under $20,000, as researched for you on several trusted resources like Edmunds (www.edmunds.com), Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org), and Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com).

1. 2010-2011 Ford Fiesta MSRP: $15,120

There’s a reason that the new Fiestas were one of the most highly anticipated models to come out the past couple years. “The Ford Fiesta gives economy car shoppers reason to celebrate with its fun-to-drive personality, nicely trimmed cabin, tight build quality and unexpected features.” It does pose a tighter cabin but that’s typically the case with most hatchback vehicles to begin with. The sporty engine, magnificent fuel economy, and available high-end features put Ford’s oldest current compact at the top of the list. It is one the most rewarding vehicles for the price and the price is very low for the what you’re getting. (www.edmunds.com, www.comsumerreports.org)

2. 2010-2011 Honda Fit MSRP: $15,100

When Honda figures out how to solve the road noise issue associated with the Fit, it may have a shot at taking the top spot. Visibility is superb and the manual transmission option is actually more powerful than the automatic. However, the automatic provides one of the best fuel economies in the class at 27/33 mpg (city/highway). “No budget hatchback can match the 2010 Honda Fit’s combination of practicality and performance.” It also comes with Honda reliability and a list of options and trim levels that can accommodate any driver. (www.edmunds.com, www.kbb.com)

3. 2010-2011 Honda Insight MSRP: $19,800

Honda makes the list twice thanks to its remodeled answer to the Toyota Prius. The Insight comes with an “affordableprice, excellent fuel economy, a seamless hybrid powertrain, and provides a pleasant driving experience.” It still suffers from Honda’s road noise issue but in all aspects it has become a major competitor to the top line Prius and Ford Fiesta. The only other drawback is that its back seat does provide the room or comfort of some other options available. On the other hand, the driving experience makes up for the lack of passenger space. (www.consumerreports.org, www.edmunds.com)

4. 2010-2011 Volkswagen Golf MSRP: $18,735

This is arguably the most stylish of all the subcompacts available. It is rather pricy for what you’re getting so it remains a little further down on the list. However, it does utilize excellent building materials, an available diesel option, Bluetooth and a touchscreen sound system with a six-CD changer. It is also one of the most powerful compacts available with its 2.5L 4-cylinder engine pumping out 170 horsepower. The Golf is now in the sixth generation of production and if it keeps improving, seven may be the lucky number for Volkswagen in the end. (www.edmunds.com, www.kbb.com)

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