Got twenty grand to spend and you’re searching for best new cars under $20,000? The good news is that you can reasonably expect to find some midsize makes and models that fall under this price point. Of course, they won’t be the top-of-the-line models and may not have all the features you want – but they’ll be great deals, nonetheless. And you could always consider purchasing a higher trim or model in the small car segment. But most consumers want the space and performance of a bigger car, especially if they’re forking over $20,000.

Here are a few contenders from the small and midsize segments for best new cars under $20,000:

Small Car Segment

  • 2010 Ford FocusHighlights of the compact 2010 Ford Focus – with MSRPs ranging from $16,290-$18,780 – include popular Sync entertainment system, impressive handling, well-designed interior, and good fuel economy. Rear seat and cargo space are a bit cramped, though, but Focus is a good value. New Car Test Drive remarks: “The Ford Focus has been known as a car that offers good handling since the 2000 model. This Focus [2010], though different in appearance, is basically that same car, and it still handles well.”
  • 2010 Honda InsightWant to go green and drive a fun, sporty vehicle? The 2010 Honda Insight may be the answer, with MSRP beginning at $19,800. comments: “The goal of the 2010 Honda Insight is to make the best use of the most cost-effective hybrid technology. That means a 40-mpg+ compact car for less than $20,000 – a figure designed to undercut the least expensive Toyota Prius by about $2,000.”
  • 2010 Volkswagen New BeetleConsumers with a bent for retro styling and fun driving dynamics may find the 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle, with MSRP beginning at $18,690, right up their alley. Car and Driver says: “The cute shape and retro interior styling still appeal, but the five-cylinder engine is a party pooper, and the car isn’t as entertaining as the shape suggests. Still, it’s quite practical, save for an oddly-shaped trunk.”

Midsize Car Segment

  • 2011 Hyundai SonataAll-new for 2011, the midsize Hyundai Sonata is sharply styled inside and out, features a long list of standard equipment, and the best non-hybrid fuel economy in its class (23 mpg city/34 mpg highway). The impressive Hyundai warranty is also a plus. All this for MSRPs starting at $19,195. Automobile observes: “The new Sonata is at or near the top of this hyper-competitive class in a broad range of categories – some you might expect (low price, fuel economy, light weight) and some you might not (power, torque, interior space, and driving dynamics).”
  • 2010 Ford FusionWith a starting MSRP of $19,695, the 2010 Ford Fusion is not only the Motor Trend Car of the Year, some say it’s the best of the midsize crop of family cars. Consumer Reports gave Fusion a Recommendation and Consumer Guide says: “The 2010 Fusion gains a number of worthwhile upgrades that bolster its standing in the competitive midsize car class….While we’re impressed with the Hybrid, all Fusion models earn our Best Buy approval.”
  • 2010 Mazda Mazda6Low-end MSRPs start at $18,600 for the sporty, many say sexy, family sedan, the 2010 Mazda Mazda6. For a front-wheel drive sedan, that’s pretty high praise. Just don’t pack on the options, which can quickly elevate the price. Edmunds comments: “While the amply proportioned 2010 Mazda 6 may no longer be the sportiest family sedan on the market, it is unquestionably one of the best” with “roomy cabin, big trunk, muscular performance from V6, smooth automatic transmissions, relatively sporty handling.”

Other new cars under $20,000 to check out include these 2010 models: Kia Optima, Mini Cooper, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Altima, Pontiac Vibe, Subaru Impreza and Legacy, all-new Suzuki Kizashi, Toyota Camry, and Volkswagen Golf and Jetta. You could also look at the 2010 Honda Accord. While the starting MSRP is $21,055, invoice may put the base Accord in the under-20 range.

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