If you think that a new SUV is out of your reach, you might be surprised after you take a look at these best new SUVs under $20,000. Generally speaking, you’ll be looking at compact to midsize SUVs in order to meet this price bogey, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll have to contend with a bare-bones model. In fact, the crop of best new SUVs under $20,000 is quite well contented, all things considered.

And, to be fair, the SUVs that are new and priced below $20,000 may not be the first ones that come to mind. Or, they could be the base model (probably are, in fact) of some of the leading SUVs from automakers. These picks for the best new SUVs under 20000 will, hopefully, include something to satisfy everyone. They are all 2010 models and are listed in ascending manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for the base model.

  • Kia Sportage With a starting base MSRP of $16,995, the 2010 Kia Sportage compact crossover SUV is a good choice for consumers looking for high-quality materials, great driving dynamics, and styling that rivals competitors’ – while costing thousands less. Consumer Guide comments: “Sportage is a pleasant light-duty people mover with modest off-road capabilities. We prefer the V6 engine to the underpowered 4-cylinder. It provides class-competitive power and is smoother than rivals’ 4-cylinder engines, if hardly more potent. Lots of standard equipment, decent road manners, good cargo versatility, and a generous warranty make Sportage worth a look.”
  • Hyundai TucsonAlso coming in under the price bogey with a starting MSRP of $18,995 is the redesigned 2010 Hyundai Tucson compact crossover SUV. Plusses, besides styling, include roominess and comfort, terrific fuel economy (EPA-estimated 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway), powerful base engine, smooth highway ride, and competitive price and warranty. In a first drive review, Edmunds auto editor James Riswick said: “The 2010 Hyundai Tucson is yet another giant leap forward for Hyundai. This time, the brand has added style and powertrain efficiency to its resume. For those who don’t quite need the maximum space of a [Toyota] RAV4 or [Honda] CR-V (it’s about 15 cubes smaller in max cargo space), the Tucson is a must drive if you’re in the market.”
  • Subaru ForesterJust barely over the price ceiling, the 2010 Subaru Forester, at a base starting MSRP of $20,295, just keeps getting better. Redesigned in 2009, the new Forester not only looks better, it rides smoother, is quieter, and has more cargo and rear-seat space than the previous model. Consumer Guide remarks: “Forester is a reasonably priced alternative to compact SUV bellwethers such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. It’s noisier and less refined than those rivals, and its interior ambience is a step behind that of other recently redesigned crossovers. Still, this Recommended pick offers good fuel economy and lots of features for the money, with the 2.5X and 2.5X Premium being the strongest values.”
  • Nissan RogueIntroduced in 2008, the Nissan Rogue for 2010 is a good choice for families seeking value and a bit of fun in a compact SUV. Still, there are other more affordable choices out there (see above), but that’s not to take anything away from Rogue. This compact SUV features an upscale interior with spacious rear seats, great cargo versatility, a ride that many reviewers call pleasant, and an EPA-estimated 22/27 mpg (city/highway) fuel economy rating. Edmunds says: “The 2010 Nissan Rogue is a comfortable, fun-to-drive compact crossover with an unusually nice interior. It’s a strong contender unless you require maximum cargo space and rear-seat functionality… Nonetheless, the 2010 Nissan Rogue still deserves a seat at the table with the perennial segment leaders, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. They have more cargo room and versatility, but the Rogue has a nicer interior, appealing driving dynamics and eye-catching styling.”

Two other 2010 best new SUVs under 20000 to consider include the compact Mitsubishi Outlander ($20,840 starting MSRP) and Ford Escape ($21,020 starting MSRP), and the midsize Hyundai Santa Fe ($21,695 base MSRP). While these starting MSRPs are over the target, Invoice prices should fall within the parameters.

To see all SUVs under $20,000 list, click here.

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