In the past, cars with low sticker prices were often overlooked as consumers felt they needed to stretch their dollars to receive vehicles with extra benefits and luxuries. Today, you can find features that appeal to all types of drivers without having to break your budget.

The best cars under $20,000 include, the Honda Fit, MINI Cooper, Kia Forte, and two models from Mazda, the 3i SV Sedan and the 3 S 5-Door Hatchback. Each of these vehicles comes with exceptional benefits, in addition to having a very competitive retail price.

Average Costs

The 2012 Honda Fit is available in three models that are all listed below $20,000: the Fit, the Fit Sport, and the Fit Sport with Navigation. The Fit has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $15,175, the Fit Sport begins at $16,910, and the Sport with Navigation is $19,540.

Prices for the MINI Cooper begin at $20,000. The Kia Forte has a low retail sticker price of only $15,200. Completing this list are the Mazda 3 models with the Mazda 3i SV sedan being the least expensive with a base price of $15,200; the same as the KIA Forte. The Mazda 3 S 5-Door Hatchback is slightly higher starting at $16,845.


The first benefit you will notice with the best cars under $20,000 is their fuel-efficiency. For example, the Honda Fit has a mpg of 27 in the city and 33 on the highway. The MINI Cooper has a mpg that is similar to the Honda Fit, being 29 in the city and 32 on the highway. The Kia Forte has a city mpg of 25 and a highway mpg of 36, while both Mazda 3 models, are 25 for city and 33 for highway travel.

Exceptional fuel-efficiency is only one of the benefits. These cars also received awards and accolades. In total, the Honda Fit has received seven awards from top automotive industry rating companies, including Car and Driver and J.D. Power and Associates.

The MINI Cooper received an award in 2011 as the best resale value compact car for that year and was recognized as one of the top 10 green vehicles for the third year in a row. The Kia Forte received the highest rating of a four or good for safety, while the Mazda 3 models have received honors from Motor Trend for fuel-efficiency, price, performance, and value.

Standard Features

The Honda Fit has wonderful interior and exterior features, beginning with the sleek design that all Honda models are known for. The sporty design combined with 16-inch tires allows for optimal handling around curves and at high speeds. Inside of the Honda Fit, you will find steering wheel controls, a satellite-linked navigation system, and a USB-capable audio interface.

The MINI Cooper’s main features include a cockpit that is inspired by racecars and is combined with a wide body for stability. This car also has enormous cargo space, which is a surprise for most consumers.

The Kia Forte is also very sporty in appearance with 15-inch standard aluminum alloy wheels. The Sirius XM audio system and Bluetooth technology are also standard.

Both of the Mazda 3 models come with 16-inch, all-season tires. For small vehicles, the Mazda 3 vehicles have storage everywhere including the driver’s side console and both the side and center consoles. The rear doors have bottle holders and the center armrest has cup holders. The AM/FM radio and CD player completes the entertainment system.


The Honda Fit, like all Honda vehicles was designed with safety as its number one priority. This is evident in the six airbags that this car has available. It also has crush zones that help absorb the impact of a collision and anti-lock brakes that keep the vehicle from swerving off the road.

The MINI Cooper has very unique safety features, including an electronic distribution of the brakes and a brake cornering system to keep the vehicle from toppling over at high speeds. This car also has side impact doors with beams to interlock the anchoring system. This works with the central locking system in a two-step process to ensure the doors do not open in error.

One of the best safety features of the 2012 Kia Forte is the low anchors and tethers that help keep child restraint seats secure. The other is the full-side airbags that run along the entire length of the vehicle so that both front and rear passengers receive the benefits. To keep the tires stable, the monitoring system keeps the tire pressure at perfect levels and alerts the drive when the air gets too low.

The Mazda 3 models have safety features designed for small vehicles, like a steering wheel that collapses and a brake pedal that folds. They also come with a system that helps monitor blind spots. To prevent accidents, the driver controls all rear locks.

The best cars under $20,000 are stylish and functional and are no longer passed over by the average consumer because of their limits; instead, they are sought after because of their value. In addition to saving money on the purchase, you can also enjoy low maintenance and repair costs because they all offer excellent warranty options.