Edmunds: 5 wallet-friendly vehicles
New cars are more expensive than ever in today’s economy. Inflation, low inventories and the current rise in interest rates have all weighed on prices. Last week, the Fed raised interest rates for the fourth time this year, adding to the problems plaguing car buyers. Yet despite the higher prices, many Americans have an insatiable appetite for trucks and SUVs, which is why automakers continue to add SUVs to their lineups and discontinue poorly sold sedans. As a result, there’s both a shortage of entry-level models and a higher cost just to get into a new vehicle.
With that in mind, Edmunds experts have compiled a list of top-rated vehicles that occupy the lower end of the price range, at around $20,000.
Those who can’t reach $20,000 but want a reliable, fuel-efficient new vehicle should consider the 2022 Nissan Versa. Despite its small footprint, the Versa offers excellent passenger space and a spacious trunk. Driver aids such as forward collision warning and lane departure warning are standard. Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats are ergonomic, although a few of our reviewers found them lacking in lumbar support.
The Versa feels well built and can even be fun to drive – but don’t expect much acceleration. Along with a price that leaves room for options, Versa buyers will save at the pump with an EPA rating of 35 mpg combined. (We averaged 41 mpg on our review road.)
Starting price: $16,675
Want a more practical shape? The 2023 Kia Soul is one of the few cheap and well-reviewed hatchbacks on sale. With car-like handling and SUV-like interior dimensions, the Soul is broadly appealing. A standard 2.0-litre engine is peppy for city driving, although overtaking maneuvers require some foresight. The continuously variable transmission mimics automatic gear changes, eliminating the usual buzzing noise. Handling is on par with sportier competitors thanks to balanced steering and controlled body movements.
The Soul’s boxy exterior allows for easy entry and exit, as well as generous headroom for passengers. Apple CarPlay and standard Android Auto are accessed via an easy-to-use touchscreen. The EPA puts its fuel economy at 30 mpg combined, though we only managed 26.8 mpg in our testing.
Starting price: $21,085
The line between a sedan and an SUV can sometimes be thin, and the front-drive-only Hyundai Venue is caught between the two. Although it offers ground clearance comparable to other small SUVs, the Venue does not have optional all-wheel drive. Still, with a price just north of $20,000, the Venue is one of the cheapest ways to squeeze into the most popular segment.
An 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and navigation is standard and easy to use. Given its micro size, the Venue has impressive passenger and cargo space. Seating and ride comfort are excellent for the segment and power is adequate. The EPA rates the 2022 Venue at 31 mpg combined, but we averaged 29 mpg in our driving loop.
Starting price: $20,295
Just because affordable sedans are mostly front-wheel drive doesn’t mean all-wheel drive is unattainable. The 2022 Subaru Impreza is the cheapest way to get the all-weather assurance of all-wheel drive in a sedan or sedan. With a comfortable, spacious cabin and intuitive technology, the Impreza treats passengers well.
Steering and handling are solid, though lackluster acceleration and a buzzy CVT reduce the driving experience. Standard driver aids such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane keeping assist provide comfort and confidence. The EPA estimates CVT-equipped Impreza sedans will get 32 mpg in combined city/highway driving. Unfortunately, we struggled to achieve even 28 mpg on average.
Starting price: $20,290
When the practicality of a hatchback or small SUV isn’t enough, buyers can turn to small pickups like the Ford Maverick. After going out of fashion for a while, these lightweight compact trucks are back to offer an affordable alternative for DIY enthusiasts. The Maverick’s smart interior storage and a 4.5-foot bed provide versatility, while a standard hybrid powertrain beats its EPA ratings at 37 mpg combined.
That’s better mpg than even the most frugal compact sedans, plus you get rugged pickup styling, stellar passenger space and crossover-like handling. The ride quality is a bit choppy and the hard plastic panels can bump your knees uncomfortably, but the Maverick’s low price and usefulness can help offset the downsides. Note that all 2022 model year Mavericks are sold out, but Ford has started taking orders for 2023 vehicles.
Starting price: $22,490
Note that these bargain prices are for base models, which might not be offered by dealers in the current market. You may need to plan ahead and order the vehicle if needed.
Authors biography :
This story was provided to The Associated Press by automotive website Edmunds.
Miles Branman is a contributor at Edmunds and is on Twitter.