Best used cars & SUVs under $20,000


If you are looking to purchase a new vehicle but can’t afford the cost, take a look at this list of the best used cars and SUVs for savvy adults.  Many offer the features you find on current models at a fraction of the price.

Trading in your older vehicle for a new model can cause a bit of sticker shock.  The good news is that you can still get the latest safety features and accessories without paying new car prices.  According to Consumer Reports, U.S. News & World Report and Kelly Blue Book, here are a few of the top used cars under $20,000.

Best Used Cars Under $20,000

Best Small Car – Mazda 3 – 2014 through 2017 models  

Available as a four-door sedan or a five door hatchback, the Mazda 3 feels more sporty and roomy than a typical small car.  Although the back seat lacks leg room, both the four-door sedan and a five door hatchback offer a good size trunk and cargo space for a compact.  But the real advantage of the Mazda 3 is that it often has features (depending on model) typically found on a luxury or a newer vehicle such as an infotainment system controlled by a console mounted knob.  Other options can include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring.  Mazda 3’s offer the perfect balance of being fun to drive while offering the peace of mind that comes with the latest safety features.

Best Midsize Car – 2017 Toyota Camry 

Toyota’s have had a long reputation of being reliable vehicles with great resale value that run forever and the 2017 Camry doesn’t disappoint.  Although it isn’t as sporty or fuel efficient as its cousin, the Corolla, and doesn’t have the all-wheel drive capability of a Subaru, the Camry provides trouble-free maintenance, an easy ride and such safety features as emergency braking.  For those who aren’t a fan of touch screens, the Camry offers simple button and knob controls as well as such nice-to-have features as a wireless phone charging pad, an advanced audio system with navigation, big cup holders and multiple storage nooks.  If you are looking at a solid commuting car, the 2017 Camry is your vehicle.

Best SUV – 2013 Honda Pilot

If you are looking for more space than a sedan but still want the fuel efficiency, look no further than the Honda Pilot.  With three comfortable rows of seating holding up to eight passengers and plenty of cargo room for those skis or golf clubs, the Pilot provides a nice alternative to a mini-van.  With added features such as easy-to-use interior controls, Bluetooth connectivity and a rear back-up camera as well as Honda’s reputation for reliability and great resale value, it is easy to see why the Pilot was named the top best used SUV under $20,000 by Kelly Blue Book.

Best Used Cars Under $10,000

Best Small Car – 2012 Honda Fit – Average list price $7,995

If you are on a tight budget and need a basic vehicle to get around, take a look at the 2012 Honda Fit.  Voted one of the “most reliable used cars” by U.S. News & World Report, the Fit is a subcompact that doesn’t feel like a small car.  With rear seats that can flip and fold into different combinations to hold various numbers of passengers and types of cargo, the Fit provides the versatility typically found in bigger vehicles.  The Fit also gets great gas mileage – as high as 28 MPG in the city, 35 MPG on the highway – and offers standard air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, and power door locks and Bluetooth connectivity on some models.

Best Midsize Sedan – Toyota Avalon – 2009 & 2010 models – Average list price $8063

If you want more comfort, legroom and wide doors for ease in getting in and out of a vehicle, check out the Toyota Avalon which made both the Kelly Blue Book and U.S. News & World Report list of the best used cars under $10,000.  The Avalon touts a V6 engine, good fuel efficiency along with safety features such as the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with traction control and brake assist as standard equipment.  Although it has been known to “drive and handle like a big car,” the Avalon makes up for it by offering a roomy interior including rear-seat recliners that adjust from a 25 to 35-degree seatback angle.  The Avalon also includes front seat side-impact airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, driver’s-side knee air bag, a six-disc CD changer and an auxiliary audio input jack with all models.  The Avalon gives you the feel of a luxury vehicle at a competitive price.

Best SUV – 2009 Saturn Outlook – Average list price $5505

One of the best used car values is the Saturn Outlook.  With solid handling for a vehicle its size, reliability and ample cargo and passenger room, the Outlook is a good alternative to a mini-van.  The Outlook also offers features typically not found on vehicles at this price point including the General Motors OnStar system, cruise control, and a six-speaker audio system.  Some models even include Bluetooth connectivity, leather upholstery, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

With many makes and models under $20,000 to choose from, you don’t have to sacrifice safety, comfort and features to get affordability.  For more of the best used cars, see the Kelly Blue Book, U.S. News and World Report and Consumer Reports complete lists.

Kelly Blue Book List

U.S. News & World Report List

Consumer Reports List