The 29 best used cars under $20,000

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(iSeeCars) – According to iSeeCars data, the average price of a used car has risen to $29,883. The good news is that you can find a reliable used car for less than this amount, and hopefully within your budget.

With that in mind, there are many reliable used cars to choose from for under $20,000. (If your budget is slightly lower, you can refer to our guides for the Best Used Cars Under $15,000, or if you know you want an SUV check out our Best Used SUVs Under $20,000.) Because the used car search can be overwhelming, we’ve done the important research for you.

Here are the best used cars on the market for less than $20,000.

Best Used Cars Under $20,000

The vehicles on our list are between one and seven years old and rank the highest on iSeeCars quality analysis that takes into account long-term reliability, value retention, and highest average safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Based on these criteria, an iSeeCars Quality Score was calculated.

We divided top cars into the following segments: small cars, midsize sedans, large sedans, SUVs, minivans, and hybrid cars.

Best Small Cars Under $20,000

Small cars are a popular choice for drivers who don’t require a lot of passenger and cargo space and who want an efficient vehicle. Because of their small size, these cars tend to be more affordable than their larger counterparts.

Best Used Cars Under $20,000: Small Cars
RankVehicleiSeeCars Quality Score (of 10)Average Used Car Price
12018 Honda Civic9.0$19,062
22019 Honda Fit9.0$19,412
32019 Toyota Corolla8.9$19,452
42018 Subaru Impreza8.9$18,902
52018 Mazda MAZDA38.9$17,665
62018 Volkswagen Golf8.8$18,886
  1. Honda Civic

iSeeCars Quality Score: 9.0

Reliability Score: 8.7

Value Retention Score: 8.8

Safety Score: 9.5

Earning top honors as the best used car under $20,000 is the Honda Civic, which has enjoyed a longstanding tenure as one of the most popular compact cars in America. The 2018 Civic is available in sedan and coupe body styles. The versatile Civic, which appeals to both sporty and practical drivers alike, is known for its comfortable drive quality, high safety scores, and fuel efficiency. It comes standard with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission, but a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is also offered. The Civic comes with a base 158-horsepower four-cylinder engine, and many powertrain options are available. A 2018 used Honda Civic can be found for an average price of $19,062. 

  1. Honda Fit

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.9

Reliability Score: 8.0

Value Retention Score: 8.8

Safety Score: 10.0

The Honda Fit earned top honors on our list of Best Subcompact Cars thanks to its safety and reliability ratings as well as for providing ample passenger room and cargo room with its “magic seat” that folds down to help haul large objects. A 2019 Honda Fit for sale can be found for $19,452. 

  1. Toyota Corolla

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.9

Reliability Score: 8.1

Value Retention Score: 8.7

Safety Score: 10.0

No small car list would be complete without the Toyota Corolla, which ranks third. The Corolla is fuel-efficient, earning a combined 30 MPG, which is above-average for the class. It also offers ample seating space and cargo room and a suite of standard safety features including a pre-collision braking system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control. A 2019 used Toyota Corolla can be found for an average price of $19,452.

  1. Subaru Impreza

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.9

Reliability Score: 7.9

Value Retention Score: 8.7

Safety Score: 10.0

The Subaru Impreza ranks fourth. The compact Impreza offers standard all-wheel drive and is considered among the most affordable and best AWD cars on the market. Along with being reliable, it earns high safety scores and offers a spacious cabin. A used 2018 Subaru Impreza costs an average of $18,902.

  1. Mazda MAZDA3

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.9

Reliability Score: 8.0

Value Retention Score: 8.6

Safety Score: 10.0

The compact Mazda MAZDA3 ranks fifth. The fun-to-drive small car has impressive driving dynamics, provides a comfortable ride, and earns excellent fuel economy with a combined 31 mpg. The MAZDA3 also has sporty exterior styling and an upscale interior that belies its price point. It comes standard with low-speed forward collision warning with brake assist and a full suite of safety technology is available on higher trims. The 2018 Mazda MAZDA3 for sale costs an average of $17,665.

  1. Volkswagen Golf

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.8

Reliability Score: 7.8

Value Retention Score: 8.6

Safety Score: 10

The Volkswagen Golf compact hatchback has an upscale interior and impressive driving dynamics. It also has above-average cargo space for the class, making it a practical and fuel efficient SUV alternative. A 2018 Volkswagen Golf for sale costs an average of $18,886. 

Best Used Midsize Sedans Under $20,000


Drivers who want a vehicle with slightly more space can find a midsize sedan to suit their needs. Here are the best used midsize sedans that can be found for under $20,000.

Best Used Cars Under $20,000: Midsize Sedans
RankVehicleiSeeCars Quality Score (of 10)Average Used Car Price
12016 Honda Accord9.0$18,294
22016 Toyota Camry9.0$18,394
32016 Hyundai Sonata8.9$18,448
42016 Subaru Legacy8.5$16,438
52018 Kia Optima8.5$18,758
62016 Mazda Mazda68.5$16,125
72018 Ford Fusion8.3$18,624
82018 Nissan Altima8.3$18,969
  1. Honda Accord  

iSeeCars Quality Score: 9.1

Reliability Score: 8.8

Value Retention Score: 8.5

Safety Score: 10.0

The Honda Accord earns the top spot as the best midsize car. The Accord is praised for its sporty handling and provides more passenger room than what’s typical for its class. It comes standard with either a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The popular sedan also has an upscale interior and gets excellent fuel economy. The 2016 Accord comes standard with the Honda Sensing suite of safety features, which include forward collision warning with brake assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. A 2016 Honda Accord for sale costs an average of $18,294.

  1. Toyota Camry

iSeeCars Quality Score: 9.0

Reliability Score: 8.4

Value Retention Score: 8.6

Safety Score: 10

The Toyota Camry midsize sedan ranks second. The Camry offers a comfortable ride and has ample legroom and headroom for passengers. The Camry also has below-average ownership costs thanks to its stellar reliability rating. Available safety features on the Camry include blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert, while only a rearview camera comes standard. A 2016 Toyota Camry for sale has an average cost of $18,394.

  1. Hyundai Sonata

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.7

Reliability Score: 7.8

Value Retention Score: 8.2

Safety Score: 10.0

The midsize Hyundai Sonata ranks third. The Sonata provides a comfortable ride and has a spacious interior filled with high-quality materials. It’s base engine is a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder. The Sonata comes with standard features including a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity. It also comes with standard safety features including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change assist. The Hyundai Sonata is also backed by one of the best warranty programs available, which includes a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. A 2018 used Hyundai Sonata costs an average of $18,448.

  1. Subaru Legacy

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.5

Reliability Score: 7.9

Value Retention Score: 7.6

Safety Score: 10.0

The Subaru Legacy ranks fourth. The Legacy is one of the only cars in its class that comes with standard all-wheel drive, making it a practical choice for all-weather driving. A rearview camera is the only standard active safety feature, but adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and pre-collision braking at speeds under 30 mph are available on higher trims. The Legacy has a spacious interior, offering two comfortable rows of seating. A 2016 Subaru Legacy for sale costs an average of $16,438.

  1. Kia Optima

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.5

Reliability Score: 7.6

Value Retention Score: 7.9

Safety Score: 10.0

The Kia Optima ranks fifth. The Optima offers pleasant drive quality and a 185-horsepower four-cylinder base engine that is among the strongest in its class. It also has an upscale interior and two rows of comfortable seats. The 2018 Optima comes with a standard 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Optima also has a suite of active safety features, including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors. A 2018 Kia Optima for sale costs an average of $18,758.

  1. Mazda MAZDA6

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.5

Reliability Score: 8.1

Value Retention Score: 7.3

Safety Score: 10.0

The midsize Mazda Mazda6 ranks sixth. The Mazda6 is praised for its driving dynamics, and it has an upscale interior that rivals a luxury car. The 2016 Mazda6 was also named a Top Safety Pick+, which is the highest possible safety designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Its base engine is a powerful 184-horsepower four-cylinder that provides swift acceleration and athletic handling.  A 2016 Mazda MAZDA6 for sale costs an average of $16,125. 

  1. Ford Fusion

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.3

Reliability Score: 7.8

Value Retention Score: 7.2

Safety Score: 10.0

The midsize Ford Fusion ranks seventh. The Ford Fusion provides a smooth and comfortable ride and has powerful engine options. It comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is also available on higher trims. All Fusions come standard with a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and Ford’s SYNC voice control system. Available safety features include park assist, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, automatic high-beam headlines, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and front and rear parking sensors. A 2018 Ford Fusion for sale costs an average of $18,624.

  1. Nissan Altima

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.3

Reliability Score: 8.0

Value Retention Score: 7.0

Safety Score: 10

The Nissan Altima midsize sedan ranks eighth. The fuel-efficient sedan rides comfortably and has a stylish cabin with lots of passenger and cargo room. The 2018 Nissan Altima comes standard with a 5-inch infotainment display, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, hands-free text messaging, and proximity key entry. Standard safety features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and a rearview camera. A 2018 Nissan Altima for sale costs an average of $18,969.

Best Used Large Sedans Under $20,000

The large sedan segment has declined in popularity, leading to the discontinuation of several models. While the most popular full-size sedans are above $20,000 for their three- to five-year-old versions, two discontinued models make the list.

Best Used Cars Under $20,000: Large Sedans
RankVehicleiSeeCars Quality Score (of 10)Average Used Car Price
12016 Chevrolet Impala8.4$17,453
22016 Ford Taurus8.2$17,264
  1. Chevrolet Impala

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.4

Reliability Score: 6.9

Value Retention Score: 8.4

Safety Score: 10.0

The Chevrolet Impala is the best used large sedan that can be found for under $20,000. The Impala provides a comfortable ride with roomy front and rear seating. A 196 horsepower four-cylinder comes standard, but a 305 horsepower V6 is also available. As the only large sedan that has a front-row bench seat, it can seat up to six passengers. A five-year-old Chevrolet Impala for sale can be found for $17,453.

  1. Ford Taurus

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.2

Reliability Score: 6.2

Value Retention Score: 8.4

Safety Score: 10.0

The second spot goes to the Ford Taurus. This newly discontinued vehicle has a fuel-efficient 2.0-liter V6 engine and standard features such as a voice-activated SYNC infotainment system, Bluetooth, and Ford MyKey, which allows drivers to set limits on speed and volume when others drive your car. It also can be equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD). A 2016 Ford Taurus for sale can be found for an average price of $17,264.

Best Used SUVs Under $20,000

Although SUVs tend to be more expensive than sedans, there are still used SUVs that represent a smart car buying choice and can be found for under $20,000. Five subcompact and compact used crossovers make the list.

Best Used SUVs Under $20,000
RankVehicleiSeeCars Quality Score (of 10)Average Used Car Price
12014 Subaru Outback8.7$15,064
22014 Honda CR-V8.7$16,061
32016 Subaru Forester8.7$18,515
42018 Kia Soul8.7$16,005
52014 Toyota RAV48.6$16,959
62016 Kia Sportage8.4$15,492
72016 Hyundai Tucson8.4$17,425
82016 Ford Escape8.2$15,553
  1. Subaru Outback

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.7

Reliability Score: 8.0

Value Retention Score: 8.1

Safety Score: 10.0

The best used SUV that can be found for under $20,000 is the Subaru Outback. Although the Outback is technically classified as a wagon and resembles a hatchback, it offers standard all-wheel drive and competes with vehicles in the compact SUV category. Perfect for adventure seekers, the Outback can handle light offroading, has class-leading cargo space, and comes standard with a roof rack. It also has above-average towing capacity for the class, at up to 3,000 pounds. A 2014 Subaru Outback for sale costs an average of $15,064.

  1. Honda CR-V

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.7

Reliability Score: 8.2

Value Retention Score: 8.3

Safety Score: 9.6

The compact Honda CR-V ranks second. It is one of the most spacious vehicles in its class, offering a cargo capacity that’s on par with larger midsize SUVs. It also provides excellent fuel economy, earning an estimated 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway for its front-wheel drive models. All-wheel drive fuel economy only decreases slightly at 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. It comes standard with a continuously variable automatic transmission and a 185 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A 2014 used Honda CR-V costs an average of 16,061.

  1. Subaru Forester

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.7

Reliability Score: 8.0

Value Retention Score: 8.1

Safety Score: 10.0

Another Subaru, the Subaru Forester compact SUV, ranks third. Like the Outback, it comes standard with all-wheel drive and delivers excellent fuel economy. It also has more passenger and cargo space than a typical compact SUV. The 2016 Forester comes standard with a rearview camera, and available features include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and steering-responsive fog lights. A 2016 Subaru Forester for sale costs an average of $18,515

  1. Kia Soul

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.7

Reliability Score: 7.7

Value Retention Score: 8.5

Safety Score: 10

The Kia Soul ranks fourth. Technically classified as a wagon, the Kia Soul competes with cars in the compact SUV class. Only available with a front-wheel drivetrain, the Kia Soul doesn’t have any standard advanced safety features. Available ​​safety features include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. The Soul has ample cargo and seating space and has a low cost of ownership. A 2018 Kia Soul for sale costs an average of $16,005.

  1. Toyota RAV4

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.6

  Reliability Score: 7.9

Retained Value Score: 8.3

Safety Score: 9.7 

The Toyota RAV4 compact SUV ranks fifth. A rearview camera comes standard and blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and lane departure warning are available on higher trims. The Toyota RAV4 has class-leading cargo capacity and comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available. A 2014 used Toyota RAV4 costs an average of $16,959. 

  1. Kia Sportage

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.4

Reliability Score: 7.5

Value Retention Score: 8.1

Safety Score: 9.6

The Kia Sportage compact SUV ranks sixth. Known for its value, the Sportage has impressive driving dynamics and offers a comfortable ride. On the inside, it features a roomy and stylish interior. A 2016 Kia Sportage for sale can be found for an average of $15,492.

  1. Hyundai Tucson 

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.3

Reliability Score: 6.9

Value Retention Score: 8.1

Safety Score: 9.8

The Hyundai Tucson, which shares a platform and many of the same features as the sixth-ranked Kia Sportage, ranks seventh. The Tucson offers a comfortable ride and is easy to maneuver thanks to its small size. It also has an attractive cabin and comfortable front seats. A 2016 Hyundai Tucson for sale costs an average of $17,425.

  1. Ford Escape

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.2

Reliability Score: 7.9

Value Retention Score: 7.7

Safety Score: 9.2

The Ford Escape compact SUV earns the eighth spot. The Escape features above-average cargo space, roomy rear seats, and excellent fuel economy estimates. The 2016 Ford Escape comes standard with a touchscreen infotainment system and a rearview camera. Available driver assistance features include front and rear parking sensors, parallel park assist, and blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert. A 2016 Ford Escape for sale costs an average of $15,553.

Best Used Minivans Under $20,000

For shoppers looking for family vehicles, there are used minivans that can be found for under $20,000.

Best Used Cars Under $20,000: Minivans
RankVehicleiSeeCars Quality Score (of 10)Average Used Car Price
12014 Honda Odyssey9.2$17,588
22014 Toyota Sienna9.0$18,128
  1. Honda Odyssey

iSeeCars Quality Score: 9.2

Reliability Score: 9.3

Value Retention Score: 8.2

Safety Score: 10.0

The Honda Odyssey is the best used minivan under $20,000. The 2014 Honda Odyssey seats up to eight passengers and has a 3.5-liter V6 engine. The Odyssey is praised for its quick acceleration and responsive handling. It also achieves great gas mileage for the class at 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.  Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity and an 8-inch infotainment display screen. While only a rearview camera comes standard, a suite of driver assistance features are available, including blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, and forward collision warning. A 2014 Honda Odyssey for sale has an average cost of $17,588.

  1. Toyota Sienna

iSeeCars Quality Score: 9.0

Reliability Score: 8.6

Value Retention Score: 8.4

Safety Score: 10.0

The Toyota Sienna seats up to eight passengers and has ample cargo and passenger space. The Toyota Sienna has a 266-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that provides a comfortable ride. The Sienna comes standard with front-wheel drive and gets an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. All-wheel-drive is available, and an AWD Sienna gets 16/23 mpg city/highway. A 2014 Toyota Sienna for sale costs an average of $18,128.

Best Used Hybrids Under $20,000

For shoppers looking for something more fuel-efficient, there are used hybrid vehicles that can be found for under $20,000.

Best Used Cars Under $20,000: Hybrid Cars
RankVehicleiSeeCars Quality Score (of 10)Average Used Car Price
12016 Toyota Camry Hybrid8.8$17,565
22015 Honda Accord Hybrid8.5$18,769
32016 Toyota Prius8.4$17,052
  1. Toyota Camry Hybrid

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.8

Reliability Score: 8.8

Value Retention Score: 7.7

Safety Score: 10.0

The Toyota Camry Hybrid midsize sedan earns the top spot. The Camry offers the same attributes as its non-hybrid counterpart, including comfortable ride quality and ample legroom and headroom. It has better fuel economy, with 43 mpg city/39 mpg highway. A 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid for sale has an average cost of $17,565.

  1. Honda Accord Hybrid

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.5

Reliability Score: 7.2

Value Retention Score: 8.3

Safety Score: 10.0

The Honda Accord Hybrid midsize sedan ranks second. Like its non-hybrid version, the reliable Accord offers a spacious ride and an attractive cabin. It improves on fuel economy with 50 mpg city/45 mpg highway. A 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid for sale has an average cost of $18,769.

  1. Toyota Prius

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.8

Reliability Score: 8.8

Value Retention Score: 8.0

Safety Score: 9.6

Earning the third spot is the Toyota Prius. The Prius is a spacious hatchback with superb fuel economy, earning 58 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway. It also has lower-than-average ownership cost and earns Toyota’s reputation for stellar long-term reliability. A 2016 Toyota Prius for sale costs an average of $17,052.

Bottom Line

When it comes to car buying, buying a dependable used car can save you a great deal of money compared to a brand new one. You can find reliable used cars for under $20,000 if you know where to look. If you’re buying a used car, you should always get a vehicle history report such as Carfax or Autocheck and have it inspected by a trusted mechanic. Also, be sure to check out the iSeeCars free VIN check that takes the guesswork out of buying a used car and provides you with all the information you need to decide if a used car is a smart purchase decision.

More from iSeeCars.com:

If you’re interested in a new car or a used car, be sure to check out iSeeCars’ award-winning car search engine. It uses big data analytics to help shoppers find the best car deals across all vehicle types, from SUVs to sports cars, and provides key insights and valuable resources, like the iSeeCars VIN check report and Best Cars rankings. Filter by make, model, price, and special features to find the best deal on your next vehicle. 

This article, 29 Best Used Cars Under $20,000, originally appeared on iSeeCars.com.

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