By on October 11, 2018

2018 Nissan Frontier

Yesterday’s story on the lopsided growth, such as it is, of the new vehicle market clearly shows that sub-$20,000 vehicles are an endangered animal. Big shocker. That space is taken up mostly with cars, and, for a number of reasons, people just aren’t buying cars like they used to. As such, many automakers are having second thoughts about building them.

You’re already well aware that red hot, high-riding alternatives are not as easy on the pocketbook.

Nevertheless, here and now, there’s a decision to be made. You’re being asked to choose a new vehicle that costs less than $20,000 without the help of incentives. Which entrée from this meager menu would you add to your plate?

To broaden your horizons, we won’t include the destination fee, tax, or any other charge as part of the price. Strictly the MSRP, sans discounts.

There’s still enough choice available to tailor your lifestyle around this vehicle, and there’s plenty of manual transmissions still kicking around, too. Now, it’s highly unlikely any of you will sniff out a new Mitsubishi Mirage, but all models and trims fall below $20k if you’re so inclined. There’s the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic, as well, and a second-from-base Cruze LS only stickers at $19,120. The manual option disappears for 2019, sadly. It won’t be around for long, but Ford’s plucky Fiesta remains available for 2019, and all but the top-flight ST variant fall below the $20k mark.

Unfortunately, even last year’s Honda Civic remained out of reach for those with a twenty grand price ceiling, but there’s still a Fit Sport or well-equipped EX model to be had for your thrifty allowance. And think of the resale value you’ll enjoy when the time finally comes to unload your 2019 Toyota Corolla L, LE, or LE Eco. If that sounds like a recipe for narcolepsy, there’s the sharper handling Mazda 2 Yaris Sedan and its very unrelated hatch cousin to select from.

Value and a sense of being on holiday (while renting) comes standard on the Nissan Versa sedan and Versa Note hatch, both of which fall below $20k. Even the larger Sentra allows you to get into a better-equipped SV with automatic ($19,090) without blowing your budget.

At Mazda, the base 3 sedan fits the bill in either manual or automatic guise, but the sweet 2.5-liter Skyactiv remains well out of reach. A Mazda 3 5-Door manual barely slides under the hurdle. Let’s not forget the Koreans, either. Hyundai’s revamped Rio and refreshed Elantra remain as candidates, depending on trim, as does Kia’s Rio and Forte.

The buffet peters out in a hurry once you try scratching that itch for off-road adventure. Looking for all-wheel drive? The Subaru Impreza 2.0i 5-Door is your only real option. Just think of it as a slammed Crosstrek. If a higher riding vehicle is a must-have, Nissan’s front-drive Kicks starts out at a low, low $17,990, though you can swap it for a three-cylinder, FWD Ford Ecosport S for $2,005 extra. Any takers? Hello?

It’s Nissan to the rescue once again in the pickup category — an army, it should be noted, of one. The base Frontier S King Cab retains its starting price of $18,990 for 2019, and I’ll probably go to my grave without having ever seen one. Still, you could bully Nissan into procuring one, thus ensuring a cheap, old bed to lie down in.

There’s likely a model or two I’ve skipped over, but this gives you an idea of what you have to work with. Cheap cars aren’t dead; they’ve just become slightly harder, on average, to finance. If handed the money and conditions and sent on your way, which vehicle would you return home with?

[Image: Nissan]

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89 Comments on “QOTD: Forced Into the Cheap Seats?...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    This one is tough. The Renegade starts at about $18.5k, but if I want AWD (and I can’t bring myself to purchase any Jeep without four powered wheels unless it has a US Postal eagle on the side) the starting price is $100 over your given limit.

    I could get a bare bones Fiat 500X Pop FWD, manual transmission, no options but some fun free colors, for $19,995.

    For my money I’d rather get the 5-speed 500 Pop Cabrio in Lazer Blue, upgraded sound system (because tinny sound is annoying), all-weather package and block heater (because Michigan), Popular Equipment Group (literally just A/C), and MOPAR wind screen to keep my ‘do from getting whipped. This comes in at about $19.5k, and would be much more fun to drive than the 500X (not that the 500X is a dynamic nightmare.)

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Kia Rio 5-door EX Launch Edition. Technically it comes in at $20,095, but I think we can be generous and round down, right? The Elantra Value Edition just comes in under the wire, too, and at least is spec’d up enough to ditch the awful plastic steering wheel and shift knob that afflict Hyundai (and Kia’s?) baser offerings. I’m sorry, but I can’t deal with plastic steering wheels.

    An extra two grand would really open things up here, but I guess then it wouldn’t be a challenge!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Unfortunately an Elantra Sport puts it’s toe over the line into the 20s.

    I guess I’d go with the “Value Edition” with 2.0 naturally aspirated engine and 6 speed auto plus a bunch of bundled goodies like blind spot monitoring etc.

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      Without incentives, that’s too bad.

      I’ll tell you anyway, my Elantra Sport was $18.5K with incentives.

      It IS the nicest $hitbox you can buy.

      • 0 avatar
        Drew8MR

        Yeah,they pop up on the site at 19 before you even dicker. i qualify for the 72 month 0% as well. It makes me cringe,but I do tend to keep cars for a decade or more anyway,even beaters. If I could score a blue one with a stick I’d have a hard time saying no.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Elantra VE is what I’d probably buy if was in the market for new.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I have a hard time following the rules and being forced to ignore incentives as it makes a world of difference and opens up the midsizers and things like cheap Caravans. But within the context of following rules I’d probably go the Elantra route. My last Elantra rental had me seriously thinking “hey wouldn’t it be nice to just have a normal comfortable, efficient new Elantra for a commuter car?” But no I’ll live the $2000 beater life for a little while longer.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          If I had to have a manual I’d go with the Elantra GT just for the extra utility, but sadly Hyundai has been forcing people to give up things like Bluetooth in their most basic models.

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    Mazda3 sedan. Looks like a reduced 6.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    I’d go with a manual Fit, given the new car choices above.

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldn’t wish that upon my worst enemy! I owned a manual 2015 Fit, and it was a miserable little car. Slow, cramped front seats, loud, unrefined, and bizarre gearing with the six-speed. It was a true penalty box. Its only perks were a big back seat (which I never sat back there), fuel economy, and the Honda resale when I unloaded it onto the next poor owner

  • avatar
    ericb91

    Easy- 2019 Civic LX 6-speed manual. MSRP $19,450.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Base Jetta with manual trans.

    • 0 avatar
      ahintofpepperjack

      I think the base Jetta is the best option. It certainly has the best base engine (1.4 Turbo). Dealer near me is selling the manuals for $17k and Autos for $18k. They also have a 72,000 mile warranty now.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Betta Getta Jetta

      Yeah, it’d be on my list, too.

      • 0 avatar
        Tennessee_Speed

        I’ve had the 2019 Jetta R-Line for 3 months & I’m really impressed with the quality, and ride & handling. A blast to drive! Feels like a much more expensive car than the $23K I paid. Better handling & driving characteristics than the BMW 3 series I had. To me it’s 90% of a BMW at 1/2 the cost.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    Easy, the same decision I made for my wife in late 2015. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. The 2018’s are still thick on the ground, and with $2000 factory cash before negotiations a $20k price (especially on a 2wd 5spd) should be easily attainable. Our local dealer lists a ton of AWD models at $19,988, but that’s playing games with loyalty and military bonus.

    It’s no frills transportation, but the 2.0 is still perfectly adequate, even with the CVT. The 2WD 5spd gets you away from any concerns about the transmission. Add to that a 60K bumper/bumper, 100K power train warranty(they changed a wheel bearing for me at 75k no questions).

    https://interstatemitsubishi.com/NewMitsubishiCars/2018-Mitsubishi-Outlander_Sport-Erie-FishJk2wL0eZqoIc4Q6yKA

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    A good friend of mine bought a 2018 Elantra GT (new bodystyle) for $14.5K, after discounts. It has a 6-speed manual transmission. But even the base model comes with decent alloys, a big touchscreen, and plenty of other stuff. I took it on a long test drive and was impressed. It was quiet and composed, and the shifts were nice and crisp. It felt like a Golf most of the time, for considerably less money. So…I would look long and hard at the Elantra GT.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Mazda 3 . My only qualms with it would be the possible NVH issues I remember from our old Mazda 5. And rust. Hopefully, Mazda has turned the corner on those things. I could have easily done a Mazda 3 instead of my Golf, but I really liked the VW and didn’t want another Mazda at the time.

    I wanted to say VW Jetta, but I was not really impressed by the Jetta when my Golf was in for state inspection/emissions. Lots of room, but didn’t feel as good as my Golf.

    Golf starts at 20,200. I paid just under 20k with incentives for my ’17 Wolfsburg with a manual and I’d do it again. It’s not missing anything I want in a car equipment-wise, is enjoyable to drive and a good at distance too. I don’t know if this will hold true now that Golf will get lesser trim and equipment, plus less power in terms of the 150hp 1.4.

    Chevy Sonic not a bad way to go, but to get the much better 1.4T AND an automatic, you must move up the trim levels over 20k. Manual is just squeaking under 20k. The 1.4 is just a better motor in these cars.

    Spark, Mirage, Fit etc. just a class too low for me. I’d do a Fiat 500 if I wanted that size of car.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’d have to get the Frontier. I can always add Pro 4X wheels, bigger tires, lift, limited slip and aggressive gears, at a later time (next day!).

    Frontiers haven’t changed in a good decade so junkyard donors are everywhere. Slider rear window? Power windows? Keyless entry? Nav? Bluetooth? Can you say plug-n-play?

    “lot poison” 2wd pickups and Mustangs were my only rides for years, since I’m a cheapskate, World Class. Got sandbags for the bed or trunk?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Got sandbags for the bed or trunk?

      You are giving me flashbacks to how many sandbags I used to throw in the trunk of my 87 Cutlass 307 V8 to get around in Ohio/Michigan winters. Even with posi I had to shy away from moderate inclines.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Lol, all those long hood, short deck personal luxury cars (Cutlass, Monte Carlo, Grand Prix, Regal) needed sandbags to keep the ass-happy handling in check

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @Lie2Me

          The one I had was purchased from my father after it had done family car duty (it was a sedan) but you can imagine how much fun my non-enthusiast mother had going from a A-body FWD Celebrity to a V8 RWD Cutlass as her daily driver. Especially factoring in NW Ohio winters.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Although I agree that RWD V8 vehicles are at a disadvantage in the snow, from 1973 to 1982, I drove predominantly those vehicles throughout Southern Ontario, on ‘all season’ tires, without once adding sandbags, cat litter or other added weight into the back.

            Grand Prix, Grand Torino Elite, T-Bird, Cordoba, Caprice (coupe), Mark IV, Mark V. Each with the largest available engine.

            The only one that really scared me, is when I got a ‘disco’ style van. That did need weight in the back.

            As for our options in this posting, too bad that these are American prices. Our choices in Canada are more limited. Based on the American pricing my choices would be Nissans. Either a Sentra with a MT, thus eliminating the CVT worries or a Frontier, as there is always a market for used pick-ups.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        I had a 2WD GMC Sonoma, and it was a nightmare in the snow.

        However, I got a 2WD with LSD F150 and I rocked around Syracuse NY- one of the snowiest cities in america- without a hitch.

        2WD with LSD is a very underloved setup, but the gain you get from LSD is essentially double the traction… but on a lot of cars its only like $400 more. Freaking steal.

        So I’d say 2WD with LSD all day any day, but base 2WD on a RWD small truck? Thats aweful anywhere it snows.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          A few dollars more today gets you an electric locking diff; better than LSD on snow and ice but you have to be careful about taking corners, it will unlock to save itself.

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    It’s hard to argue the Fiesta ST for fun factor if we’re not including cars with rebates. My only thing is while they’re fun, they do not make a good road trip/highway car.

    Truly I would pick a Golf TSI for under 20 with rebates. but since that isn’t allowed I think a Elantra GT or Kia Soul would be a good alternative.

  • avatar

    Looking more at this. I think the Kia soul or the Sonic hatch are solid choices. But I think for room a Jetta S with the drivers assistance package may be the way to go. But I don’t think I want to own that to far out of warranty. I had a Jetta rental last year and the mileage was the best I have seen out of a non hybrid or diesel car. Not uncomfortable either.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      A Jetta would be near the top of my list too. I had a 1.4TSI+auto rental that was getting me something like 43 indicated MPG with 75mph highway driving. Big rear seat and trunk makes it a practical family option, their longer warranty eases some of the worry.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      You complain about Jetta. But car and driver guys complain about Kia Soul – read latest long term.

      • 0 avatar
        Kosher Polack

        That was the high-zoot Soul with the DCT, which Car and Driver got for $28k (absurd for a tarted-up entry-level box). The DCT seems to have some unfortunate temperature problems.

        As far as I’ve heard, the pleb Souls with the base manual or regular torque converter automatic are fine. They’ll have squeaks, but I can accept that at $16-18k.

      • 0 avatar

        As a former Golf owner and the family mechanic who took care of a small fleet of Jettas, Foxes etc in the 90’s and early 2000’s I have a strong distrust of VW reliability. That and the rental Jetta I had with less then 30k miles had a wheel bearing hum coming from the left front and the check engine light came on halfway thru my trip.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I guess the Mazda 3, or if possible, the Elantra GT. In all honesty, I would be more inclined to break the rules and buy something used.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I suspect 20 years from now that Nissan pickup will be the only one still on the road, and probably worth 3 grand or so if not totally abused or rusted, giving a very reasonable %850/yr depreciation.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I’d visit mark stevenson at his Hyundai dealership and buy 2 accents for $8999 each! (I guess 3 if we’re talking US$.)

    Actually, the answer is mazda3, golf or civic – the usual suspects.

  • avatar

    I really wanted to offer the Journey here, but it’s $2k over since we can’t count discounts.

    However, the 2.0 manual Outlander Sport is $20,695, and as people like Gtem say, everything in there is old and should be reliable. That’s my CUV choice.

    You can get a Soul+ for $20,490, and that would be my recommendation for most people. Cargo room and people room, and it’s better than a Fit.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Hey I didn’t break the rules today!

      Anyway, I’ll bet most Dodge dealers would sell you a 3 row V6 AWD Journey for not all that much more than $20K.

      I understand the no incentives etc – heck the comments would be littered with 4 cyl low option Camrys.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, anything FCA is going to have *thousands* in discounts even if you just price it on the website. I think at the end of the day the Journey would be a good family choice vehicle for those on a stringent new car budget.

        • 0 avatar
          arach

          I agree with you corey,

          As much as the Journey gets a lot of “hate”, its a heck of a value.

          We had a 18k price limit, and we could get everything from a new journey to a fully loaded used one with 20k miles.

          Compare that to something like a Durango, which everyone says is much “better”, but that puts you at like 120k miles and 8 years old.

          I’ve seen tons of really really nice journeys close to 10-12k, and decent ones under 10k. If you need a 3 row on a budget, the journey is where its at!

          The v6 is also the pentastar which is a bulletproof engine…

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        he, last year looked at Renegade. A 25K stickered would be 18.3 in real life

    • 0 avatar
      DedBull

      I wanted to say Outlander Sport as well, but we weren’t allowed to use incentives. Heck my local dealer has an 18 2wd 5sp listed at $16,988 after all the incentives. In typical dealer fashion, it would be unlikely to be able to claim all the incentives, but a little negotiating should be able to keep that price close.

    • 0 avatar
      vehic1

      I can’t get past the looks of the Soul – despite the nerdy/happy gerbils ad campaign. Should style it like a smaller Tucson, or bigger Kona.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Nahh, then it’d be just another me-too CUV. As it is, it stands out from the crowd. I get that the styling isn’t for everyone, and I respect your opinion, but for me, it’d be ruined with typical CUV styling.

  • avatar

    This is my realm of the car market. I love basic cars, and only require A/C, a spare tire, and cruise control on my cars, with a manual transmission please.

    Most of the cars I desire are in this price range. There are still a lot of good options out there:

    -My Chevy Sonic- totally underrated small car; roomy, practical, and a bit of fun to drive
    -The Chevy Spark- Also underrated; with its Opel underpinnings, it’s a hoot with the manual, and is solid and comfortable.
    -The Hyundai Elantra GT- Handsome package and the one I rented earlier this year was enjoyable. Just a desirable, easy-to-live with car
    -The Kia Rio- The new one is impressive, with a Euro vibe and has had good reviews

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I am with you. Same. In real world, you can buy a great car for under 20. My Mazda6 confirms this. I kind of like the features it comes with in base form – hd radio and hd traffic map. $45 got me a navigation SD. And big one – lumbar support. This is great

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      We had a Sonic LT as a rental a few years back. We were shocked at how good it was (setting the line for what it is). It has almost TARDIS qualities with interior room versus exterior size, it’s competent even at highway speeds, and was a fun car to squirt through traffic. A manual would have surely only made it even better.

      I think the biggest issue with the Sonic is as you check the option boxes, the Cruze sitting next to it on the showroom floor…

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Just how roomy is the Sonic though? I always thought they had poor rear legroom.

      • 0 avatar

        I love my little ’15 Sonic. With the base 1.8 litre in LT trim with the manual transmission, its MSRP was $17,500. Well below today’s cap. But with discounts and some negotiating, we got it down to $12,500.

        For that, we get bluetooth, cruise, all the usual power accessories, alloys, and the Sonic does come with a 5-star all-around crash test rating.

        At the price, it’s an undeniable value and like someone mentioned, has a nice, quiet composed ride on the highway. It’s not a penalty box for two passengers.

        The rear seat room is not to the standard of the Fit or Versa, but is average for the class. It’s better than the Fiesta. But would be cramped with four people on board.

  • avatar

    I’ll also add the Kia Soul in addition to my prior statement.

    I never liked them very much, mainly due to the looks. But after renting one for a week last Thanksgiving, I fell in love it.

    Extremely practical, SUV-like space, high seating position, well screwed-together interior, quiet and refined, peppy acceleration, great visibility, and even fun, flingable handling for a tall box. Even the looks grew on me in that time. The only thing missing was the spare tire.

    But still, the Soul is a bargain for what it offers and could be an alternative for those who want an SUV, but can’t afford it. It’s easy to understand why Kia sells so many

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      The Soul you get here will be 1.6 non turbo

    • 0 avatar
      Kosher Polack

      I’m probably getting the unloved base manual or base automatic next year for 15k or so. It’s the only successor to the used-up semi-kei-car 00’s Scion xB; which is the ideal.

      It’s not much power, but my commute these days is all city, maybe 5k a year, and I need a shorter car to stay in my garage with various other toys and tools. The question remains: do I really want to get involved with a dealership, or can I just snatch up a used one and not care about the warranty?

  • avatar
    HaveNissanWillTravel

    It’s the Nissan Versa sedan for me. The ‘17 model was purchased as a back up car (and maybe for my future teenage daughter) and even though it sits with a car cover on it in the driveway most days we have somehow managed to put 4000 miles on it in two years.

    Competent and with the 5M fun. Roomy back seat enables it to comfortably seat 5, if two are small.

    Oh, and $12k out the door.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Mazda2 was my answer when I bought 4 years ago – in theory, that’d make Yaris sedan my answer today. That said, I didn’t consider the ’14 (Canadian-market) Fit because it was Chinese-built – I’d want the hatchback if I’m buying something that small, so the Fit is probably the most appealing choice.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I’ll have to go with Mazda3 again. Looks like J-vin here is not an option. Elantra GT would be #2 choice

  • avatar
    ajla

    A VW Beetle starts at $20,200. That’s my pick if you allow a little wiggle room.

    On a HARD $20K limit I’d do a Fiat 500 Pop with a few options (auto, popular equip, appearance package, satellite radio, upgraded audio) for $19,820.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    Did just this- bought a base model Mazda 3 5 door, 6MT, Eternal Blue. Great little commuter- I’m averaging 37 mpg, which is the EPA highway rating, in mixed driving. I’m sure it would do 40 mpg on a long highway run. NVH isn’t bad- on’y really noticeable on grooved concrete.

    I picked mine up for 16k, including destination, before taxes and fees. That was a helluva deal. Got over 3000 miles on it in 2 months, and still love it.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Few come to mind, all with 3 pedals

    Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost
    Kia Soul base
    Volkswagen Jetta base
    Fiat 500
    Chevy Spark (they’re kinda handsome now)
    Honda Civic LX

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Chevy Sonic LT 5-door hatch with the 1.4L turbo 4, 6-speed manual, and the Convenience Package.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    As is obvious from the above, there are still quite a few options available for less than $20K (or right at, if you allow a $100-$200 margin. The Renegade especially is a remarkably good choice in so many ways due to standard equipment, even without the AWD if you live outside of snow country. The Fiat 500 itself, even ignoring the L or the X versions, is a blast to drive and still highly economical–more fun than, for instance, a Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris.

    Sure, they’re all smaller vehicles overall, but the Renegade is surprisingly roomy for its size, as are most of the other so-called ‘sub-compact’ SUV/CUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Yup. For $145 over $20,000 you can add a power sunroof, sport suspension, upgraded wheels and the turbo 1.4L to a Chevy Sonic LT with power seats, keyless, entry, 4G Wifi hotspot, Apple Car Play/Android Auto, etc. etc.

      A surprisingly practical car that is fun to drive (no argument that a Fit would be more fun – just agreeing with you that if you literally go $100 to $300 over $20,000 a lot of these blech options become very civilized)

  • avatar
    Fred

    My problem is I don’t want to suffer in a bad car, especially since I tend to keep my cars for a decade or more. I like a comfy seat, Bluetooth, seat warmers, leather steering wheels etc. So no new sub 20g car is going to cut it. What could I find on the used car lot?

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      Yeah, I know the rules are no incentives.

      But in the *real world*, not a TTAC forum with rules, you can get a brand new car under $20K with all of that.

      I got heated leather seats, leather shift knob/steering wheel, xenon headlights, LED taillights, Android auto, Apple car play, 200 hp, 195 lbs-ft @ 1,500 rpms, 5 yr 60K bumper to bumper, 10 yr 100K powertrain warranty for $18.5K with no haggling.

      I’m sorry, I can’t stop patting myself on the back, even over a year later.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Because I like my vehicles basic, rugged and durable, I’m inclined to pick the Frontier.

    But the fuel economy is atrocious. Many full-size V-6 trucks do better. Even the Colorado does better, but at $20.5k before rebates, it’s a rule breaker. No rebates on the base model, either.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Thats not a bad deal for 18,990 though MSRP… Thats an Ace of Base I must say.

      After reading this, I think I might look into picking one up for a work truck for my company.

      Its a shame that 4×4 adds $10k? thats insane.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I will take the Nissan Frontier with the I-4 and 5 speed manual, and yes I have seen a few in the wild and on cars.com. A lot of utility for the money.

  • avatar
    ptschett

    In the real world, at this price point anymore I’m strictly shopping used.
    In bizarro world… does the Fiat 500 Abarth slip under the threshold? [checks] …no. dammit.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The 500 was already a blast to drive. With the turbo you get a 25% power boost, making it even livelier!

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    20k or less? I can think of quite a few motorcycles I could buy that add up to 20k.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Under $20K

    Chevy Sonic- The 5-door hatch with the 1.4L turbo 4 and a manual is way better than a penalty box Versa.

    Hyundai Elantra GT-Comparable to pricier Hot hatches with attractive styling.

    Nissan Frontier-The mechanicals are from the last decade but its still a good value in a solid truck.

    Fiat 500-Starts around $16k with options and some step discounts you can have a nice one for under $20K.

    Fiat 500X-Entry CUV for under $20K. You might even be able to find one with AWD for under $20K.

  • avatar
    deanst

    No love for the Nissan Kicks?

  • avatar
    arach

    The reason I have a serious issue with the “no incentive” game, is that some OEMs intentionally have a high MSRP, but always sell for significant markdown, while others sell for price.

    Its kind of like saying you have to go for MSRP at a department store, despite the fact that you cannot buy anything at JC Penney that is NOT on sale, because the MSRP is made up as a marketing ploy.

    Therefore this whole MSRP challenge kind of gives unfair weight to the non-price leaders who sell value, because if you sell value you mark up MSRP and advertise big savings off MSRP ALL THE TIME. Thats how the discount game works.

    I don’t think anyone has EVER paid MSRP for a mainstream vehicle from Kia, Hyundai, GM, etc.

    But if you have to go off MSR< I go for the Hyundai Elantra GT. Its well optioned for a MSRP of 19,350 (well optioned compared to OTHER base cars).

    Next would be a Ford Focus. Its surprisingly a good solid car with only a 17,950 MSRP. that leaves you room for a few options. Its not as well appointed as a base elantra, but you can step up to the SE, which feels pretty non-basey.

    Honestly though, I'd probably stick to the base, because if your going to have a "cheap" car without everything you want, might as well save that extra $2k to spend on things in the aftermarket, such as wheels and or a motorcycle…

    But you can get the SE in outrageous green which is awesome, and you get the 1L ecoboost instead of the 2L. Or I thought you can get the SE with Cold Weather Package, which gives you heated seats and heated mirrors… still within budget.. but then you are screwed because evidently heated seats are incompatible with a manual transmission (WTH FORD???) so it addes $2000 to MSRP putting it "over".

    so there you go, NO HEATED SEATS FOR YOU!

    Those are the only 2 cars I'd go for with an MSRP under 20.

    cars that COST under 20 however? Now things get interesting… but again, thats breaking the rules. (Has anyone ever paid more than 20 for a BASE Journey? How about a Base hyundai sonata?

    totally unrelated, but did anyone notice that the Ford Mustang is NOT considered a "Performance Vehicle" according to Ford, but the Chevy Camaro IS considered a "Performance Vehicle" by chevy? I find that quite interesting.

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