Philip Uwaoma
14 min read
27 Feb

Before We Begin...

When COVID made its unexpected landfall in 2019/2020, the automotive industry was not spared of the pandemic's devastating effect, as everything, from disruption in supply chains and COVID restrictions to chip shortages, affected production, ultimately driving up the price of new and used cars

Four years later, dealerships are brimming with new cars again, but prices remain high thanks to biting inflation and high demand. For shoppers on a budget wondering if the days of under-$20k new cars are permanently over, there's good news and bad news. The good news is you can totally buy a brand-new car in 2024 for $20,000 or less. 

The bad news? The pool is even smaller in 2024. Another bad news is despite the reverse in inventory levels, compared to the dried-up production runs during the pandemic, new car prices may never return to pre-pandemic levels. The corresponding good news is that prices are actually in a downward trend. 

See also:

The 2024 Nissan Rogue Is The Most Fuel-Efficient Compact SUV On The Market - Buyer's Guide

The Automotive Market In 2024

2024 automotive market.

Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Cox Automotive’s chief economist predicted that 2024 is the best year to buy a new car since COVID. 

"With supply normalizing and the economy stabilizing to hit a soft landing and not turn into a recession, it leads to an environment that is the most normal we’ve encountered since 2019," Smoke said. "For consumers looking to buy a vehicle, it’s the best year by far since 2019." 

Another expert shared that with oil prices projected to rise in 2024, prices for fuel-efficient cars and SUVs will go down. Kelley Blue Book found that despite the relatively high cost of new cars, prices declined the most last year at 2.4% in the last 12 months. 

Based on this report, KBB's executive editor Brian Moody surmised that car prices in America should fall even more in 2024. 

Another interesting projection is the report from UBS Financial Services, which estimated that global car production will surpass sales by 6% in 2024, resulting in some 5 million surplus cars looking for buyers and inadvertently forcing automakers and dealers to slash prices to get them off the lots. 

So, are new cars cheap right now? 

Not really. 

The average new car is reportedly $10,000 more expensive than it was in December 2019, with an average price of $45,283 for a non-luxury new car. 

So, in an automotive market where prices seem continually on the rise, it can prove particularly challenging to find a new vehicle that offers both quality and affordability. For the 2024 MY, we’ve found six new cars that not only promise reliable performance and modern features but also come with a price tag under $20,000. 

Below, we introduce these vehicles, highlighting their key features, performance specifications, and what makes them stand out in the budget-friendly segment of the car market. 

List Of New Cars In 2024 Available For Under $20,000:

  1. 2024 Nissan Versa: MSRP $16,130 - $20,140
  2. 2024 Mitsubishi Mirage: MSRP $16,695 - $19,595
  3. 2023/24 Kia Rio: MSRP $16,750 - $17,690
  4. 2024 Kia Forte: MSRP $19,790 - $25,190
  5. 2024 Hyundai Venue: MSRP $19,800 - $23,050
  6. 2024 Kia Soul: MSRP $19,990 - $24,290

6. 2024 Kia Soul

New cars under $20,000: 2024 Kia Soul.

The 2024 Kia Soul is a subcompact SUV with a starting MSRP of $19,190. The Soul is known for its good looks inside and out, roomy interior, and tons of features for the money. However, it is less fuel-efficient than rivals, lacks an all-wheel-drive option, and no longer offers a turbo engine. 

The 2024 Soul comes in different trims with varying price points (not exceeding $25,190) and features, including the LX (starting at $19,990), GT-Line, and EX models. 

For propulsion power, the Soul relies on a sole 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing a humble 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, mated to a well-tuned 2-speed CVT and FWD.

Aware of the famous thefts of certain Kia models, the 2024 Kia Soul model comes with a sleep mode feature that activates 40 seconds after locking the vehicle to prevent hackers from duplicating the smart key frequency.                 

                      2024 Kia Soul Spec Sheet

2024 Kia Soul design.
Trim Levels:LX (4dr Wagon)
Engine & Performance:
  • 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with Multi-Port Injection (MPI)· 
  • Horsepower: 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm·
  • Torque: 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission & Drivetrain:
  • Continuously variable-speed automatic· 
  • Front-wheel drive
Fuel Economy:
  • City: 27 MPG·         
  • Highway: 33 MPG· 
  • Combined: 30 MPG·  
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.3 gallons
  • Wheelbase: 102.4 in.·
  • Length: 165.2 in.·   
  • Width: 70.9 in.·     
  • Height: 63.0 in.·    
  • Ground Clearance: 6.7 in.·  
  • Cargo Volume (rear seat folded): 62.1 cu-ft
  • Type / Power Source: Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS)·         
  • Steering Ratio: 12.8:1· 
  • Turns, Lock-to-Lock: 2.5·         Turning Circle, 
  • Curb-to-Curb: 34.8 ft.
  • Type Front/Rear: Vented disc / solid disc·   
  • Size (in.) Front/Rear: 11.0 in. / 10.3 in.
  • LX: 6.5J x 16 Steel / 6.5J x 16 Alloy (OPT)·        
  • Tire Size: P205/60 R16
  • Curb Weight: 2,888 lbs.·
  • GVWR: 4,023 lbs.
Exterior Colors:
  • Gravity Gray·  
  • Mars Orange·   
  • Snow White Pearl·   
  • Inferno Red·        
  • Steel Gray·        
  • Fusion Black.
Interior Colors:
  • Black, cloth·   
  • Gray Two-Tone, cloth
Other Features:
  • Front and rear suspension· 
  • 5 yr./ 60,000 mi. warranty

5. 2024 Hyundai Venue

New cars under $20,000: 2024 Hyundai Venue.

The 2024 Hyundai Venue is an urban adventurer characterized by a strong yet sophisticated SUV profile. It comes with available Hyundai SmartSense™ features such as Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Blind-Spot Collision Warning, providing confidence in navigating the urban environment. 

The Venue captures attention with available vibrant two-tone color options, 17" alloy wheels, LED lighting, trendy two-tone color accents, and an Ultimate-exclusive chrome grille. 

Inside, the cabin space is equipped with an 8.0" touchscreen display, 4.2" digital cluster, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, power sunroof, automatic temperature control, proximity keyless entry with remote start, and more. 

Starting at $19,800 (MSRP plus additional fees), the Venue is one of the few under-$20,000 new cars left on the market unless you dip in the made-in-China pool.    

        2024 Hyundai Venue Spec Sheet

2024 Hyundai Venue design.
Powrtrain & Drivetrain
  • Engine Type: Gamma Gen 2 1.6 Engine Family, 1598cc 1.6L DPI DOHC 16-valve Transverse-mounted Inline 4-cylinder·  
  • Fuel Injection: Dual Port Fuel Injection·        
  • Horsepower: 121 @ 6,300 RPM·         
  • Torque: 113 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 RPM·        
  • Transmission Type: Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) with gate-type, SHIFTRONIC, Hill Start Assist Control·
  • Drive Configuration: FWD·  
  • Fuel Type: Unleaded·    
  • Recommended Fuel: Unleaded
  • Front: Ventilated Disc·         
  • Rear: Drum (S trim); Disc (SEL / Limited trim)
  • Type: Rack-and-Pinion with Column Mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (C-MDPS)·  
  • Overall Ratio: 14.4 @ 360deg·
  • Turns (lock to lock): 2.7·         Min. 
  • Turning Radius (m): 5.1·         Turning Diameter (curb-to-curb in feet): 16.6
  • Front: MacPherson Strut with coil springs, Stabilizer Bar, Gas Shock Absorber (twin-tube)·   
  • Rear: Coupled torsion beam axle with Twin-tube Shock Absorber·        
  • Body/Chassis Type: Unibody.
  • Primary Materials: High Tensile Steel
  • Airbags: Driver (1), Front Passenger (1), Occupant Classification System (OCS), Driver and Front Passenger Side-impact (2), Side Air Curtains (front and rear passengers) (2)·  
  • Braking Systems: ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Electronic Stability Control System (ESC) with Traction Control System (TCS), Vehicle Stability Management, Brake Assist, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)·         
  • Advanced Safety Technology: Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) w/ Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), High Beam Assist, Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) w/ Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW), Rear Occupant Alert
  • Wheelbase: 99.2 inches· 
  • Overall Length: 159.1 inches·  
  • Overall Width (excludes mirrors): 69.7 inches·  
  • Overall Height: 61.6 inches· 
  • Ground Clearance: 6.69 inches· 
  • Fuel Tank: 11.9 gallons·  
  • Passenger Volume: 91.9 cubic feet·        
  • Luggage Volume (rear seat up): 18.7 cubic feet·         
  • Luggage Volume (rear seat folded down): 31.9 cubic feet· 
  • Total Volume: 110.6 cubic feet· 
  • Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/33/31 (Intelligent Variable Transmission IVT)

See also:

Electric SUV Showdown: The 2024 Kia EV9 vs. EV6 Face-off

4. 2024 Kia Forte

New cars under $20,000: 2024 Kia Forte.

The 2024 Kia Forte compact car has been a long-standing staple in Kia's lineup, exclusively available as a four-door, five-seat sedan. The Forte competes with vehicles like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla in the compact sedan segment. 

For 2024, the GT-Line Tech Package has been discontinued, but the features within that package are now standard on the GT-Line trim. These features include front automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and an electronic parking brake. 

Although prices have seen a slight increase across the lineup, the Forte’s starting MSRP remains below the $20,000 mark at $19,790 in 2024, making it a straightforward, inexpensive, and efficient option for drivers seeking a new small car. 

The downside is that the base model with its basic spec is considered slow and lacking in refinement, and there have been some concerns about safety scores. 

The exterior design remains sharp, and the GT trim has a peppy turbocharged engine and sporty mechanical upgrades. The base model is good on gas, while the GT version promises a zippy, fun driving experience. Needless to say, the 2024 Kia Forte is a part of the last generation of cheap small cars.    

     2024 Kia Forte Spec Sheet

2024 Kia Forte design.
Engines & Performance:
  • LX, LXS, GT Line trims: 2.0L I-4, Multi-Port Injection (MPI) Atkinson engine·       
  • GT, GT MT trims: 1.6L I-4, Turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI)·    
  • 2.0L Engine: 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm·         
  • 1.6L Engine: 201 hp @ 6,000 rpm·         
  •  2.0L Engine: 132 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm·        
  • 1.6L Engine: 195 lb.-ft. @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
  • LX, LXS, GT Line trims: CVT w/OD·         
  • GT, GT MT trims: N/A
Fuel and Emissions:
  • Fuel Type: MPI (2.0L Engine); GDI (1.6L Engine)·        
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.0 gallons·         
  • G/km Of CO2 Emissions: 170
  • LX, LXS, GT Line trims: Front Wheel Drive·         
  • GT, GT MT trims: N/A
Weight:Base Curb Weight: 2908 lbs
  • EnerGuide Estimate - City: 8.2 (L/62 miles)·         
  • EnerGuide Estimate - Hwy: 6.0 (L/62 miles)

3. 2024 Kia Rio

New cars under $20,000: 2024 Kia Rio.

The 2023/24 Kia Rio represents an evolution of the fourth-generation model that was first introduced in 2021. Last August, however, Automotive News reported that it would not see its fifth generation as Kia has decided to discontinue the Rio model in the U.S. after the 2023 model year. 

The Rio’s departure from North America is yet another blow to the already endangered under-$20k budget new cars, but the development isn’t entirely surprising. As Automotive News explained, mainstream brands are replacing their entry-level subcompact cars with subcompact crossovers to attract younger, first-time buyers that make up the bulk of this market. 

The Rio now lives as the K3, unveiled in August 2023 in Mexico, same car you know as the Cerato in China and South Korea. Be as it may, the 2023 Rio is still available brand-new in dealerships, defined by strong strokes and precise lines. 

It features redesigned headlights and front bumper, with optional LED headlights for select trim levels. The car's proportions are expertly balanced, resulting in an appealing exterior profile.

Inside, the 2023 Kia Rio features a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen display and wireless integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The vehicle also offers a suite of driver assistance programs and safety features, including Lane Keeping, Forward Collision-Avoidance with Pedestrian Detection, and High-beam Assist. 

The powertrain consists of a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque, paired with an Intelligent Variable Automatic Transmission (IVT) for smooth and efficient gear transitions. 

The Rio impresses with an EPA-rated MPG of 32 in the city, 41 on the highway, and a combined rating of 36 for fuel efficiency. In terms of pricing, the 2024 Kia Rio comes in two trim levels, with the base LX trim starting at an attractive price point of $16,750 and the S trim with a starting MSRP of $17,390.        

         2023 Kia Rio Spec Sheet

2024 Kia Rio design.
Engine & Performance:
  • Type: 1.6L in-line 4 cylinder, Gamma Multi-Point Injection (MPI) engine· 
  • Displacement: 1,598 cc·  
  • Horsepower: 120 hp @ 6,300 rpm·         
  • Torque: 112 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm·         
  • Compression Ratio: 11.2:1·
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 11.9 gallons·         
  • Recommended Fuel: Unleaded Gasoline (Regular 87 or higher)
  • Transmission: i-CVT Automatic Transmission·         
  • Final Gear Ratio: 5.452:1·         Drive Type: FWD
Exterior Dimensions:
  • Wheelbase: 101.6 in.·   
  • Length: 172.6 in.·        
  • Width: 67.9 in.·        
  • Height: 57.1 in.·        
  • Minimum Ground Clearance: 5.5 in.
Interior Dimensions:
  • Passenger Volume: 89.9 cu. ft.· 
  • Cargo Volume (rear seat up): 13.7 cu. ft.·        
  • Cargo Volume (rear seat folded down): Not specified
  • Front Suspension: MacPherson Strut·        
Rear Suspension: Coupled Torsion Beam Axle (CTBA)·  
Steering Type: Electric Power Steering·
Brake Type Front/Rear: Ventilated disc / Drum·
Brake Size (in.) Front/Rear: 11.0 in. / 8.0 in.
  • Wheel Size: 5.5J x 15·        
  • Tire Size: P185/65 R15·   
  • Spare Tire: Temporary Tire (T125/80D15)
Curb Weights:Automatic Transmission: 2,767 lbs.
Estimated Fuel Economy (i-CVT Automatic Transmission):
  • City: 32 MPG·        
  • Highway: 41 MPG·   
  • Combined: 36 MPG

2. 2024 Mitsubishi Mirage

New cars under $20,000: 2024 Mitsubishi Mirage.

The 2024 Mitsubishi Mirage is a compact hatchback offering impressive fuel efficiency, practicality, and affordability. The Mirage is a budget shopper’s benchmark thanks to a blend of affordability and class-leading fuel economy, achieving an impressive 36 MPG in the city, 43 MPG on the highway, and 39 MPG combined with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). 

Despite its compact size, the Mirage provides a roomy interior and versatile cargo space. It comes equipped with advanced safety features such as Forward Collision Mitigation with pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Warning, and Automatic High Beams. 

Mitsubishi offers a 10-year/100,000-Mile Powertrain Limited Warranty, along with a 5-year/Unlimited-Mile Roadside Assistance program. 

Additionally, the Mirage includes a 2-year/30,000-Mile Limited Maintenance package, covering oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and cabin filter replacement. Starting at around $16,695, the 2024 Mitsubishi Mirage is an affordable option for budget-conscious consumers.             

        2024 Mitsubishi Mirage Spec Sheet

2024 Mitsubishi Mirage design.
Engine:1.2L 3-Cylinder
Fuel Economy:36 City/43 Highway/39 Combined
Convenience Features:
  • FAST-Key Entry System·  
  • Push Button Start·       
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto·        
  • Automatic Climate Control·   
  • Bluetooth Wireless Technology·       
  • 2V Power Outlet·         
  • Cruise Control·         
  • Micron Air Filtration·    
  • 7.0" Smartphone-Link Display Audio (Sda)·         
  • Remote Keyless Entry·  
  • Steering Wheel Audio and Phone Controls
Exterior Features:
  • Automatic Headlights·    
  • Fog Lights·        
  • Rain Sensing Wipers·     
  • LED Tail Lights·       
  • 14-Inch Alloy Wheels·   
  • 15-Inch Alloy Wheels·  
  • Black Side Mirrors·     
  • Rear Spoiler·        
  • Halogen Headlights·  
  • Temporary Spare Tire
Interior Features:
  • Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel·       
  • Heated Front Seats·       
  • Cloth Seating Surfaces with Red Stitching·         
  • Leather-Wrapped Shift Knob· 
  • Split Rear Seat Folding Function
Safety & Security:
  • Forward Collision Mitigation system (FCM) with Pedestrian Detection·       
  • Hill Start Assist (HSA)·   
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)·         
  • Side Curtain Airbags.

1. 2024 Nissan Versa

New cars under $20,000: 2024 Nissan Versa.

The 2024 Nissan Versa is a subcompact car with striking looks, remarkable fuel efficiency, and an array of available driver-assist features. It offers a fuel economy of up to an exceptional EPA-estimated 32 city mpg and 40 highway mpg when equipped with an available Xtronic CVT® transmission. 

The Versa is engineered with a spacious interior, providing 44.5 inches of front legroom and up to 15 cu. ft. of cargo space with available 60/40-split fold-down rear seatbacks. 

The technology features include Apple CarPlay® integration, available NissanConnect® Services, and a wireless charger, seamlessly syncing with compatible devices and offering a 3-year trial with the available SiriusXM Premium package. 

In terms of safety, the Nissan Safety Shield® 360 and Nissan Intelligent Mobility® include optional features that help monitor surroundings and can step in to help keep drivers out of trouble. This car is one of the last holdouts in the under-$20,000 new car market.                    

           2024 Nissan Versa Spec Sheet

2024 Nissan Versa design.
Engine & Performance:
  • 1.6L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine·         
  • Horsepower: 122 hp @ 6,300 RPM·         
  • Torque: 114 lb-ft @ 4,400 RPM·         
  • Engine Type: Gas
Transmission:XTRONIC CVT® (Continuously Variable Transmission)
Fuel Economy:
  • City: 27 MPG·      
  • Highway: 35 MPG·  
  • Combined: 30 MPG·     
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 10.8 gallons
  • Front Suspension Type: Independent strut·      
  • Rear Suspension Type: Torsion beam
Drivetrain:·         Front-Wheel Drive (FWD)
Exterior Features:
  • Automatic Off Aero-Composite Halogen Headlamps·  
  • Variable Intermittent Wipers· 
  • Body-Colored Power Heated Side Mirrors w/Manual Folding
Interior Features:
  • 5 Person Seating Capacity·         Cloth Seat Trim·       
  • 60-40 Folding Bench Front Facing Fold Forward Seatback Rear Seat
Safety Features:
  • Nissan Advanced Airbag System (AABS)·        
  • Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) Electronic Stability Control (ESC)·         
  • ABS And Driveline Traction Control
Wheels and Tires:
  • 15" steel wheels with full covers·         
  • Tire - Front: P185/65HR15· 
  • Tire - Rear: P185/65HR15
* The email will not be published on the website.