For several years, the average price of a new car in the United States has hovered around $30,000. But it wasn’t too many years ago when the $30,000 plateau was the starting point of entry level luxury vehicles.
But what if the average new car buyer can only afford to spend $20,000? Are there new 2015 vehicles with price tags of $20,000 worth purchasing? In a word, yes.
Family sedans to entry-level sports cars to manufacturers whose models are among the best-selling in history — all have quality new vehicles available with starting prices of less than $20,000. And they’re, without doubt, quality automobiles.
Several quality cars have starting prices of less than $15,000. And some entry level cars have starting prices well under $20,000 but also far surpass that plateau with various option packages.
Here’s a list, synopsis and price range of five diverse 2015 cars all worthy and all with starting price tags less than $20,000:
2015 Chevrolet Sonic ($17,670-$21,765)
Versatility is sometimes hard to get in an entry level car, but not with the Sonic. The standard engine on the LS and LT models is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission with a hill-hold feature is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available as an option.
The EPA-estimated fuel economy is 30 mpg combined (26 city/35 highway) with the manual transmission and 28 mpg combined (25 city/35 highway) with the automatic. That’s not the best in the segment, but it’s not a deal breaker.
And then there’s the 1.4-liter four-cylinder on the LTZ and RS (and optional for the LT). A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. Fuel economy in the LTZ and LT trim is rated at 33 mpg combined (29 city/40 highway) with the manual and 31 mpg combined (27 city/37 highway) with the automatic. The RS trim’s sportier gearing results in lower estimates of 30 mpg combined (27/34) with the manual and 28 combined (25/33) with the automatic transmission.
2015 Honda Fit ($16,485-$21,659)
How did Honda’s engineers squeeze so much interior space in a sub-compact? It’s a sub-compact? Really? There’s an abundance of cargo space and a roomy back seat.
The ride is comfortable in city and freeway driving and it’s nimble and fun. But Fit is more sedan than wannabe sports car. Equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, the Fit is more fun to drive. For the most economic-minded, the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the most efficient with gas mileage estimated of 33 mpg city an 41 mpg on the highway.
Read TheWeeklyDriver.com’s full review: 2015 Honda Fit
2015 Hyundai Elantra ($19,680-$22,825)
It’s not a luxury car, but it’s a composed, quite and handsome sedan. The Hyundai Elantra’s 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine generates 148 horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque, and fuel mileage is listed at 28 mpg in city driving, 38 mpg on the highway.
It would be hard to find a more attractive car in the price range. Add to its good looks, Hyundai has best warranty in the auto industry. And the carmaker does its part environmentally. The Elantra has an Active Eco mode that improves gas mileages to 28 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway.
2015 Nissan Versa Note ($14,180-$17,960)
The Nissan Versa Note is a sporty-looking sub-compact with several available trims ad option packages that elevate its entry-level status. The Note’s SR trim is particularly sporty looking. It features 16-inch alloys, foglights, unique front and rear fascias, a unique grille, a dark headlight treatment, body-color side sill spoilers, a rear spoiler, side mirrors with integrated turn signals.
A sport-oriented steering wheel, suede upholstery, sport front seats and a rear-seat center armrest with cupholders and significantly to the base model. The Nissan Versa Note also feels “open.” It has 10 windows and the seating capacity is surprisingly spacious. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom for front and backseat occupants. It gets 31 mpg in city driving and 40 mpg on the highway.
Read TheWeeklyDriver.com’s full review: 2015 Nissan Versa Note
2015 Toyota Corolla ($16,800–$24,659)
The new edition of the best-selling car in history now has a fold-down real center armrest in all trims except the base L model. The Toyota Corolla for years has had a lengthy list of standard features, and it’s now even better. The upper level trims for 2015 get the Driver Convenience package as standard equipment.
There’s also the LE Eco trim. It has a four-cylinder engine and four-speed manual transmission or continuously variable automatic transmission. Like the Toyota Corolla has always defined, top-line LE Eco trim is all about reliable transportation. It’s not the fastest, but its 1.8-liter, 16-valve engine with 140 horsepower defines efficiency and could drive indefinitely.
Read TheWeeklyDriver.com’s full review: 2015 Toyota Corolla