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Shopping for a Car — 3 Quality Cars Under $20K

November 22nd, 2013

When shopping for a car, most shoppers focus on finding a car that fits their personal needs and style. But, all to often, car shoppers face the common dilemma of finding a car that fits their desired criteria but is not within their budget. Having a budget, however, doesn’t mean that car consumers have to settle with a car that is not up-to-par with their standards or needs – or even style. So, whether auto shoppers are looking for personal vehicles or family cars, they don’t necessarily have to break the bank to find quality driving options. At True Consumer Reviews, we have rounded up a list of our highest-ranking small, 5-door hatchbacks and compact sedans available for under $20,000.  Take an in-depth look at our reviewers’ favorite affordable car options.

Three cars to consider when shopping with a $20,000-or-less budget:

shopping for a carHyundai Elantra:

The Hyundai Elantra received an overall rating of 4.2 out of 5, received no below-average rankings from our testers and ranked as Top Overall automobile choice in the compact sedan segment. At $16,965, the Elantra offers standard features that include:

  • Dual body-color heated power side mirrors.
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
  • iPod/USB auxiliary input jacks.
  • Multi-function trip computer.

Our consumer car reviewers gave the Elantra an above-average rating for its trunk area, noting that they liked the easy-to-close trunk lid, seat-fold lever in the trunk and 60/40 folding rear seats that fold completely flat. Our testers are not the only ones that praised the Elantra’s spaciousness. The U.S. News and World Report also noted that the Elantra offers good cargo space and good passenger space for its class. However, this car’s extra space is only one of the pros that it has to offer. It received Best in Segment by our consumer car reviewers for exterior appearance, interior appearance, interior controls, vehicle storage, front-seat comfort, visibility, rear-seat comfort and value for the money.  And, offering 28-38 MPG, drivers of this ride can save serious cash at the gas pump. So, if you’re shopping for a car that offers stylish contoured seats, a fresh, sporty exterior and room for you to store gear for your hobby or toys for your kids, this might be the right fit for you. The Elantra is the total – affordable – package.

Hyundai Accent:

Receiving a rating of 3.8 out of 5 by our consumer reviewers and placing as top overall automobile in our small, 5-door hatchback segment, the Hyndai Accent offers a sharp, best-in-class exterior, contemporary interior and efficiency (28-37 MPGs) all in one drive.  At $14,545, shoppers can drive away with some neat standard specs, including:

  • Remote keyless entry with panic alert.
  • Chrome-accented front grille.
  • iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks.
  • Tinted glass and windshield sunshade band.
  • Rear window defroster.

The Hyndai Accent may have been chosen as Top Overall choice in its segment by our testers, but it also swept away the competition in segment categories, winning Best in Segment for exterior appearance, interior appearance, front-seat comfort, interior controls and value for the money. This ride also scored an above-average rating from our consumer car reviewers for cargo area and interior storage, and an average rating for rear-seat comfort and visibility. So, what’s not to like about this car? Our reviewers noted that the Accent’s back-seat headrests made rear visibility difficult and that the car does not offer rear-seat cup holders or adequate storage behind the passenger’s seat. Our consumer car reviewers also pointed out that the rear seats do not completely fold back, making it difficult for drivers to store maximum amounts of cargo. Overall, if you’re looking for an edgy vehicle with high-quality material embedded in its interior – that’s price-worthy – this’ll definitely be a decent driving choice for you.

Honda Civic:

consumer car reviewThe Honda Civic received a 3.7 out of 5 rating from our consumer car reviewers. Starting at $18,165, the Civic is at the higher end of our three “under $20,000” choices. But, the Honda Civic does offer some noteworthy standard features, such as:

  • i-MID with 5-inch LCD screen and customizable feature settings.
  • Rearview camera with guidelines.
  • Pandora compatibility.
  • Bluetooth streaming audio.
  • USB audio interface.
  • MP3/auxiliary input jack.
  • MP3/Windows Media Audio (WMA) playback capability.
  • Speed-sensitive volume control.

Among our testers, the Civic was ranked as third-best overall automobile in our compact sedan segment. This ride also received an above-average rating from reviewers for exterior appearance, interior appearance, interior controls, front-seat comfort and value for the money. Reviewers noted that they particularly appreciated the car’s aerodynamic design, sleek and sporty interior features and overall roominess. Auto critic Daniel Pund of Car and Driver echoed similar sentiments when writing about the 2013 Honda Civic, noting that its redone interior gives the car a more “conventional look” and “upscale ambience.”

However, our consumer reviewers didn’t appreciate, however, that the Civic does not have rear-seat cup holders and lacks rear headroom, making it harder for passengers to enter and exit the back of the vehicle. Testers would have also preferred that the rear seats folded completely flat.  Despite the Honda Civic receiving the highest comparably equipped price of 11 sedans tested, our consumer car reviewers felt that, overall, it was wroth the money. So, if you’re willing to spend a bit more for an attractive, eloquently-designed Civic – and don’t plan on having very tall individuals sit in the back seat – the Honda Civic might just be a great match for you.

When shopping for a car, finding an affordable ride doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning specs and features that you might have always wanted, but felt you couldn’t afford. Whether you’re looking for a fancier interior, cutting-edge exterior or more room for your growing family, True Consumer Reviews’ comparison tool allows you to browse affordable cars based on your needs, wants and budget.