Yes, it is still possible to buy a new car, truck, or SUV for under $25,000 in 2020. You’ll find plenty of stylish, fun-to-drive, and reasonably equipped vehicles at this price point, particularly if you’re looking for something small. Some of the vehicles listed here aren’t fun in the traditional sense—they’re no sports cars—but bring uncommon character to a price point typified by lame, value-driven design-by-committee econoboxes. Whether sporty or interesting, we’ve gathered the least boring cars, trucks, and SUVs on the market that start at under $25,000 here for your perusal:
2020 Hyundai Kona | Base Price: $21,420
With agile handling and a compliant ride, Hyundai’s Kona subcompact crossover is fun to drive in the city or on twisty roads. While the entry-level 147-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is fine, the optional turbocharged 1.6-liter four is much more entertaining and squirts the Kona around with gusto. Despite the crossover’s small proportions, we were able to fit enough gear for an extended camping trip in the back. And even if you’re not adventuring around, well, just look at the Hyundai! It certainly isn’t boring, with funky detailing and chunky body armor giving an urban-assault-vehicle vibe.
2020 Jeep Renegade | Base Price: $23,770
Jeeps are (almost) never boring. Even as the baby of the Jeep lineup, the adorable Renegade boasts real off-road capability, so if you can’t swing the ever-more-expensive Wrangler (which long ago used to be priced in this space!), this might be the cheap 4×4 for you. Buyers can choose between a 2.4-liter engine with 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque or, for more money, a 1.3-liter turbocharged engine with 177 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. While we lament the Renegade’s recent loss of its standard six-speed manual transmission, which could be paired with four-wheel drive, the tiny Jeep remains one of the only truly dirt-capable vehicles in this price space.
2020 Volkswagen Golf | Base Price: $24,115
The Volkswagen Golf, MotorTrend‘s 2015 Car of the Year winner, has held up well over time. It’s a stable thing, both in terms of its handling and its continuity with previous Golfs, all of which were understated, boxy things. Boring? You’re not looking closely enough. The VW blends practicality, tidy driving manners, and Audi-like refinement into a single, forever-car-style package. Everything exceeds expectations, from the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine punching above its weight to the suspension delivering sharp handling to the confident brakes. Oh, and the interior is beautifully assembled. Volkswagen recently debuted a new generation Golf hatch, but it’s unclear if this model will make its way to the U.S. market. Enjoy this stylish hatch while you can, or upgrade to the next-gen GTI (for more money, of course).
2020 Mini Hardtop | Base Price: $24,250
The two- or four-door Mini Hardtop is packed with British panache. It’s just as adorable inside as out, with circular displays and controls in the cabin. There are countless ways to customize the hatch, from stripes on the exterior to Union Jack logos on the mirror caps and interior dashboard. Careful how much you spend on all that kitsch, of course, because the option sheet is as long as one from Porsche. Base models are powered by a turbocharged three-cylinder engine, and you can step up to the S model’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder for extra scoot.
2020 Hyundai Elantra GT | Base Price: $21,605
Dig the basic idea of Volkswagen’s Golf, but want for slightly more visual interest? Enter the Hyundai Elantra GT, which is actually a separate model from the Elantra sedan and is plucked from Hyundai’s European lineup. It’s slightly less tame-looking than the Golf, yet the Elantra GT maintains the same tasteful understatement. A 161-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, and the steering is nicely weighted and precise; this isn’t your typical economy hatchback. The optional 1.6-liter turbo engine, which makes 201 hp, is even more rewarding.
2020 Hyundai Veloster | Base Price: $19,755
You’ll often hear the Hyundai Veloster referred to as “quirky.” While it might not appear all that strange at first blush, the hatchback earns its reputation by way of its oddball door layout. There is one long door on the left side, like on a coupe, while on the right there are two shorter doors, like on a typical four-door hatchback. It is almost as if the Veloster can’t decide whether it is a coupe or a hatchback. Well, it’s sort of both. The base engine feels a bit underpowered, in stark contrast to the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 201 horsepower on Turbo models. If you want the quickest version, opt for the Turbo R-Spec with the six-speed manual transmission—it’s a steal at $24,305.
2020 Honda Civic | Base Price: $21,605
Many people may deem the Honda Civic common and uninteresting, given its pervasiveness on the road. But, in our opinion, there’s nothing boring about a benchmark-setting secret performance car for a reasonable price. The Civic offers best-in-class driving dynamics, abundant standard safety features, and plenty of interior space to please buyers looking for both performance and practicality. Sedan, hatchback, and coupe versions are available to suit the tastes of different buyers. We’d recommend grabbing the Sport trims, available on every body style, as they bring niftier styling and, on the hatchback, a little more power.
2020 Chevrolet Colorado | Base Price: $22,395
You can easily spend $70,000 on a pickup truck today. You won’t—actually, you can’t—drop that much dough on a Chevrolet Colorado. That’s what makes the midsize Colorado so refreshing—it is a competent, modern pickup whether you opt for a no-frills model or a fully loaded one. It benefits from car-like handing and a quiet, well-controlled ride—something you can’t say about many other trucks in this class. Sure, the Toyota Tacoma might look more brutish and offer sweet off-road versions to match the Colorado’s available ZR2 trim, but no version of the Toyota can be purchased for less than $25,000.
2020 Hyundai Venue | Base Price: $18,470
It says something that Hyundai has so many products on this list. The all-new 2020 Venue gets on by way of its charming style and hip interior options (including a “Denim” version with an all-blue interior with jean-like seating material!). Slotting underneath the already small Kona crossover, the subcompact Venue is geared to first-time car buyers but overshoots that modest goal by being far more interesting and refined than the typical economy car. The itty-bitty crossover even comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission (a CVT is available).
2020 Subaru Crosstrek | Base Price: $23,155
Boasting solid off-road chops, rugged looks, and plenty of cargo room, the Subaru Crosstrek is a great small crossover for taking on weekend adventures (or just making your commute feel a bit more adventurous). The base model is well-equipped and comes with a manual transmission(!), but buyers can always upgrade to a power moonroof, navigation, or leather upholstery with blue or orange contrast stitching. Every Crosstrek comes standard with all-wheel drive, a rarity in a class filled with wannabe SUVs that offer AWD as an option and come standard with front-wheel drive.
2020 Mazda CX-30 | Base Price: $23,000
Mazda’s new CX-30—not to be confused with the smaller, less-new CX-3—is so nice, you’d never know it starts at only $23,000. Stylish inside and out, with premium materials throughout and classy detailing, the Mazda is a subcompact crossover in size and name only. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s A stout 186-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine gives it more muscle than anything else in the class, and the suspension delivers a smooth, quiet ride. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional and adds $1,400 to the price.
2020 Honda Fit | Base Price: $17,145
It may not be a looker, but the Honda Fit is a hoot to drive relative to its subcompact class-mates. Its 1.5-liter four-cylinder is mated to a buttery smooth, fun-to-shift six-speed manual transmission (a continuously variable automatic transmission, or CVT, is optional). Despite making only 130 horsepower, the Fit is zippy in the city or on the highway, and the extracting maximum thrust from the little requires absolutely hammering on it. Thanks to multiple seat configurations from its multi-way-folding “Magic” rear seats, it can carry surprisingly big objects like paintings, tables, and surfboards.
2020 Nissan Kicks | Base Price: $19,965
Starting below $20,000, the Nissan Kicks is a great value. A 7.0-inch touchscreen, three USB ports, keyless entry with push-button start, auto headlights, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection are standard equipment. Get it with a special two-tone paint color if your heart desires. On top of all these features, Nissan Kicks boasts a smooth ride and engaging steering. Load one up with options—including heated seats and a Bose stereo—and you won’t even come close to our $25,000 price cap here.
2021 Hyundai Elantra | Base Price: $TBD
Arriving later this year, the all-new seventh-generation 2021 Hyundai Elantra sedan appears to be much more upscale than before. Along with an attractive (or, at least, highly eye-catching) exterior and interior design, the new Elantra gets available features such as a super smart voice recognition system, large digital displays like those in a Mercedes, and even a mobile phone key that replaces a physical key. Prices haven’t been announced, but it stands to reason it will start below $25,000, considering the 2020 model is priced from $20,105.
The Least Boring Cars, Trucks, and SUVs Under $25,000
- 2020 Hyundai Kona – $21,420
- 2020 Jeep Renegade – $23,770
- 2020 Volkswagen Golf – $24,115
- 2020 Mini Hardtop – $24,250
- 2020 Hyundai Elantra GT – $21,605
- 2020 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec – $24,305
- 2020 Honda Civic – $21,605
- 2020 Chevrolet Colorado – $22,395
- 2020 Hyundai Venue – $18,470
- 2020 Subaru Crosstrek – $23,155
- 2020 Mazda CX-30 – $23,000
- 2020 Honda Fit – $17,145
- 2020 Nissan Kicks – $19,965
- 2021 Hyundai Elantra – $TBD
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