With the rise in popularity of SUVs, buyers shopping for an affordable compact sedan or hatchback can currently find incredible deals, especially on the used market. Here we’ll outline six of our favorite used compact cars available for around $20,000. Most are either brand new, or just a few years old and packed with great features.
Buyers looking for a nicely-equipped sub-$20,000 compact car will find much to love about a gently-used Mazda3 from the 2017-2019 model years. The Mazda3 was updated for the 2017 model year with new front and rear fascias, an electronic parking brake, and other, subtler changes like larger door pockets. Power comes from a pair of 4-cylinder engines making either 155 or 184 horsepower, depending on trim level. Currently on Autotrader, there are around 150 top-trim 2017-2019 Mazda3 Grand Touring models listed for around $20,000, around half of which are hatchbacks. The Grand Touring trim from these years was offered with a light-colored leather interior along with upscale interior trim pieces. Paired with its excellent interior quality and great driving dynamics, this makes for an exceptional $20,000 used compact. Find a Mazda3 for sale
2015-2018 Volkswagen GTI
The Volkswagen GTI is an exceptional compact hatchback offering great handling and excellent performance. The original "hot hatchback," the GTI, comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine putting out between 210 and 220 hp and is paired with either a 6-speed manual or a fast-shifting dual-clutch 7-speed automatic. The GTI also offers a great interior with good fit and finish and well conceived ergonomics. The GTI’s hatchback body style makes it an extremely practical vehicle as well, offering room for everything from a bike or two to a large house plant to a small piece of furniture. Overall, the GTI offers a good balance of performance, quality and practicality, and you can pick up a 2015-2018 model right now for around $20,000 with relative ease, as there are currently over 700 listed on Autotrader that would fit the bill. Find a Volkswagen GTI for sale
2016-2018 Honda Civic
One of the most popular compact cars on the market, the Honda Civic was last all new for the 2016 model year, and buyers can now pick up a nicely equipped used example for under $20,000 with ease. Upper trims of the Civic come with great safety features like automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also offered. One area that takes some getting used to is the Civic’s blind spot monitoring system, which Honda refers to as "Lane Watch." Instead of monitoring traffic to the rear, Honda’s system uses a camera that displays an image on the infotainment screen anytime the right turn signal is used. The system is inferior to the method used by other automakers. Still, it’s a small shortcoming of an otherwise great vehicle. Top-of-the-line Touring models even come with remote start and heated rear seats.
The Civic is offered in sedan, hatchback and coupe body styles. Despite offering exceptional resale value, there are currently over 1,000 modern 2016-2018 Civics from the vehicle’s latest body style listed on Autotrader for around $20,000 or less, making a used Civic one of the best used compact cars on the market. Find a Honda Civic for sale
2014-2018 Kia Soul
The Soul stands out in a crowd thanks to its quirky, boxy shape. In addition, its boxy proportions mean that it offers great practicality, with around 25 cu ft. of cargo room behind the rear seat. Brand new, the Soul carries a starting price of only $16,000, meaning that it isn’t difficult to find a nicely equipped model for around $20,000 — new or used. While only base models are available new for under $20k, buyers willing to look to the used market have plenty of options. Currently on Autotrader, there are over 1,000 2014-2018 Souls listed for under $20,000. Over 100 of these are even the Soul ‘!’ (the Soul uses odd trim levels), which comes with a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine putting out a healthy 201 hp and paired with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Find a Kia Soul for sale
2017-2018 Hyundai Elantra
The Hyundai Elantra is available in both sedan and coupe body styles. Offered in its current body style since 2017, a new Elantra carries a starting price of around $18,000, meaning that buyers can find many examples, new and used, for under $20,000, covering a wide variety of trim levels. The Elantra comes powered by three different available 4-cylinder engines, the most potent of which is found in the Sport model: a 1.6-liter turbo making 201 hp and paired with a 7-speed dual clutch Automatic. Regardless of which trim you choose, the Elantra is available with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with a good assortment of driver-assistance safety features, but only on the top-of-the-line Limited trim. Currently on Autotrader, there are well over 1,000 2017-2019 Elantras listed for under $20,000. Find a Hyundai Elantra for sale
2017-2019 Subaru Impreza
Subaru sets itself apart from the competition by offering standard all-wheel drive, and the Impreza is no different. Available in hatchback and sedan body styles, every Impreza comes with 4-wheel traction, making it a great option for those living in snowy climates. With the continuously variable transmission, the Impreza returns 28 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, impressive figures, especially for a vehicle with AWD. Additionally, the Impreza offers a great array of safety features, a spacious second row, and a quiet cabin. Currently on Autotrader, there are over 700 2017-or-newer Imprezas listed for around $20,000, around half of which are the practical hatchback body style. Find a Subaru Impreza for sale