Search Cars for Sale

10 Best Used Midsize Cars Under $20,000


If you’re in the market for sensible mainstream transportation, you’ve come to the right place. Here we’ve outlined the 10 best midsize cars available under $20,000. Targeting the model years will help you get the most bang for your buck. As the midsize sedan segment is big on value, the vehicles on this list are only a few years old and should offer many of the same modern tech and safety features found on brand new models.

1. 2018 Chevrolet Malibu

2018 Chevrolet Malibu Front Left Side in Silver
The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu starts under $20,000, used.

The Malibu is about as mainstream as it gets. The 2018 model is the same as the Malibu sold new today. We enjoy its sharp design, smooth ride, and modern interior with a generously sized infotainment screen. Powertrain options consist of a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, a 4-cylinder hybrid, and a sportier 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 250 horsepower. See Chevrolet Malibu models for sale

2. 2018 Ford Fusion

2018 Ford Fusion Front left in black
The 2018 Ford Fusion starts for under $20,000, used.

Another sound choice in the used midsize sedan space is the Ford Fusion. While it has since been discontinued, Ford sold the final-generation Fusion from 2013 to 2020. A variety of different powerplants were available over the years, from basic 4-cylinders to turbocharged fours, to a turbo V6. All-wheel drive was on the option sheet as well. See Ford Fusion models for sale

3. 2018 Honda Accord

2018 Honda Accord Front Right in White
The 2018 Honda Accord starts for under $20,000, used.

The Honda Accord is one of the most trusted vehicles in the midsize sedan segment. Just like the Toyota Camry, the Accord was fully redesigned for the 2018 model year. It’s known for being a little more sophisticated than the Toyota, with more upscale styling, better driving dynamics, and a nicer interior. Another leg up for the Honda? The inclusion of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for the 2018 model year. The Camry didn’t get these features until later. See Honda Accord models for sale

4. 2018 Hyundai Sonata

2018 Hyundai Sonata front right in white
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata is available for under $20,000, used.

An all-new Sonata came out for 2020. If it weren’t for the currently inflated market, it would be reasonable to look for a 2020-or-newer used Sonata for under $20K. For those model years, you should be able to find the base 4-cylinder at this price range. If you’re looking for an upper trim level or another powertrain, the previous-gen 2015-2019 Sonata is your best bet. Hyundai is known for smart design and good interiors, and the Sonata is no exception. See Hyundai Sonata models for sale

5. 2018 Kia Optima

2018 Kia Optima Front Left in Blue
The 2018 Optima Hybrid starts for under $20,000, used.

As the two companies are related, Kia sells a midsize sedan riding on the same platform as the Hyundai Sonata. However, the two vehicles differ considerably when it comes to styling, inside and out. When the Kia Optima was redesigned for the 2021 model year, it was re-named the K5. While you’re unlikely to find a 2021-or-newer K5 for under $20K, it won’t be hard to find a used 2016-2020 Optima for about $20,000. Powertrains here are the same as in the Sonata. See Kia Optima models for sale

6. 2018 Mazda6

2018 Mazda6 Front left in red
The 2018 Mazda6 starts under $20,000, used.

If you want a luxury car experience from your midsize sedan but don’t want to pay luxury prices, look to the Mazda6. Offered in its latest generation since the 2016 model year, the Mazda6 wears sophisticated exterior styling and packs a well-crafted, premium-feeling interior, especially in its upper trims. Our recommendation would be to target a used Mazda6 in one of its upper Grand Touring or Signature trim levels for a true luxury experience. See Mazda6 models for sale

7. 2019 Nissan Altima

2019 Nissan Altima front left in silver
The 2019 Nissan Altima is available for under $20,000, used.

The Altima more or less plays third-fiddle to the Accord and Camry in the midsize sedan segment. Like the Honda and Toyota, the Altima is designed to be reasonably comfortable while offering safety and efficiency. Nissan redesigned its midsize sedan for the 2019 model year, adding available all-wheel drive and a semi-autonomous highway driving feature. We’d have a hard time not holding out for one of these 2019 models if we were hoping to buy an Altima for $20,000. See Nissan Altima models for sale

8. 2016 Subaru Legacy

2016 Subaru Legacy front left in blue
The 2016 Subaru Legacy is available for under $20,000, used.

Any Legacy buyer (or Subaru buyer, for that matter) will tell you that the number one thing that drew them to the brand was Subaru’s standard all-wheel-drive system. Now, it’s our journalistic duty to point out that several competitors, like the Altima, Camry, and Fusion, offer optional all-wheel drive. Still, we won’t argue that Subaru’s been in the 4-wheel-traction game longer than anyone else. Beyond standard capability, the Legacy emphasizes safety. And if you want to stand out, it’s one of the less-common vehicles in the segment. You’ll probably notice that we’re suggesting the 2016 Legacy as a starting point here while suggesting 2018 for most other vehicles on this list. This is because the Legacy holds its value a little better given that AWD system. See Subaru Legacy models for sale

9. 2018 Toyota Camry

2018 Toyota Camry front right in blue
The 2018 Toyota Camry is available for under $20,000, used.

The Camry has set the standard in the midsize sedan segment for decades. It’s known above all else for being sensible and reliable. Toyota redesigned the Camry for the 2018 model year, and this is the year we’d target if we were hunting for a Camry for $20,000. Toyota didn’t add Apple CarPlay to the Camry until 2019, and Android Auto wasn’t made available until 2020. But beyond this technological shortcoming, any Camry offers safety, efficiency, and great resale value. See Toyota Camry models for sale

10. 2018 Volkswagen Passat

2018 Volkswagen Passat Front Left Side in Green
The 2018 Volkswagen Passat is available for under $20,000.

Finally, we have the Volkswagen Passat. Volkswagen designed the Passat specifically for the North American market and built it in Chattanooga, Tennessee. While the company sells a completely different Passat in Europe, the Passat sold in the United States offers a large trunk and a spacious interior. Its powertrains aren’t so competitive, nor are its driving dynamics particularly compelling, but if it’s size and value you’re after, you could do worse than a Passat. As with most other vehicles on this list, look to the 2018 model year as your starting point. That said, the Passat has gone largely unchanged since the 2012 model year. See Volkswagen Passat models for sale

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More about Chris O'Neill

Sign up for Autotrader newsletters

The best cars and best deals delivered to your inbox

Email Address 

By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy

Where You Can Buy

Loading dealers...

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Look

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid jumps to the head of the hybrid class.

Best Truck Deals: August 2022

These are the best deals on trucks for the month of August 2022.

Mazda Goes Off-Road With New CX-50 SUV

Mazda takes a new road with its new CX-50 -- an unpaved one, at that.

Search By Style

More Articles Like This