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What’s the Best Toyota Corolla You Can Get for $20,000?

One of the longest-running and most-trusted vehicles on the market is the Toyota Corolla. Thanks to its efficiency, reliability and spaciousness, Toyota sells a few hundred thousand of these compact sedans every year. As a result, there’s no shortage of Corollas, new and used, to choose from. Here, we’ll outline what buyers should look for in a Corolla for around $20,000.

Year

A budget of $20,000 brings both new and used Corollas into the equation. For the 2019 model year, the base Corolla L starts at $18,700, and LE and LE Eco models also stay under the $20,000 mark. In addition to coming with a full factory warranty and that new-car smell, buying any new 2018 or 2019 Corolla means getting adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, front automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, as every new Corolla as of the 2018 model year comes with all of these features as standard. 2017 models come standard with these features as well.

Even in top-of-the-line XSE configuration, the Corolla only reaches $22,880. Given this, used examples of a fully-loaded 2017 or a dealer-incentivized 2018 Corolla can likely be found for under $20,000.

With all that said and for buyer’s looking at the $20,000 mark, we recommend searching for a used 2017 Corolla or a brand-new 2018 or 2019 model, mainly because these will all come standard with Toyota’s suite of driver-assistance safety features.

Right now, there are close to 13,000 new or used 2017-2019 Corollas for sale on Autotrader for around $20,000.

Powertrain

The Corolla really only offers one engine, which makes things pretty easy here. Buyers are looking at a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder making 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. Two different transmissions are available — either a 6-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic. If you’re unsure of which transmission you’d prefer, go for the automatic.

Trim & Mileage

Taking the new route, buyers on a budget of $20,000 can afford either an L, an LE or an LE Eco model, without factoring in any dealer-incentives. In terms of a used Corolla, we recommend buyers look for a 2017 SE, XLE or XSE model, as depreciation will have brought these trim levels down to the $20,000 mark.

Since we’re recommending newer models here, mileage won’t be as much of an issue, as these models won’t have had much time to accrue significant mileage. Buyers taking the used route should expect to find a Corolla of an upper-trim level with fewer than 40,000 miles pretty easily.

Conclusions

Buyers looking for a Toyota Corolla for around $20,000 have a ton of options. We recommend limiting your search to 2017 and newer models. If you value newness and the full balance of a factory warranty, opting for a brand-new 2018 or 2019 L, LE or LE Eco model is the right move. If you’re comfortable with something pre-owned, a gently used SE, XLE or XSE model with minimal mileage can be had for under $20,000.

Find a Toyota Corolla for sale

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

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks for your advice! It ensured me that my choice of Corolla 2017 XSE is right. I found one but I’m not sure about the seller. It seems he is not honest with me and hide some info. A friend of mine recommended me to use FAXVIN to check accidents history, reported odometer readings, recalls & defects, lien records, mileage rollback and vehicle specifications by VIN number. Do you think it will save me from taking risk?

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