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What Are the Best Used Cars for $20,000?

best cars under 20K 2024 scaled jpg 2014 Lexus RX 350 | Cars.com illustration by Paul Dolan

Prices for late-model used cars have yet to fully recover from pandemic-era inventory shortages, but safe, reliable used cars still exist at a reasonable price. To demonstrate this, Cars.com assembled a healthy list of choices available for a budget of about $20,000; tap the links below to see our picks in other price tiers.

Related: What Are the Best Used Cars for $10,000?
Related: What Are the Best Used Cars for $15,000?

We excluded any vehicles older than the 2012 model year, as such examples are more likelier to have higher mileage and more potential for mechanical problems. With a budget of around $20,000, good choices are myriad. Whether you need more seats, cargo capacity or gas mileage — or even something more upscale or fun to drive — you can find a smart choice at this price.

The vehicles on our list have decent overall safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as well as respectable reliability marks in the U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study by researcher J.D. Power. Finally, the vehicles and model years below rate highly in the collective judgment of Cars.com’s expert reviewers.

Cars.com crunched the prices in our used-car listings as of March for vehicles that met our criteria and came in with median listed prices between $17,000-$23,000 for these model years, so you should be able to find one for about $20,000. The picks below include all body styles and powertrains offered in these years unless otherwise specified. Tap the link to each vehicle’s model years, details and reviews to find everything you need to know about the trim levels and features available.

It’s worth noting that our listed EPA mileage comes after the agency issued revisions in early 2016 that affect stated mileage on some cars back to the 2011 model year. As such, certain earlier models here may have mileage that doesn’t align with original window-sticker numbers.

Subcompact Car

2018-20 Honda Fit

2020 honda fit best used cars under 20k exterior 13 jpg 2020 Honda Fit | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat hatchback
  • Median price: About $17,500-$19,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 31-36 mpg

The Honda Fit is an exercise in efficient packaging so clever that it’s enough to make you mourn the slow death of the subcompact class in America. It packs an impressive amount of cargo space into a small, light subcompact hatchback. While the Fit was an easy-to-park city car with excellent gas mileage, it was also fun to drive, with Honda offering a manual transmission until the end of its production run in 2020. A 2018 refresh brought a lower, wider look, a new tuner-inspired Sport trim and more noise insulation. The 2018 Fit also offered the full Honda Sensing suite of active-safety features, which included adaptive cruise control, lane-centering steering, automatic emergency braking and road departure mitigation. Wind noise and a fiddly infotainment system were our primary complaints, but despite that, the Fit remains one of the best-loved small cars in recent history for a reason.

Research Honda Fit model years, details and reviews.

Compact Cars

2018-20 Acura ILX

2020 Acura ILX A Spec best used cars under 20k exterior 05 jpg 2020 Acura ILX A-Spec | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $18,500-$22,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 28-29 mpg

The ILX premium sedan isn’t just a dressed-up Honda Civic, the car whose bones it’s based on; it features an upgraded suspension and steering for good handling, and the interior is more premium and noticeably quieter. The ILX’s standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine has adequate power and excellent fuel efficiency for its class. Automatic emergency braking was optional, while an A-Spec Package offered a sportier look and interior. We did experience more road noise from the ILX than from most premium sedans, though, so keep that in mind if that’s one of your biggest automotive nuisances.

A mild refresh of the ILX for 2019 made many of its previously optional active-safety features standard, upgraded the response time of its multimedia system, and gave it a more modern-looking exterior. Its standard media system has a display high on the dash and a knob controller on the center console, although you could upgrade to a slick dual-screen interface starting with the 2019 model.

Research Acura ILX model years, details and reviews.

2018-19 Chevrolet Volt

2019 Chevrolet Volt best used cars under 20k exterior 14 jpg 2019 Chevrolet Volt | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat plug-in hybrid hatchback
  • Median price: About $19,000-$20,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 106 mpg-equivalent, with 42 mpg after 53 miles all-electric range on a full charge
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (2018 with optional automatic emergency braking)

The Volt PHEV combines all-electric daily driving range with high fuel economy running as a gas-electric hybrid for longer trips. A much-improved second generation debuted for 2016 with all-new styling and upgrades to its powertrain. Key improvements included an additional 15 miles for the Volt’s EPA-estimated all-electric range, a 5 mpg boost in its EPA mileage once range was exhausted, and a new battery pack design that allowed a conventional three-position bench backseat, though the (middle) position is tiny.

For 2019, the Volt’s final model year, significant upgrades made us feel as if it was going too soon, as it offered a faster 7.2-kilowatt charging system that could recharge its battery in half the time as the 2018 model when plugged into a 240-volt Level 2 charger. It also offered a power driver’s seat for the first time, adaptive cruise control and an upgraded rearview camera.

Research Chevrolet Volt model years, details and reviews.

2019-21 Honda Civic

2019 Honda Civic Sedan best used cars under 20k exterior 01 jpg 2019 Honda Civic Sedan | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan or hatchback, or two-door, five-seat coupe
  • Median price: About $17,500-$23,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 25-36 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (2020 sedan, coupe and hatchback with specific headlights; 2021 sedan and hatchback with specific headlights)

The Civic line got a dramatic redesign for 2016, receiving some personality and a more refined feel, and gained a hatchback version for 2017. It was notably fun to drive, if a little bouncy on ride quality, and received expanded safety and driver-assistance features. Plus, it gained enough space to warrant comparisons against certain larger mid-size cars. It also got two new engines, with a responsive and efficient turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder powering most trim levels. The new generation moved the Civic a step ahead of compact rivals of the times; even in its waning years, it beat out fresher redesigns in a Cars.com comparison test.

Aside from the base variant, all trims have a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability; automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and other tech features were readily available as options. For 2019, the Civic received refreshed styling with more physical controls added inside (including the readdition of a volume knob for the stereo), and a host of active-safety features became standard, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-centering steering. Si and Type R performance versions were available starting with the 2017 model year, though the only one of those variants in our data with a median price that falls within this budget range is the 2019 Civic Si.

Research Honda Civic model years, details and reviews.

2020-21 Honda Insight

2020 Honda Insight best used cars under 20k exterior 11 jpg 2020 Honda Insight | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat hybrid sedan
  • Median price: About $21,500-$22,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 48-52 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (both model years)

By the time its final generation rolled around, the Honda Insight had all grown up. Instead of a funky small hatchback, the third-gen Insight was a handsome compact sedan with near-Acura-grade premium touches, a comfortable ride, a ton of standard active-safety features and frugal gas mileage. This Insight also featured a two-motor hybrid system with a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gas engine that kicked in to charge the battery or assist with driving the car when more power was needed. While we found the engine to be noisy when it did kick in, these later Insights overall provide a nice option for hybrid shoppers who don’t want a car with styling that screams “I’m a hybrid.”

Research Honda Insight model years, details and reviews.

2020-23 Toyota Corolla

2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback best used cars under 20k exterior 15 jpg 2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan (available with both gas-only and hybrid drivetrains) and hatchback
  • Median price: About $19,000-$23,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 24-52 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (2022 built after November 2021); Top Safety Pick (2020-21 with specific headlights; 2023)

You’ve got options with the Toyota Corolla, as it came in both hatchback and sedan body styles, as well as a frugal Corolla Hybrid. A 139-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission came standard on the non-hybrid models, with the option to upgrade to a 169-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Upgrade to the SE trim and you could even get a six-speed manual transmission. At the other end, the Corolla Hybrid offered buyers the Prius’ drivetrain in a less attention-grabbing package, although its single trim level left us wanting for more creature comforts. (Note, however, that like the Civic Type R, the performance GR Corolla variant’s median price doesn’t fall within the budget range for our data.) Overall, this generation of Corollas was a massive step up in terms of interior quality and driving manners, and it offered a generous suite of standard safety features, including a full-speed front collision warning system and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

Research Toyota Corolla model years, details and reviews.

Research Toyota Corolla Hatchback model years, details and reviews.

Research Toyota Corolla Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

2016-18 Toyota Prius, 2017-18 Prius Prime

toyota prius 2017 exterior front oem jpg 2017 Toyota Prius | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat hybrid or PHEV hatchback
  • Median price: About $17,500-$23,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 52-56 mpg (Prius), 133 mpg-e with 54 mpg after 25 miles all-electric range on a full charge (Prime)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (2016 with optional automatic emergency braking; 2017 non-Prime models built after Toyota made changes in August 2016 to improve headlight effectiveness; all 2017 Primes); Top Safety Pick (both 2018 models)

The Prius got a full redesign for 2016, and while the hybrid retained its unique look, it got updated dashboard electronics, an improved interior and more cargo space. Powertrain upgrades doubled down on its signature virtue with a bump in its EPA mileage ratings. Automatic emergency braking was optional for 2016 and standard for 2017, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability remained absent. For those looking to go farther on electric power only, Toyota brought back the PHEV version for 2017 as the Prius Prime, which offered more range and differentiated styling.

Research Toyota Prius model years, details and reviews.

Research Toyota Prius Prime model years, details and reviews.

2016-18 Volkswagen Beetle

2018 VW Beetle best used cars under 20k exterior 09 jpg 2018 Volkswagen Beetle | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Two-door, four-seat coupe or convertible
  • Median price: About $17,500-$21,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 26-29 mpg

When the idea of a front-engined, watercooled Beetle was no longer new, these retro-cool runabouts became reliable rides, scoring high praise from both customer reviews and J.D. Power dependability surveys alike. If you want to stand out — and possibly prompt onlookers to punch each other in the arm — it’s hard to go wrong with a late Beetle, which came in countless fun colors and special editions, such as the mildly lifted Dune, vintage-inspired Classic and self-explanatory #PinkBeetle. (Yes, there’s a hashtag in the name.) While these last-gen Beetles did get rid of the in-dash flower vase, they also offered popular features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a choice between automatic and manual transmissions. Our editors also appreciated the Beetle’s easy-to-use controls, peppy engines and decent handling. Sure, you trade a little practicality for the Beetle’s delightful shape — most notably in storage space and rear visibility with the convertible’s top up — but perhaps that’s worth it for the Beetle’s undeniable fun-factor.

Research Volkswagen Beetle model years, details and reviews.

Electric Cars

2021-23 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2022 Chevrolet BoltEV best used cars under 20k exterior 04 jpg 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat all-electric compact hatchback
  • Median price: About $18,000-$21,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 118-120 mpg-e, with 259 miles of all-electric range on a full charge

For the 2020 model year, Chevrolet extended the Bolt EV’s range to 259 miles on a full charge and added high-definition cameras for its backup and 360-degree camera systems. We were impressed by its flashy 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen, spacious-feeling interior and the ease of installing car seats for little ones. You’ll definitely want to look for a used Bolt with the optional DC fast-charging system if you expect to use it with any faster public charging stations, though; Chevy didn’t include fast-charging capability as standard until the 2022 model year.

As with any used electrified car, note how much battery-pack warranty remains for any example you find. Perhaps the biggest upside to buying a Bolt is the possibility that it comes with (or qualifies for) a new battery pack. Model-year 2020-22 Bolt EVs had an extensive recall for defective battery modules, and if a dealership test detects those defects in a Bolt’s battery pack, it qualifies for the entire battery pack to be replaced; there’s a chance you could end up paying used-car prices for an EV with a brand-new battery. Even better, if you meet the income requirements, you could get up to $4,000 off of a 2-year-old (or older) Bolt EV’s purchase price thanks to the new used EV tax credit.

Research Chevrolet Bolt EV model years, details and reviews.

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Redline Edition best used cars under 20k exterior 06 jpg 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Redline Edition | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat all-electric compact SUV
  • Median price: About $20,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 119 mpg-e, with 238 miles of all-electric range on a full charge

The Bolt EV received an SUV-ified sister model for 2022 with the Bolt EUV, a slightly taller and longer version of Chevy’s commuter darling. As with the regular Bolt, you’ll find a spacious interior that suffers a bit from the use of cheaper materials but still offers more conventional-looking, easy-to-use controls and an excellent one-pedal driving system. The Bolt EUV even offered GM’s competent Super Cruise hands-free driving system that makes longer trips more bearable. Best of all, this is a near-new EV at a significant discount from its starting price, with the median mileage of 2023 Bolt EUVs on Cars.com being just 1,829 miles at the time of writing.

Research Chevrolet Bolt EUV model years, details and reviews.

Compact SUVs

2016-18 Acura RDX

2018 Acura RDX best used cars under 20k exterior 20 jpg 2018 Acura RDX | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat SUV
  • Median price: About $18,000-$22,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 22-23 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (2016-17 with optional front crash prevention); Top Safety Pick (2018 with optional front crash protection)

When it was redesigned for 2013, the Acura RDX grew larger and more comfortable, and it received a mild update for 2016 that offered a new 279-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine and refreshed styling inside and out. Standard features included keyless entry, push-button start, heated front seats, a backup camera, Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port. The 2016 redesign also offered an advanced dual-screen infotainment setup that combined a lower touchscreen with an upper knob-controlled screen. (Fear not: It was easy enough to use once you figured out where everything was.) It also offered an impressive suite of available driver assists, including lane-centering steering, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring and more.

Research Acura RDX model years, details and reviews.

2017-18 Honda CR-V

2018 Honda CR V best used cars under 20k exterior 16 jpg 2018 Honda CR-V | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat SUV
  • Median price: About $20,000-$22,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 27-30 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (2017 with optional automatic emergency braking and specific headlights); Top Safety Pick (2018 with optional automatic emergency braking and specific headlights)

The ever-popular Honda CR-V was redesigned for 2017, adding a new optional 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, expanding the availability of its Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver assists and revising the multimedia system to include more physical controls.  While front-wheel drive was standard, all-wheel drive was available on every trim. This generation of the CR-V was slightly larger than the previous version, and its rear doors opened even wider — nearly a full 90 degrees out from the car — making it easier to climb in and out and allowing even easier access for installing child seats. The CR-V offered a comfortable and quiet ride by design, as Honda even included active noise cancellation as standard.

Research Honda CR-V model years, details and reviews.

2015-17 Lexus NX

2015 Lexus NX 300h best used cars under 20k exterior 22 jpg 2015 Lexus NX 300h | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat gas or hybrid SUV
  • Median price: About $20,000-$23,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 24-32 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (2015-16 with optional automatic emergency braking; 2017 with optional automatic emergency braking and specific headlights)

Lexus debuted its NX for 2015 to offer a slightly smaller SUV than its popular RX. The NX featured a luxe interior, lengthy list of standard options and roomy backseat in a smaller package. There are a few downsides, however: The turbo engine in the NX 200t is the more fun of the two versions, but it requires premium gas. In the NX 300h, the hybrid drivetrain is rather sluggish at a time when luxury SUVs were starting to get faster and more fun to drive. The cargo area is also relatively small, so Lexus fans with more to haul should stick to the RX.

Research Lexus NX 200t model years, details and reviews.

Research Lexus NX 300h model years, details and reviews.

2018-20 Mazda CX-5

2020 Mazda CX 5 Signature best used cars under 20k exterior 02 jpg 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat SUV
  • Median price: About $20,000-$23,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 24-29 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (2018s built after March 2018; 2019 when equipped with specific headlights; all 2020s)

Available with FWD or AWD, the CX-5 is one of the more fun to drive options in its class. The Mazda CX-5’s 2017 redesign debuted with vastly improved ride quality over its predecessor, a quieter interior and more power in its base trim. Gone was the gutless 2.0-liter base engine; the 2.5-liter gas engine became standard across all trims. A turbo-diesel 2.2-liter also arrived for 2018, although with diesel prices staying higher than gasoline and the fuel economy only increasing by 1 or 2 mpg depending on drivetrain choice, we’re not sure it’s worth it. For 2019, the CX-5 started offering a more powerful turbo 2.5-liter gasoline engine that made up to 250 hp, trading some of its fuel economy for extra grunt.

Blind spot warning became standard for 2018, along with cylinder deactivation in the standard gasoline engine that made it even thriftier on fuel. Two higher-end, feature-rich trims were added for 2019, and a lengthy list of active-safety features became standard for 2020. The CX-5 is still a tighter fit for rear passengers and cargo, though, particularly if you need to install a car seat. Our reviewers weren’t big fans of its multimedia system, either, though the CX-5’s optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration helps somewhat.

Research Mazda CX-5 model years, details and reviews.

2016-18 Toyota RAV4, 2016-17 RAV4 Hybrid

2016 Toyota RAV4 Limited best used cars under 20k exterior 21 jpg 2016 Toyota RAV4 Limited | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat SUV
  • Median price: About $18,000-$21,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 24-26 mpg (gas-only); 32 mpg (hybrid)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (2016 with optional automatic emergency braking; 2017 with specific headlights); Top Safety Pick (2018 with specific headlights)

This generation of the RAV4 is a practical, fuel-efficient choice. It’s well built overall, and the interior is functional if not fancy or particularly quiet. It feels more dated than some rivals of its time, though, and Toyota wasn’t keeping up with surprise-and-delight tech and other features. The RAV4 kept a tidy size while some other SUVs got bigger, so it’s mid-pack for interior space but above average for parking and maneuverability. Handling is competent for an SUV, though suspension tuning is a little firm. The 2016 RAV4 received a revised front end, some interior upgrades and a fuel-efficient hybrid version for the top trim levels only; automatic emergency braking also became optional. Toyota’s Safety Sense P driver-assist suite became standard on all trims for the 2017 model year.

Research Toyota RAV4 model years, details and reviews.

Research Toyota RAV4 Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

Mid-Size Cars

2018-19 Honda Accord, 2018 Accord Hybrid

2018 Honda Accord Touring best used cars under 20k exterior 12 jpg 2018 Honda Accord Touring | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $21,000-$22,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 26-33 mpg (gas-only); 47 mpg (hybrid)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (both years with specific headlights)

The freshly redesigned 2018 Honda Accord debuted with better fuel economy, more physical controls inside and more standard driving assists than its predecessor, but gone was the coupe body style. Buyers could choose between a base 192-hp, turbo 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a new 252-hp, turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder, both of which were available with manual and automatic transmissions. The Accord Hybrid also returned for 2018, giving efficiency-minded buyers a significant bump in fuel economy over the standard Accord without sacrificing too much performance. Ride is firm across all trims, so buyers looking for comfort may want to consider a lower trim with higher-profile tires that soak up the bumps a bit better. The Accord’s racy fastback shape also translated into lower seating positions than most of this class, which may feel familiar for those moving up from a sport compact but frustrating for taller drivers whose knees stick up.

Research Honda Accord model years, details and reviews.

Research Honda Accord Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

2020-21 Hyundai Sonata, Sonata Hybrid

2021 Hyundai Sonata best used cars under 20k exterior 10 jpg 2021 Hyundai Sonata | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $20,000-$23,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 27-52 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (both years with specific headlights)

The current generation of the Hyundai Sonata debuted for 2020 with a flashy new redesign, an impressive list of standard driver assists and trick new tech features, including the ability to use an Android smartphone as a key and lane-centering steering. A semi-autonomous system called Hyundai Drive Assist is standard on all trims and takes care of steering, braking and turning when it’s engaged on divided highways. The Sonata’s efficient hybrid version offered a combined 193 hp and was available with a solar roof to assist in charging. This generation of the Sonata has both confident handling and a comfortable ride, and while power was adequate but so-so for its class from its base turbo 1.6-liter four-cylinder and 2.5-liter four-cylinder at launch, a new 290-hp N Line version rolled out for 2021 offered more power for those who want it.

Research Hyundai Sonata model years, details and reviews.

Research Hyundai Sonata Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

2018-21 Toyota Camry, 2018 Camry Hybrid

2018 Toyota Camry LE Hybrid best used cars under 20k exterior 17 jpg 2018 Toyota Camry LE | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $20,000-$23,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 25-34 mpg (gas-only); 46-52 mpg (hybrid)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (2018-19 with specific headlights; all 2020-21 models)

The Toyota Camry received an extensive redesign for 2018 that brought fun back to the nameplate for the first time in ages thanks to a new platform and redesigned suspension. It still featured plenty of practicality, though, with an impressive list of standard safety features and driver assists, great visibility and a roomy interior that makes installing a child car seat easy. While the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provided adequate power, the 301-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 offered a considerable bump in power without much of a penalty at the fuel pump. More fuel-conscious buyers should look for the Camry Hybrid, which gets up to 52 mpg in its base LE trim. The Camry added Apple CarPlay as standard equipment for 2019, followed by Android Auto. The 2020 model also included the addition of a TRD trim that featured the 301-hp V-6, sport-tuned suspension and larger brakes, among other performance-enhancing modifications.

Research Toyota Camry model years, details and reviews.

Research Toyota Camry Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

Mid-Size SUVs

2014-15 Lexus RX

2014 Lexus RX 350 best used cars under 20k exterior 08 jpg 2014 Lexus RX 350 | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat SUV
  • Median price: $18,000-$20,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 20-21 mpg (gas-only); 28-29 mpg (hybrid)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (2014)

The 2014-15 Lexus RX is a popular choice among luxury crossovers thanks to its smooth and quiet ride, upscale, spacious interior, and class-leading reliability, per J.D. Power’s dependability rankings. Shoppers can choose from two engine options for these model years: a gas-only 270-hp V-6 in the RX 350 or a 295-hp hybrid V-6 in the RX 450h. An F Sport performance variant offered sportier styling, firmer suspension tuning and an eight-speed automatic transmission that replaced the standard six-speed automatic. A 7-inch dashboard screen with an integrated backup camera was made standard for 2015.

Research Lexus RX 350 model years, details and reviews.

Research Lexus RX 450h model years, details and reviews.

2018 Mazda CX-9

2018 mazda cx9 best used cars under 20k exterior 03 jpg 2018 Mazda CX-9 | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, seven-seat SUV
  • Median price: $21,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 23-24 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights)

If you need three rows of seating in a fun-to-drive package, the CX-9 has you covered. The CX-9 featured an interior with superb fit and finish for its class, a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with plenty of power, a choice between FWD and AWD, plus a long list of additional active-safety features that became standard for the 2018 model year. While the third row isn’t as spacious as a full-size SUV’s, it’s adequate for kids, though the lack of available captain’s chairs for the second row can make it more difficult to get back there than in other vehicles. However, you may want to consider a different model if you live in hot climates — the CX-9’s air conditioning struggles to keep up with 90-plus-degree temperatures.

Research Mazda CX-9 model years, details and reviews.

2017-20 Nissan Murano

2020 Nissan Murano best used cars under 20k exterior 07 jpg 2020 Nissan Murano | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat SUV
  • Median price: About $17,500-$20,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 23-24 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (2017 with optional automatic emergency braking)

These Muranos combined distinctive styling with a near-premium interior, ample space, easy-to-use controls and a smooth, quiet ride. The standard V-6 isn’t exciting but makes plenty of power. Rear visibility is compromised thanks to the SUV’s flashy design, but a standard backup camera and available 360-degree camera system help somewhat. Apple CarPlay was available starting with the 2017 model; it and Android Auto became standard for 2018, as did automatic emergency braking. Higher trims could add the Nissan Safety Shield suite of driver assists, which included items like pedestrian detection, a rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot warning, automatic high beams, reverse automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning.

Research Nissan Murano model years, details and reviews.

2012-14 Toyota 4Runner

2014 Toyota 4Runner Trail 010 best used cars under 20k exterior 24 jpg 2014 Toyota 4Runner Trail | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five- or eight-seat SUV
  • Median price: About $19,000-$23,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 18-19 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (2013s built after October 2012)

If you need a true body-on-frame SUV that will go the distance, it’s hard to beat a 4Runner. These SUVs may be among the oldest vehicles among our $20K recommendations, but they are beloved for their reliability among overlanders and city dwellers alike. Its standard 270-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 offers adequate power in both rear- and four-wheel-drive trims.

Small children may struggle to get in with the increased ride height, and the 4Runner does feature a rougher ride than more carlike SUVs, but there’s plenty of space to take the whole family off the beaten path once everyone’s buckled in. These 4Runners also include fold-flat second- and third-row seating to make hauling extra cargo a breeze. Off-road features such as a crawl mode and hill descent control make it easy to navigate obstacles. A mild refresh for 2014 offered a faster infotainment system, more aggressive styling and a new gauge cluster with a scrolling information screen in the center.

Research Toyota 4Runner model years, details and reviews.

Large SUVs

2014-16 Toyota Highlander

toyota highlander xle 2014 exterior profile scaled jpg 2014 Toyota Highlander | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears
  • Type: Four-door, seven- or eight-seat SUV
  • Median price: About $18,500-$22,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 20-22 mpg (gas-only)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (all years with optional automatic emergency braking)

The 2014 Highlander’s thoughtful redesign took the three-row SUV’s exterior from bland to bold and added more space and family-friendly features. The SUV’s interior was updated with upscale soft-touch materials even in the base trim. The first- and second-row seats grew wider and more comfortable, and the third row gained an extra seat for a maximum of eight occupants — though it remained tight for adults. Meanwhile, the cargo area benefited from more usable space behind the third row and a clever height-adjustable power liftgate. While most changes were improvements over the outgoing Highlander, the SUV’s harsher ride wasn’t one of them. The 2014-16 Highlander offered two gas-only powertrain options: a 185-hp four-cylinder or 270-hp V-6, both paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. A V-6 Highlander Hybrid with a combined 280 hp was also available, but its median price was above what we considered for this list.

Research Toyota Highlander model years, details and reviews.

Full-Size Cars

2017-19 Kia Cadenza

kia cadenza limited 2017 exterior profile scaled jpg 2017 Kia Cadenza | Cars.com photo by Fred Meier
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $17,500-$22,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 23 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (2017 with optional automatic emergency braking and specific headlights); Top Safety Pick (2018-19 with optional automatic emergency braking and specific headlights)

The Cadenza is a classy sedan with an upscale look and feel that belies what you might perceive from the Kia badge. A redesign for 2017 gave the Cadenza’s exterior a longer and wider appearance, plus improved headroom in the second row. With its reduced weight and stiffer structure, the updated Cadenza brought a nimbler driving experience and an updated 290-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 engine paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission for a small fuel-economy boost. The 2017 redesign also came with improved safety ratings, which earned the Cadenza an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award in its debut year when equipped with a new front crash prevention system with automatic emergency braking and LED headlights — features offered on all but the base trim. Blind spot warning, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert and power-folding mirrors with puddle lamps became standard for 2019.

Research Kia Cadenza model years, details and reviews.

2017 Lincoln Continental

2017 lincoln continental best used cars under 20k exterior 19 jpg 2017 Lincoln Continental | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $23,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 19-21 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights)

The reborn Continental brought class and swagger back to Lincoln’s sedans in a big way, replacing the MKS as the brand’s flagship sedan. It was available in front- and all-wheel-drive with three available engines, starting with the base 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 that was more than adequate in our testing. The Continental offered a luxurious, comfortable interior and a state-of-the-art multimedia system with impressive sound. However, many common safety features were optional on its release, so look for a well-optioned example. Headroom was also limited in the rear seats thanks to its sweeping roofline. You won’t be left wanting for storage, though — we were impressed by the number of interior bins and compartments.

Research Lincoln Continental model years, details and reviews.

2016-18 Toyota Avalon, Avalon Hybrid

toyota avalon 2016 exterior front oem jpg 2016 Toyota Avalon | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $18,500-$23,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 24 mpg (gas-only); 40 mpg (hybrid)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ (2016 with optional automatic emergency braking, 2017s built after March 2017 with specific headlights); Top Safety Pick (2018 with specific headlights)

A larger and more upscale sibling of the Camry, the Avalon is a great road-trip car with a quiet interior and comfy seats. The sedan is loaded with standard features and brings an adult-size backseat, a huge trunk and a wide range of luxury options. Under the hood, the 2016-18 Avalon offered the choice of a V-6 or more fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain. On the safety front, the Toyota Safety Sense P suite of active-safety features and driver assists became standard for 2017; it includes things like lane departure warning and prevention, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control.

Research Toyota Avalon model years, details and reviews.

Research Toyota Avalon Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

Minivans

2016-17 Honda Odyssey

2017 Honda Odyssey best used cars under 20k exterior 18 jpg 2017 Honda Odyssey | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, seven- or eight-seat minivan
  • Median price: About $17,500-$20,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 22 mpg
  • Top Safety Pick (2016 with optional front crash prevention)

You can’t beat a minivan for family hauling, and the Odyssey is a solid choice. The Odyssey’s V-6 engine was paired with a newly standard six-speed automatic transmission in its 2014 refresh to improve the already surprising drivability for a vehicle this large. The minivan’s top trims even came with a built-in vacuum cleaner to scoop up spilled Cheerios and a rear entertainment system to keep passengers busy. Other family-friendly features include an expandable second row that can fit three child-safety seats, a built-in trash bag holder and numerous cupholders.

Research Honda Odyssey model years, details and reviews.

2015-16 Toyota Sienna

2015 Toyota Sienna SE best used cars under 20k exterior 23 jpg 2015 Toyota Sienna SE | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, seven- or eight-seat minivan
  • Median price: About $18,500-$20,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 19-21 mpg
  • Top Safety Pick+ (2015 with optional front crash prevention)

The Toyota Sienna is a true rarity among minivans at this price point, as it was the only one in 2015 and 2016 that offered AWD. While the Sienna’s standard V-6 engine struggles somewhat to haul extra weight of the AWD system, it’s still a compelling option for families who live in harsh winter climates, with a much peppier engine than those found in FWD vans. Between excellent materials and build quality inside, an easy-to-use touchscreen interface and dual sets of Latch anchors in the second row that make installing child seats easier, the Sienna is a versatile, well-rounded minivan. The 2016 model year saw minimal changes but added enhanced smartphone features and integration.

Research Toyota Sienna model years, details and reviews.

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