Latest News > Top 15 Best New Cars for 2013: Under $20,000, Over 30 MPG

Top 15 Best New Cars for 2013: Under $20,000, Over 30 MPG

by Ryan ZumMallen on

There's nothing more satisfying than finding the best bang for your buck, so we've compiled our second annual list of the Best Cars Under $20,000 with Over 30 MPG.

Top 10 Best New Cars for 2012: Under $20,000, Over 30 MPG

Top 14 Best New Cars for 2014: Under $20,000, Over 30 MPG

Whether you're looking for an SUV or a hatchback, everybody wants value. For this list, we looked at some of the most affordable cars on the market that also deliver on the road. Buying a cheap car is no longer the sacrifice that it used to be - even new cars with the lowest price tags have plenty of standard amenities like power windows and seats, a plethora of airbags and quality interior materials. They also look cool.

You also have to be gas-conscious with your new purchase. The price of fuel seems to fluctuate with each passing day, and you need a car that will be able to run whether the pumps are harsh or forgiving. New technologies like hybrid and electric cars are great on gas, but they can be extremely pricey on the dealer lot, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Luckily, there are many cars these days that deliver high quality and fuel economy at a reasonable price. Here are fifteen of our top recommendations for affordable efficiency.


FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Chevrolet Cruze
With plenty of standard features and premium trims, there are lots of ways to find the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze for you. At an $18,560 MSRP, though, we suggest the turbocharged 1LT sedan with a manual transmission. The 1.8L four-cylinder engine is a touch weak at 138 horsepower, but that allows the Cruze to return 26/38 MPG. And besides, the sophisticated suspension is enough to provide fun driving while you’re sipping fuel along the way.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Chevrolet Sonic
Reliable. Economical. Affordable. These may seem elementary, but it took American automakers a long – long, long, long – time to figure out how to make something like the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic. No more. There are twelve different trims of the Sonic priced under 20k, starting with the 1SA sedan at $14,200 MSRP. The 1.8L four-cylinder engine returns 26/35 MPG. It’s about time, American auto manufacturers stepped up
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Dodge Dart
Just missing the cut is the 41 MPG 2013 Dodge Dart Aero, which is a touch over 20k. But not to worry! Four other trims of the Dart can be had for less than that, including the Dart SE for just $15,995 MSRP. All four trims use a 2.0L inline-four engine with 25/36 MPG. Dodge is a little late to the fuel-efficient party, but the sharp-looking Dart is a solid first entry. We think Dodge will use this momentum in future designs.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
FIAT 500
If you like manual transmissions, the FIAT 500 would like to schedule a meeting with you. Each of the Pop, Sport and Lounge models achieves 30/38 MPG from the 1.4L inline-four engine. FIAT desperate wants to appeal to the American market, and a stylish little coupe with tons of personality and fuel economy is a great way to start.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Ford Fiesta
In the base four-door trim, the 2013 Ford Fiesta runs just $13,200 and will return incredible 28/38 MPG. That should be enough to pique your interest right there, but the Fiesta keeps the hits coming with dynamic handling that would qualify it as a bona fide sports car in another era. Even the top-of-the-line Fiesta Titanium five-door makes the list, achieving the same fuel economy for just $18,200.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Ford Focus
You can easily load up a 2013 Focus with enough optional equipment to push the price over $20,000, but stay on the thrifty side of 20k and there is still a great car to be had. There are three manual transmission trims to choose from that all offer 26/36 MPG fuel economy, with a 122 horsepower 2.0L four-cylinder engine (same as the Fiesta) packed inside the best-looking styling on this entire list.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Honda Fit
Essentially unchanged for several years now, the 2013 Honda Fit still tops its faster and more comfortable competitors with an impressive combination of handling, versatility and efficiency. With an automatic transmission, the 2013 Fit packs 28/35 MPG inside its funky hatchback styling with the room of a station wagon. Its competitors may be better equipped and boast more horsepower, but the Fit is an unparalleled vehicle with the utility of a wagon and the economy of hybrid - for a fraction of the price.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Hyundai Accent
It doesn’t get much more cost-effective than the 2013 Hyundai Accent, which offers outstanding fuel economy and standard features for well under 20k. All six trim models are less than $18,000, in fact, and they’ll return 28/37 MPG from the 1.6L inline-four engine. Competitors like the Cruze and Mazda2 may be more exciting, but the Accent will help you save pennies – which is the point after all, right?
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Kia Rio
Think of the 2013 Kia Rio as the Korean version of the Dodge Dart – they’re both great looking small cars with tons of standard features and great fuel economy. The Rio, though, has a few advantages. It’s been around longer, since 2007 in fact, so it’s been honed and refined and continues to improve each time. It’s also cheaper, a sedan that you can buy new for less than $15,000 if you want. Kia wants to grab a bigger piece of the U.S. pie, and the Rio is a great entry-level car to hook young drivers and build brand loyalty.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Mazda2
The diminutive 2013 Mazda2 comes mostly unchanged from 2012, but that’s a good thing for a small car that behaves exactly the way you want a small car to behave. With a base price coming in under $15,000, and topping out just over $17,000, the Mazda2 adds outstanding 29/35 MPG to the traditional Zoom Zoom driving style.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Mitsubishi Lancer
All of the cars on this list have an impressive combination of economy and value, but few of them are anything to brag about on the twisties. The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer, however, makes the most of its racing heritage with a rally-inspired suspension, an especially low curb weight and very quick steering that make up for a lack of power. Three trims are available for under 20k, and they’ll all return 25/34 MPG. That’s not the best efficiency on the list, but for the pro driver in you, there's no better combination of fuel and fun.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Scion iQ
If you think of driving as zipping from place to place, and you live in an area where parking spots are at a premium, the 2012 Scion iQ deserves your attention. This tiny two-door starts at $16,140 and will return 36/37 MPG. In Sport mode, it’s actually quite a bit of fun (the stance is wider than it looks) and on a recent test, my in-laws didn’t mind the backseat at all. Just don’t plan any cross-country road trips.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Subaru Impreza
Ah, the yin to the Lancer’s yang, the 2013 Subaru Impreza is a comfortable and practical combination of economy and value. Several different versions can be had for less than 20k, including the 2.0i five-door with 27/36 MPG for $19,396 MSRP. The knock on the Impreza is that it doesn’t do any one thing spectacularly, but it’s got grown up performance and practicality for the price of an econo-box.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Toyota Yaris
Initially, there was simply nothing on the market that could compete with the value and economy of the Toyota Yaris. Things done changed since 2008, though, and now everyone has a quality, fuel efficient small car with standard features out the wazoo. The Yaris is pretty bare bones on amenities, but it will save you a ton of money with 30/37 MPG and a starting price under $15,000. Despite increasing competition, the original small fuel-sipper is still an active leader of the eco-friendly revolution.
   

FIND LOCAL CLEARANCE PRICING
AND KELLY BLUE BOOK PRICING
Volkswagen Jetta
The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta is notoriously a little skimpy on interior quality, but that allowed VW to bring the price down to these attractive levels, so we’re not complaining. There’s a lot of value to be had here, from the base $15,545 sedan with 24/34 MPG to the SE sedan at $18,995 and 23/33 MPG. In the SE, a strong 2.5L inline-five engine provides 170 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft of torque, unusually grunty for such a green car.