2020 CarBuzz Award Finalists: People's Car

2020 CarBuzz Awards / Comments

All of our nominees start at well under $38,000.

As new vehicles add more standard technology and safety features, average transaction prices creep up year-over-year. In 2019, consumers in the United States spent a little over $37,000 (on average) for their new vehicles, and this year, the average transaction price has risen to over $38,000. Our People's Car Award is reserved for the best all-around vehicle that sells for less than the average new car transaction price.

In the inaugural year of the award, the 2019 Mazda CX-5 emerged as the winner with its attractive styling, excellent driving dynamics, and $24,350 base MSRP. We had a tough time selecting the three finalists for 2020, with models that just missed this year's cut including the Hyundai Venue, Honda CR-V, and Kia Seltos.

The winner of the CarBuzz People's Car 2020 will be announced on December 21.

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2020 Nissan Sentra

The 2020 Nissan Sentra is an all-new model and the eighth-generation for the compact sedan. Nissan started with a clean sheet of paper, changing virtually everything about the Sentra to make it the ultimate value in the compact sedan segment. Some of the Sentra's highlights include a radical exterior redesign, a handsome cabin, and shockingly fun driving dynamics courtesy of a new independent rear suspension setup and revised steering.

Nissan only offers the Sentra with a single engine option, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 149 horsepower. At a base price of only $19,410, the Sentra offers tremendous value in its class. Even the top SR trim level costs just $21,650, and with every option box ticked, it barely crests over $25,000. The Sentra is a new addition to the People's Car finalists, and Nissan will be looking for its first win in the Carbuzz awards.

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2021 Kia K5

The sedan market may be dwindling, but no one seems to have told Kia. The 2021 Kia K5 replaces the Optima, offering a new name and a lot to love in the midsize sedan class. Along with outrageous styling, the K5 packs class-leading interior design, outstanding technology, and solid drivetrain options. The K5 launches with only a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 180 hp, but a sporty K5 GT will arrive next year with a 2.5-liter engine producing 290 hp. Kia also offers the K5 with all-wheel-drive, catering to cold weather climates.

The 2021 K5 starts at a reasonable $23,490 for the base LX trim and tops out at $27,990 for the EX trim without stepping up to the GT. When the GT does arrive on the market, it will still qualify for the People's Car award with a $30,490 starting price. Last year, the Kia Soul was a top-three contender for People's Car, and this year the K5 is hoping to emerge victorious.

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2020 Mazda CX-30

The 2020 Mazda CX-30 looks to follow in the CX-5's tracks, providing a near-luxury experience on a mainstream budget. The CX-30 squeezes into Mazda's lineup, sitting above the subcompact CX-3 but below the compact CX-5, offering a small footprint with a surprising amount of space inside. Like most Mazdas, it offers beautiful styling, a premium interior, and a pleasurable driving experience. Under the hood, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine produces 186 hp going out to front- or all-wheel-drive. A turbo version will be offered in 2021, but it did not arrive in time to warrant inclusion in this year's awards.

The base CX-30 starts at $21,900, putting it well below the threshold for People's Car. Even the Premium Package undercuts the average new car by around $10,000 with a $28,200 MSRP. As the winner of last year's People's Car award, Mazda has a great chance of defending its title.

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