What can you get for under $22,000?
Once upon a time, cheap also meant nasty when it came to cars. Today, it’s hard to find a truly awful car on dealers' lots. While the SUV and crossover segment continues to boom the budget conscious now have some superb examples at the low end of the new car market. There are some great higher riding machines for under $22,000 and we've pulled them together from cheap to cheapest for you.
The Crosstrek is a crossover but only on a technicality as it's pretty much an Impreza hatchback with extra ground clearance. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing as the Impreza is a great car and if you're looking for that extra height then the Crosstrek is worth looking at. The 2.0-liter boxer flat-4 with 152 horsepower engine isn’t the Crosstrek's strongest point, but it has great build quality and comes with all-wheel drive as standard. In that respect, the advanced electronic system to vary torque distribution with the CVT will help get both better traction with the manual, as well as better fuel economy.
The Chevrolet Trax offers a good set of standard features that include a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, it’s down on active-safety features when compared to the competition. It’s hard to find much to get excited about with the Trax but, to be fair, there’s not a lot to dislike if the underpowered 1.4-liter turbo-4 doesn't bother you. Chevrolet has delivered a vanilla but competent crossover worth looking at if you want four doors.
Toyota has given the LE trim a decent price drop and making the C-HR an absolute bargain for 2019. You’re going to have to accept steel wheels, cloth seats, and not a lot of tech junky features but automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and cruise control come as standard on all C-HR models. The C-HR is quite agile, but power is best described as adequate while the fuel economy is right where it needs to be for those watching the dollars and cents.
The Outlander Sport is getting old. The refreshes have done a decent job of keeping it looking smart on the outside but the inside remains dreary. For 2019, the SE model has gained some active safety features but the safety rating still leaves a lot to be desired. The price point is great and the 2.0-liter engine is fine but, much as we hate to say it, the Outlander Sport needs to be retired.
Despite dropping the manual transmission for the 2019 HR-V refresh, there’s a lot to love about Honda’s little 2-door crossover if you don’t really use the back seats. The back seats set up is really quite clever though, as they fold away in different ways to create a surprising amount of cargo space. Honda also brought back the volume knob, so that’s the tradeoff if you want a manual and to save a few hundred bucks on one of last years models that might be kicking around the dealer's lots.
On this list, the CX-3 is the most fun to drive although it falls short in both rear passenger legroom and cargo space. The 148 horsepower engine isn’t particularly quick but it's smooth and the driving dynamics make up for it. For the particularly safety conscious, Mazda has added more active-safety features as well as some extra technology for the also updated interior.
For those that want to spec up to Ford’s 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive, the good news is that it would still make this list. For under $20,000 though, you’ll be driving the front-wheel drive 1.0-liter 3-Cylinder version. Europeans have been getting around in little cars with 3-cylinder engines for a while so don't necessarily let that put you off if you’re looking for something small and useful.
Hyundai dropped the Kona on the market in 2018 and has already given some solid updates for 2019. The forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and driver-attention-warning system are standard on all Kona trim levels now as well as some better interior trim panels and an extra USB port up front. The base 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is responsive enough for driving around town and getting up an on-ramp. Hyundai has been showing everyone what value for money means, and slipping the Kona SE just under $20,000 makes for a truly excellent all-around value crossover.
As of the time of writing, Jeep is offering the Renegade sport in front-wheel drive for $18,750. What it lacks in power from the 1.4-liter engine the Renegade makes up for in fun, style, and space on the inside. This is no off-roader, but that’s not what anyone buys the Renegade for. Instead, it’s a small, practical, crossover perfect for getting around town in or for a weekend road trip.
The Nissan Kicks replaces the now-defunct Juke, and improves upon the looks of Nissan’s love-it-or-hate-it small crossover. The 125-hp four-cylinder engine delivers great fuel economy and automated emergency braking is standard along with a decent a 7.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone-friendly technology and a push-button start. Both rear seat and interior space are excellent for its class as well.
The Kia Soul is still the cheapest crossover on the market and its sales are strong due to its upbeat styling, strong feature set, excellent interior, and excellent cargo space. The base Soul will get you the 1.6-liter engine and manual transmission, but if you wanted to go up a level for 2.0-liter engine and a host of extra features then the Soul Plus model would still make it onto this list at just $20,490.