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Here are 10 ‘cool’ new cars for under $20,000

Kelley Blue Book highlights fun cars that won’t break the bank

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Photo (c) Tomsmith585 - Getty Images
The average sale price of a new car hit a record high of nearly $41,000 in January. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) reports the average transaction price was more than $2,100 higher than January 2021.

But not every vehicle costs that much. Consumers simply chose to purchase more expensive cars last month and loaded them up with more expensive options. There are plenty of cool new cars that can be purchased on a budget and our friends at KBB came up with a list for us.

Here are 10 cool 2021 model cars you can buy for $20,000 or less:

2021 Kia Soul

KBB chose this car for its new design, which is just a year old. It separates itself from the competition with sporty good looks and the practicality of a hatchback. The editors give kudos to the Kia Soul for its ability to carry lots of cargo while supplying “plenty of fun-loving spirit.” The bottom line -- the Soul offers a lot of value at an affordable price.

2021 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Think of it as “sporty practicality.” The Toyota Corolla hatchback is a 5-door model that offers good looks that can turn heads while also providing road-hugging performance. It also comes standard with a loaded roster of tech and safety features because Toyota offers them on its most basic models.

2021 Mazda3

The Mazda3 may be a compact, but it still offers plenty of upscale style and athletic driving ability. Mazda has had recent success attracting young consumers who are seeking a fun, attractive sedan or hatchback and the Mazda3 is among its most popular models. To top it off, KBB describes the interior as “near-luxury in quality.”

2021 Chevy Trailblazer

Just because you want an SUV doesn’t mean you have to pay a fortune. The Chevy Trailblazer is a subcompact SUVs that KBB describes as one of the most affordable, making it an appealing option for people who want SUV versatility at a good price. The Trailblazer also comes standard with driver-assist features and a peppy engine.

2021 Volkswagen Jetta

The VW Jetta is a popular model because it offers a surprising amount of interior space, which KBB compares to that of a midsize sedan. “Yet the Jetta feels light and spry on the road and is nicely responsive in turns,” KBB says.

2021 Hyundai Veloster

There are bargains, even when your budget is $20,000. Take the Hyundai Veloster, for example. This small car has a clever 3-door layout, making it unique in the parking lot. At the same time, it retains the attractive coupe look while making it easier to access the back seat.

2021 Subaru Impreza

The Subaru brand is highly sought-after with good reviews. The Impreza already would have been an impressive value when you consider that the EyeSight suite of driver-assist safety features comes standard with automatic transmission models. “Throw in standard all-wheel drive on all Imprezas, and that value is undeniable,” KBB says.

2021 Hyundai Venue

The Hyundai Venue may be a good choice for urban dwellers. It’s a smaller subcompact SUV that's the right size for city living, especially when it’s time to find a parking space. The Venue is smaller than the Kona, but its engine is capable of plenty of power around town and can hold its own at highway speed.

2021 Mazda CX-3

The Mazda CX-3 is a small subcompact SUV with plenty of sportiness. KBB says the Mazda CX-3.offers good looks but that’s not all. It has excellent “driving manners” and good fuel economy so that the purchase price isn’t the only thing that saves you money.

2021 Kia Forte

The Kia Forte is easy to underestimate, but that would be a mistake. While Kia's SUV models tend to get all of the attention, the Forte has quietly established itself as a fun, likable compact car. Advanced safety features and smartphone connectivity come with every model.

"Defining 'cool' for a new car can be tricky because it's subjective,” said Matt DeLorenzo, senior managing editor for KBB. “There's no exact algorithm, statistics, or even precise words that exactly identify it. But most people can agree that they know cool when they see it."  

KBB says its list of “cool cars” is influenced by whether a vehicle is fun, stylish, has a standout feature, or if it is just plain fun to drive. It says the purpose of the list is to show new-car shoppers that it's possible to find a cool car, truck, or SUV that meets your needs and doesn't break the bank.

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