The 5 Safest Cars under $20,000

The 5 Safest Cars under $20,000

Once upon a time when our parents or grandparents got their licenses and bought their first car it would have had only one or two airbags (or none at all!), no stability control and no anti-lock braking system in place. Power steering was non-existent in really old cars through to the 1980’s on some models. How the world has changed. All cars produced after 2013 had to automatically comply with new federal government regulations on the inclusion of anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control. However, you will find some car companies were already producing such features as standard like Volvo. Speaking of which, my first choice is a Volvo, so read on.

Volvo XC60 (2010-2017)

The 5 Safest Cars under $20,000

One of the top picks for safety and good looks has to be a Volvo. This model represents funky, modern SUV charm with six airbags and top marks for crash test ratings. There are a variety of engine sizes available including the 2.0 liter turbo, 3.0 liter turbo, or 3.2 liter 6 cylinder petrol models, as well as the 2.0 or 2.4 liter turbo 5 cylinder diesels. The XC60 comes with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), Electronic and Rollover Stability Control, and an Electric Anti-Glare rear view mirror.

The one I found – A 2010 3.2 liter 6 cylinder, 6-speed automatic in pristine bronze duco, styled with light tan and dark chocolate highlights on the interior. With only one previous non-smoking owner, this example has a new set of tires, a fresh oil change, and just 63,400 miles on the dial for only $11,990.

Kia Soul (2013-2021)

The 5 Safest Cars under $20,000

If you’re looking for a virtually new car under 20k, then you can’t go wrong with Kia’s Soul. The second and third generation sub-compact, crossover SUV’s are particularly desirable and have awesome crash test scores (2019 onwards slightly better). Not only do they come in petrol and diesel versions, but also fully electric models since 2015 (although you will pay more for these). The good news is that later models will still be under some form of new-car warranty, so that’s a bonus right there.

The one I found – If green’s your color, then you can’t go past the 2019 ‘Alien Li’ 6-speed manual I found with rear spoiler, an economical 1.6 liter 4 cylinder engine, and an eye-watering 4,791 miles traveled for $16,995.

Mazda 3 (2013-2020)

The 5 Safest Cars under $20,000

One of the most reliable cars on the road is the Mazda 3 (and Mazda 6). And while you can get an earlier model for cheaper, I think the design of the third and fourth generations are particularly appealing. The third generation comes with six airbags, the fourth generation (2019-present) has seven. You also have the option of hatchback or sedan. Of course if you get a 2019 or 2020 edition, it should still have some warranty left on it. There are also plenty of these cars on the market, so finding one to suit you and your budget should be fairly easy.

The one I found – After many disappointing examples with titled damage, I finally found a 2018 Sport 2.0 liter 4 cylinder hatchback with ‘Soul Red Metallic’ paintwork, 6-speed automatic transmission, and light ‘Sand’ interior. A rear parking camera, voice command infotainment system, and no safety recalls listed add to the great Mazda features, along with a respectable 15,999 miles on the speedometer. All this will cost you $19,293, but you will be safe and sound, and get some form of warranty.

Subaru (XV) Crosstrek (2012-2020)

The 5 Safest Cars under $20,000

Available in gas, diesel, and as a hybrid version from 2014 is the stylishly funky ‘Crosstrek’. Known for its sporty profile and eye-catching rims, this beauty has seven airbags and models from 2015 onwards have reversing cameras and 6.2 inch head units, as well as an upgraded electric power steering system.

The one I found – After selecting my criteria, I came up with 188 results. However, after I ticked the ‘No Accidents’ box, I was left with only 88. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a ‘Salvage’ or ‘Rebuilt’ title as I’ve found out, so always ask about any known previous damage or branded title and get the model you are after thoroughly checked. After all that, I managed to find a 2013 2.0 liter 4 cylinder automatic in awesome ‘Tangerine Orange Pearl’ with no damage or branded titles, no safety recalls, and it’s an all-wheel drive with 71,584 miles for $16,995.   

Honda Civic (2015-2020)

The 5 Safest Cars under $20,000

Known for reliability and safety, Honda have placed themselves one of the best among car lists around the world with their Civic and Accord variants. The tenth generation Civic took on a new look with larger dimensions than previous models, and came in sedan, hatchback or the ever-popular coupe.

The one I found – A 2018 ‘White Orchid Pearl’ 5-door automatic hatchback with a 4 cylinder 1.5 liter turbo engine, 37,678 miles, and is a ‘Honda Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle’ which applies to Honda’s that are less than six years old and have fewer than 80,000 miles on the clock. The program includes many other benefits that a private seller just can’t match such as a thorough multi-point inspection conducted by a team of trained Honda technicians. Great value and support for $18,995.

If you spot a really good bargain car, it is essential to check the vehicle history for branded or salvage titles (check out for more on branded titles) as I’ve looked at what seems like some amazingly low mileage examples only to read further down the page that there is some form of damage history. Also keep away from black or dark colored vehicles as they are not so visible (especially at night). I’ve seen plenty of black cars at great prices and condition, but I’ve also seen how many end up in accidents due to poor visibility by other motorists and pedestrians. Also check that any ‘recalls’ have been done through the car company before you purchase the car.    

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