Best Used Cars for Under $20,000

These cars, SUVs, and trucks performed well when new and have above-average reliability records

Best Used Cars for Under $20,000 Includes the 2017 Mazda CX-5

Buying a pre-owned car is more than just a great way to save money—it could get you into a model that has safety and luxury features you couldn’t afford in a new car.

We dug through years of test data and hundreds of thousands of survey responses to find the best used cars for under $20,000.

Consider the models listed below (alphabetically by segment) to be the vehicles that we'd recommend to our friends and family members who want to buy a used car on a $20,000 budget. Each came with standard electronic stability control, an important safety feature.

They also performed well in our tests when new and consistently demonstrated multiple years of much-better-than-average reliability in our Annual Auto Surveys for the 2010-2019 model years. Years are excluded when reliability did not meet this high standard or there was insufficient data.

Of course, even for used cars we recommend, there can be outliers—maybe a former owner didn’t care much for car maintenance, or there was a problem at the factory the week the car rolled off the line. Before you buy, make sure to pay for a thorough inspection by a certified mechanic so there are no surprises down the road. 



If you’re a Consumer Reports member, the results below are available to you. CR members can also have full access to the results of our Annual Auto Surveys; first drives of the newest cars, SUVs, and trucks; and the full reviews and all of our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test.

If you're not a member, click below to join and access the full list of 27 cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and wagons. As a CR member, you also get access to our exclusive ratings and reviews for every product—from cars and grills to mobile phones and flat-screen TVs—that we buy and test.