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Only a few cars in America are selling for less than $20,000

Last week, data begin filtering into the blogosphere suggesting that $20,000 is no longer an adequate sum to park a nice late-model used vehicle in your driveway. Some numbers: in 2019, the average cost of a used vehicle in America stood at $23,351. Just four years later, that number rocketed to $34,491 in 2023. So you won’t be surprised by the next piece of info, either. There are only three new vehicles in 2023 with an average transaction price less than $20,000: the Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Versa and Kia Rio.

According to numbers we sourced from Truecar, last month the average buyer paid $17,099 for a new 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage. That represents a discount of a couple hundred bucks off the price listed on the car’s window sticker. The next cheapest car on the list is the 2023 Nissan Versa. With an average transaction price of $17,597 the Versa joins the Mirage as the only cars selling for less than $18,000.

Next is the 2023 Kia Rio, which, at $18,069 is actually selling for a few hundred dollars over sticker. And then there’s the 2022 Nissan Sentra. Notice that’s last year’s model, meaning these Sentras have been sitting on the lot for a while, and they still managed to sell, on average, for $22,227 (around $218 under MSRP). Fourth on the list is even older, as leftover 2021 stock of Ford EcoSport crossovers had an average transaction price of $22,407 (that’s around $1,600 off for a new but two-year-old car).

Here are last month’s top 10 cheapest vehicles, listed by average transaction price:

  1. 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage — $17,099
  2. 2023 Nissan Versa — $17,597
  3. 2023 Kia Rio — $18,069
  4. 2022 Nissan Sentra — 22,227
  5. 2021 Ford EcoSport — $22,407
  6. 2023 Subaru Impreza — $22,814
  7. 2023 Nissan Kicks — $23,061
  8. 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport — $23,490
  9. 2022 Ford EcoSport — $24,681
  10. 2023 Hyundai Elantra — $25,351

The first piece of advice we’d offer to prospective buyers looking for a decent car at a decent price is to take a good long look at the Subaru Impreza. It’s a nice little machine that’s a lot more rewarding to drive than anything on the list that’s cheaper, and it boasts standard all-wheel drive, too. The 2023 Hyundai Elantra stands out on that list, too.

Our second piece of advice is to consider something off this list of low-mileage used vehicles that we’ve highlighted as better options than anything you’ll find new with a sticker that’s less than $20,000. And considering the subject of this article, that means the Mitsubishi Mirage.

The transaction prices shown in this article are sourced from Truecar, which is a reliable place to find out what other people are paying for any given new car or truck across the country. But it’s not the only source to look at. Cox Automotive tracks numbers differently and reports that the Mitsubishi Mirage is the only car selling under the magic $20,000 mark. The Rio and Versa are just over that sum, according to Cox’s calculations.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Mirage, which as you’ve learned today truly is the cheapest new car currently for sale in America, won’t be in production much longer. So if that’s what you truly want, now might be a good time to make a purchase.

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