These top ten 2012 cars are all priced under $20,000. They’ve been a great deal all year, and you can negotiate an even better deal now that dealers have to clear the showroom floor for the 2013 models.
Every one of these ecoXplorer picks offers top fuel economy, roominess beyond their small size, sporty driving and handling, plus safety features not usually found on vehicles at this price. That makes eachvehicle on this list an ideal choice for first-time drivers, second-car families, or boomers and seniors trading down from full-size sedans and SUVs.
First, best budget cars for recent or long-time grown-ups —
2012 Ford Fiesta — This 5-door hatchback drives in your choice of bright jellybean colors or traditional ones, with class-leading features that include seven airbags and 40mpg fuel economy.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta — VW’s popular compact sedan matches European driving feel powered by a 115-horsepower engine with refined design and an impressively scaled passenger compartment.
Click here for the ecoXplorer review of the redesigned VW Jetta.
2012 Mazda3 — Zoom-zoom includes good looks, sporty handling, impressive safety features and a space-expanding 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The Mazda3 is available as a sedan or hatchback.
2012 Hyundai Accent — Redesigned for 2012, the Accent has grown up from an ‘econobox’ into a smaller version of Hyundai’s stunning and award-winning Sonata. Available as a sedan or hatchback, the 2012 Accent offers more power and even better fuel economy than previous models, and you also get Hyundai’s industry-leading 10-year powertrain warranty.
Best budget cars for under-grads and grown-ups who want to feel like a kid again —
2012 Kia Soul — You either love or hate its singular looks, but you have to love the direct injection technology and six-speed transmissions that offer bumps in power, responsiveness and fuel economy. Baby, you’ve got Soul!
2012 Chevrolet Sonic — Sporty design, vibrant colors, lots of space whether you choose the Sonic hatchback or sedan attractive to younger drivers. In a nod to its name, Sonic offers an upgrade to a DJ-style sound system that turns the car into a sonic boom disco on wheels.
Click here for ecoXplorer review of 2012 Chevrolet Sonic.
2012 Nissan Versa — Despite its position in the starting gate as the least expensive car in America, the 5-passenger Versa sedan includes a full suite of basic creature comforts plus unexpected niceties like an auxiliary audio jack for portable music players.
Click here for the ecoXplorer review of the 2012 Nisssan Versa.
2012 Toyota Yaris — Backed by Toyota’s renowned reputation for dependability, the Yaris is a carpool buddy you can count on. And considering its quirky good looks, nine standard airbags and versatile hatchback design. Click here for the ecoXplorer review of the 2012 Toyota Yaris.
2012 Fiat 500 — The cool, cute car of the year, the Fiat 500 offers Italian style, Euro driving dynamics, and a footprint that fits in even the smallest parking spot. Smarter than a Smart, more mini than a Mini, says KBB.
2012 Honda Fit — Backed by a full tank of Honda reliability, the Fit offers fuel economy and a super-flexible rear seat that folds both down and up for versatility. Honda also is pricing the 2013 Fit the same as the 2012. Click here for theecoXplorer review of the 2013 Honda Fit.
These are the top ten choices from KBB as best 2012 back-to-school cars under $20,000. ecoXplorer agrees with all ten choices as best 2012 cars under $20,000, but has re-ordered the collection. KBB rated the 2012 Kia Soul as top choice for teens and undergrands, but for real world driving, my votes are for the 2012 Ford Fiesta and 2012 VW Jetta.