Interested in getting the best vehicle for well below today's new-vehicle average of about $28k?
If so, you'll need to do some smart shopping; and that early stage of car shopping can be exciting yet a little overwhelming if you simply Google reviews for a model. As you pore over specs, features, and conflicting reviews from critics, it's sometimes hard to sort out the true issues and gripes from the hot air.
The Car Connection's full reviews are a great starting point.
If you've at all browsed our reviews (New Cars) section, you know that among our editors, we spend time with nearly every new vehicle—using them as we would our own vehicle, often for a week or more at a time, cumulatively—and rate them in five categories: Styling, Performance, Quality (Comfort), Safety, and Features. And for 2011 we introduced a Green score that that largely coordinates with fuel efficiency.
But those ratings aren't the full extent of it. We also look to other leading review sources and point you toward what they have to say. And for shoppers looking at comparing or contrasting several different models, with each vehicle we provide you a quick, concise list of Likes and Dislikes, as well as a composite Overall Rating for each new model in which all the categories are equally weighted.
In compiling our list of best-rated vehicles under $20,000, we considered only 2011 vehicles (and some 2012 already on sale) that could post a bottom-line sticker price in that range, including destination.
The Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6, Subaru Legacy, and MINI Cooper—all among our highest-rated vehicles—narrowly missed the price cutoff, and they're all worth consideration if you're not on such a tight budget.
Keep in mind that, as you're looking for a new vehicle, you might put more weight on one or two of our categories—or you might study up on the specs, images, and related news that's available alongside the reviews to set your own criteria.
Start by taking a look at our Best Rated Vehicles Under $20k, then get out and do some shopping.