7 Fastest Sedans Under $20k: Affordable Speed and Style

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When it comes to combining speed, style, and affordability, sedans under $20,000 offer an enticing package for car enthusiasts and budget-conscious drivers alike. While luxury and high-end sports cars often steal the spotlight, many sedans provide impressive performance without breaking the bank. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore some of the fastest cheap sedans, covering both new and used options, and detailing their features, performance, and why they stand out in this competitive segment.

Note: The speeds of all listed sedans have been verified through Car and Driver speed tests. The prices of new sedans were sourced from the manufacturers’ official websites, while the prices of used sedans were obtained from Kelley Blue Book (KBB), Carfax, CarGurus, and TrueCar websites.

Why Choose a Sedan Under $20k?

Sedans in this price range are popular for several reasons:

  1. Affordability: These cars offer great value for money, providing a blend of performance and practicality without the hefty price tag.
  2. Daily Usability: Sedans are versatile, making them suitable for both daily commutes and spirited drives.
  3. Resale Value: Many of these models hold their value well, making them a smart investment.
  4. Lower Insurance Costs: Generally, sedans are cheaper to insure compared to sports cars and luxury vehicles.

Top New Quickest Sedans 

1. 2022 Hyundai Elantra N Line

  • Price: Starting at $24,100 (slightly above $20k but often available with incentives bringing it closer to our budget) 
  • Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 
  • Horsepower: 201 hp 
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds

The Hyundai Elantra N Line is a sporty variant of the popular Elantra sedan. It features a turbocharged engine that delivers a punchy performance, making it one of the fastest new sedans in its class.

The N Line trim adds sporty styling cues, a more aggressive suspension setup, and enhanced brakes, making it a fun-to-drive option for enthusiasts.

Pros:

  • Sporty handling and performance
  • Stylish and modern interior
  • Comprehensive warranty

Cons:

  • Base price slightly above $20k
  • Firm ride might not suit everyone

2. 2022 Kia Forte GT

  • Price: Starting at $23,490 
  • Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 
  • Horsepower: 201 hp 
  • 0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds

The Kia Forte GT offers a similar performance to the Elantra N Line but with its own distinct flair. This sedan provides a well-rounded package with sporty aesthetics, engaging performance, and a user-friendly infotainment system. It’s a great option for those looking for an exciting drive without compromising on comfort and technology.

Pros:

  • Strong performance for the price
  • Attractive exterior and interior design
  • Good value for money

Cons:

  • Ride quality can be stiff
  • Interior materials could be better

Top Used Sedans Under $20k

1. Honda Civic Si (2017-2019)

  • Price: Around $17,000 – $20,000
  • Engine: 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 
  • Horsepower: 205 hp 
  • 0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds

The Honda Civic Si has long been a favorite among driving enthusiasts. Known for its reliability, sharp handling, and sporty performance, the Civic Si from 2017 to 2019 is a great used option. The turbocharged engine provides plenty of power, while the precise manual transmission makes for an engaging driving experience.

Pros:

  • Excellent handling and performance
  • Reliable and fuel-efficient
  • High resale value

Cons:

  • Firm ride
  • Limited rear visibility

2. Mazda 6 (2016-2018)

  • Price: Around $15,000 – $19,000 
  • Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 
  • Horsepower: 250 hp 
  • 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds

The Mazda 6 is known for its sleek design, luxurious interior, and engaging driving dynamics. The turbocharged models from 2016 to 2018 offer impressive performance that can rival more expensive sedans. It also boasts a well-appointed cabin with high-quality materials and advanced technology.

Pros:

  • Stylish exterior and interior
  • Excellent driving dynamics
  • Comfortable and well-equipped

Cons:

  • Smaller rear seats
  • Not as fuel-efficient as some rivals

3. Ford Fusion Sport (2017-2019)

  • Price: Around $18,000 – $20,000 
  • Engine: 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 
  • Horsepower: 325 hp 
  • 0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds

The Ford Fusion Sport is a sleeper hit in the used sedan market. With its powerful twin-turbo V6 engine, it delivers outstanding performance that belies its understated looks. The Fusion Sport also features all-wheel drive, making it a practical choice for those in regions with varied weather conditions.

Pros:

  • Exceptional performance
  • All-wheel drive
  • Comfortable and spacious interior

Cons:

  • Lower fuel economy
  • Higher maintenance costs

Considerations When Buying

When looking for a fast sedan under $20k, consider the following:

  1. Mileage: Lower mileage is generally better, but ensure the car has been well-maintained regardless of the miles on the clock.
  2. Service History: A full service history can provide peace of mind about the car’s condition and reliability.
  3. Ownership Costs: Consider insurance, fuel, and maintenance costs. Some sporty models might have higher running costs.
  4. Warranty: Check if the car is still under manufacturer’s warranty or if an extended warranty is available.
  5. Test Drive: Always take the car for a test drive to ensure it meets your performance expectations and feels comfortable.

Honorable Mentions

1. Volkswagen Jetta GLI (2015-2017)

  • Price: Around $15,000 – $19,000 
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 
  • Horsepower: 210 hp 
  • 0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI offers a sporty alternative to the standard Jetta with enhanced performance and handling. It combines the practicality of a sedan with the fun of a hot hatch, making it an attractive option for those seeking affordable speed.

Pros:

  • Strong turbocharged engine
  • Sporty handling
  • High-quality interior

Cons:

  • Firm ride
  • Limited rear seat space

2. Acura TLX (2015-2017)

  • Price: Around $16,000 – $20,000 
  • Engine: 2.4-liter inline-4 or 3.5-liter V6 
  • Horsepower: 206 hp (2.4L) / 290 hp (V6) 
  • 0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds (V6)

The Acura TLX offers a blend of luxury and performance, particularly with the V6 engine. It’s well-equipped with advanced features and provides a comfortable, refined driving experience. The TLX is a great choice for those looking for a premium sedan at a reasonable price.

Pros:

  • Luxurious interior
  • Strong V6 performance
  • Advanced safety features

Cons:

  • Higher maintenance costs
  • Less sporty handling compared to rivals

The options listed above offer a range of performance, features, and styles to suit different preferences and needs. From the sporty Hyundai Elantra N Line and Kia Forte GT to the reliable and engaging Honda Civic Si, there’s something for every budget-conscious enthusiast.

When shopping for a sedan in this price range, it’s important to consider factors like mileage, service history, and overall condition to ensure you get the best value for your money. With careful research and consideration, you can find a sedan that not only meets your speed and performance expectations but also fits your budget perfectly.

Investing in one of these sedans can provide you with a thrilling driving experience without compromising on practicality or affordability.

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