The 15 Most Affordable SUVs In The U.S. For 2024 - SlashGear (2024)


ByBrian Nyambura/

SUVs reign supreme in 2024, with the trend of ditching cars for these versatile vehicles showing no signs of slowing down. In 2023, Americans bought over 6.17 million new SUVs, almost double the 3.12 million figure for car sales. Popular choices included the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V, Subaru Crosstrek, and Honda HR-V.

With the average vehicle price soaring over $50,000, some automakers are offering a lifeline for budget-conscious buyers: affordable SUVs selling for as low as $20,000. These SUVs might lack the aplomb of their larger, more expensive siblings, but they boast more space than sedans and often handle nimbly.

They consist mostly of subcompact crossovers packed with peppy engines, modern designs, and feature-packed interiors. Some, like the Crosstrek and CX-30, stand out with higher ground clearance, rugged aesthetics, and all-wheel drive, making them perfect for exploring beyond the pavement. Below is a list (not exhaustive) of 15 of the most affordable SUVs on the market, ranked by price.

Buick Encore GX – $25,600

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Introduced in 1899, Buick is one of the oldest car brands in the U.S. Today, Buick caters to those seeking refined and luxurious vehicles, with its lineup only consisting of SUVs. The Encore GX is the brand's smallest and most affordable offering, boasting a starting price of $25,600. This subcompact SUV promises a premium experience with its revitalized exterior design and a stylish, tech-centric interior. Buick offers three Encore GX trims: Preferred, Sport Touring, and Avenir.

The base Preferred trim features a turbocharged 1.2-liter Ecotec three-cylinder engine generating 137 horspower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Buick pairs it with a continuously variable automatic (CVT) transmission, powering the front wheels. Despite its lower price point, the Preferred trim still offers desirable features like an 11-inch infotainment touchscreen, a six-speaker audio system, an 8-inch gauge cluster, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. However, it forgoes some amenities found on higher trims, such as larger 19-inch wheels, powered and heated seats, and a heated steering wheel.

An optional upgrade for the Preferred trim is the more powerful turbocharged 1.3-liter Ecotec three-cylinder engine, but it's limited to the CVT and front-wheel drive configuration. Meanwhile, Sport Touring and Avenir trims gain a nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system. This powertrain combination sacrifices some fuel economy for better performance, though the Preferred trim boasts an impressive 30 mpg combined and a total range of 396 miles.

Subaru Crosstrek – $25,195

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First introduced in 2013 as the XV Crosstrek, the Crosstrek has been Subaru's subcompact SUV offering, rivaling models like the Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Kia Niro, and Mazda CX-30. Over the years, its popularity has soared in the U.S., with Subaru selling a staggering 159,193 units in 2023 alone. Today, the Crosstrek has a competitive $25,195 starting price and five trims: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, and Wilderness.

While it forgoes niceties like the leather seats found in pricier options like the Buick Encore GX, the base Crosstrek counters with a gutsier 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. Subaru pairs this with a CVT that seamlessly distributes power to all four wheels via its renowned symmetrical all-wheel drive system, which is ideal for tackling any terrain. The base Crosstrek trim also gets Subaru's EyeSight driver assist technology as standard. It has safety systems like automatic emergency steering, automatic pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, and adaptive cruise control with lane centering.

These systems contribute to the Crosstrek's impressive safety ratings, including an IIHS Top Safety Pick and a five-star NHTSA overall score. The base trim further impresses with a dual seven-inch infotainment system, dual-zone automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and 17-inch alloy wheels. While it may lack the rugged appeal of the all-new Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness, the base Crosstrek offers a compelling package for budget-minded adventurers seeking a capable and safe AWD subcompact SUV.

Mazda CX-30 – $24,995

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Unveiled as the CX-3 successor in 2019 at the Geneva International Motor Show, the CX-30 is a compelling entry point into Mazda's lineup alongside the Mazda3. With a $24,995 starting price, the CX-30 is one of the most affordable all-wheel-drive SUVs on offer. Compared to rivals like the Subaru Crosstrek, the CX-30 stands out with its sleek Kodo design language, which gives it elegant styling and bold proportions. To further stand out from its competitors, the CX-30 boasts more power, more trims, and a premium interior.

Available in eight trims – 2.5 S, 2.5 S Select Sport, 2.5 S Preferred, 2.5 S Carbon Edition, 2.5 S Premium, 2.5 Carbon Turbo, 2.5 Turbo Premium, and 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus – it caters to a wide range of preferences. Powering the base trim is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 191 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. This setup powers all four wheels and includes off-road traction assist for additional capability. Opting for the pricier Mazda CX-30 Turbo trims introduces a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 250 horsepower, though premium fuel is recommended. Notably, the CX-30's ECU allows the turbo engine to run on regular gas, albeit with a slight power decrease to 227 ponies.

Honda HR-V – $24,600

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The HR-V is one of the best-selling subcompacts in the U.S., with Honda moving over 120,000 units in 2023. Honda introduced this nameplate in 2013 for the North American market. Since then, the HR-V has morphed into a modern and affordable subcompact with a $24,600 starting price. Available in three trims– LX, Sport, and EX-L — the HR-V uses the bones of the Honda Civic, and its power comes from the K20Z5 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. While it's not as powerful as rivals like the CX-30, the HR-V tackles corners with confidence thanks to its new MacPherson strut system.

Highway maneuvers are a breeze with this powertrain, further bolstered by the suite of driver assistance features. They include adaptive cruise control, blind spot information system, and lane-keeping assist. Inside the HR-V is a surprisingly spacious and tech-forward cabin. Standard features across the trims include seven or nine-inch infotainment touchscreens, wireless smartphone compatibility, heated front seats, and four, six, or eight-speaker systems.

Kia Seltos – $24,490

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Refreshed for the 2024 model year, the Seltos lives up to its name, offering buyers a sporty and speedy subcompact SUV. Starting at $24,490, the Seltos has five trims: LX, S, EX, X-Line, and SX. As standard, power comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 146 ponies and 132 lb-ft of torque. However, the top two trims get the more potent 1.6-liter turbo-four with 195 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque.

This turbocharged engine is zippy around town and has enough power for highway maneuvers. In Smart and Normal modes, the automatic transmission isn't eager to downshift, prioritizing fuel economy. Fortunately, switching to Sport mode makes the Seltos more responsive and composed through corners.

Inside the Seltos are premium materials that would be at home in the larger Telluride SUV. Base trims boast standard equipment like cloth seats, an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, and a six-speaker audio system. In contrast, higher trims elevate the experience with a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, heated synthetic leather seats, a premium Bose audio system, and a sunroof.

Hyundai Kona – $24,250

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Introduced in the middle of the previous decade, the Kona promised a fun, stylish subcompact SUV at an accessible price. Hyundai even offered a sportier Kona N with a slew of performance goodies like an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, adjustable dampers, an active exhaust, and performance tires. While this no longer exists in the current Kona lineup, Hyundai keeps the flame alive with the N Line trim.

Today, the Hyundai Kona has a $24,250 starting price and four trims: SE, SEL, N Line, and Limited. Power comes from two engines: a 147 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder for the SE and SEL trims and a 190 horsepower 1.6-liter turbo-four for the higher trims. The lower trims use a CVT as standard, while N Line and Limited trims sport an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard across the range, but Hyundai offers an optional HTRAC all-wheel drive system.

The Kona has multiple standard features, including a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless smartphone compatibility, a six-speaker audio system, and Hyundai's Smart Sense safety system. Climbing the trim ladder unlocks features like wireless device charging, a heated steering wheel, a premium Bose sound system, and a sunroof.

Volkswagen Taos – $23,995

Introduced in 2022, the Taos was Volkswagen's entrant to the subcompact SUV segment. Sitting beneath the Tiguan and using the MQB architecture, the Taos featured a bold design similar to its larger SUV siblings. Today, the Taos has a $23,995 starting price and four trims: S, SE, SE Black, and SEL. These models use a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The engine pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission, powering the front wheels as standard. Fortunately, Volkswagen also offers optional 4Motion all-wheel drive, helping the Taos compete with models like the Mazda CX-30 and Buick Encore GX. Our review of the 2022 Volkswagen Taos found this powertrain reasonably powerful, especially in Sport mode.

Getting inside the Taos reveals its spacious cabin with 37.9 inches of rear legroom. At the front, the driver and passenger get six-way adjustable seats, a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen, and an 8-inch digital co*ckpit on the base trim. Opting for the higher trims introduces the larger eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, heated front seats, 10-way adjustable driver seat, and automatic dual-zone climate control. For the 2024 model year, all Taos models get Volkswagen's IQ.DRIVE driver assistance suite as standard. It introduces features like lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane centering.

Toyota Corolla Cross – $23,860

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Unveiled in 2022 as Toyota's value SUV, the Corolla Cross is a subcompact SUV sitting below the RAV4. Based on the Corolla sedan, it promises a car-like driving experience and the functionality of its larger SUV siblings. For the 2024 model year, the Corolla Cross has a $23,860 starting price and seven trims: L, LE, XLE, Hybrid S, Hybrid SE, Hybrid Nightshade, and Hybrid XSE.

Front-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 169 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque come standard, with all-wheel drive available as an option. Inside, the base trims provide essentials like an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless smartphone integration, a six-speaker audio system, cloth upholstery, and heated side mirrors. As you climb up the ladder, comfort and convenience features elevate the experience with features like a sunroof, a premium JBL sound system, ambient lighting, and heated front seats.

The more efficient Corolla Cross Hybrid models offer more capability despite having a higher price point. They pair the four-cylinder engine with electric motors to produce a combined 196 horsepower. While its 8.0 second 0-to-60 mph sprint won't break any records, the 42-mpg combined fuel economy rating makes it a worthy consideration.

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport – $23,695

Mitsubishi's most affordable SUV, the Outlander Sport, boasts a $23,695 starting price. However, its affordability comes with a caveat: it's one of the most outdated new vehicles in the game. While rivals like the Nissan Kicks and Hyundai Kona offer fresher designs and features, the Outlander Sport counters with standard all-wheel drive, a rarity in this price range.

Despite its age, the Outlander Sport offers a choice of two four-cylinder engines. The standard engine is a 2.0-liter with 149 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. Upgrading to the top trim unleashes the 2.4-liter engine with 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque. Both engines pair with a CVT with a manual gear shifting Sport mode.

Mitsubishi also equips the Outlander Sport with useful standard features, including heated side mirrors, a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen, and a four-speaker audio system. There's also a Trail Edition trim that injects a touch of ruggedness with all-weather floor mats, mud flaps, and black accents.

Chevrolet Trailblazer – $23,100

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The Trailblazer is Chevrolet's premium subcompact SUV, introduced in the global market at the start of the decade. While it relinquishes the title of the most affordable Chevy SUV to the Trax, the Trailblazer promises more power and AWD on higher trims. This makes it a worthy rival to models like the Volkswagen Taos, Hyundai Kona, Buick Encore GX, and Kia Seltos.

Available in four trims — LS, LT, RS, and Activ — the Trailblazer shares its base engine with the Trax. This 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder mates with a CVT and only powers the front wheels. However, the optional 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder boasts more power: 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. Like the base powertrain, the engine pairs with a CVT in the FWD configuration. Fortunately, in the AWD configuration, Chevrolet equips it with a nine-speed automatic.

Like its premium competitors, the Trailblazer has a generous spread of standard features. The base trim boasts an 11-inch infotainment touchscreen, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a four-speaker stereo system, and wireless smartphone compatibility. Chevy Safety Assist is standard across all trims, offering advanced safety and driver assistance features like front pedestrian braking, following distance indicator, lane keep assist, and forward collision alert.

Buick Envista – $22,400

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The BMW X6 ignited the coupe-like SUV segment over a decade ago, and its success has trickled down to more affordable options. Buick joins the fray with the Envista, a subcompact SUV with a starting MSRP of $22,400. This stylish SUV boasts a low, sleek profile and a surprisingly spacious interior thanks to its long wheelbase. Debuting for the 2024 model year, the Envista comes in three trims: Preferred, Sport Touring, and Avenir.

The Envista shares engines with the pricier Encore GX, a 1.2-liter turbocharged Ecotec three-cylinder engine. Unfortunately, Buick doesn't offer the more powerful 1.3-liter Ecotec. For the Envista, the 1.2-liter Ecotec engine is the sweet spot, outmuscling rivals like the Nissan Kicks and Hyundai Venue, while keeping the vehicle lightweight for better handling and fuel economy. The result is a 30-mpg combined fuel economy rating and a total range of nearly 400 miles from its 13.2-gallon fuel tank.

Despite its competitive price tag, the Envista doesn't skimp on features. Every model boasts an impressive 11-inch infotainment touchscreen, comfortable cloth or leather seating, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, and the Buick Driver Confidence package, providing peace of mind with a suite of advanced safety technologies.

Nissan Kicks – $21,340

A veteran in the affordable SUV segment, the Nissan Kicks continues to be Nissan's most affordable SUV with a $21,340 starting price. This subcompact SUV carves a niche as a city commuter compared to its more adventurous counterparts like the Subaru Crosstrek. For the 2024 model year, the Kick has three trims: S, SV, and SR. Powering these trims is a 122 horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. While its acceleration might not break any records, it partners with an Xtronic CVT powering the front wheels. This translates into a better fuel economy rating of 33 mpg combined.

Despite the budget-friendly price tag, the Kick comes surprisingly well-equipped. Standard equipment on the base trim includes a seven-inch infotainment system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a six-way adjustable driver's seat, and Nissan's Safety Shield 360 suite. This suite includes technologies like rear automatic braking, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, high beam assist, and automatic emergency braking. Higher trims up the ante with a larger eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, intelligent cruise control, and a premium Bose eight-speaker sound system.

Chevrolet Trax – $20,400

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When the Chevrolet Trax first hit the market in 2013, Chevrolet didn't have plans to bring it to the U.S. Fortunately, the introduction of models like the Jeep Renegade and Buick Encore forced GM to bring the Trax in 2015. Since then, the Trax has been a bestseller for Chevy in the U.S., moving 37,588 units in Q1 of 2024 alone. Chevrolet redesigned the Trax in 2024, giving it more cargo and passenger space, an array of standard features, and a new design.

Starting at a competitive $20,400, the Trax comes in five trims: LS, 1RS, LT, 2RS, and Activ. The lineup uses a 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, it powers the front wheels only. While all-wheel drive isn't available, even as an option, the Trax offers surprising pep for navigating city streets. Despite being low on power, the Trax features a decked-out interior. Even the base LS trim boasts an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, active noise cancellation, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, Wi-Fi hotspot compatibility, and keyless entry.

Kia Soul – $20,190

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Kia first launched the Soul in 2009, offering a unique blend of efficiency, flexibility, and subcompact SUV practicality. Today, the Soul boasts a refreshed design with smile-inducing colors and advanced technology. With a $20,190 starting price, the 2024 Soul lineup has four trims: LX, S, GT-Line, and EX. Kia equips all these trims with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. The engine pairs with a CVT, powering the front wheels. Compared to the Trax, the powertrain delivers a sprightly driving experience, especially in city commutes and highway maneuvers.

Stepping inside the Kia Soul reveals a spacious five-seat cabin loaded with tech. The base LX trim boasts standard features like remote keyless entry, a full digital instrument cluster, an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, a six-speaker audio system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Kia's Drive Wise technology suite adds an extra layer of safety with features like blind spot collision avoidance, lane departure warning, forward collision avoidance, intelligent speed limit assist, and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist. While the higher Soul trims don't have more power, they focus on convenience and comfort upgrades like a sunroof, heated seats, and a larger 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen.

Hyundai Venue – $19,900

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The Hyundai Venue takes the crown for affordability, starting at a budget-friendly $19,900. Available with three trims– SE, SEL, and Limited — this subcompact SUV is surprisingly capable for its price. As standard, Hyundai equips it with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 121 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque. It pairs with a CVT, only powering the front wheels on all trims. While the powertrain helps with the Venue's 31 mpg combined fuel economy rating, it's not enough grunt compared to rivals like the Kia Soul and Buick Envista.

Where the Venue might cede some ground in power, it regains points with a generous list of standard features like a six-speaker audio system, an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a six-speaker audio system. Safety is also a priority for Hyundai, and the Venue boasts features like forward collision avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, rear occupant alert, driver attention warning, and high beam assist, offering peace of mind behind the wheel.

The 15 Most Affordable SUVs In The U.S. For 2024 - SlashGear (2024)


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