Kelley Blue Book’s 10 coolest 2019 cars for around $20K

2019 Kia Soul. MSRP Range: $17,485 - $23,985. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
1. 2019 Kia Soul. MSRP Range: $17,485 – $23,985. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book) (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
2. 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback. MSRP Range: $20,910 - $25,010. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
2. 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback. MSRP Range: $20,910 – $25,010. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book) (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
3. 2019 Honda Civic. MSRP Range: $20,345 - $28,195. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
3. 2019 Honda Civic. MSRP Range: $20,345 – $28,195. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book) (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
4. 2019 Hyundai Kona. MSRP Range: $21,035 - $32,995. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
4. 2019 Hyundai Kona. MSRP Range: $21,035 – $32,995. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book) (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
5. 2019 Hyundai Veloster. MSRP Range: $19,420 - $29,070. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
5. 2019 Hyundai Veloster. MSRP Range: $19,420 – $29,070. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book) (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
6. 2019 Volkswagen Golf. MSRP Range:  $22,740 - $26,140. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
6. 2019 Volkswagen Golf. MSRP Range: $22,740 – $26,140. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book) (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
7. 2019 Nissan Kicks. MSRP Range: $19,635 - $21,965. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
7. 2019 Nissan Kicks. MSRP Range: $19,635 – $21,965. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book) (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
8. 2019 Subaru Impreza. MSRP Range: $19,480 - $26,075. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
8. 2019 Subaru Impreza. MSRP Range: $19,480 – $26,075. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book) (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
9. 2019 Honda Fit. MSRP Range: $17,085 - $22,415. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
9. 2019 Honda Fit. MSRP Range: $17,085 – $22,415. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book) (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
10. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta. MSRP Range: $19,440 - $27,840. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
10. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta. MSRP Range: $19,440 – $27,840. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book) (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
(1/10)
2019 Kia Soul. MSRP Range: $17,485 - $23,985. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
2. 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback. MSRP Range: $20,910 - $25,010. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
3. 2019 Honda Civic. MSRP Range: $20,345 - $28,195. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
4. 2019 Hyundai Kona. MSRP Range: $21,035 - $32,995. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
5. 2019 Hyundai Veloster. MSRP Range: $19,420 - $29,070. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
6. 2019 Volkswagen Golf. MSRP Range:  $22,740 - $26,140. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
7. 2019 Nissan Kicks. MSRP Range: $19,635 - $21,965. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
8. 2019 Subaru Impreza. MSRP Range: $19,480 - $26,075. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
9. 2019 Honda Fit. MSRP Range: $17,085 - $22,415. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)
10. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta. MSRP Range: $19,440 - $27,840. (Courtesy Kelley Blue Book)

Ah, a new car. The roar of the engine is sweet music. The feel of the steering wheel is a friendly handshake. And the sudden hit to your bank account is … depressing.

The average transaction price of a new car is about $36,000.

But it doesn’t have to be that way for first-time buyers or the budget-conscious among us, according to Kelley Blue Book.

The outlet says there’s a way to be both frugal and fun with their 10 picks for the coolest new cars that can be yours for around $20,000 — depending on your options, that is.

“We wanted to highlight cars that are fun and stylish but also affordable,” Micah Muzio, managing editor of video for Kelley Blue Book, told WTOP. “And I think we succeeded.”

One takeaway from the list is that “everybody’s moving to SUVs,” Muzio said. But that doesn’t mean you need to pay sky-high prices for the vehicles on their list.

“The Nissan Kicks takes the form factor of an SUV — that raised seating position, the ease of getting in and out. You don’t have to drop down into the car; you just slide right in. And then also great cargo space and passenger space,” he told WTOP. “It takes all those SUV-like attributes and applies it to a subcompact vehicle.”

That means you end up with a maneuverable car that’s easy to park in the city but with the confident driving position that people like from SUVs.

Nissan also gave it some style.

“Even though you can get one for under $20,000, it looks cool,” Muzio said.

But options beyond base features can quickly cause the cost of a car to jump.

Just going from manual to automatic transmission could add $1,000 or more, though Muzio says even base models don’t skimp on safety.

“Air bags are obviously critical, and you would be hard-pressed to find a modern car on our list that has less than six,” he told WTOP. “Even though you’re buying an inexpensive car, it’s gonna hold up well in a crash.”

The bottom line for this Kelley Blue Book list?

“If you have a limited budget, there’s a cool car waiting for you, but if you have a little more to spend, there’s always greater delights to explore,” Muzio said.

WTOP’s John Aaron contributed to this report.

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