Americans' choices for a new car that costs under $20k dwindle down to one

The current version of the Mirage, which reached U.S. dealerships a decade ago, sold for an average of $19,205 in July

For price-conscious shoppers hoping to score a deal on vehicles for under $20,000, the choice has dwindled down to just one: The Mitsubishi Mirage.

The Mirage remains the lone new vehicle whose average sale price is under $20,000. With prices of new and used vehicles having soared since the pandemic, $20,000 is no longer much of a starting point for a new car, which has long been considered the price if affordability. 

This price point comes at a time when many Americans are increasingly looking for SUVs and trucks rather than small cars. 


Affordable Mitsubishi sales

Mitsubishi sales person Matthew Boston opens the door of the sedan version of a new Mitsubishi Mirage, alongside the hatchback version. At a time when auto buyers increasingly want pricey SUVs and trucks and fewer want small cars, the Mirage remains (AP / AP Images)

This current version of the Mirage, which reached U.S. dealerships a decade ago, sold for an average of $19,205 last month, according to data from Cox Automotive. 

The hatchback and sedan versions of the Mirage costs less than half of what the average U.S. new vehicle does. That average is now just above $48,000 — 25% more than before the pandemic struck three years ago.

"I just won’t pay that kind of price," said Karen Schaeppi of suburban Minneapolis, who bought a red Mirage sedan last month for around $19,000. Schaeppi, who is 78, said she could have afforded an average-priced new vehicle. But because she's only 5 feet tall, she wanted a small car so she could see easily over the hood.

Michelle Krebs, an analyst at Cox Automotive, said she thinks sales of the Mirage would be stronger if more customers knew about it.

"There aren't that many Mitsubishi dealers, and they don't have a very loud voice in the advertising world," she said.


She noted that Mitsubishi buyers tend to have lower-than-average credit scores and many have been priced out of the auto market. 

The news of the car's affordability comes as new Mitsubishis may not be available in the next few years. The trade publication Automotive News reported last week that Mitsubishi will stop selling the Mirage by mid-decade. Mitsubishi, part of the Nissan-Renault alliance, declined to comment. But its website says production of the Mirage in Thailand, where it is built, is ending.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.