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Consumer Reports And IIHS Say 5 Subaru Models Are The Best Used Cars Under $20,000

The Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Impreza and Legacy are among your best used vehicle picks under $20,000. See what sets them apart.


What are the best used cars under $20,000? For the first time, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Consumer Reports are collaborating to recommend the best used vehicles you can buy under $20,000. The IIHS is looking for crash protection while Consumer Reports looks for performance, reliability, and safety.

The cars they recommend are perfect for teens because they have crash rates almost four times higher than older drivers. But the list of cars is good for anyone looking for a used vehicle. CR and IIHS say the best Subaru models are the Subaru Forester (2016 or newer), Subaru Outback (2013 or newer), Subaru Crosstrek (2018 or newer), Subaru Impreza (2014 or newer), and Subaru Legacy (2013 or newer).

2020 Subaru Outback, 2020 Subaru Forester, 2020 Subaru Crosstrek

How safe are Subaru vehicles?

Subaru’s standard all-wheel-drive vehicles excel in all-weather driving, but the brand is also known for it’s exceptional crash protection and safety record. All Subaru models are IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Legacy) or Top Safety Pick winners (Impreza.)

What is the cost of a used Subaru vehicle?

The average cost of a previously owned Subaru Legacy sedan is $7,600, Subaru Outback $8,500, Subaru Impreza $8,700, Subaru Forester $12,500, and Subaru Crosstrek $18,700 for the model years listed above (higher-trim models may cost more.) All come standard with Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive, and many older models come with Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist system.

2020 Subaru Outback, 2020 Subaru Forester, 2020 Subaru Crosstrek

Consumer Reports and IIHS say these models all meet six criteria to make the cut. They come with electronic stability control, above average reliability, average or better scores for CR’s emergency handling, less than 145 feet braking distance from 60 mph, Good ratings in IIHS side and front crash tests, and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Another criterion the Subaru models meet is in insurance claim rates. The report says the vehicles do not have “substantially higher than average insurance claim rates under medical payment or personal injury protection coverage.” Both coverage types pay for injuries to occupants of the insured vehicle. This comes from The Highway Loss Data Institute, an IIHS affiliate.

2020 Subaru Outback, 2020 Subaru Forester, 2020 Subaru Crosstrek

In another Consumer Reports recommendation (by subscription), the 2015 Subaru Legacy is rated one of the best mid-size sedans under $20,000 with the best fuel economy. CR says the Legacy also has an “excellent ride, responsive handling, a roomy and quiet interior, great visibility, simple controls, and easy cabin access in the front and rear.”

Consumers looking for the best used cars under $20,000 have lots of choices and you can check out the full list here. The Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Impreza, and Legacy models make the first-ever combined Consumer Reports and IIHS best recommendations list.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press and the founder of Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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