It’s not better to look rich than to be rich. But until you become rich, why not appear as if you can afford to drive what you want? Call it envisioning. Sure, you can spend $20,000 on a (well) used BMW. But our look-rich-picks are all new cars. They come with that new-car smell. More important, they come with a new-car warranty. To maintain a used $20,000 BMW, you’d have to be rich. If there’s a theme here, it’s not fooling people into believing you’re rich but in leaving ‘em guessing.
Presented alphabetically, here are 7 cars under $20,000 that make you look rich. (Note that our prices include the manufacturer’s destination fee; these average about $900.)
Dodge Dart – An Italian Suit at Detroit Prices
Starting price: $16,990
Fuel- economy rating (EPA city/highway combined): 26 mpg – 32 mpg
Beneath the tailored bodywork of this four-door compact sedan are the guts of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Alfa’s owned by Fiat, the Italian automaker with corporate control over Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram trucks. Enlarged for Americans, Dart lacks the driving brio of the Giulietta. But a certain grace of line and judicious use of brightwork gives it the presence of an expensive car – an impression underlined by the Dart’s relative rarity. You’ll be shopping the entry-level SE version to stay under $20,000. But it has 160 horsepower and stickers for $18,240 with automatic transmission. However, getting air conditioning requires the $1,395 Convenience Package. Thankfully, it also includes dressier body-color exterior trim, the Uconnect voice-command infotainment interface, and other goodies. If you’re a manual-transmission fan, the $19,500 SXT model includes all that, plus a 184-horse engine and alloy wheels.