Top 16 Best Cars Under $50,000

By Alexi Falson on 10 Mar 2023
image for Top 16 Best Cars Under $50,000 With so many options on the car market, unless you’ve got something specific in mind, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, which is why we’ve put together a list of the top 16 best cars for under $50,000.

This list is going to include everything from cheap and cheerful hatchbacks, to family-friendly SUVs, practical sedans and wagons, and even some performance options for thrill-seeking buyers.

Let’s dive in and take a look at 16 of the best cars you can buy in Australia for under $50,000.

Hyundai i20N

We’re going to kick off our list with one of the best performance vehicles on the market, the Hyundai i20N.

The i20N rides on the standard i20N platform, but that’s where the similarities end, with Hyundai fitting a powerful 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 150kW of power and 275Nm and is paired with a manual gearbox.

Underneath, the i20N picks up some performance hardware upgrades that make it one of the best pound-for-pound sports car packages out there, particularly considering its reasonable asking price. 

Subaru Outback

Subaru’s adventure-ready Outback has been given an update recently, with all three variants from the entry-level Outback through to the Sport and Touring variants sneaking in for under $50,000.

That gives buyers a heap of variety within the range, and the option of some more premium touches like Nappa leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, and a heated steering wheel atop the already generous list of standard features.

Ford Escape

While the Ford Escape is overshadowed by cars like the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 on the sales tally, it remains one of the most appealing family-friendly options that benefits from a potent engine.

Under the bonnet, the Ford Escape is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that kicks out 183kW of power and 387Nm of torque, with the option of front-wheel and all-wheel-drive systems available.

Inside, the Escape’s cabin is spacious and practical, with all but the range-topping ST-Line variant priced under our cost cut-off, offering buyers some impressive features lists.

Hyundai Tucson

The Hyundai Tucson has been quick to impress buyers within the midsize SUV segment, and with most variants priced under $50,000, there’s a Tucson out there for nearly every family’s budget.

Inside, the Tucson’s cabin has been given a major overhaul in the latest design update, with a premium cabin up front and a heap of legroom in the rear of the cabin to keep a family of five comfortable on long road trips.

The Tucson range is available with a choice of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 115kW of power and 192Nm of torque, a turbocharged petrol producing 132kW of power and 265Nm of torque, and a turbo-diesel kicking out 137kW of power and 416Nm of torque.

Kia Sportage

Twin-under-the-skin to the Hyundai Tucson, the Kia Sportage is a great option for family buyers looking for an SUV package, with the added bonus of all four trim levels squeezing under our price threshold.

That means Sportage buyers benefit from a range of premium features as they step up to the SX+ and GT-Line variants, which add heated and ventilated leather seats, Bi-LED headlights, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and a panoramic sunroof.

Volkswagen Passat

For those looking for a more premium driving experience and a lovely Euopean cabin design, the Volkswagen Passat remains a great and particularly family-friendly option thanks to its generous proportions.

For under $50k, buyers can step into the entry-level Passat 140TSI which comes powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder producing 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque, giving it some smooth acceleration and a wonderful ride quality that is perfect for long distance road trips.

Inside, the Passat’s cabin is spacious and surprisingly elegant even in the base model, with VW’s sedan package offering a large boot totalling 650L; more than you’ll find in many midsize and even large SUV packages.

Mazda 6

The Mazda 6 range gives buyers in the market for a comfortable sedan or wagon some serious food for thought, with all but the range-topping Atenza within reach for Australian buyers with a budget of $50,000.

The entry-level Mazda 6 Sport comes powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder producing 140kW/252Nm, while the GT SP picks up a turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol producing 170kW of power and 420Nm of torque, giving it some impressive driving abilities.

Better yet, the Mazda 6 feels sublime on the road thanks to its capable suspension and perfectly-weighted steering rack, while Mazda’s attention to detail for the interior design is clearly on show with one of the best-looking cabins you’ll find at this price point. 

Toyota Corolla Cross

Toyota’s recent addition to its compact SUV lineup has been a significant one, with the Corolla Cross making the buying decision much more difficult for those tossing up their options.

The Corolla Cross range gives buyers the choice of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder and the company’s clever hybrid engine, with all three variants from the entry-level GX through to the GXL and range-topping Atmos priced under $50,000.

The higher-spec members of the Corolla Cross lineup pick up premium touches like heated leather seats, a powered boot lift, a panoramic sunroof, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a surround-view camera, and a 10.5-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.

Nissan X-Trail

Nissan’s all-new X-Trail has been quick to make an impression on the midsize SUV segment, with the much-needed update making the X-Trail one of the best SUV packages under $50,000 here in Australia.

The updated platform offers some serious improvements to interior space, comfort and practicality, while the updated engine lineup now features a hybrid range-topper for fuel-conscious buyers.

The entry-level X-Trail comes powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder producing 135kW of power and 244Nm of torque, with the option of a front-wheel and all-wheel-drive platform for those heading off-road, with fuel economy figures dropping from 7.4L/100km to 6.1L/100km in the X-Trail e-Power hybrid.

Isuzu MU-X

The Isuzu MU-X  is a great option for buyers looking for a tough and capable off-road package that retains all the important family-friendly touches of a practical SUV package.

It comes powered by the same 3.0-litre turbo-diesel you’ll find powering the D-Max ute, which kicks up 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque and accommodates braked towing capacities up to 3500kg for those looking to hit the road with a trailer in tow.

Underneath, the MU-X picks up a 4x4 system and some tough hardware that gives it impressive off-road abilities and offers the driver some confidence when hitting loose surfaces on a long road trip.

Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 has, for quite some time now, been the yardstick to which other entrants to the midsize SUV segment are measured, and there’s good reason for that - it’s an exceptionally well-performing family SUV.

In its latest form, Toyota offers all but the flagship Edge variant for under $50,000, which means buyers have the choice of four trim levels, depending on their needs, and the added bonus of Toyota’s clever, fuel-efficient hybrid engines throughout.

Inside, the RAV4’s cabin is a particularly family-friendly affair with a heap of space and practical touches that make it great for families popping into town or heading out on a long road trip.

Hyundai i30 Hatch & Sedan

The Hyundai i30 hatchback and sedan remain one of the most compelling value-for-money propositions on the Australian car market.

Buyers have the choice of nearly every i30 hatch and sedan variant for under $50k, including the fire-breathing i30N performance hatchback that produces a massive 206kW of power and 392Nm of torque and feels like a road-going rally car.

For those looking for a less shouty driving experience, the rest of the i30 range offers a more fuel-efficient 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, comfortable suspension hardware and a very generous features list that will leave few buyers feeling shortchanged.

Mitsubishi Outlander

The Mitsubishi Outlander has taken the SUV segment by storm, offering buyers one of the most competitively priced seven-seat SUV packages you can find in Australia.

For under $50,000, buyers can step into three Outlander variants, including the entry-level ES, LS and Aspire trim levels, all of which come powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol producing 135kW of power and 245Nm of torque, with all-wheel-drive variants also squeezing in under the price cutoff.

The Outlander’s cabin is sleek up front, with a generous amount of space for passengers in the rear of the cabin and the added versatility of a seven-seat layout that can accommodate small children in the third row. 

Kia Sorento

For those in need of a seven seat SUV for under $50,000, Kia has you covered with its latest generation Sorento which is a near perfect package for growing Australian families.

While just the entry-level Sorento S squeezes in under our price cut-off, Kia has done a great job with the design and packaging of its base model to make sure buyers don’t feel like they’re missing out.

As a result, the entry-level Sorento S comes fitted with LED headlights, 17-inch alloys, adaptive cruise control, a rear-view camera with parking sensors and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.

Skoda Octavia

The Skoda Octavia is a great option for those in the market for a European sedan or wagon package for a reasonable price, and benefits from more than a handful of parts taken from its parent company, Volkswagen.

For under $50,000, you can step into all but the range-topping Octavia RS, with two turbocharged four-cylinder engines available offering healthy power and torque figures that give it a hearty personality on the road.

Mazda MX-5

We’ll wrap up our list with where we started, an affordable sports car package.

Mazda’s MX-5 remains one of the top contenders in the segment, offering an incredibly pure driving nature that takes you back to the basics of what a two-seat sports coupe should feel like on the road.

While you’ll only find a 2.0-litre four-cylinder producing 135kW of power and 205Nm of torque, the MX-5’s lightweight construction, capable suspension and dynamic steering makes it one of the most engaging packages on the road and is a must-have for any performance enthusiasts on a budget.

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If our list of the top 15 best cars under $50,000 has sparked your imagination, reach out to one of our car-buying specialists who can help find your dream car at the best price


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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