Interested in an affordable used car? You've come to the right place. We've listed 10 of our favorite used cars that you can buy today for less than $10,000.
Rather than focusing on compact cars, we've included a few vehicles from every segment, from compacts to pickups. There's even a luxury car or two. And while we can't say with certainty that each of our choices will be reliable, we've made our picks with a reasonable ownership cost in mind.
2002-2006 Acura RSX
If you want a sporty car on a budget, the Acura RSX is the one for you. While it's technically a hatchback, the RSX really has the profile of a coupe -- and it drives like one, too. Think sharp handling and potent engines that include a 160-horsepower 4-cylinder or, in Type-S models, a 210-hp 4-cylinder. We recommend the zippy stick shift, both for performance and gas mileage. If you end up with an automatic, however, you'll still get most of the things that make the RSX a great car. Best of all, you'll easily get them for under $10,000.
1999-2007 Chevrolet Silverado
There are many pickups available on a $10,000 budget, but the Silverado is one of our favorites. It's handsome, capable and offers a version for just about everyone, from the bare-bones Work Truck (or WT) to the high-end LT trim. More important, the Silverado is exceptionally reliable -- and replacement parts are easy to come by. In our mind, the Silverado is the king of the hill when it comes to pickup trucks under $10,000.
2003-2011 Ford Crown Victoria
Looking for a full-size sedan on a $10,000 budget? It's hard to go wrong with a 2003-2011 Ford Crown Victoria. These body-on-frame full-sizers are huge, simple and easy to find. They're also relatively affordable, though you may find gas to be a different story, since they use a robust 4.6-liter V8. Still, it's hard to find a vehicle that's more comfortable, roomier, tougher and more reliable than a Crown Vic -- probably why they're favorites of police and taxi fleets.
2001-2007 Ford Escape
Few used SUVs are better all-around purchases than the 2001-2007 Ford Escape. Find one that's been well-maintained and hasn't been driven too many miles, and you'll get a sturdy, reliable SUV with a long list of standard equipment. Opt for the V6, which made up the bulk of Escape sales, and you'll get a powerful engine, too. If it's fuel economy you'd prefer, we also recommend the Escape Hybrid -- though you'll be stretching your $10,000 budget for that model. Still, just about any 2001-2007 Escape is a great choice, provided it's in good shape.
2001-2005 Honda Civic
The 2001-2005 Honda Civic is offered as a sedan, a coupe or, in sporty Si trim, a hatchback. These days, all three body styles are easy to find under $10,000, and they come with a long list of reasons to consider them. Think reliability, gas mileage, mechanical simplicity and a surprisingly long list of features, assuming you stay away from the base-level DX. EX models, for instance, have a sunroof, anti-lock brakes and alloy wheels. Our only word of caution: Remember that the Civic has a timing belt, and many are nearing the age when it must be changed. Doing so can be costly, so factor that into your purchase price.
2003-2006 Infiniti G35
If it's luxury you're after, the G35 is the car. An obvious reason is that it has all the luxury you'd expect. Sure, it carries the cachet of the Infiniti name. But most models also offer leather seats, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, keyless starting and other high-end goodies. Some also include a navigation system. And nearly all are reliable, provided you find one in good condition. Most important, it shouldn't be hard to find a G35 on a $10,000 budget.
2007-2012 Nissan Versa
The Nissan Versa doesn't stand out for exceptional equipment or driving dynamics, but it's an inexpensive, popular car that's newer than nearly anything else on this list. It's also reliable and, more importantly, practical, thanks to an efficient 4-cylinder engine and an available hatchback body style. Our advice: Don't expect much more from the Versa than a solid car that gets you from point A to point B. But if that's all you're after, the Versa is a great choice.
2003-2008 Toyota Corolla
The 2003-2008 Toyota Corolla was offered only as a 4-door sedan. That's fine, since a sedan is exactly what most compact-car shoppers are looking for. Shoppers are also looking for reliability, a miserly engine and lots of equipment -- and the Corolla can boast all three. Power comes from a 126-hp 1.8-liter 4-cyinder that returned up to 35 miles per gallon on the highway, even with the optional automatic. As for equipment, you'll get air conditioning and a CD player on all Corolla models, even the base-level CE. And you can easily find most 2003-2008 Corolla models for under $10,000 today.
2001-2005 Toyota RAV4
The 2001-2005 Toyota RAV4 offered many things 10 years ago that SUV shoppers have a hard time finding today. Think compact size, a carlike driving experience and, most importantly, excellent fuel economy. Indeed, the RAV4 returned 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy, whether you opted for the manual or the automatic. And the RAV4 was hardly a slouch off the line thanks to 161 hp and a reasonable curb weight. We recommend it highly to anyone with a budget of around $10,000 or less.
2004-2006 Toyota Sienna
Looking for a minivan? It's hard to go wrong with any version of the Toyota Sienna, provided you find one that's been maintained well and not driven too hard. We prefer the 2004-2006 model due to its powerful V6 and roomy interior, but the slightly smaller 1998-2003 model is also a strong contender. Shop around with a $10,000 budget and you'll easily find one that can provide years of family transportation without breaking the bank.
What it means to you: Our list of 10 good used cars, each for less than $10,000, proves you don't have to spend a fortune to buy an affordable used car -- even if you're looking for a truck, a van or an SUV.
by Doug DeMuro