8 of the Best Cars Under $10,000

Family in their car with the windows rolled down

If you are shopping for a car and need to spend less than $10,000, new cars are not an option for you. Currently, the least expensive new car on the market is the Nissan Versa, which starts at about $12,000. This does not mean, however, that you cannot find yourself behind the wheel of a great car. When you buy a used car, you can often find a very well equipped vehicle at an extremely affordable price.

We have compiled a list of eight of the best used cars you might be able to find for under $10,000, according to industry experts. Of course, used car prices can vary based on the number of miles on the vehicle, the condition of its body, where you purchase the car and a number of other factors. There are hundreds of different used cars available for under $10,000, so there should be several other great cars that may have not made our list. Know of any? Share them in our comments.

How We Compiled Our List

The number of reliable and high-performing used cars you can buy for under $10,000 is high, and the list of the best will vary from one industry expert to the next. We looked at the cars that appeared most frequently on the different lists and then reviewed actual customer ratings of the vehicles to come up with a final list of what we feel are the top 8 used cars you can get for less than 10 grand.

The 8 Most Frequently Recommended Used Cars Under $10,000
  • 2008 Toyota Corolla: What the Corolla lacks in personality, it makes up for with reliability. It is the recipient of the Polk Award for Best Resale Value. Polk estimates that 20 percent of all Corollas sold in the last 20 years are still on the road today, which is remarkable. AutoTrader writes that used car shoppers are “looking for reliability, a miserly engine and lots of equipment," and the Corolla can boast all three:
    • Customer rating at Edmunds: 4.4 out of 5 stars, with 80 reviews
    • Customer rating at Kelley Blue Book: 9.1 out of 10, with 1,225 reviews
  • 2005 Honda Civic: This is the most frequently recommended car by industry experts and appears on the Top-10 lists offered by many industry experts. Kelley Blue Book describes it as a “bulletproof used car” because of its overall build quality and reliability. This fuel-efficient sedan offers enough passenger space to comfortably seat four adults, and many owners find it fun to drive:
    • Customer rating at Edmunds: 4.6 stars out of 5, with 389 reviews
    • Customer rating at Kelley Blue Book: 8.8 out of 10, with 1,658 reviews
  • 2007 Chevy Silverado: This hardworking pickup truck features a V6 engine and seating for four. Replacement parts for this vehicle are inexpensive and easy to come by, and the vehicle has a proven record of reliability. According to AutoTrader, “the Silverado is the king of the hill when it comes to pickup trucks under $10,000”:
    • Customer rating at Edmunds: 4.5 stars out of 5, with 159 reviews
    • Customer rating at Kelley Blue Book: 8.7 out of 10, with 1,124 reviews
  • 2004 Toyota Sienna: Minivans are a more fuel-efficient alternative to SUVs when you need a lot of passenger space. This 7-passenger minivan with eight different seating configurations has what Edmunds calls “all the right stuff to take on the toughest minivan competitors.” And Stephen Edelstein at DigitalTrends says that its “cockroach-like staying power” will keep it on the road for years to come:
    • Customer rating at Edmunds: 4.7 stars out of 5, with 728 reviews
    • Customer rating at Kelley Blue Book: 8.9 out of 10, with 577 reviews
  • 2009 Pontiac Vibe: This car rated very well with Consumer Reports, U.S. News and World Report and with Greg Macke, a professional car buyer and consumer advocate at Your Car Angel. Macke writes, “The Pontiac Vibe is the identical twin of the 2009 Toyota Matrix… same engine, same powertrain, same Toyota quality.” Because this car has the Pontiac name on it, it comes at a much lower price than the high quality Matrix, which makes the Vibe very affordable:
    • Customer rating at Edmunds: 4.7 out of 5 stars, with 135 reviews
    • Customer rating at Kelley Blue Book: 9.0 out of 10, with 100 reviews
  • 2005 Mazda Mazda3: Although the rear seats may be a bit lacking in legroom and some find the ride a bit too stiff, most owners of the Mazda3 find this car fun to drive. The car also offers a lot of power and relatively good fuel mileage. Kelley Blue Book writes that it has “hoot-to-drive handling and one of the most stylish small-car interiors available”:
    • Customer rating at Edmunds: 4.7 out of 5 stars, with 303 reviews
    • Customer rating at Kelley Blue Book: 9.1 out of 10, with 1,161 reviews
  • 2003 Infiniti G35: This affordable luxury car will nearly always be fully equipped. Expect to find leather seats, alloy wheels and other high-end upgrades. A well-maintained G35 that is in good shape should prove to be very reliable. Edmunds calls the Infiniti G35 a “very capable sedan and coupe that offer a high level of both sport and luxury”:
    • Customer rating at Edmunds: 4.7 out of 5 stars, with 853 reviews
    • Customer rating at Kelley Blue Book: 9.2 out of 10, with 815 reviews
  • 2004 Toyota RAV4: Edmunds likes the RAV4 because it steers and handles like a car, has a well thought-out cabin design and is of great overall quality. AutoTrader also highly praises this SUV for its compact design, excellent gas mileage and powerful, smooth-running engine. Customers who own the RAV4 tend to agree, giving it overwhelmingly high ratings in just about every category:
    • Customer rating at Edmunds: 4.8 out of 5, with 161 reviews
    • Customer rating at Kelley Blue Book: 9.2 out of 10, with 343 reviews
What Do You Think?

Have you bought a car for under $10,000 and think it should be on our list? Do you disagree with something we've picked out? We use industry experts and common authorities because we think they know best.

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