As I’ve been looking at cars over the last few years I realized that some of the lists of best used cars under $10,000 sucked. A slideshow of pictures? Cars nobody wants? No thanks. That’s why I set out to create my own list of the six best used cars under $10,000. To be included in this list a car has to be 2002 model year or newer. Any car that is older than 2002 model year and still costs $10k is going to be expensive to maintain. The car must have an Edmunds True Market Value or KBB value below $10,000. I also made sure that I could find the car with reasonable mileage at a price below $10,000. This helps to insure that you could actually find the car in a desirable condition for that price. I then assessed each car based on safety, fuel efficiency, features, aesthetics, reliability, and “fun-factor”. I obtained the safety, fuel efficiency, and reliability data from ConsumerReports and Edmunds. The aesthetics and fun-factor are both subjective assessments that I made myself. I then crunch the data through some Excel formulas and out comes my list of the Best Used Cars Under $10,000. This list is in no particular order, and should only serve as a starting point in your search for a good car under $10k. You’ll need to evaluate your own needs and determine what you require in a car.
2012 Infiniti G37 Sedan
MPG: 19 city / 27 hwy
CR: Very Good
Infiniti has carved out its place among the luxury automakers as being more sporty than Lexus and more reliable than BMW or Mercedes. The G37 sedan is the result of Infiniti’s balance between sportiness and reliability. Edmunds says that the Infiniti G37 sedan is “fast, affordable and stylish” and Consumer Reports gives it a reliability rating of “very good”. So for under $10k, you can get yourself a reliable sporty-luxury sedan with a moonroof and heated leather seats. The example car I found was listed at $9,995 with 97k miles on it.
2013 Honda Accord
MPG: 27 city / 36 hwy
CR: Very Good
You could get a newer model base Accord for the same money, but I’d spring for the loaded accord with leather seats. The Honda Accord consistently ranks at the top of Consumer Reports reliability ratings and you’re really setting yourself up well financially with this pick. While not quite as sporty as the Mazda 6, it does everything well and is much more enjoyable than the Toyota Camry. If you need a reliable, sporty midsize sedan, the 2013 Honda Accord definitely deserves to be on your list. The example car I found pictured above was completely loaded and had 83k miles on it for $9,900.
2015 Mazda 3 iSport Sedan
MPG: 29 city / 39 hwy
CR: Very Good
An economic compact car with good handling? Check. The Mazda 3 sedan looks great compared to its competitors and has proven to be quite reliable. Although its fuel economy won’t win any awards, it will definitely suffice. Consumer Reports gives it a “very good” rating. Edmunds describes it well when it refers to the Mazda 3 sedan as “entertaining yet sophisticated.” The 2015 Mazda I found was pretty loaded and came out to $9,750 with 68k miles.
2012 Hyundai Genesis
MPG: 16 city / 25 hwy
CR: Very Good
You’d be hard pressed to find a better luxury car under $10,000. I test drove the Hyundai Genesis and came very close to pulling the trigger on it myself. This Hyundai Genesis is from the time before Hyundai split out its luxury brand so you know it was good enough to be able to launch its future luxury brand off of. This car originally had an MSRP approaching $50k with its options and has proven reliable over time. The one pictured had 94k miles and was listed for $9,800.
2015 Mazda CX-5 SUV
MPG: 26 city / 35 hwy
Some families simply need the space and a sedan just won’t cut it. Or maybe you like the in-command driving position that an SUV provides. Whatever it is that you like about an SUV, the Mazda CX-5 most likely offers it. Not only does the Mazda CX-5 offer great versaility, but it’s quite sport for a crossover SUV. This is actually the vehicle that my wife drives. The 2004 Toyota Highland has Consumer Reports’ “Excellent” rating. To get a 2015 Mazda CX-5 under $10k I had to jump up to 112,000 miles but based on the reliability of Mazda I think it’s worth it.
2012 Ford F-150XLT SuperCrew
MPG: 17 city / 23 hwy
You know if you need a truck. If you “want” a truck, then I’d recommend not getting one until your finances are in line. The fuel economy of trucks is completely horrendous. However, if you need a truck, then the Ford F-150 SuperCrew should be at the top of your list. This truck can fit five people (or four burly men) and has the hauling capacity needed for most tasks. There’s a reason it’s been the best selling vehicle in America for decades. Edmunds says the F-150 is the “class leader when it comes to ride, handling and hauling capability.” The car I found had 113k miles and was listed for $9,700.
That concludes my 2020 version of the best used cars under $10,000. I’ve done my best assessing the information available online as well as my own personal experience to create a good list to start from when searching for the best used car under $10k. Now seems to be a good time to buy a used car by historical standards due to the increase in new car sales a few years ago so there are some great deals to be had. Take a look at my previous post about predicting used car prices based on new car sales trends. If you decide to purchase a used car, you’ll likely sell your existing car. As you probably know, selling your car privately (on Craigslist or AutoTrader) results in a better deal for you and the buyer. You will receive more money than a dealer will give you, yet the buyer will pay less than a dealer will charge. If you decide to sell your car privately, I think you’ll find my post on selling a car on Craigslist useful. And if you want to ensure that you get top dollar for your vehicle, check out my step-by-step guide to formatting your Craigslist car ad. A well-formatted ad with detailed information and good pictures will save you a lot of time and ensure that you get top dollar for your car. If you’re interested in something a little less than $10k, I reccomend checking out my list of the best used cars under $8,000.
If you have any suggestions for my list that you’d like to see in the 2021 version or maybe cars that you recommend that I check out please post in the comment section. I read every comment on this site and would love to hear your feedback.
[This post was last update July 2020]