Is it possible to get a good deal on a used car for less than $10,000? Indeed it is, but you have to do your homework and pick a reputable dealer for starters.
Consumer Reports offers those looking for such a deal some helpful information, along with their list of the best used cards for under $10,000. Honda dominates the list with four vehicles, including two Acuras.
CR says to follow come common-sense rules. The first and foremost is to find a track record of good reliability for the vehicle under consideration. That includes reading as much research as you can on the model and its performance for the model year you’re considering. Then take advantage of any available maintenance and accident histories, including Carfax and Autocheck. Most reputable dealers will make these histories available to potential customers for free on their websites.
CR also recommends that you choose a vehicle with electronic stability control (ESC) — “a system that has proven to save as many lives as seat belts.” Curtain airbags, which provide head protection in side crashes, is also a key safety feature, but not available in older models.
Buy as new a vehicle as you can afford, CR also suggests. That’s because a newer car likely has more safety features and fewer miles on it.
Make sure to buy from a reputable seller. New car dealerships are usually the best place to find a good selection of “gently used vehicles,” CR writes. But you can also find good deals at established used car lots and private sellers.
The cars and SUVs below are those that CR recommends to friends and family. They performed well in CR tests and have consistently had above-average reliability for the model years shown. See CR’s full report here. See an abbreviated version of the list at bottom, or the Consumer Reports video below.
“The excellent Mazda3 is one of our favorite small cars to drive. It has precise, responsive handling and a firm, comfortable ride.”
Pontiac Vibe (2005-08)
‘Available all-wheel drive and a large, flat load floor in back make it a good substitute for a small SUV.”
Acura TL (2005)
“Taut, agile handling combined with a comfortable, quiet ride and impressive interior quality give the TL a nearly ideal blend of sportiness and luxury.”
Acura TSX (2005)
“The TSX’s agile handling and smooth revving yet thrifty four-cylinder engine give it sporty flair. Handling is frisky, but the tradeoff is a stiff ride—our major beef with the car.”
Toyota Avalon (2005)
“The punchy, powerful V6 easily gets this big car moving, and its limo-like rear seat is generous enough for three adults.”
Hyundai Sonata (4-cyl., 2006-08)
“It has very good fit and finish, a roomy backseat, and a thrifty four-cylinder. (An optional V6 has more power, but may not fit under our $10,000 price ceiling.)”
Kia Optima (4-cyl., 2007-08)
“It rides very comfortably, provides a roomy back seat, and has an efficient four-cylinder that performs smartly.”
Honda CR-V (2005)
“The CR-V is one of the best-driving small SUVs of its day, with a four-cylinder engine that’s smoother and more powerful some contemporary V6s.”
Mitsubishi Outlander (2007)
“With either an economical four-cylinder or a punchy V6, the Outlander is an affordable, no-compromises alternative to more popular small SUVs.”
Honda Pilot (2005)
“The Pilot delivers spirited performance yet respectable fuel economy; a comfortable ride; secure, responsive handling; and seating for eight.”