Best Used Cars Under $5,000 For 2021

Best Used Cars Under $5,000 For 2021

The last time a modern car sold for under $ 5,000 it was 1990, and the vehicle was the ill-famed Yugo. In 2021, five thousand won ’ thyroxine buy much of anything newer than 8 years old. Though older, out-of-warranty cars are inherently riskier purchases, careful research can silent turn up dependable, value-packed and tied fun-to-drive rides listed for under $ 5,000 .
Using a combination of owner feedback, dependability ratings, average transaction prices and expertness from Forbes Wheels staff, we compiled a list of 20 beneficial candidates for shoppers on a budget. To meet our criteria, we looked for cars newer than the 1996 model year which were besides normally available for under $ 5,000. We prioritized models with good dependability scores and low costs of possession .
With older vehicles, buying from a individual party can sometimes yield more prize than shopping at a franchise. It ’ south still possible to get good cars for under $ 5,000 at dealerships, but the private grocery store tends to have lower asking prices and some sellers have detailed care records to show off .
As even the most historically dependable cars suffer over meter if they aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate maintained, we besides recommend a mechanical inspection before buy. theoretically, that ’ s easier than always as there are now mobile automobile mechanic services, booked via smartphone, that can come to the vehicle directly .

1. 2007-2012 Honda Fit

2009 Honda Fit, Best Cars Under $5,000Alex Kwanten
Used Honda Fit Deals Why We Picked It: The Fit may be little but it ’ sulfur big on prize. It has an excellent dependability phonograph record and returns up to 31 mpg combined. Though it sports a compact footprint, the Fit ’ s minivan-like inside makes excellent use of space. Its noisy and buzzy on the highway but a fun cable car to drive, with reactive wield and a volition engine. First-generation models ( 2007 and 2008 ) are a little cheaper than later ones but slightly less dependable .

  • Reliable and cheap to run
  • Fun to drive
  • Space and fuel efficient


  • Noisy and small
  • Firm ride, small tires can wear quickly
  • Lack of interior amenities

2. 2000-2008 Toyota Avalon

2006 Toyota AvalonAFP Via Getty Images
Used Toyota Avalon Deals Why We Picked It: The Avalon, Toyota ’ sulfur largest and most cautious car, was built for comfortable and repose motoring and it shines on long road trips. It ’ randomness besides a consistent dependability chomp : all generations of the Avalon earn high marks for lastingness and owner satisfaction. While not inevitably exciting to drive or look at, being one step below a Lexus means courteous features and home materials. These years cover two generations of Avalon, though all are good choices .

  • Dependable and safe
  • Good mpg for a large car
  • Comfortable, refined and quiet


  • Can be expensive to repair
  • Newer ones barely make it under $5,000
  • Not exciting to drive or look at

3. 2004-2006 Scion xB

 2003 Scion XB Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Used Scion xB Deals Why We Picked It: The funky mini -truck xB, designed more for Tokyo than Tampa, was like no other cable car or crossing when it was new and it ’ s still distinctive today. The first-generation xB is smaller than the late 2008-2015 model, but tends to get better reviews and dependability ratings from owners. It ’ s calm got batch of space inside, gets good accelerator mileage and is comfortable to park. The xB international relations and security network ’ thymine fast and it ’ s noisy on the highway, but it is agile and fun to drive .

  • Still stylish 17 years later
  • Reliable and cheap to own
  • Fun to drive


  • Hard to find low-mileage units
  • Noisy and vulnerable to cross-winds on the highway
  • Slow with an automatic transmission

4. 1998-2011 Lincoln Town Car

2008 Lincoln Town CarCQ Roll Call Inc via Getty Images
Used Lincoln Town Car Deals Why We Picked It: Underneath the Town Car ’ s swank outside lurk the lapp rock-tough mechanical pieces as a Ford Crown Victoria police car. The Lincoln has a good repute for lastingness and longevity as a result. The inner is a comfortable, cossetting place to be with lots of amenities and room for up to six in a pinch. The downside is that the V8-powered, rear-wheel drive Town Car is truly huge at 215 inches long and 4,300 pounds, so flatulence mileage and maneuverability aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate capital .

  • Very durable
  • Lots of room and luxury
  • Powerful and quiet


  • 15 mpg around town
  • Huge size
  • Some have seen taxi use and are best avoided

5. 1997-2006 Lexus ES

1999 Lexus ES300 Best Cars Under $5,000Lexus
Used Lexus ES Deals Why We Picked It: Lexus ’ upmarket baby to the Toyota Camry, all versions of the ES rate very highly as exploited vehicles, with excellent dependability records and a murder of JD Power awards. As you ’ vitamin d expect from a luxury fomite both generations of ES covered by these years have knock-down V6 engines, comfortable interiors and are tranquillity, refine drivers. low mileage models might be hard to find for $ 5,000, but these ES years are at the bottomland of their depreciation curvature .

  • Reliability beyond reproach
  • Luxurious and quiet
  • Good safety ratings


  • Low-mileage cars hard to find
  • Some features can be expensive to fix, and it’s important to make sure the timing belt services have been done
  • Anonymous styling

6. 2004-2006 Scion xA

2003 Scion xAGetty
Used Scion xA Deals Why We Picked It: The conventional-looking one-half of Toyota ’ s original Scion batting order, the xA is powered by the like 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and uses many of the lapp mechanical pieces as its boxlike xB sister. The xA ’ s better aerodynamics mean it ’ second quiet than the xB and gets 30 mpg combined, but it ’ s a little less roommate inside. It gets similarly radiance reviews from owners and scores well for dependability, though its unconventional interior plan is not to everyone ’ s taste .

  • Excellent reliability ratings
  • Cheap to buy and own
  • Good equipment levels for a cheap car


  • Weird dashboard layout
  • Small interior
  • Limited cargo space with rear passengers

7. 2002-2006 Toyota Camry

2002 Toyota CamryToyota
Used Toyota Camry Deals Why We Picked It: The Camry ’ s fabled dependability and easy-to-live-with nature made it the best-selling cable car in America for many years. While it ’ mho hard to go besides far ill-timed with most Camrys, the fifth-generation model of these years seems to have the strongest dependability ratings and the most golden owner reviews in the under $ 5,000 range. available with four-cylinder or V6 power, the Camry is virtual and repose in every respect. It returns 21 to 24 mpg combined and ownership costs are low .

  • Famously reliable
  • Popular and easy to find in different trims
  • Low maintenance


  • Not exciting
  • Neglected maintenance can be an issue
  • Base engine not very powerful

9. 2004-2008 Acura TSX

2004 Acura TSX Best Cars Under $5,000Toronto Star Via Getty Images
Used Acura TSX Deals Why We Picked It: It may require a short searching for a clean, low-mileage car, but the first-generation TSX is one of the most fun day by day drivers you can buy for under $ 5,000. It ’ s a big machine with engaging handling, a high-revving 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with up to 205 horsepower and an available manual transmission. It has a repute for dependability but it ’ s a little small on the inside and fuel mileage, up to 23 mpg combined, is only indifferent .

  • Good looking inside and out
  • Fun to drive
  • Reliable in the long term with proper maintenance


  • Smallish rear seat
  • Maintenance over time can be expensive
  • Low-mileage ones hard to find

10. 1996-2011 Mercury Grand Marquis

2005 Mercury Grand MarquisFord Motor Co.
Used Mercury Grand Marquis Deals Why We Picked It: mechanically related to the Lincoln Town Car, the Grand Marquis is similarly durable, good as big and only slightly less plush. The “ GrandMa ” was popular with retirees when it was newfangled, and that means many are well keep. The Mercury rates high for comfort, dependability and low maintenance costs but fuel economy is poor. The Grand Marquis handles better than you ’ d expect, but the rear-wheel drive V8 configuration international relations and security network ’ t great for white climes .

  • Very comfortable and quiet
  • Reliable and tough
  • V8 power


  • Poor fuel economy
  • Impractical size
  • Old car feel

11. 2006-2011 Hyundai Azera

2008 Hyundai Azera Best Cars Under $5,000Hyundai
Used Hyundai Azeras Deals Why We Picked It: Hyundai ’ s answer to the Toyota Avalon, the Azera is similar in many ways. It ’ s a roommate but cautious sedan with lots of features, including standard navigation on higher trimming. The Azera has two available V6s with up to 263 horsepower but like the Avalon it ’ s more about eloquence than fun. Though it falls short of the Toyota overall, the Azera has high dependability ratings and owners by and large consider it a very good long-run value .

  • Refined and roomy
  • Lots of standard features
  • Low cost of ownership


  • Bland design
  • Firm ride but vague handling
  • Mediocre fuel economy

12. 2003-2007 Toyota Corolla

2005 Toyota Corolla XRSToyota
Used Toyota Corolla Deals Why We Picked It: The default bum wheels choice for decades, Corollas have an enviable repute for dependability and simplicity, but among the years and price range in our sampling the ninth-generation model, built from mid-2002 to late 2007, ranks highest. These Corollas are brassy to buy and run if not interesting to drive or look at. The base engine in these years was a 130-horsepower four-cylinder, but in 2005 and 2006 a rare 170-horsepower XRS translation was offered, which is more fun to drive .

  • Reliable
  • Easy to drive and live with
  • Low maintenance and purchase costs


  • Because of its rep for reliability, some cars have been neglected
  • More appliance than car
  • More interesting XRS is hard to find

13. 2003-2008 Pontiac Vibe

2003 Pontiac VibeToronto Star Via Getty Images
Used Pontiac Vibe Deals Why We Picked It: Pontiac may not have survived the great recession, but owners of the first-generation Vibe like their cars. The first-generation Vibe systematically earns higher marks for dependability and prize than its baby, the Toyota Matrix and the newer 2009-2010 Vibe. The Vibe international relations and security network ’ t quite ampere sporty as it looks, but it does offer two four-cylinder engines of up to 180 horsepower and available all-wheel drive. The hatchback body is comfortable, offers good cargo space and the Vibe returns 25 to 29 mpg combined. The relate Toyota Matrix of these years is besides a good choice but not quite as highly rated.


  • Cheap to buy and run
  • Good looking
  • Practical hatchback body


  • Hard seats
  • Not as sporty as it looks
  • Weak performance with base engine

14. 2007-2011 Toyota Yaris

2006 Toyota YarisGetty
Used Toyota Yaris Deals Why We Picked It: The Yaris replaced the awkward looking Toyota Echo in 2007, bringing cunning style and slightly better fuel economy with it. The bantam Toyota ’ mho dependability scores are acme notch and engage costs are depleted. available as a hatchback or a sedan, the Yaris looks dainty but doesn ’ triiodothyronine use its interior distance closely angstrom well as the Honda Fit. It feels small, and it isn ’ t much fun to drive. A decent Yaris debuted in 2012, but it ’ second hard to find those cars for under $ 5,000 .


  • Very cheap
  • Good fuel economy
  • Low maintenance costs


  • Tiny size means space is limited
  • Not much fun to drive
  • Early models lacked standard anti-lock brakes

15. 2006-2011 Honda Civic

2007 Honda Civic Coupe Best Car Under $5,000Alex Kwanten
Used Honda Civic Deals Why We Picked It: The futuristic-looking eighth-generation Civic came in two body styles, a sleek coupe and a cuneate sedan. It besides came with several powertrain choices. The most concern are the sporty 197-horsepower Si and the 42-mpg Hybrid, but the regular Civics were worthy angstrom well. All Civics of this genesis are reliable and don ’ metric ton monetary value excessively much to maintain, though the Hybrid ’ s battery pack is retentive out of guarantee and can be identical expensive to replace .

  • Good looking inside and out
  • Reliable and efficient
  • Sporty models and hybrids available


  • Small back seat, especially in coupe
  • Odd dashboard layout
  • Hybrid longevity an unknown

16. 2010-2011 Volkswagen Golf

2010 Volkswagen GolfVolkswagen
Used Volkswagen Golf Deals Why We Picked It: The sixth-generation Golf brought newly levels of refinement and fun to the familiar hatchback, and it performed well with its gas-powered 2.5-liter five-cylinder and economical 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engines. The latter was late at the heart of the diesel emissions scandal, but Volkswagen finally rolled out an emissions fix for them with only a little loss of performance. These Golfs remain fine-looking, efficient and authentic, but 2012 and newer models broadly can ’ triiodothyronine be found under $ 5,000 .

  • Practical and efficient
  • Engaging and fun to drive
  • Nice, if spartan, interior


  • Dieselgate stigma
  • Hard to find
  • Base models lack features

17. 2008-2012 Scion xD

2008 Scion xD Best Cars Under $5,000Alex Kwanten
Used Scion xD Deals Why We Picked It: Successor to the earlier Scion xA, the more erect looking xD continued the lapp formula. This model earns slightly lower dependability ratings than the xA but it besides has a more conventional and coherent splashboard layout some drivers will prefer. Based on the Yaris and powered by a 128-horsepower four-cylinder engine, performance international relations and security network ’ t very engage but the xD has a nice home and generally a higher level of features for what nowadays is a similar price used .

  • Tall, crossover-like styling still looks contemporary
  • Nice interior and features
  • High quality, low cost


  • Lackluster performance
  • Fuel economy only so-so for a small car
  • Small cargo area with rear seats up

18. 2010-2012 Mazda3

2010 Mazda3Alex Kwanten
Used Mazda 3 Deals Why We Picked It: The new-for-2010 Mazda3 improved dependability and corrode auspices over the previous model and added a little room, besides. Though the style, with its big smile front conclusion, international relations and security network ’ thyroxine to everyone ’ s taste the overall box is a good one. Powered by 144 or 165-horsepower four-cylinder engines, the second-generation 3 is a fun cable car to drive but silent gets decent fuel mileage. The circus tent trims, and the hot MazdaSpeed3, are out of this price range but pre-2013 lower-end models are a becoming bribe .

  • Sporty handling, involving driving experience
  • Practical available hatchback
  • Nicely designed interior


  • The nicest ones cost more than $5,000
  • Fewer features on base models
  • Grinning front end

19. 2011-2012 Mazda2

2011 Mazda2Alex Kwanten
Used Mazda 2 Deals Why We Picked It: The bantam Mazda2 was the car manufacturer ’ s answer to the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa, and philosophically it ’ randomness closer to the former, a playfulness to drive but minimalist little cable car. Power comes from a 100-horsepower 1.5-liter engine, but that ’ s more than adequate to have playfulness in the featherweight Mazda and still get up to 31 mpg combined. Related to the Ford Fiesta, the 2 rates far better than that car on dependability and owner satisfaction. The 2 ’ s weakness is cargo space, which it has very fiddling of .

  • Cute and fun
  • Low costs of ownership and operation
  • Comfy interior


  • 2013-2014 2s cost over $5,000
  • Lack of cargo space
  • Few tech features

20. 2004-2008 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe

2004 Chrysler CrossfireGetty
Used Chrysler Crossfire Deals Why We Picked It: This unusual-looking sports car decidedly international relations and security network ’ thyroxine like the other cars on this list, but available data suggests owners like it, that it ’ s a dependable car and, surprisingly, that you can buy decent ones for $ 5,000. A product of the long-ago DaimlerChrysler union, the Crossfire borrowed its V6 engine and platform from the 1990s Mercedes -Benz SLK and was built in Germany. It ’ s an excellent performer, though its looks are an learn taste and sustenance costs can be high .

  • Excellent performance
  • Distinctive styling
  • Looks and feels like an expensive car


  • A two-seater, it lacks much cargo space
  • Distinctive styling
  • Potentially high maintenance costs and expensive tires


To determine our list of the best vehicles under $ 5,000, we cross-referenced a wide range of dependability and quality scores, evaluations by fomite testers, thousands of long-run reports and reviews from owners and factored in our own long-run experiences with these vehicles as new and use cars .
In accession to these criteria, the vehicle had to have average transaction prices under or near $ 5,000, be manufactured after 1996 and be broadly available in five major geographic markets. We sampled hundreds of use car listings from Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Phoenix and Seattle .
Older models, with fewer data points, required more evaluation or were by and large left off for lack of available data. For model, the 2005-2007 Saab 9-2x may make a great use car but there international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate enough data to properly gauge its dependability due to its moo sales numbers when new and it ’ s excessively hard to find for most buyers .
Some of the vehicles on our list come from defunct brands. In all cases, the vehicles ’ manufacturers still exist and there ’ s broadly adequate parts and service support. Defunct brands much lose prize, which can make them a good buy later on, but it can besides depend on the model and the manufacturer. The Pontiac Vibe, a badge-engineered sister to the Toyota Matrix, enjoy good service support. The Saturn Astra, another GM car from the lapp era based on a european Opel design, does not .
We focused specifically on providing maximum respect and dependability for the price, prioritizing models which are known for lastingness and low price of operation, but besides tried heavily to provide a diverseness of models to suit different tastes. We besides left off some models due to higher-than-average recall incidents .
Although we can by and large provide steering on which models may be the best value or the most reliable, we can not make any guarantees about how individual cars will perform. We did the research, but we hush recommend you investigate your choices further before purchase and, as indicated above, pre-purchase inspections are recommended .


Q: Is it worth buying a 10-year-old car?
It can be, yes. Vehicles over 10 years erstwhile are at or near the bottom of their depreciation swerve, the fourth dimension when a car is excessively old to be considered newfangled but excessively young to be a “ classic. ” It ’ s in this area where some of the best values can be found, but you have to be uncoerced to shop around, audit cautiously and live without some modern features. These cars can besides provide hassle-free exile for a retentive time to come provided they have been maintained and buyers continue to invest in alimony. That may cost some money over clock time, but $ 5,000 is inactive less than one-third the price of buying even the cheapest brand-new 2021 cable car and even most late-model certify pre-owned cars .
Q: Does mileage matter on used cars? What’s more important, age or mileage?
Both mileage and senesce count, but how a vehicle has been maintained matters more .
The older a vehicle is, the more its component parts may age and the more difficult it can be to get excess parts for, though mainstream stigmatize cars shouldn ’ t have excessively many difficulties. The higher mileage a vehicle has, the more mechanical wear it has, which might mean replacing parts sooner or a series of expenses as components wear out .
In the 1990s, it was normally thought that most cars were worn out after 100,000 miles or 10 years, but better quality standards have boosted the longevity of vehicles. The the average car in the United States is now closely 12 years erstwhile and amply one-quarter of cars are over 16 years old, It ’ sulfur coarse to see quality used cars with over 100,000 miles immediately, but typically below 150,000. One vehicle on our list, the 2003-2008 Pontiac Vibe, has an odometer defect that stops recording miles at 299,999. But that defect is well-known because owners have reached 300,000 miles to see it .
proper sustenance and careful use are more significant than mileage or age. The average vehicle is driven 12,000 miles a year throughout its life, but many vehicles see much lighter demand than that. A low-mileage car that hasn ’ thymine been maintained properly or has sat idle for a long time might pose more problems than a higher-mileage fomite that has been painstakingly maintained. Where possible, ask previous owners for care records and seek a pre-purchase mechanical inspection .
Q: Should I get a mechanic to inspect a used car?

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Yes. Ideally you may already have a relationship with a automobile mechanic you know, but if not there are many services available that do pre-purchase inspections. ideally, this inspection should contain a test drive over different types of roads with bumps or broken pavement and a run at highway speeds to test the vehicle in all conditions. Adding a mechanical inspection might be socially awkward if the seller is reluctant and will probable cost you $ 150-200, but it ’ randomness money well spend. Note that even the best mechanics might not be able to encounter every possible topic, but they can help you spot obvious signs of fail .
Q: What’s the best place to buy a used car under $5,000?
The best option is buying from a private party, and such listings are most often found in places like Craigslist, OfferUp, or Facebook Marketplace. individual people don ’ t have to worry about the real estate of the realm costs of a car lot or pay detailers to make their armory glistening, so those expenses are not factored into the ask price. They besides tend to have maintenance records and at least some history on the vehicle, which most used-car retailers will not. many use cars are bought at sweeping auctions and there ’ s short information included with them. You can besides find adept deals at government or impound auctions, but these sources are equally opaque when it comes to the underlie discipline of the vehicle and you can ’ t inspect the trade before purchase .

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