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If You’re Getting A Used Car, These All Cost Less Than $5,000

This should get the wheels in your head turning: You can snag a car that’s in good shape, has nice styling, and has a comprehensive maintenance history for less than $5,000. Of course, with this type of car you can assume you’ll need to do additional maintenance at some point in time, but you’d be looking at that type of situation if a new car is out of warranty as well.

When looking for a used car that meets your expectations and doesn’t exceed your budget, it’s best to focus on condition rather than make and model. Even the most-highly rated cars aren’t worth your time or money if they’ve been abused and neglected year after year.

Here are some of the best used cars that are available for under $5,000:


Best Compact Crossover Under $5,000: Kia Soul | $1,995

One of Kia’s top-selling models, the Soul’s popularity has only increased over the years. In the under $5,000 class, you’re looking at the first-generation Soul, which debuted in 2008 and carried the manufacturer through the 2014 model year. When the seats are down, this car offers an unexpectedly large cargo area. Adding to its value:  The Soul earned the highest-possible five-star crash ratings in Euro NCAP testing.


Best Pickup Under $5,000: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 | $2,000

The GMT800 trucks as they are known in the industry (Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500, from 1999 to 2007) are not only reliable but also surprisingly comfortable trucks. For five grand, you can drive away with a beautiful example that has a 5.3-liter   V-8 engine and, hopefully, no rust issues. Perfect whether you’re hauling things to the local landfill or landing at the destination of your dreams at the end of a road trip.


Best Midsize SUV Under $5,000: Jeep Grand Cherokee | $2,750

The third-generation Grand Cherokee (2005 to 2010) moved on from the live-axle front suspension to a more modern double-wishbone independent setup. Noticeably more comfortable and capable on pavement, this SUV is surprisingly capable off-road, too.


Best Hybrid Under $5,000: Toyota Prius | $2,700

It’s not that difficult to find a second-generation (2003 to 2009) Toyota Prius for $5,000. While these are good, reliable cars, they’re lacking a bit in styling but they are fuel-efficient and can get you to your destination cheaply. Replacing the battery can be expensive, but you can expect to easily cruise past 200,000 miles before having to get a new one.


Best Midsize Sedan Under $5,000: Acura TL | $3,100

The good news:  The Acura TL is sporty and fun to drive. The not-so-good news:  It pretty much blends in with the crowd, meaning it won’t turn any heads when you’re heading down the highway. You’ll enjoy a comfortable, classy interior plus state-of-the-art technology – for the year 2005, that is.


Best Compact Car Under $5,000: Mazda3 | $3,850

The second-generation of Mazda’s popular compact is an action-packed car that’s selling at a great price on the open market. Decently reliable. Doesn’t require a great deal of maintenance. And pretty easy on the eyes, too. This generation Mazda usually has Bluetooth, but don’t expect a lot of other high-tech gadgets or touchscreens.


Best EV Under $5,000: Nissan Leaf | $3,885                                                                            

These cars feel roomy and comfortable, owing to a light-colored interior and the lack of a noticeable four-cylinder engine buzzing under the hood. You’ll either need access to a nearby charger or will need to install a Level 2 charger at your place of residence to keep the Leaf juiced up.


Best Convertible Under $5,000: Saab 9-3 Arc Convertible | $4,920

If you can find a  9-3 Convertible  that’s been cared for, pampered, and well-maintained, then you’re in luck. Stylish, reliable, and offering the option to let the wind blow through your hair as you hit the road and blow out of town, this convertible can be a sweet deal at the right price. A search within 500 miles turned up a few for similar money, including a 2005 model with 122,000 miles.