Having $15,000 in your bank account opens a lot of opportunities. 15 grand is nearly equivalent to 80 years of premium Netflix subscriptions, 25 iPad Airs, 8,000 cups of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, and more. But if you’re looking for a smart way to spend it, then buying a used car is a great idea.
Of course, there are more affordable used cars on the market at $10,000, $5,000, and $3,000. You can even score an old yet reliable car for $2,000! But a used car for $15,000 or less offers a lot of advanced features and innovations that will make driving more enjoyable for you.
Check out seven of the best used cars under $15,000 below!
7 Reliable Cars That You Can Score for Less Than $15,000
With automakers coming up with dozens of new models every year, it’s only a matter of time before older units lose their value一but not the ones on this list! With their impressive reliability and performance, the following vehicles can surely keep up with the competition even if they’re pre-owned.
Second-Generation Kia Soul (2014-2019)
Second-generation Kia Souls are some of the top-rated cars you can get for less than $15,000. If you’re looking for a daily driver that features a quirky design along with a generous cabin and cargo space, this compact car is for you.
Second-generation Kia Souls also boast impressive safety scores, with the 2018 redesign earning the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) top safety pick award. They also come in three trim levels (base, plus, and exclaim), giving you the freedom to choose how much power you want under the hood.
Third-Generation Honda Fit (2015-2020)
With their easy-to-drive nature, light weight, quick acceleration, and impressive steering performance, third-generation Honda Fits can surely give you the bang for your buck. The model also features a reconfigurable cabin, thanks to its “magic seat,” which gives you that extra cargo space to carry large items.
Second-Generation Ford Fusion (2013-2020)
The Ford Fusion may seem like a midsize sedan that costs more than it looks, but you can actually score a second-generation model for less than $15,000. And yes, that includes the top-of-the-line Titanium, Hybrid, and Plug-In Hybrid options.
The Fusion makes a great family car because of its quiet and comfy ride quality, sharp steering, and upscale look.
First-Generation Kia Cadenza (2014-2016)
The Kia Cadenza is a great pick if you’re in the market for reliable used cars under $15,000. Kia’s former flagship sedan comes in premium and limited trim levels with a 3.3 V6 engine, making it a fun car to drive.
Compared to the more popular Kia Optima, this model also offers more space and comfort while boasting a sportier style.
First-Generation Mazda CX-5 (2013-2016)
The Mazda CX-5 is anything but dull. It’s an athletic, engaging, and efficient crossover SUV that turned heads for its dynamic car-like handling when it debuted in 2013. It’s also the only crossover SUV that made it to this list!
The model also offers more cargo space than the average compact sedan and is more agile than the usual body-on-frame SUV. It also comes equipped with Skyactiv technology, helping drivers make the most out of its fuel economy. First-generation CX-5s are available in three trim levels一Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring.
First-Generation Chevrolet Cruze (2011-2019)
The Chevrolet Cruze is also an excellent choice for a used compact car, thanks to its sporty handling, superb ride quality, and user-friendly infotainment system. It’s more affordable than a used Honda Civic, which means you can get your hands on a newer model for the same amount of money.
The Cruze has six trim levels (LS, 1LT, Eco, 2LT, Diesel, and LTZ) with two variants of gasoline engines and one diesel engine. But if you’re looking for better acceleration, you might want to get a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
First- and Second-Generation Mazda 3 (2009-2013 and 2014-2018)
The Mazda 3 is one of the most reliable used cars in the crowded compact segment. It goes head-to-head against the likes of the Honda Civic, Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, and Subaru Impreza.
Playful and sophisticated, the Mazda 3 boasts an upscale interior and offers modern technology and connectivity. Like the CX-5, it comes in three trim levels (Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. You can choose between a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback.
Taking Care of Your Used Car
All vehicles need TLC, whether they’re brand new or pre-owned. It can keep your daily driver on the road for a long time and save you plenty of cash, as it can help you keep the frequency of repairs to a bare minimum.
Investing in a used car means you’ll have to take extra steps to ensure that it’s well-maintained.
Unlike brand new vehicles, you may need to conduct routine check-ups more often than usual to make sure your car’s parts are working as they should. Inspecting certain parts of the cooling system, such as the heater hoses and water pumps, should be a top priority when taking care of a used car. It’s also important to check the oil regularly, change the oil and air filters, and bleed the brakes.
Many cars on this list also have an automatic transmission that’s prone to grinding or shaking when switching between gears. The transmission may also produce whining, clunking, or humming noises when in neutral.
Other problems associated with owning a used car include battery failure, excessive wind noise, car seat material problems (e.g., worn-out seat covers), and infotainment system issues.
It’s also a good idea to talk to the seller about the vehicle’s latest maintenance checks to keep you up to speed. Lastly, consider familiarizing yourself with the most common issues associated with the model to know what repairs it may need in the future.