Five thousand dollars is not a lot of money. In fact, the average American spends approximately that amount on gas per year. You can also buy some luxury items, bags, and even a pop-up hot tub with that kind of money. While it’s not a whole lot of money, $5,000 can still go a long way. But can it buy you a reliable ride?
While that amount may not get you the latest models, it can still fetch you a reliable car that’s perfect as a decent daily driver, a good first car for a teenage driver, or a sturdy winter ride.
No matter what your reasons are, the seven vehicles below are some of the best options available in the used car market:
7 Reliable Cars That You Can Score for Less Than $5,000
You may not be able to find many dealers that sell cars for $3,000-$5,000, but private sellers and independent car lots may carry vehicles within that price range.
Aside from car lots, websites and online classified ads like Craigslist are also great places to find good deals because sellers can post there for free. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most reliable used cars under $5,000.
Second-Generation Honda Fit (2009-2013)
The Honda Fit is well-known and loved for its track record of reliability and fuel efficiency. This subcompact hatchback has roomy seats and a large cargo area for its class. It also boasts above-average crash safety. Many owners also enjoy the Honda Fit’s agile handling and easy maneuverability.
Unfortunately, Honda is discontinuing the production of the Honda Fit after the 2020 model year due to slow sales. But if you can find a 2007-2012 Fit from an online listing, then you’re in for a fun ride.
First-Generation Scion xB (2003-2007)
The tC may be Scion’s best-selling model in the U.S, but the xB is the model that made the company famous across the country. This subcompact car has a distinctive, box-type silhouette that looks like it came straight from a futuristic film. The xB has comfortable seating and large cargo space for its class and a great track record of reliability.
With its peppy engine, the Scion xB can be a fun and unique daily driver. This model also comes with power windows, cruise control, and a six-speaker sound system.
First-Generation Suzuki SX4 (2006-2013)
Not a lot of subcompact cars offered an all-wheel-drive option back in the late 2000s to 2010s, so when Suzuki offered that option for the SX4, many were delightfully surprised. Because of this feature, the SX4 became a popular choice for people who lived in snowy areas.
This model is available in both sedan and hatchback styles. The interiors are spacious and the handling is agile and responsive. A downside to this model is its underwhelming engine performance.
Second-Generation Mazda 3 (2009-2013)
The Mazda 3 is reliable, snappy, and fun to drive. This compact car has good fuel mileage and is powered by a 144 or 165-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. Its handling is agile, and it also comes with features like DVD navigation and Bose audio.
Its sharp styling may not be for everyone, but overall, this is a great and reliable ride. We recommend the 2010-2012 Mazda 3s for their improved reliability and rust protection. These model years also have a bit more space inside the cabin compared to newer ones.
Eighth-Generation Honda Civic (2006-2011)
Hondas are extremely reliable vehicles, so another Honda model on this list isn’t surprising. The Honda Civic in particular is a leader in reliability in the compact car segment. This model is offered as a coupe or sedan and is known for its impressive fuel economy and unbeatable reliability. The Civic is also famous for its great resale value.
All eighth-generation Civics (2006-2011) are extremely reliable and aren’t expensive to maintain. Before you purchase one, just note that the battery packs on Hybrid Civics are out of warranty and can be expensive to replace.
Third-Generation Toyota Avalon (2005-2012)
Many car owners and reviewers agree that the Toyota Avalon is one of the best cars sold for under $5,000. Its comfortable interiors and quiet but powerful V6 engine are perfect for long-haul trips. If you have a lot of stuff to bring on long road trips, its trunk has a lot of space and is easily accessible. Plus, the Avalon is famous for its class-leading resale value.
Like other models on this list, it’s also known for its stellar reliability ratings and durability. While the Avalon may not have a distinct silhouette, its performance and features can match that of a Lexus, according to many owners.
First-Generation Pontiac Vibe (2003-2008)
If you’re always on the go and looking for a reliable, versatile, and stylish ride, the Pontiac Vibe is a great choice. This five-door hatchback uses the same chassis as the Toyota Matrix, making them sisters. The Pontiac Vibe has sturdy cargo flooring and comfortable interiors, which are perfect for road trips.
Its roomy interiors and mainstream style give off sporty vibes, even though its performance isn’t quite as athletic. But this model has an all-wheel-drive mid-trim option and offers two four-cylinder engines with up to 180 horsepower.
Older Cars Often Need TLC
Reading about the awesome rides above may make you want to go out and buy one yourself. Though these cars may be affordable, most of them are over 10 years old and need a little bit more care than newer models.
Some cars may require major part replacements or have defects. The Pontiac Vibe, in particular, has a defect that makes its odometer stop recording at 299,999 miles. But the fact that owners have seen their vehicle go that far is an achievement in itself.
It’s important that you do some research about the vehicle you want to buy. Ask the seller about when major parts were serviced and make sure to schedule important repairs as soon as possible. Repairing damaged parts immediately can save you a lot of money and prevent even bigger problems in the future.
Buying and owning an affordable used car isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but as long as it works and gets the job done, it’s worth every penny.