Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

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15 of the Best Cars under $10k

Shopping for cars with a price tag of $10k or less can be rough. It certainly limits your options and can sometimes seem hopeless – but fortunately there are some really great opportunities out there for affordable, quality cars at a reasonable price. You should widen your search as much as possible, though your best bet will be used car dealerships, with Buy Here Pay Here dealers often having a great selection of well-priced vehicles. Just remember that the newer the car, even when it’s used, the higher its price will typically be.

Here are 15 of the best cars you can find for less than $10k presented in reverse-chronological order, but otherwise they are listed without preference.

#1 – 2014 Volkswagen GTI

Finally, the 2014 Volkswagen GTI offers something you don’t always look for when shopping affordable, quality cars: fun. The GTI had two different transmissions in 2014, either a manual or an automatic, which gives you a lot of options when looking at different models. While the GTI might not rank as highly as some of the other models on this list in terms of reliability, it’s a lot of fun to drive and can be found at a very reasonable price.

A white 2014 Volkswagen GTI is parked in a grey display room.

#2 – 2014 Ford Focus

This great compact car from here in the US gives you solid performance and reliability with a hatchback design available. One of the best things about the 2014 Focus is that a redesign and update occurred for 2015, which means 2014 models are often less expensive than you might otherwise expect. If you want some newer features, then consider a 2015 model, but it can be harder to find one at under $10k.

#3 – 2014 Subaru Impreza

The 2014 Impreza is another great option if you’re interested in getting an affordable, quality car with all-wheel drive. Like some of the other choices on this list, this model was sold as either a sedan or a hatchback, with the hatchback offering greater functionality and a sportier style. This model, as a hatchback with all-wheel drive, makes for a great outdoor vehicle on a budget.

#4 – 2014 Hyundai Elantra

This is a unique and interesting option when looking for affordable, quality cars for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the 2014 Elantra was available as either a sedan or a coupe, which means this is one of the few modern coupes you can find at this price point. Hyundai offered an impressive 5-year/60,000-mile warranty on the Elantra, which won’t transfer to you as the new owner, but it means the previous owner probably took good care of it. And if any issues did arise since it was released, they were likely repaired while under warranty.

#5 – 2014 Chevrolet Sonic

While most of the cars you find for less than $10k usually come from overseas, there are a couple of exceptions. The 2014 Sonic is a great option, and much like the Mazda3, it was available as either a sedan or a hatchback. In general, the hatchback model has been more popular and provides greater functionality for you as the owner, but both are great options. Newer ones can cost a bit more, but the more recent the model you find, the better the features you’ll get.

A silver 2014 Chevy Sonic, popular among affordable, quality cars at buy here pay here dealerships, is parked on a rooftop parking garage.

#6 – 2013 Honda Civic

One of the newer models you are likely to find at a Buy Here Pay Here dealership or used car lot, the 2013 Honda Civic is a fantastic compact option. Despite its small size, the Civic has a surprisingly large interior that never makes you feel cramped and has a reputation for reliability and safety. If you’re looking for something to perfectly fit into a downsized lifestyle, then this is a great choice.

#7 – 2013 Kia Soul

Another unique option on this list, the 2013 Soul has a boxy design more like an SUV than a sedan, without requiring as much space as a full-size SUV. Since the Soul usually sells at a pretty reasonable price when new, used models are often among the most affordable, quality cars on the market. Think of it as a hatchback with added style, and it’s a great option for families.

#8 – 2012 Subaru Legacy

The 2012 Subaru Legacy is a great option if you want an affordable, quality car that has a little more pickup than many other models. It’s a sedan, but it was designed with all-wheel drive, so you can feel a bit more like you’re in an SUV while driving it. This combination of performance and functionality makes it a great value, and a lot of fun to drive.

#9 – 2012 Mazda Mazda3

The 2012 Mazda3 is a great option for an affordable, quality car for a couple of reasons. First, like many other vehicles on this list, it has been rated high in reliability and low costs by many of its owners. Second, the Mazda3 was available as either a sedan or a hatchback model in 2012, so you are likely to find both available at local dealerships with very fair pricing. This gives you a bit more flexibility in picking a car with a price under $10k than a lot of other models offer.

#10 – 2011 Toyota Camry

Another great midsize option, the 2011 Camry is a vehicle you will find at a lot of Buy Here Pay Here dealerships and used lots with affordable, quality cars on sale. Up to five people can easily fit into a Camry and remain quite comfortable, plus there have been numerous engines available most years so you can find different options to choose from. This is a good option for a small family, or even a growing family, if you don’t want an SUV or can’t find one that fits your budget. The Camry also has an excellent reputation for reliability and low long-term costs.

#11 – 2011 Honda Accord

Along with Toyota, you are going to find a lot of Hondas when you start looking for affordable, quality cars in your area, so don’t be surprised to find a few of these on this list. The 2011 Accord is an excellent midsize model that gives you a bit more space than the Toyota Corolla and has a similar reputation for quality and reliable performance. You typically won’t have to sink a lot of money into one of these after buying it, making it a great value for years to come.

#12 – 2011 Toyota Corolla

You may have noticed a lot of Toyotas on this list, and that’s not by accident – not only do new Toyotas typically have low prices, but on the used market they provide reliability and a reasonable price point that few other manufacturers can match. The Corolla is a compact model, so while this might not be perfect for big families, it is a great option if you’re just starting out or need a vehicle for a teen driver. Corollas have been on the market for a long time, so there are lots of different models to choose from, plus they have a great reputation for reliability.

A red 2011 Toyota Corolla is driving on a treelined road.

#13 – 2010 Subaru Outback

For the most part, when you find affordable, quality vehicles on the used market at under $10k, you’re going to look at cars – but the 2010 Outback offers a great exception to that rule. This is one of the few SUVs that you can find at this price point, so if you want something larger than a sedan, then this is a great choice. It’s an older model, so you won’t find a lot of the advanced technology and other niceties that you’d get in a modern Subaru, but otherwise, it’s a fantastic choice. If you can find a model with all-wheel drive, then this is great for a bit of going off-road or heading to your favorite campsite.

#14 – 2010 Toyota Prius

Hybrid vehicles actually offer some of the best value when you’re shopping for affordable, quality cars on the used market. They often depreciate in value very quickly, as new technology is introduced, but have very reliable systems and the 2010 Prius has a great reputation for functionality and low maintenance costs. Plus, when you choose a hybrid, you are being very eco-friendly by choosing both a used model and one that will keep your fuel consumption low.

#15 – 2009 Toyota Avalon

To kick things off, go back a decade and check out the 2009 Toyota Avalon, an affordable, quality car that really delivers in a lot of ways. One of the best things about this car is that it’s a larger model than a lot of the others on this list, which can be hard to find in a vehicle at less than $10k. The Avalon has been well reviewed by many of its owners and typically demonstrated low ownership costs due to its reliability and smart design.