Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A red 2005 BMW 325i is shown from the side driving past a field.

Top 8 Used Cars Under 5K

Buying a vehicle can get expensive. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Whether you’re looking for a cheap commuter car or something to get you through college, we’ve got a list of some of the best cars under 5k that you can find at your local used car dealer. These range in brand and model. Our list is filled with cars that were released between 2005 and 2010. We include general specs for these models because their exact year and trim may cause specific features to vary.

All the cars on our list get great gas mileage, which will make your affordable purchase just as affordable to own. These are the kinds of cars that get you where you need to go without all the extra bells and whistles that raise your car’s price. You want something reliable, but you also don’t want to go into debt just to feel safe, and you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on repairs. We get you. That’s why we have a list of affordable yet dependable used cars that you can find at a used car dealer. Without further ado, let’s start with number 8.

#8 – The Chevy Cobalt

The Chevy Cobalt is a cute, sporty Chevy car that was popular in the mid to late 2000s. It’s a 4-cylinder with above-average horsepower, and it offers great fuel-efficiency with its latest models providing up to almost 37 miles per gallon on the highway. This model comes in numerous eye-catching exterior colors. Although, if you’ve seen the Chevy Cobalt around, you’ve probably seen one of the blue ones. The Cobalt also includes a bunch of modern convenience features, such as remote keyless entry and power windows. All these fun early 2000s specs provide you with all you really need in a car. This small car is priced for as little as $2,500.

#7 – Toyota Prius

The Prius has been around for a while now. It was the first mass-produced successful hybrid vehicle, and Priuses are still being made today. Thanks to their hybrid design, used Priuses can get over 45 miles per gallon and provide you with large savings at the gas pump. So when you buy a used Prius, you not only save money up front, you also save money in the long run. This model comes with power windows and door locks, 4-way adjustable cloth bucket seats with adjustable headrests, push-button start, and traction control, to name a few features. The Prius is one of the best used cars you can get for under $5,000.

#6 – BMW 325i

If you’re into luxurious brands for an affordable price, an older BMW 325i is worth your time. This model can go 0 to 60 in around 7 seconds thanks to its powerful and reliable inline-6 engine. It’s more potent than the aforementioned models, and it’s much more visually appealing to boot. The base price was originally over $30,000, but now you can get this model for under $5,000. While the 325i will cost more to fuel and maintain than some of the other options on this list, it will provide you with a far more entertaining commute and can serve a solid platform for performance modifications.

#5 – Honda Accord

If you want a midsize car that gets over 30 miles per gallon on the highway, the Honda Accord is a great option. And if you want to have a bit more power at your command, it is possible to find used examples with the optional V6 engine at a good price. The Accord is safe given its size, side-impact beams, curtain airbags, and vehicle stability assist with traction control, which helps you drive on slippery surfaces and corrects overturning. A used Honda Accord offers a very reliable, comfortable, and even sporty vehicle for an extremely good price. The early 2000s Honda Accord was originally over $20,000, but it is now available for under $5,000.

A red 2009 Chevy Malibu is shown angled right, parked in front of a concrete building.

#4 – Chevy Malibu

The Chevy Malibu has been around for years, debuting in 1964 and still going strong. The early 2000s Malibu cars are great options if your price range is under $5,000. Like the Honda Accord, they were originally over $20,000 when they first released, they can get up to 30 miles per gallon, and they’re the ideal family sedan. These vehicles seat up to five passengers, and there is plenty of available trunk space for grocery shopping or road trips. The Malibu is a very casual vehicle, so it’s great if you’re looking for a pleasant aesthetic without too much flash. They’re also very safe, with solid crash test ratings and a number of safety features like multiple airbags and ABS. The Malibu is a great used car for families.

#3 – Mercedes Benz C-Class

Let’s get back to those luxury options. If you can’t afford to buy a brand-new Mercedes Benz, why not buy a used one? Surprisingly, you can purchase an early 2000s Mercedes Benz for a little under $5,000. With its powerful V6 engine, the C-Class is just as capable and comfortable as the BMW 325i. To top it off, its aesthetic appeal is even more luxurious, and it offers a distinctly Mercedes look, complete with the trademark Mercedes hood ornament. If you’re interested in luxury cars, there is no need to wait until you win the lottery when you can own one of the best cars yourself for under $5,000.

A black 2017 Ford Fusion Energi is speeding past a blurred city after leaving a used car dealer in Lexington.

#2 – Ford Fusion

Let’s head back to sedans for a moment. The Ford Fusion is also a great family car, much like the Chevy Malibu. The late 2000s Fusion also seats up to five passengers in a roomy and well-designed cabin, and it offers remote keyless entry, cruise control, and one-touch power windows. Like most mid to late-2000 vehicles, it also comes with electronic stability control and curtain and side-impact airbags, giving it excellent safety. The Duratec four-cylinder and V6 engine options are also bulletproof, reducing the likelihood of expensive repair bills. If you need a bit more room for your family, the Ford Fusion is a great alternative that you can buy for under $5,000.

#1 – Nissan Altima

Our number one spot belongs to the Nissan Altima. Since 1993, the Altima has been a go-to affordable midsize car. It gets over 30 miles per gallon on the highway, and its safety is progressive for its time. The mid to late 2000s Nissan Altima comes with an anti-lock braking system, vehicle dynamic control, and traction control, and it includes front and rear crumple zones alongside side-door guard beams. These crumple zones and side-door guard beams act as impact absorbers in car accidents. These features paired with the Altima’s airbag system make it a great contender for our number 1 spot.

We understand that you may feel like you’ll have to sacrifice a lot when your price range is under $5,000, but the Altima is one of the best cars you can get for that price. Between its mileage, its safety, and its comfortable interior, the Nissan Altima is easily our number one pick. If this car or any of the others on our list appeal to you, visit your local used car dealer to check them out in person.