“New cars have never been more reliable, so used-car buyers have never had it so good,” Kelley Blue Book says. The publication’s not wrong, either — as new cars continue to improve, the secondary market for automobiles only gets better. And as the new vehicle market continues to grow, the secondary does, as well, offering more vehicles at lower costs. In short, consumers get a wider variety for less cost.
If you’re in the market for an affordable car — whether it’s for a new, inexperienced driver or if you just don’t want to spend a gratuitous amount for a brand-new vehicle — there is a substantial pool to choose from. The following is a list of Kelley Blue Book’s best picks.
The auto guide earlier this year threw together a list of all used cars dating to 2003 with a Kelley Blue Book Retail Value (KBBRV) of less than $8,000. The organization then hand-selected 10 standout models to make a list of the the 10 Best Used Cars Under $8,000, spanning all kinds of models.
10. 2003 Acura TL
As it benefited from a lower price than its competition when it was new — despite its being arguably better equipped — the Acura TL has become quite a bargain as a luxury vehicle, backed up by Honda’s fantastic reliability record. As of January, it had a KBBRV of about $6,768.
9. 2004 Mustang GT
It’s often difficult to find a quality performance car that falls into this affordability threshold, but the 2004 Ford Mustang GT is the exception to the rule. About 260 horsepower is routed through a five-speed transmission courtesy of a 4.6-liter V8. The KBBRV is roughly $7,328.
8. 2005 Volvo S60
If you’re expecting tall passengers, the S60 may be the car for you. About $7,390 will get you Volvo’s unparalleled safety record and all the refinement and luxury that’s expected from the Swedish automaker. Even for its weight and size, the S60 is still rated for 27 miles per gallon on the highway.
7. 2004 Honda Odyssey
If you’re in need of a family car, the Honda Odyssey checks all the right boxes. It features a fold flat third-row seat, acres of storage and space, a potent V6 engine, and top safety scores — all a steal of around $6,816.
6. 2005 Mazda 3
Although it’s an 8-year-old car, the Mazda 3 certainly doesn’t show it. It’s regarded as being remarkably fun to drive and has decent fuel economy, with more-than-adequate power for a car its size. Look for a Mazda 3 at around $7,743.
5. 2007 Chevrolet Silverado
The Chevy Silverado barely slides below the threshold, at $7,997, but sure enough, the 2007 light-duty pickup offers all the utility and ability that a truck provides for less than $8,000 — albeit marginally. The 2007 Silverado was the first of its kind for the year and offers a surprisingly torquey V6 and a still-fresh appearance.
4. 2004 Honda Element
A clamshell tailgate, side cargo doors, water-resistant seat fabric, and easy-to-clean urethane floor made the Element a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts, and just because it’s a bit dated doesn’t mean the car has lost its practical appeal. It would be difficult to find a more flexible or capable small utility vehicle for $6,882.
3. 2004 Toyota Camry
The ubiquitous Camry is a solid choice for someone looking for a simple, straightforward vehicle with a bit more space than the average compact sedan. The Camry offers a smooth and quiet ride, and although it won’t be winning any races off the line, it’s a clean, well-behaved car with a reputation for being highly reliable. Kelley Blue Book values the car at around $7,321.
2. 2011 Hyundai Accent
Far and away the newest vehicle to make the list, Kelley Blue Book praised the Accent as being “a well-built, value-filled subcompact that has fared very well in our KBB.com consumer reviews.” Additionally, a used 2011 Accent will have plenty of coverage remaining with Hyundai’s five-year/60,000-mile warranty and should run about $7,717.
1. 2005 Honda Civic
Lastly, Honda’s venerable Civic. Honda’s smaller sedan (and coupe) is a reliable car that can return nearly 35 miles per gallon on the highway thanks to its low curb weight. Kelley Blue Book lauds it as a “bulletproof” used car, and Honda’s reliability record should offer testament to the notion that these vehicles will be on the road for a long time to come.