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Getting from your house to school, work, the store, or a friend’s place doesn’t require a huge car payment or hiring a stranger on a rideshare app. If you’re willing to search, you can find plenty of good used cars under $5,000. Check out the following 12 models, from sedans like the Acura TSX to SUVs like the Nissan Pathfinder

12 used cars under $5,000

“$5,000 won’t buy a sparkling, late-model used car,” the folks at Trust Auto admit. And though you’ll likely need to sift through several candidates before finding one worth buying, your efforts will save money. So here are 12 used cars under $5,000 to consider for your next (or first) car, according to Trust Auto.

1. Acura TSX 

Used cars under $5000: 2008 Acura TSX
2008 Acura TSX | Acura

The Acura TSX shares similarities with its corporate cousin, the Honda Accord. That includes seating for five, class-leading reliability, front-wheel-drive practicality, and excellent fuel economy. However, the Acura TSX boasts more power, better handling, and upscale styling. Look for first-generation models (2004 to 2008) with around 150,000 miles to stay on budget. 

2. Buick Park Avenue

Though the Buick Park Avenue won’t save you any money at the gas pump, it’s large enough to use as a rideshare car and pay for itself. Even if you don’t need the extra cash, the Park Avenue’s cushy ride and spacious interior are attractive. Some models have a supercharged engine, but it’s more trouble than it’s worth and will likely put you over budget. So instead, look for 3.8-liter V6 models from 1997 to 2005 with upward of 100,000 miles. 

3. BMW 3 Series 

If you’ve always dreamed of owning a BMW 3 Series coupe, sedan, or wagon, check out 2006 to 2011 models for the best value. Although newer models with higher mileage provide more tech features for the same price, they could sacrifice reliability. Avoid complex turbo engine powertrains, and look for the basic inline-four-cylinder models.

4. Ford Ranger

If you want a more rugged vehicle that’s versatile enough to help your friends move, a 2004 to 2011 Ford Ranger compact pickup truck represents the best option for reliability and price. SuperCab models have rear seat accommodations for two, but the space behind the front seats best serves as a cargo area except in dire situations for short periods. Otherwise, the Ranger’s cabin is as comfortable as it is functional. 

5. Honda Accord

Next is the humble Honda Accord, but feel free to swap it for the smaller Civic if you prefer. 2003 to 2008 Honda Accords with fewer than 150,000 miles can keep you under budget, but lists 2003 as the worst model year for the Accord, and 2008 models have drawn the most owner-reported complaints in that range. That leaves 2004 to 2007 Honda Accord EX-L trims equipped with the reliable four-cylinder as the best options. 

6. Lincoln Town Car

Like the Buick Park Avenue, the Lincoln Town Car provides plenty of room and comfort for long commutes but sacrifices fuel economy. Several options fall into the 1994 to 2005 model year range with under 150,000 miles, and all have received relatively few owner-reported complaints. However, lists the 1999 Lincoln Town Car as the worst model year due to repeated issues with cracked engine intake manifolds. 

7. Mazda MX-5 Miata

Looking for something sporty and fun to drive? The Mazda MX-5 Miata checks those boxes. Staying under the $5,000 budget is tough, but the good news is that most have low mileage. Also, look for models in the 1999 to 2004 range for the best value because older models have pop-up headlights that create pedestrian safety concerns. 

8. Nissan Maxima

As a classy sedan, the Nissan Maxima packs more value than the comparable Accord and Toyota Camry. The Maxima’s 265-hp 3.5-liter V6 and FWD provide reliable performance and decent fuel economy. Models from 2004 to 2009 stay under budget without incurring excessive mileage. 

9. Nissan Pathfinder

Second- and third-generation Nissan Pathfinders from 1996 to 2012 fall into the $5,000 range depending on the mileage. Though the V6 engine is generally reliable, it’s not the most fuel-efficient. However, these Pathfinder models provide an old-school SUV driving position, rugged drivetrains, and, if equipped, four-wheel-drive off-road capability. 

10. Saturn Vue

A slightly less rugged SUV than the Pathfinder, the Saturn Vue “does a decent job of pretty much everything,” Trust Auto reports. Look for models from the end of the Vue’s production run — 2008 to 2010 — for better styling and a more spacious interior while avoiding the V6, all-wheel-drive, and hybrid models. Instead, opt for FWD versions with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. 

11. Toyota Camry

2002 to 2006 Toyota Camry models are excellent used cars under $5,000. The Camry’s popularity means you can find many for sale and readily available parts if you need repairs. The best options have a four-cylinder engine for better fuel economy. 

12. Volvo S60

Last, the Volvo S60 model years from 2002 to 2009, some with AWD, fit the budget nicely. Though a five-cylinder engine is uncommon among cars on U.S. roads, it “bridges the gap between four-cylinder efficiency and V6 performance,” Trust Auto says. And Volvo’s styling stands out in a world full of Accords and Camrys.


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