3 Great Cars You Can Get Into for Under $5,000 This Year

It’s 2023, and used car prices are still high due to factors beyond anyone’s control. It’s even reached the point where some new cars are cheaper than used models. However, the subcompact segment still has relatively affordable options. Sure, they aren’t always the sportiest or roomiest. Still, it’s hard to pass up a used car for under $5,000. Here are three of our favorites.

The 2011 Hyundai Accent is an excellent commuter car

Great used cars under $5000: 2011 Hyundai Accent
2011 Hyundai Accent | Hyundai Motor America

According to U.S. News, you can get a 2011 Hyundai Accent for as low as $4,127. It’s not the fastest or most powerful, producing 110 hp from its four-cylinder engine. Models come with a manual or automatic transmission, both of which have excellent fuel economy ratings. 

The manual-equipped Accent can get 28/34 mpg city/highway, while models with the automatic are rated for 27/36 mpg city/highway. And like the new Hyundai Accent, the 2011 model is available only with front-wheel drive.

Most 10-year-old cars lack advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), but the 2011 Hyundai Accent is still relatively advanced. The SE trim includes cruise control, fog lights, and antilock brakes. Every model also has roof-mounted and seat-mounted airbags.

Despite those features, the 2011 Accent still has terrible crash test ratings. Additionally, the base model doesn’t have standard air conditioning. U.S. News recommends buying a GS trim because it has an aux jack, a USB port, and a decent sound system.

The 2009 Smart ForTwo is one of the cheapest cars

On average, one of these Smart cars costs only $3,423 to $4,926. It’s even more efficient than the 2011 Hyundai Accent, earning 33/14 mpg city/highway. However, its sole powertrain generates only 70 hp.

In addition, the Smart ForTwo has only two seats, but they offer more than enough space for riders. And although the base trim doesn’t have many standard convenience features, it comes with electronic stability and traction controls. Every 2009 Smart ForTwo offers about eight cubic feet of cargo space.

The 2011 Nissan Versa is U.S. News’ top used subcompact

The 2011 Nissan Versa packs a 107-hp or 122-hp four-cylinder engine with one of four transmission options. Models with the larger engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are the more efficient, earning 28/34 mpg city/highway.

Neither engine is remarkably athletic, but U.S. News says this Versa provides decent accommodations for riders in both rows. Higher trim levels offer advanced tech like Bluetooth, though these examples can cost closer to $6,000. But you can find a 2011 Nissan Versa for as little as $4,500.

How do you find a good used car under $5,000?

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Despite some recent price drops, new and used cars are more expensive than they’ve been in years. You can do extensive research to find your ideal vehicle that checks all the boxes. However, there’s a decent chance it’ll cost more than you want to pay. 

That’s why it’s crucial to make compromises. Be open to exploring second, third, or even fourth choices. Expand your search to areas outside your city or state to find the best prices. 

Of course, it’s also important that you can live with the car you buy. Test drive all of your options, and try to find reviews from long-term owners for additional research. There’s no point buying a car for the lowest price if you end up trying to resell it later (possibly for less money).