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  • The best used subcompact car is the Toyota Corolla
  • A Honda Civic is a dead-reliable choice under $10K
  • The VW Golf is a reliable subcompact from the European competition

If you don’t mind a small car, consider yourself lucky right now. In a time where people are flipping Ford Broncos for tens of thousands over MSRP, the used subcompact car market has been relatively unaffected by the semiconductor shortage and supply chain issue plaguing big OEMs and the used market. So, we decided to put together a list of the best ones for under $10,000.

A pair of used subcompact Toyota Corolla sedans shot from the front 3/4
The Toyota Corolla is THE used subcompact car | Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

The Toyota Corolla is the best used subcompact car under $10K

Let’s start with the obvious used subcompact car choice. The Toyota Corolla is the subcompact. It’s cheap, economical, and damn reliable. Obviously, there’s plenty of options out there, even in this market. Speaking of fuel economy, plenty of Toyota Corolla models can easily swing 35 mpg on the highway. Just know that everyone else knows how good the Corolla is, and it’ll be the closest to $10K of the cars on this list.

2. Honda Civic

A blue 2008 Honda Civic shot from the front 3/4
You can’t go wrong with a Civic | Honda

Again, speaking of cars everyone knows about. The Honda Civic. Now, the cat really is out of the bag on this one. Obviously, that’s the case for a reason. Like the Corolla, the Honda Civic offers plenty of trim levels, from hybrids to hatchbacks across its decades-long lifespan. There’s a Civic out there for you, and you know it’ll be reliable as the sunrise.

3. Toyota Prius

A silver Toyota Prius subcompact hybrid shot from the front 3/4
A Prius is the most fuel-efficient subcompact | Christopher Evans via Getty Images

Now, supposing the above options aren’t fuel-conscious enough for you, we suggest the Toyota Prius. An iconic hybrid, you can easily touch 50 mpg with a light foot. As an added bonus, the Toyota Prius also comes by default in a practical hatchback layout. It’s easily the most fuel-efficient used subcompact car on our list.

4. Mazda3

A silver Mazda3 subcompact car shot from the front 3/4
The Mazda3 is and was a great small car | Mazda

Finally, something off the beaten path. Obviously, the above subcompacts are, well, obvious. Supposing you’d rather go against the flow, any number of circa-2010 Mazda3s will satiate that need. Of course, it’s also dead reliable and offers plenty of trim levels. Some more modern ones will also come with Bluetooth from the factory.

5. Volkswagen’s Golf is a great used subcompact car

A green Volkswagen Golf subcompact car shot from the front 3/4
The Volkswagen Golf is a subcompact go-to | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

Lastly, my personal choice. Volkswagen has made literally millions of Golfs. All of them come with FWD and a four-cylinder engine. They’re reliable, practical, and return great fuel economy. This is the Honda Civic for kids that grew up watching Top Gear. And, like the Civic, you can have either an automatic or manual transmission. Thankfully, most in the United States overlook this car in favor of its Japanese competition. Hopefully, this list of used subcompacts gets you going. Go out, drive a few, and remember to get a pre-purchase inspection.


Used Honda Civic (2006-11) Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know