Skip to main content

Finding a winter car that is both affordable and enjoyable to drive is no easy task. But despite  high used car prices, these six winter cars are under $10,000 and still provide plenty of driving joy.


  • Manual transmission option
  • Readily available for under $10,000
  • Less than 150,000 miles
  • All-wheel or front-wheel drive

A 2008-2011 Subaru Impreza is winter-ready for as little as $8,000

A silver 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI driving on a wet road
2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI | Subaru

There are a lot of flavors of Subaru Impreza sprinkled throughout the used car market. But for this list, we chose the third generation, which debuted in 2007. Available as a sedan or hatchback, there are plenty of options for both seating and storage. Used models around the 110,000-mile mark average between $8,000 and $11,000, but most fall beneath $10,000.

2.5-liter versions of the Gen-3 Impreza offered up 170 horsepower, while the turbocharged Impreza GT chucked out 224 horsepower. And you can even find higher-mileage WRX models for that rally-bred performance.

A manual 2010-2013 Suzuki Kizashi is a quality winter car for under $10,000

2010 Suzuki Kizashi is a great winter car for under $10,000
2010 Suzuki Kisashi | General Motors

The Suzuki Kizashi wasn’t around for long, but it’s one of the more unique four-door sedans of the early 2010s. The Kizashi is the last Suzuki production car sold in America, but it didn’t go out with a whimper. In its day, this Suzuki four-door sedan managed to stand out in fairly hum-drum category. And with a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission, it’s got some good cheap winter beater potential.

That said, the cabin of the Kizashi is high-quality, especially for this era of GM misery. Perforated leather upholstery, a quality shifter, and high-contrast dials, and a digital center screen make the Kizashi one of the more compelling, sub-$10,000 used cars that are perfect for winter driving.

The 2005-2006 Saab 9-2X adds luxury to the Subaru formula

A silver 2005 Saab 9-2X driving at night
2005 Saab 9-2X | Saab

The Saab 9-2X is simply a badge-engineered Subaru Impreza wagon, but the Scandinavian model gets more than just a new hood ornament. Putting this model ahead of its Japanese sibling is the inclusion of a sound-deadening carpet and improved cockpit insulation. The result is a rally-ready wagon with more refinement than the Subaru could offer.

Under the hood, the 9-2X delivers 165 horsepower, while the rarer 9-2X Aero gets the 227-horsepower turbocharged unit from the WRX. And with all-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission, you can take to those open parking lots for tons of clutch-kicking sideways joy.

A 2010-2014 Volkswagen GTI is fun for under $10,000 and perfect for winter

A white MK6 Volkswagen GTi
The Volkswagen Golf GTI | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

One of the few front-wheel drive cars on this list, the MK6 GTI is one of the better fun winter cars you’ll find for less than $10,000. Six-speed manual and a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine make for plenty of fun on clear winter days.

With front-wheel drive, exhaust-heated coolant, and balanced handling, the GTI is well-suited for handling winter driving. A set of studded snow tires makes the VW hatchback a confident choice. And at between $8,500 and $10,500, there are plenty available that won’t break the bank.

The 2007-2017 Mitsubishi Lancer can be a winter bargain

A white Mitsubishi Lancer is a cheap fun winter car
The Mitsubishi Lancer | Mitsubishi

The modern Mitsubishi Lancer lasted much longer than it should have, but that’s good news for your used car aspirations. For under $10,000, this used winter beater offers a choice of front or all-wheel drive. And with several five-speed manual transmission models out there, it’s a good choice for a winter driver’s car.

Models like the 2014 Lancer GT offer 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. Not world-beating figures, but certainly enough punch for some snow-driving fun. And thanks to all-wheel drive, you’ll have confident control when you need to get from A to B in a pinch.

The 2008-2011 Audi A4 provides affordable luxury and all-wheel drive fun

A 2011 Audi A4 used luxury car shows off its reliable, subtle lines and silver paintwork while it poses for a photo shoot.
2011 Audi A4 | National Motor Museum, Heritage Images, Getty Images
Related 7 of the Coolest Winter Sports Cars for 2023

7 of the Coolest Winter Sports Cars for 2023

Available for around $8,500, a 2011 Audi A4 is a high-quality driving experience for the money. Quattro all-wheel drive adds to its winter chops, and the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is a punchy choice. A quality cabin, short warmup times, and impeccable design make the used Audi A4 one of the most fun winter cars for under $10,000.

These fun winter cars balance quality and control

Driving in winter is all about keeping it on the road. And with these six fun winter cars for under $10,000, you can do just that. Still, turbocharged engines and manual transmission options keep you engaged behind the wheel. And for those so inclined, they also allow for some sweet, snowy donuts in your friend’s wide driveway.