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If you’re looking for a first car and are on a super strict budget, don’t worry, you have options. In fact, there are plenty of cars that you can find in your classifieds that are priced at around $3,000 or under. It’s hard to believe, right? Well, believe it. Here are seven cheap starter cars to start your driving career with.

1. A mid-90s Honda Civic

1999 Honda Civic in a parking spot
1999 Honda Civic | Wikimedia Commons

We can’t have a list like this without including an old Honda Civic. And while many later model Civics are currently selling for close to $20,000, you can find one for around $3,000. The only exception is that it will be from the mid-90s and the only safety equipment on it will be airbags and seatbelts. Additionally, you can expect the engine to put out around 100 hp and get up to 30 mpg on the highway.

But of course, safety and power aren’t why you buy a mid-90s Civic. The best part is that you’ll be able to stick to the strict budget while having a reliable set of wheels to tool around town with. That’s a win-win situation in our book.

2. Toyota Camry

If you need something bigger than a Honda Civic, then you can check out a mid-90s Toyota Camry. Really, anything in that era will do considering Camrys are known for their bulletproof reliability. As the folks at Ideal Media called it, the Camry is “an appliance in car’s clothing,” which is a pretty accurate description. Sure, it’s bland and boring, but the Camry will get you to where you need to go for many years to come.

3. Lexus ES 300

1996 Lexus ES 300
1996 Lexus ES 300 | Wikimedia Commons

The Lexus ES 300 is basically a Toyota Camry with a tuxedo on as they are the same car. However, for $3,000, you can find an ES 300 in decent condition that will provide you with more luxuries like leather seats and… well, not much more. However, it’s still super reliable and gets decent mileage, which is the point of shopping for a car in this price range.

4. Kia Sedona

2005 Kia Sedona
2005 Kia Sedona | Wikimedia Commons

Why would anyone want to buy a Kia Sedona as a first car? As Ideal Media noted, you can sleep in it. That means free rent! Ok, maybe that’s not the greatest idea. But older Kia Sedona can still provide a comfortable means of transportation, loads of space, and a cheap price tag that’s well within your low budget.

5. Pontiac G6

2005 Pontiac G6
2005 Pontiac G6 | Wikimedia Commons

We know, a Pontiac G6 isn’t exactly the first car you would think of. But at this price range, it provides a pretty good value proposition. We say that because it looks sleeker than any other car on this list, comes as a coupe or a sedan, and it was available with a V6 engine. Also, you can find a G6 for around $3,000, so that’s an added plus.

6. 2002-2005 Hyundai Sonata

A 2002 to 2005 white Hyundai Sonata
2005 Hyundai Sonata | Wikimedia Commons

If you want a comfortable sedan that looks like an older Mercedes-Benz E-Class, then find yourself a 2002-2005 Hyundai Sonata. This generation of the Sonata mimicked a lot of what the German juggernaut has to offer but in a much cheaper and lower-quality package. That being said, you may want to have one of these Sonatas thoroughly inspected before you buy one.

7. Infiniti I30

Infiniti i30 in silver parked at a curb
Infiniti i30 | Wikimedia Commons

The Infiniti i30 was a mid-size luxury sedan from when “Nissan was making reliable cars,” as Ideal Media put it. The best part is that the i30 came with a 225-hp V6 taken straight out of the Nissan 300ZX. It was also very comfortable with its full-leather interior. So if you find one for $3,000, it would be well worth every penny.

Cheap starter cars for under $3,000

Whether you’re in the market for your first car, or you just need something cheap to drive while you save up for a newer one, any of these cars can serve you well. Check out your local classifieds on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to find one that fits this super low budget.


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