Tips, Tricks & Trends

Best Used Small Cars For Around $15,000

For the right blend of comfort, practicality, and efficiency, a compact car makes the most sense. Compact cars are among the most affordable options to purchase new. But to save even more, buying used is the way to go. To help you with your search, we’ve gathered five of the best small cars you can buy used for around $15,000 – give or take $2K.

2017-2018 Honda Civic 

Grey sporty 2017 Honda Civic parked outside of a brick building.
2017 Civic Touring | Honda

Honda’s Civic is an ideal choice for a compact car. This Honda is a standout in its class because of its fun-to-drive handling, safety scores, and long history of reliability. In fact, the Civic has a reputation of lasting for 200,000 miles or more

The 2017-2018 Civic models are part of the tenth generation that Honda launched in 2016. Models from this generation come with a 158-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Most 2017-2018 Civics will have a continuously variable transmission; some will have a six-speed manual. 

Upgraded Civics will have the turbocharged 174-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. In addition to its refined CVT, the Civic offers a handsome and spacious cabin. Plus, the Civic offers lots of in-car tech. For a bit more room, shop for the hatchback version.

2017-2018 Mazda Mazda3

A Mazda3 hatchback on display
A Mazda3 Hatchback | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

RELATED: Carvana or CarMax: Which Online Car Sales Site Offers a Better Warranty?

The Mazda3 is another excellent option for a practical car/hatchback that’s also entertaining to drive. This Mazda is also one of the best when it comes to fuel economy. Entry-level models will have a 155-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. 

Upper-level trims will have a 184-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Some downsides to be aware of is that the 3 gets noisy at higher speeds. It’s below-average regarding interior space. 

2017-2018 Toyota Corolla 

Toyota Motor Corp.'s Corolla sedan is unveiled during an event on September 17, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan
The Toyota Corolla | Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

The Corolla is one of the best-selling cars of all time and is synonymous with long-term reliability. It may not be as entertaining as the Civic or the Mazda3, but the Corolla is still pleasant to drive nonetheless. Standard Corollas will have a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 132-hp.

As Consumer Reports highlighted, the Corolla’s CVT won’t appeal to everyone. Its handling is lackluster, and it doesn’t have the nicest interior. But if fuel economy and advanced safety features are among your top priorities, the Corolla is a worthy choice.

2017-2018 Kia Soul

a green Kia Soul at speed on the highway
Kia Soul | Kia

The Kia Soul is a conundrum of a car. The Soul is often categorized as a crossover, a hatchback, and as a car. But no matter what you call it, it’s still considered small. The Soul’s distinct shape contributes to its roomy cabin that accommodates five. 

You’ll also lean toward the Soul if you value modern infotainment. Kia first introduced Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the 2017 version; these smartphone integration apps became standard for 2018. Base models will have a 130-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The standard engine is OK. For more oomph, shop for Souls with the four-cylinder that makes 161-hp.

2017-2018 Hyundai Elantra 

A white Hyundai Elantra on the track.
Hyundai Elantra 4-door sedan | Hyundai

Like the Civic and Mazda3, the 2017-2018  Elantra is also available as a sedan or hatchback. Compared to the other options on this list, the Elantra is on the firmer side, and it’s not the quickest. Still, the Elantra is a solid choice for a dependable car with excellent safety scores and attractive tech. If you opt for the sedan, you get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 147-hp. The hatchback variant has the same engine, but it’s tuned to make 173-hp.