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It is not easy to find any used cars right now, much less good ones. Then to ratchet things up a notch, finding an affordable used car in this market can feel nearly impossible. Between the supply chain issues and increased demand, the new car and used car markets are nothing short of insane. But is it possible to find a good used car for less than $5,000? Consumer Reports has some ideas for you. 

orange Pontiac Vibe against a black background. This is one of the best affordable cars you can buy under $5,000
Pontiac Vibe GT | Chevrolet/Newsmakers

Can you find a good, affordable used car today? Consumer Reports says yes

Although it is pretty rough out there, there’s no reason to settle for a bad car with poor reliability or low safety ratings just because you are on a tight budget. With a little bit of knowledge and patience, there are actually a few good, affordable used cars out there; you just have to find them. 

Hell, not only are there decent used cars out there, there are a number of them that you can find for less than $5,000. These cars may require customers to be flexible on style or size, but these affordable used car options are reliable and safe. 

For Consumer Reports to officially recommend a car, truck, or SUV, the vehicles must perform well in CR’s 50 tests and have at least an average reliability score from annual surveys of actual owners. 

Is the 2005 Toyota Corolla a good car? 

2005 Toyota Corolla price range: $4,425 – $4,850

The Toyota Corolla is a staple in the sedan world. It has never been a very exciting car, but it delivers on what Toyota promises; a friendly, affordable, and reliable car. Consumer Reports doesn’t offer much praise for the driving dynamics of the used Toyota Corolla, but it is said to be plenty comfortable and reliable. 

The Toyota Corolla cabin isn’t luxurious, but it offers plenty of space and decent seating. The other main perk of the 2005 Toyota Corolla is the fact that it gets an average of 30 mpg. So not only is a used Toyota Corolla a great affordable used car, but it continues to save at the pumps. 

Is the Pontiac Vibe a good car? 

orange Pontiac Vibe against a black background. This is one of the best affordable cars you can buy under $5,000
Pontiac Vibe GT | Chevrolet/Newsmakers

2005 Pontiac Vibe pice range:  $4,150 – $4,600

Consumer Reports suggests the 2005 Pontiac Vibe for a good, affordable used hatchback. The Vibe is hard to deny for a sensible alternative for an SUV for those on a tighter budget. This humble little hatchback offers good interior room, especially with the rear seats folded down. 

The Pontiac Vibe isn’t likely to inspire your inner Lewis Hamilton with its 1.8-liter four-cylinder. CR says it is a bit loud and only performs moderately. If you can happen to find the GT model, one perk is that it comes with a more powerful version of that same motor and only comes with a six-speed manual. *searches Craiglist for Pontiac Vibe GT*

Can you buy a good SUV for less than $5,000? 

2004-2005 Honda Pilot price range: $4,600 – $5,275

Consumer Reports says the 2004-2005 Honda Pilot is a strong option for anyone looking for an affordable SUV. The Honda crossovers often combine the best SUV, wagon, and minivan elements, and the 2005 Honda Pilot is no exception. 

The 2005 Honda Pilot has a decently powered V6 which yields 17 mpg. That may not be much by today’s standards, but for 2005, this was pretty solid. CR testing found the Pilot from this era to be plenty comfy and roomy, but the road noise can be a bit loud. This will almost always be a downside to more affordable SUVs and cars. Even though the third row inhibits cargo room, a three-row SUV for under $5,000 is hard to beat. 

Is the 2004 Toyota Rav4 a good car? 

The Toyota Rav 4 is one of the best affordable SUVs on the market
A Toyota RAV4 | Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

2004 Toyota Rav4 price range:  $4,575 – $5,275

The Toyota Rav4 is yet another staple in the automotive world. One of the main driving forces behind the crossover movement has taken the automotive market by storm. The reason the 2004 is listed specifically is due to the fact that this was the first year model with ESC. 

The Toyota Rav4 is one of the best handling crossovers the segment has known. They are small, lightweight, and peppy little SUVs that continue to prove their worth year after year. Between Toyota’s stellar reliability and the practical nature of the Rav4 (or the Rad4 as we called our friend’s Rav4 in high school) make it one of the best options on this list.  

What is the best car to get under $5,000? 

It is hard to say. These models are great options, but it all depends on what you find for the right price and what style of vehicle you actually want or need. The Toyota Rav4 will likely be the best option for most people. The reliability and potential for things like AWD and a slightly higher driving position make the Rav 4 a stand-out ride. However, you’ll have a hard time finding a better affordable car than the Toyota Corolla.


Why Is the Toyota Rav4 the Best-Selling Crossover in the US?