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There’s a reason certain makes and models are go-to products for shoppers of the used automotive market. The following are some of the best budget-priced used car options available. They offer a value of good quality, reliability, and safety Here are three examples of good used cars to buy under $10,000

2010 Toyota Prius model parked in a parking lot ready for sale
Toyota Prius hybrid cars | Rui Vieira/PA Images via Getty Images

In a recent report from NPR, a discussion on recent inflation claims that about one-third of the consumer inflation in May and June was due to high used car prices. So shopping for a used car on a small budget may seem impossible right now. However, there are definitely good reliable used cars that are built to last. Here’s a list of cars that, if well taken care of, are well worth the money at about 10 years old. 

Consumer Reports gave all three of the following cars good reliability ratings. They also have good safety ratings from the International Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In addition, each model has good Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy estimates and can be found for under $10,000. 

The Honda Accord is a trusty steed

a 2011 Honda Accord parked near the shore in a press photo
2011 Honda Accord EX-L V6 Sedan | Honda Newsroom
  • Class: midsize sedan
  • Average price: $6,625-$11,900
  • EPA estimated fuel economy: about 22 mpg combined with the 4-cylinder, 2.4 L, automatic 5-speed or manual 5-speed, and about 25 mpg combined with the 3.5 L V6 and automatic
  • Years 2008 and 2009 are IIHS Top Safety Picks   

Every model from the 2008-2012 generation earned a Consumer Reports recommendation, except for 2008. However, that is likely due to the fact that Consumer Reports doesn’t typically recommend cars fresh off a redesign. This sedan has a reputation for solid reliability. 

The reliability scores for the Honda Accord reflect that reputation. The Honda Accord is a good used car to buy under $10,000. Critics note the Honda Accord for its handy drivability and comfort. Plus, Car and Driver named it a 10Best 35 times.   

The Toyota Prius is a good used car for those that want excellent fuel economy

a silver 2010 Toyota Prius on display at an indoor auto show.
2010 Toyota Prius | Photo by Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images
  • Class: compact car
  • Average Price: $7,450-$11,425
  • EPA Estimated fuel economy: 48 mpg combined with the 1.8 L 4-cylinder hybrid powertrain
  • Years 2010-2013 are all IIHS Top Safety Picks, 2014, 2015 both achieved Top Safety Pick+ status

Consumer Reports recommends the Toyota Prius in every model year from 2004 to date. In many ways, used car shoppers can’t go wrong with virtually any Prius model year if its previous owners took care of it. In order to find one under $10,000, buyers will generally need to shop older than the 2014 model. The fuel economy alone is enough for many shoppers.

The Toyota Prius has excellent reliability scores, in addition to its recognition as a practical all-around four-door compact car. Critics don’t exactly note it for a punchy powertrain or exciting driving dynamic. However, a used Toyota Prius is a great car for moving passengers from point A to point B.  

The Mazda Mazda3 also ticks all the boxes

a blue 2011 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback alongside the Mazda president at a press conference.
2011 Mazda Mazda3 hatchback | TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images
  • Class: four-door compact car, hatchback version increases cargo capacity
  • Average price: $6,325-$11,225
  • EPA Estimated fuel economy: about 28 mpg combined with the 4-cylinder, 2.0 L with a manual 5-speed, 27 mpg with an automatic transmission. The 2.5 L 4-cylinder gets 23 mpg in the manual version and 25 mpg combined paired with the automatic transmission.
  • Both the hatchback and sedan version are IIHS Top Safety Picks from 2011-2013, the sedan is a Top Safety Pick for 2010

The Mazda Mazda3 generation that ran from 2010 to 2013 is recommended in every model year except for 2011. This used compact car that critics generally note for its playful drivability and quality interior in top trims. To find this good used car to buy under $10,000, buyers will typically need to shop the 2012 model year and older. 

With good reliability ratings, the Mazda Mazda3 ticks all the boxes for many used car shoppers. Though not as thrifty at the pump as the Toyota Prius, and not quite as rock-solid as the Honda Accord, it’s a fun car with versatile cargo space in its hatchback version.

Finding a good used car to buy under $10,000

All three of these cars share three great things in common. The Honda Accord, Toyota Prius, and Mazda Mazda3 are all reliable used cars with good safety ratings and appealing fuel economy considering their respective powertrains. In today’s market, finding a good used car under $10,000 may seem daunting. 

However, it is possible. Diligent research is important, especially specific to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of each model a buyer looks at. That said, if you find one of these cars whose previous owners cared for it’s entirely possible you’ll land yourself in a decent daily driver at a budget price. These three are certainly not the only good used cars to buy under $10,000. But they are a great place for used car shoppers to start.


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