The Safest Used Cars Under $10,000 Will Surprise You

A safe used car for less than $10,000 sounds pretty good. Maybe your teenager is starting to drive. Maybe you’re on a budget and are looking to find the best vehicle you can get for the money. The good news? U.S. News recently released a roundup of the safest used cars under $10,000.

Here’s a breakdown of the list, including some models you’d be surprised to see there. 

The criteria for the safest used cars

There’s no denying that vehicles are becoming safer with each generation. And by that logic, older cars aren’t as safe. But there are some high-quality used cars that, according to U.S. News, are not only safe but also relatively inexpensive, priced at less than $10,000. 

The 12 cars on the list earned safety scores of 10 out of 10 from U.S. News. To garner that rating, vehicles must offer the best safety features available that model year. They also must earn good crash test scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The pre-owned cars in this roundup don’t offer the safety features available on current vehicles, but their safety features were considered competitive and top-notch at the time. The features vary among vehicles, so be mindful of what you’re interested in.

The surprises

You might not expect to see the 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman among the safest used cars. But the subcompact SUV is all-wheel-drive and loaded with solid safety features from its model year. It has anti-lock brakes, front-seat side and side-curtain airbags, and stability control. It also offers rear parking sensors, traction control on the S trim, and good ratings in all five IIHS crash tests.

RELATED: The Biggest Differences Between New and Used Cars You Should Know About

The 2012 Toyota Prius c was all-new in 2012 and boasted the best things about the hybrid Prius in a smaller subcompact. The Prius c is fuel-efficient and has a wide array of standard features, such as anti-lock brakes, a driver knee airbag, hill start assist, side-curtain airbags, stability control, and traction control. The IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick, and it achieved a good rating in four crash tests. However, it received a poor score in the driver-side small overlap front test.

Also on the list of the safest used cars, the 2011 Scion xB compact earned a perfect safety score and offers several good safety features. It has anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability control, and traction control standard. It was a Top Safety Pick in 2011 and earned a good rating in all IIHS crash tests.

There’s also the 2014 Scion xD, the newest car on the list. It offers more modern features and loads of safety features. It has anti-lock brakes, front-seat and side-curtain airbags, front active head restraints, stability control, and traction control. The hatchback version earned a good rating on all IIHS crash tests.

The rest of the list

The remainder of this list of the safest used cars consists of vehicles you’d expect to see, such as the 2010 Subaru Legacy. Known for producing some of the safest cars in the U.S. market, Subaru equipped this Legacy with standard all-wheel-drive. It also has a wealth of safety features, like anti-lock brakes with brake assist, front-seat and side-curtain airbags, and stability control. It earned the distinction of being an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

The 2011 Buick Regal is upscale and well equipped. This midsize sedan achieved a good rating in all IIHS tests and was named a Top Safety Pick. The safety features you’ll find include anti-lock brakes, front-seat side-impact airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags, OnStar, stability control, and traction control. Turbo models also offer brake assist.

If you’re looking for a safe used car for less than $10,000, check out the list.