The median price of new cars in the United States is on the rise, reaching $36,718 in early 2019. But you don’t have to spend that much to get a reliable and attractive vehicle. Used cars are more reliable than ever, so you can get plenty of miles if you find a good one. If you don’t believe us, check out this list with best used cars under $10,000.
Note: we use the tool edmunds True Market Value to determine which cars meet our criteria for price, base level, and with approximately 100,000 miles on the odometer.
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Toyota RAV4 2009
Why should you buy it?: It has everything you could need and more.
For whom it is?: anyone looking for a practical car.
The Toyota RAV4 is several cars in one. It’s a relatively roomy crossover, so you can take it on a road trip without cramping it up. It’s reasonably efficient, especially with the four-cylinder engine, so it won’t break the bank if you take it to work. And while it’s not a true off-roader, it has enough ground clearance to hold up on dirt roads. Lastly, it’s a Toyota, so you know it’ll keep running without having to go to the shop regularly.
The 2009 RAV4 shows just how fast car technology has evolved during the 2010s. Don’t expect to find a giant state-of-the-art touchscreen displaying an internet-connected infotainment system. You’ll have to settle for a relatively basic stereo with a CD player, but that’s normal in this segment of the used car market. Living without an infotainment system isn’t as dramatic as it sounds, especially if you invest in a good smartphone dock and charging cable.
Used cars with less than 100,000 miles are available nationwide for less than $10,000. Ask for service records: You simply want some kind of proof that your next car has been properly maintained.
The best used SUV or SUV
Why should you buy it?: it can tow, take you to places without a road and satisfy the needs of the occupants.
For whom it is?: motorists in need of a large (and robust) off-roader.
The 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee is certainly showing its age. His style is not what we would call elegantly timeless, but his best attributes are. It’s capable of going off-road and well equipped, especially if you’re in the Limited trim level, and it’s available with a powerful V8 that’s capable of towing just about anything you can put on a trailer.
The downside is that the Grand Cherokee isn’t very fuel efficient. Jeep offered this generation of the model with either a six- or eight-cylinder engine, and both like to slurp on gas.
Used 2010 cars with less than 100,000 miles are available nationwide for less than $10,000. You could find a 2008 or 2011 with similar mileage for about the same amount of money. As always, ask for service records and be careful about buying one that has spent the last decade towing a horse or exploring the Appalachian Mountains. It’s better to buy a car with no problems and spend a few hundred dollars putting it together yourself, than to buy one with problems and spend a few thousand dollars rebuilding the transmission six months later.
the most efficient
Why should you buy it?: it’s fuel efficient without the complexity of a hybrid.
For whom it is?: moderate travelers.
We’re going to let you in on a little secret: If you spend a lot of time on the highway, a small turbocharged diesel is usually a better buy than a gas-electric hybrid powertrain. The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze turbodiesel received fuel economy ratings of 27 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 46 mpg on the highway, although many owners reported crossing the 50 mpg threshold. The Cruze’s engine is easy to keep running because there are fewer moving parts in a diesel than in a comparable gasoline engine, let alone a full hybrid system.
The Diesel cars lose the battle in city driving. They are less efficient than hybrids and are not suitable for small trips made at low speeds. The turbodiesel-powered Cruze won’t be happy if your trip is two miles at 25 mph.
Inside you’ll find what you can expect from a 2014 car designed with economy in mind. However, some trim levels come with a touchscreen-based infotainment system and rear-view camera, so you can still benefit from relatively modern tech features.
You can find a 2014 Chevrolet Cruze equipped with the turbodiesel engine and less than 100,000 miles for less than $10,000. Diesel cars aren’t exactly in high demand in America, so don’t hesitate to negotiate for a better price.
best used truck
Why should you buy it?: It is a used truck that is almost like new.
For whom it is?: drivers who need to tow things.
How much will it cost?: about $10,000 dollars.
We weren’t wrong in choosing the image you see above: the 2010 Nissan Frontier looks just like the new one that was introduced in 2020. The model’s design hasn’t changed much since its introduction in 2004, although a new one is finally in the works, and this unusual longevity makes it a great second-hand buy. It’s easy to criticize a car that’s 15 years old, but that would be to overlook the fact that it’s built on solid, time-tested foundations.
Then and now, the Nissan Frontier is available in many configurations. There are two- and four-door cabs, four- and six-cylinder engines, rear or four-wheel drive, and various trim levels. All are well-suited for towing or hauling anything you need to move. And because the Frontier is a relatively small truck, it fits in places larger models can’t.
Finding a Frontier with less than 100,000 miles under $10,000 is easy. The advice we gave Grand Cherokee buyers holds true here, too. Be very careful not to buy a truck that has spent a lot of time towing or one that has tried to conquer the Rubicon Trail. Use your best judgment (look below to check for dents or other damage), ask for service records, and move on to the next truck if anything looks suspicious.