Families across the United States have been hit hard by economic recession, with a majority of families in many parts of the country simply unable to afford a brand-new car. Rather than taking out a loan on a later-model used car, consider the cars on this list of quality and cheap-to-run used cars under $5,000.
The cars on this list were chosen under the assumption that the buyer is paying cash, rather than taking out a loan which carries a monthly payment. Your options will be much open to many later-model cars if you go through a dealership, but many cars made in the last several years are not built well.
Those that fall under the magic $5,000 price point actually built to last and worth driving will likely be a couple of years older, and thus likely be offered without a warranty.
On the bright side, owning an older and inexpensive used car outright, that is to say without owing money to the bank, will be a huge weight off your shoulders should you lose your income or face other financial difficulties.
All of the used cars on this list have a low total cost of ownership, factoring in purchase price, gas mileage, insurance and cost of repairs.
5. Used Honda Accord, 1995-1999
You won’t have to look too far to find a used late-1990s model Honda Accord under $5,000 that has been well taken care of. The Accord is larger than the other sub-$5,000 fuel misers on this list, so it might be the only viable option here for families with older children.
There is a reason why there are more older-model Hondas on the road than cars from any other automaker, hands down. These cars stand the test of time. Honda Accords have enough technology that silly little things break from time to time, but even a “new” (refurbished Japanese import) engine will not put you out of house and home.
The V6 models are known for their durability, but of course don’t carry as good fuel economy as their inline-4 counterparts.
4. Used Hyundai Accent, 2003-2007
Right around the turn of the millennium Hyundai began to drastically improve its product offerings, especially the lowly little Accent. The new generation of small Hyundai cars will still come with factory warranties due to the crazy 10 year powertrains Hyundai has been offering.
The Accent makes a great used car if economy of operation is your biggest concern. Because it is newer than most of the used cars under $5,000 you will find anywhere, a nearly-new Accent will be fresh if it has been maintained. Early long-term consumer reports show that the Accent will stand up to the test of time.
You won’t win any races or jaw-drops, but the Accent is a fine daily driver, especially with manual transmission.
3. Used Subaru Impreza, 2000-2002
The used non-WRX Impreza market is full of huge bargains, as most used Impreza buyers spring for a few extra thousands for the WRX. That makes the XXXX-XXXX standard Imprezas a super steal as frugal and fun used cars. Though not legendary for their gas mileage, these cars won’t burn you too bad at the pump.
Not quite as cheap to repair as the more mainstream Japanese compacts, the Impreza makes up for it in high-weather climates due to its solid all wheel drive system. These trusty little bargain-basement performers will handle in rain and snow better than nearly every compact car on the road.
A well-maintained 2000-2002 Subaru Impreza can give you years of service as one of the best used cars under $5,000 out there, but keep up on your maintenance or things will get expensive down the road.
2. Used Ford Ranger, 1998-2002
Ford’s Ranger is the much less common smaller truck offering. What the F-150 gets in thrills and mass-market options, the Ranger saves as a great no-frills used work truck or daily driver. These Rangers are so easy to work on, with inexpensive parts, that they make great used cars you can do simple repairs on yourself.
Plus, with Ford’s perfectly adequate four cylinder, the light-on-its-feet used 1998-2002 Ford Ranger offers top marks for utility and cheap cost to drive as the months and years go by.
1. Used Honda Civic, 1994-2000
The Honda Civic earning top marks as an inexpensive, great on gas and cheap to main used car is the biggest no-brainer on this list. Civics hold their resale value so well that you will not be able to get as new a model for under $5,000.
Still, with some of the cheapest repair bills of any car in the industry due to the sheer number of mid-1990s used Honda Civics still running around.
Honda’s B15 series of engines, used in many of the Civic models during this period, are absolutely legendary for their durability. Pair that with a chassis and snick-snick manual transmission that can be driven as a gas miser or a wanna-be sports car for the poor man, and you have a winning used car combination.