It’s not an easy time to shop for a used car and even harder if you’re on a tight budget. Used-car prices skyrocketed as a result of the inventory shortage, and despite the promising trends of rising inventory and falling used-car prices, the average price of a pre-owned car remains elevated. Cars.com data shows median used-car prices are up nearly 35% from January 2020.
But this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a safe and reliable used car at a relatively modest price today. Cars.com scoured its current vehicle listings and found good vehicles across a variety of body styles and sizes with median list prices ranging from $9,000 to $12,000 as of February. That means half the listed prices for that vehicle are above the median and half are below, so you should be able to get one for around $10,000. Unless otherwise specified, our calculations include all body styles and powertrains offered for the vehicle. Tap the link below each vehicle to find complete data on its trim levels and features.
Beyond price, we only included vehicles that Cars.com editors continue to respect in their categories. We avoided any cars older than the 2012 model year, as such examples are likely to have higher mileage, worse crashworthiness and more age-related mechanical problems. Within those boundaries, we chose vehicles that have been found to be safe and reliable: Each vehicle must earn a respectable reliability score in the U.S. Vehicle Dependability study by analytics company J.D. Power. We also only included vehicles with high safety scores for their respective model years from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
You’ll find the key specs for each vehicle below its photo, but note that EPA fuel economy is based on current ratings adjusted in late 2016, so the figures shown may not match the original window-sticker numbers.
Here are our 10 picks that meet all the criteria and fall within the $10,000 range, listed by vehicle type: