Buying Advice

Ranked: Best used cars under $10,000

The Honda Civic was a good buy when it was new and it continues to be one today.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

It's not just new cars that people are after. The used car market is full of good cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans that are available at prices far lower than a brand new car.

iSeeCars, a car search engine, analyzed over 6.1 million cars from model years 2011 and newer to determine the used cars that demonstrated long-term reliability and have an average safety rating of at least 4 stars out of 5 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Shoppers with a budget of $10,000 can purchase the following reliable vehicles that are less than 10 years old.

2011 Toyota Prius

2011 Toyota Prius

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Average Used Price: $9,076
The five-passenger Toyota Prius was new for the 2010 model year and mostly unchanged for 2011. In the second-generation Prius buyers could get a moonroof with solar panels, four driving modes, a guidance parking system, and steering wheel controls on their Prius when it was new.

2012 Chevrolet Impala

2012 Chevrolet Impala

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Average Used Price: $9,240
The Chevrolet Impala is spacious and reliable. It isn't as well-appointed as some of its rivals, but it is powered by a strong 300-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine that is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

2011 Honda Accord

2011 Honda Accord

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Average Used Price: $9,363
The Honda Accord was upgraded for 2011 with increased fuel economy, fresh from and rear fascia, a new SE trim level, and two engine options (four-cylinder or V6). Some models were available with paddle shifters and navigaton when the Accord was new.

2012 Honda Civic Coupe

2012 Honda Civic Coupe

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Average Used Price: $9,406
Honda redesigned the Civic for the 2012 model year debuting a more streamlined look, spacious cabin, and enhanced technology. When the model was new, it was available with a USB audio interface, Bluetooth, navigation, and voice recognition technology.

2013 Mazda Mazda6

2013 Mazda Mazda6

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Average Used Price: $9,534
Mazda strived to make the Mazda6 a true sports sedan. It was available with either a four-cylinder or V6 engine and came standard with automatic headlight shutoff, air conditioning with pollen filter, power door locks and windows, driver's side one-touch window control, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted controls, a AM/FM/CD/MP3-compatible six-speaker audio system, and remote keyless entry. The car was well-appointed in top trims with wood grain pattern, satin silver, and polished chrome accents.

2012 Honda Civic Sedan

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Average Used Price: $9,552
The Honda Civic sedan got the same revisions as the coupe model for the 2012 model year. It was a good buy then and it continues to be one today.

2012 Toyota Corolla

2012 Toyota Corolla

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Average Used Price: $9,655
Toyota refreshed the Corolla for the 211 model year. For 2012, the Corolla gained standard with color-keyed power side mirrors, power windows, driver's side auto-down window, power door locks, and remote keyless entry. Higher trim levels have an upgraded head unit with a USB port.

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New sports car

2022 Subaru BRZ pricing announced

The BRZ is all-new for 2022.

Subaru

Earlier this year, Subaru announced the all-new BRZ sports car, which is coming this fall to replace the previous generation of the car that was discontinued in 2020. It, along with its Toyota cousin, the 86, get more power, updated interiors, and better technology than their predecessors.

The BRZ Premium is the base trim of the car. It starts at $28,955 after destination. Adding an automatic transmission drives the price up by $1,600 to $30,555. The BRZ Limited starts at $31,455 after destination, which shifts to $33,255 with an automatic transmission.


2022 Subaru BRZ The BRZ's compact size and manual transmission make it enthusiast friendly.


The 2022 BRZ gets a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine that produces 228 horsepower. Part of the appeal of small, sporty cars like BRZ is that they are infinitely more fun to drive than larger, more computerized vehicles. To that end, the car comes standard with a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission. Buyers can opt to swap in a six-speed automatic transmission, but that almost defeats the point of the car. A Torsen limited-slip differential, vehicle stability control with track mode, and 17-inch wheels round out the car's standard performance features.

Inside, the BRZ comes with an 8-inch touchscreen that runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, and dual-zone automatic climate controls. A new gauge cluster display can show amps, coolant temperatures, or the car's lateral g-forces, and when track mode is engaged, the tachometer shifts from a circular to a color linear graph.


2022 Subaru BRZ An updated interior and tech are highlights of the new BRZ,

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The CX-5's styling is sharp and clean.

Mazda

Crossovers have clearly become the family vehicle of choice. Minivans and large sedans are far less common than they used to be as buyers opt for the relative plushness and more generous space offered by utility vehicles. That's not a bad thing, but many people will find the increasing levels of sameness in the crossover market to be off-putting.

Thankfully, Mazda is here to help keep things interesting. Its CX-5 takes a different approach than its rivals. Where vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V focus on comfort and efficiency over almost everything else, Mazda managed to jam in loads of vehicle feedback and engagement. Behind the wheel, the crossover feels and sounds much more alive and responsive than its competition. Jumping out of a larger vehicle and into the CX-5 felt like a shock at first, as the Mazda's steering wheel delivers real, actual feedback and transmits a picture of what's going on underneath the vehicle, which is something not often seen outside of expensive performance vehicles.


2021 Mazda CX-5 The CX-5's cabin is more upscale than its rivals. Mazda


Engaging Powertrains

The CX-5's base four-cylinder engine is fine, but the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is where things start to get interesting. It bumps the standard mill's 187 horsepower to 250 and gives off a pleasing turbo whine under heavy throttle. It pairs almost perfectly with the six-speed automatic transmission and delivers surprising power and torque. My test vehicle's all-wheel drive gave the CX-5 a surefooted feel, and from experience I can say that it's worth the added cost if you live anywhere with legitimate winter weather.

There are a few tradeoffs that come along with the CX-5's level of driver engagement, largely related to interior space and noise levels. While the Mazda's cabin is comfortable and is in no way low-rent, a great deal of wind, road, and drivetrain noise make their way into the vehicle at all times. You could argue that this is just another expression of the CX-5's connection with its driver, and you'd be right in some cases. At many times, however, such as when taking the kids to school or just running to the grocery store, it gets tiresome. Your five-year-old won't care about how good the steering feel is when they have to keep asking you to crank up the volume on their podcast story. The noise level is most noticeable around town with the constant stop and go of traffic.

The other main drawback with the CX-5, at least for families (like mine) that don't travel lightly, is interior space. Thanks to its curves and beautifully sloped roof, the Mazda's cargo hold is not as spacious as some of its rivals, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, or Toyota RAV4. That dramatic shape also makes the rear seat feel tighter than it reads on paper, but thanks to a friendly ride height and large rear door openings, parents will have no issues with loading kids in car seats.


2021 Mazda CX-5 A sloping roofline can make rear-seat headroom challenging for taller people.Mazda


Great Tech and Safety

Mazda bumped the CX-5's infotainment screen size from 7.0 to 10.3 inches across the board for 2021, but there's no touchscreen here. Instead, the system is controlled using a rotary dial and volume know that are mounted behind the gear shifter in the center console. It's a responsive and fairly straightforward process to use and control the system, but scrolling through long menus or trying to wade through several options using the rotary controller becomes tiresome and distracting at times.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 was named a Top Safety Pick + by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That award is due in part to the crossover's excellent performance in crash tests, but also comes thanks to its long list of standard advanced driver aids. All models get a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warnings with lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a smart brake support system, and high beam control. My top trim tester also got a driver attention alert system, front and rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree monitor.

It's hard to ignore the quality, value, and fun that the CX-5 brings to the table, even considering how good its competitors have gotten. With a price tag that maxes out under $40,000, the Mazda's driving experience and plush interior should put it at the top of shoppers' lists. Its few drawbacks don't spoil the overall package, and only really present a problem for families of four or more – like mine. Those people, myself included, should be shopping for a slightly larger vehicle, anyway, and for them, there's the Mazda CX-9.


2021 Mazda CX-5 The CX-5 is one of the most fun-to-drive crossovers on sale today.Mazda

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