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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2020 Toyota Yaris punches above its weight.

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

Folks are always fascinated about what I do for a living. "Oh, you drive a different car every week? That's so exciting!"

What follows is a fairly predictable set of questions. "What's your favorite car?" (Rolls-Royce Wraith). "Have you ever driven on a race track?" (Numerous times.) "What's the fastest you've driven?" (180 MPH in a Porsche Panamera on the Autobahn in Germany.)

But then I'll start asking them questions, trying to learn about what they drive and why. What car do you have and why did you buy it? What other cars did you consider? What do you look for in an automobile?

2020 Toyota Yaris The Yaris has Toyota looks up front.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

It's my own form of market research. I can't review a car if I don't understand who my reader is and how to best guide them. It's part of why I don't dive too deep into horsepower and performance figures — I've found that, performance cars excepted, most vehicles perform adequately for the everyday tasks that people buy them for.

That brings us to this week's car, which is perhaps one of the least-interesting cars I've tested — but in a very good way. The sub-$20,000 2020 Toyota Yaris Hatchback is aimed solidly at folks who want an affordable, entry-level vehicle that's safe, practical, and with just a touch of luxury-ishness.

My tester was the (slightly) fancier XLE trim, pricing out at $19,680. It's equipped with an adequate if unexciting 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine churning out a whopping 106-horsepower. The engine might be tiny, but it comes with the added bonus of 32/40/35 mpg (city/highway/combined) fuel economy. It's paired to a six-speed automatic transmission (and a real transmission too, not a continuously variable unit that some folks love to hate).

2020 Toyota Yaris The hatchback is convenient but the car also comes in a sedan variant.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

It has 16-inch wheels, a bunch of airbags, LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a seven-inch color touch screen complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It has push-button start, keyless entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Oh, and there's automatic climate control too, which I've seen missing on cars that cost way more than this.

Here's where things get a bit confusing. Toyota sells the Yaris in other markets around the world, and it's their own in-house vehicle. But the Yaris sold in America is a rebadged Mazda2 that's assembled at Mazda's facility in Salamanca, Mexico. It's related to the Toyota Yaris sedan which used to be called the Scion iA, which is also built by Mazda, but also has the Toyota brand on it.

Whatever.

2020 Toyota Yaris The Yaris rides okay, about what you’d expect for a sub-$20,000 vehicle.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

I've driven a lot of Mazdas and a lot of Toyotas, and it's obvious to me that this is a Mazda. That's not a bad thing. Mazdas vehicles have punched above their weight for a long time (I had a 2011 Mazda3 for years, and I've praised them frequently in these pages), bringing both upscale materials and design to lower-priced segments. That's true here too. The Mazda2 — I mean, Toyota Yaris Hatchback — doesn't feel like a stripped down econobox. It's small and maneuverable and the engine, though a little noisy, gets you through traffic nicely.

It's a great new car for a teenager or for someone looking to spend as little money on a new car as possible. New cars, after all, come with new car warranties and can appeal to folks who don't want to imagine what came before when buying something used.

The Yaris competes with the Honda Fit, which is a perennial favorite in this class, and it seems a little nicer and a little more polished, though with less rear-seat legroom if you anticipate carrying adults back there.

2020 Toyota Yaris Even low-cost models have an infotainment screen these days.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The front is comfortable and attractive enough, with solid buttons and knobs and dials that are all pleasing to touch and fiddle with (which isn't as common as you'd think). It seems to be a better car than it's bargain-basement price would indicate, with a solid ride, comfortable seats and two reliable names behind it.

I took it to Costco (as I have with all my COVID-era test drives) and, with the 60/40 seats folded down, was able to fill it with ease. It swallowed up toilet paper and paper towels and a case of Diet Dr. Pepper and all manner of other things. It's no Rolls-Royce Wraith, but I'd be happy to recommend the little Yaris to someone looking for a new car that won't break the bank.

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New features and some trim level shuffling are in store for the Silverado in 2021.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is getting a refined list of offerings for the new model year, including the Multi-Flex Tailgate that was announced last week. Production of the model will begin in September and it will arrive at Chevrolet dealerships throughout the autumn.

According to the company's polling, 96 percent of light-duty pickup truck owners tow less than 10,000 pounds. Two Chevy trucks are getting a boost to get them closer to that benchmark.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 The new Multi-Flex Tailgate is just like GMC's MultiPro Tailgate.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Models powered by Chevy's turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that are equipped with a Crew Cab and Short Box see their towing rating increased by 2,500 pounds to 9,300 pounds for the 2021 model year. A new Regular Cab/Long Box configuration offers a tow rating of 9,600 pounds with the same engine.

Chevrolet Silverado 1500 models powered by a 3.0-liter Duramax turbo-diesel engine have their trailer capacity increased by 1,900 pounds for 2021 to 9,500 pounds on two-wheel drive models. Chevy has also given these trucks a $1,500 price decrease for the new model year.

The Silverado 1500 has also gotten new camera technology for 2021. These upgrades are similar to what is in the GMC Sierra for the coming model year. In addition to its previous 15 unique camera views, Chevy adds:

  • Trailer Length Indicator - When making a lane-change maneuver with the turn signal activated, a red overlay twice the length of the compatible trailer is shown on the center console screen, which can help show when other vehicles are present.
  • Jack-Knife Alert - Tracks the position of the compatible trailer in relation to the vehicle and provides an alert if a potential jack-knife situation is imminent.
  • Cargo Bed View enhancement - Cargo Bed Zoom View and Bed Hitch Guidance are now available, which help to align and hook up a gooseneck/fifth-wheel trailer.
  • Rear Trailer View now features guidelines and Trailer-Angle Indicator - Enhanced to include assisting guidelines when backing a compatible trailer into place and a Trailer-Angle Indicator shows the relationship between the truck and trailer3.
  • Rear Side View enhancement: Provides a split view, automatically biased based on the trailer's angle, of the left and right sides of the truck and compatible trailer. This view was previously only available while driving forward and is now available in Reverse for better visibility when positioning a trailer.

The 2021 Silverado 1500 also adds more customer-friendly content at all price points to an already compelling truck lineup, including:

  • Custom and Custom Trail Boss are now standard with Custom Convenience Package and Infotainment Package, which include EZ Lift power lock and release tailgate, bed LED cargo area lighting, remote start, available SiriusXM radio, available OnStar, and more.
  • Work Truck, Custom and Custom Trail Boss now offer 40/20/40 split-bench front seat and a new Safety Confidence Package (late availability), which includes Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, steering wheel audio controls, and 4.2-inch driver information center.
  • Custom Trail Boss and LT Trail Boss are now available with 20-inch black wheels with Goodyear Territory MT Tires (late availability).
  • LT and RST now come standard with the All Star Edition content, which includes the Convenience Package, Trailering Package, and an auto-locking rear differential.
  • LTZ now comes standard with the LTZ Convenience Package, Safety Package, and 20-inch polished wheels.
  • Wireless phone projection through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability is standard on LTZ and High Country, and available on LT, LT Trail Boss, and RST.
  • A first for Chevrolet, Adaptive Ride Control is now available on High Country models with 22-inch wheels to provide enhanced ride comfort.
Three new packages are available: All Star Edition Plus, Texas Edition Plus, and LTZ Premium Texas Edition. Details on these packages are forthcoming.

Three additional exterior paint job options are also being made available: Mosaic Black Metallic (late availability and at extra charge), Oxford Brown Metallic (available at extra charge), and Cherry Red Tintcoat (available at extra charge).

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