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  3. Five Great Used Cars for Under $10,000

Manuel Carillo III  | May 20,2020

The average new vehicle costs about $35,000. Unfortunately, that's too expensive for many consumers.The good news is that there are scads of used cars out there that are plenty safe, reliable, and less than a decade old, all for under $10,000.

Research firm I See Cars recently put together a list of the best affordable used cars, trucks and SUVs you can buy within various price parameters. Using analytics from more than 6.1 million used vehicles sold between October 2019 through March 2020, it cross-referenced sales data against longevity and safety data to deliver its top picks.

The cars below represent but a sliver of all the vehicles iseecars.com recommends. For the full list of cars, trucks and SUVs that bode well for price-conscious consumers, check out the full I See Cars study.

Tenth-Gen Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius is a great used car buy

With an average used selling price of $9,076*, the 2011 Toyota Prius is the least-expensive vehicle on this list, and arguably the best buy here. The 2011 Prius falls into the nameplate's third generation, which lasted between 2010 and 2015. The current, fourth-gen car began its run in 2016, so you'd only be one generation behind with the '11 model.

Nine years ago, the Prius carried a starting price of $22,120, and returned an EPA-estimated 49 miles per gallon in the city and 46 mpg highway**. That high mileage can be attributed to the fact that the Prius is a battery-assisted hybrid, but having a tiny gasoline-burning engine also helps.

On the internal-combustion end, the Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine making 98 horsepower, which is then sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Shop Toyota Prius Inventory

Ninth-Gen Chevrolet Impala

The Chevrolet Impala is a great used car buy

Chevrolet's Impala nameplate can trace its lineage back to 1958, so by the time we arrived at 2012, the Impala was already nine generations deep. While the Impala makes this list because of its safety and longevity, exterior and interior styling weren't exactly electrifying something to be desired.

If you don't care about those shortcomings, then check out the Impala. Today you can pick one up for an average of $9,240. Eight years ago, the big Chevy carried base prices between $25,760 and $30,300*. For a relatively large car powered by a 3.6-liter, 300-horsepower V6, the Impala returned an impressive 18/29 city/highway mpg** in EPA estimates of the time. All that power and efficiency is channeled to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Impala was drastically improved in its subsequent generation, but could not survive consumer tastes shifting to SUVs. Consequently, the sizable sedan ended its production run on February 27, 2020.

Chevrolet Impala

Ninth-Gen Honda Accord

The Honda Accord is a great used car buy

For an average selling price of $9,363, the 2011 Honda Accord sedan has a lot to offer.

The most conservative versions were powered by a 2.4-liter, 177-horsepower inline four-cylinder engine. When channeling that power to the front wheels through a five-speed manual transmission, EPA estimates came in at 23/32 city/highway mpg, and 22/33 city/highway mpg** with the five-speed automatic.

On the other end of the spectrum is the 271-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 Accord, which used a five-speed automatic exclusively. With that powertrain configuration, the Accord returned 20/30 city/highway mpg.

Back in '11, the Accord retailed at starting prices between $22,150 and $32,600*. 2011 marked the second-to-last year of 8th-gen Accords spanning between 2008 and 2012. The current Accord is a 10th-gen design, which has been on sale since 2018.

Ninth-Gen Honda Accord

Ninth-Gen Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is a great used car buy

The ninth-gen Honda Civic (2012-2015) isn't quite as exciting to behold as the current, tenth-gen car, which has been on sale since 2016. That said, no one is going to call you irresponsible for picking up a '12 model. Average used prices for that year sit at $9,406 for the Civic coupe, and $9,552 for the Civic sedan**.

Back in 2012, the Civic carried starting prices between $15,755 and $24,055. Most Civics were powered by a 1.8-liter, 140-horsepower, inline-four cylinder engine. The most efficient models (at 28/39 city/highway mpg) sent power to the front wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission. With the five-speed manual, city mileage stayed the same, but highway mileage dipped to 35 mpg.

Thrill-seekers will enjoy the hot Civic Si, which is powered by a 2.4-liter, 201-hp four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Of course, more performance means less efficiency, so the sporty Si scoots along with EPA estimates of 22/31 city/highway mpg**.

Ninth-Gen Honda Civic

Tenth-Gen Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla is a great used car buy

The 2012 Toyota Corolla sits toward the end of the model's tenth generation, which lasted between 2007 and 2013. That makes the eight-year-old Corolla two generations removed from the current, 12th-gen car, which began life in 2019 as a hatchback only. The 12-gen sedan arrived a year later.

A 2012 example may look dated compared with a new Corolla, but for an average selling price of $9,655, money saved on an older Corolla is money saved. Eight years ago, you would've been spending between $16,130 and $18,820*, as far as base prices go.

All Corollas that year were powered by a 1.8-liter, 132-horsepower inline four-cylinder engine mated to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic … remember those? Manual-equipped Corollas netted 27/33 city/highway mpg**, while Corollas with the automatic returned 26/34 city/highway mpg**.

Toyota Corolla
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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.