Buying a used car on a frugal budget can be a bit of a challenge but it’s not impossible. There are some quality care models available at very affordable pricing. Further, these cars have proven to be generally reliable statistically. The following items can easily be found in most markets, well under $10,000:
2004 Ford Mustang, 6-Cylinder Model
The 2004 Mustang was produced before the re-imagining of the vehicle for a retro look, as a result it generally had a bit of a plastic look. However, performance-wise the 2004 model came with an engine block capable of 190 horsepower out of a 3.8 liter block. While the car definitely serves those who want to feel a bit of umph on the gas pedal, the power comes from the rear wheels, so it’s not the best car to use in regularly wet and snowy climates (20mpg City and 29 mpg Hwy).
2007 Kia Optima
Designed as sedan, this four-door car provides a conservative design that works well for a single person or a young couple who need a reliable car that doesn’t break down. The car also rates well for fuel efficiency (24 mpg City and 34 mpg Hwy). It’s boring but consistent in performance.
2006 Subaru Impreza
Subaru loves to emphasize its vehicles do just as well off-road in extreme road rallies as they do on asphalt. That said, the Impreza isn’t likely to be used often for a road rally, tearing down dirt farm roads. It will perform extremely well as a commute sedan with all-wheel drive capability and tight turn control at speed. While the fuel efficiency isn’t the best performing, it isn’t a gas hog either (23 mpg City and 28 mpg Hwy). For an all-weather reliable car under $10,000 the 2006 Impreza is a good find.
2002 Toyota Tundra
For those who need a full-size truck for under $10k that is still reliable and comfortable on long trips, the 2002 Tundra is worth finding. If a model has less than 100,000 miles on it, it’s a serious find. These trucks have been extremely reliable and are very comfortable to drive. The six-cylinder version is also fairly fuel efficient, getting good mileage on the highway on long trips, especially with cruise control applied. Otherwise the fuel consumption is about normal for a big truck (15 mpg City and 20 mpg Hwy).