The 5 Best Used Cars for Around $10,000

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Woman holding the key to her new car
Monkey Business Images /

New cars can be budget-busters. That’s why Money Talks News long has sung the praises of buying a gently used car instead.

But how do you know which used car to buy? Digital Trends hopes to make the task a bit easier by winnowing the list to five great choices for about $10,000.

In making its selections, Digital Trends turned to some of the most esteemed resources:

“We used the Edmunds True Market Value tool to determine which cars met our pricing criteria by looking up the value of a clean, entry-level example with about 100,000 miles on the clock. From there, we looked at Consumer Reports reliability scores to see how these cars are likely to hold up in daily use. Finally, we considered factors like safety, performance, practicality, and style to see which cars were genuinely worth buying.”

By these criteria, the top used car is the 2009 Toyota RAV4. According to Digital Trends, this crossover is like “several different cars rolled into one.” The publication lauds the RAV4 for being roomy and fuel-efficient, as well as reliable.

The top picks on the Digital Trends list are:

  • 2009 Toyota RAV4 — best used car overall
  • 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee — best used SUV
  • 2014 Chevrolet Cruze turbodiesel — best used fuel-efficient car
  • 2010 Nissan Frontier — best used truck
  • 2005 Lexus LS 430 — best used luxury car

Each of these cars costs around $10,000, according to the analysis.

Why you should buy used

A used car can be a true bargain, especially compared with shelling out for something new. As we write in “You Should Never Buy These 10 Things New“:

“The value of a new car drops like a rock as soon as you drive it off the lot. Rather than be upside-down on your car loan five minutes after signing the paperwork, look for a quality used car that has already taken the huge depreciation hit.”

In fact, a recent AAA analysis found that, on average, depreciation costs new car owners $3,334 a year. That’s 36% of all the costs of owning and maintaining a new vehicle.

So, it almost always makes sense to look for a preowned car whenever you shop. But to do so successfully, you need to avoid some common mistakes. For more tips, check out “7 Steps to Buying a Reliable Used Car.”

Looking for more ideas? Check out “10 Gently Used Cars You Can Buy for up to 56% Off.”

Do you have a favorite used car story? Share it in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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