Best Affordable Used Cars

By Julie Blackley

Reliable and Safe Used Cars by Price and Segment

When shopping for a used car, consumers may already have a budget and vehicle type in mind. But even when those constraints exist, the number of options can still be overwhelming. To help shoppers narrow down their options, iSeeCars analyzed millions of used cars to help prospective car buyers find the best vehicles for their lifestyle and at a budget they can afford.

iSeeCars 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). Because a good car can be found across all budgets, iSeeCars further examined which used vehicles are the smartest buys across multiple price points.  

“A safe and reliable vehicle can be found across a wide range of price points, and older vehicles with established reputations for longevity and safety can help consumers get high-quality cars at more affordable prices,” said iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly. 

According to iSeeCars data, the average used car price for passenger cars is $18,404, the used SUV price is $24,096, and the used pickup truck price is $29,705. “Because passenger cars are generally less expensive than pickup trucks and SUVs, they present the most budget-friendly options, but consumers might be surprised to see that they could afford a quality SUV or a pickup truck at slightly higher price points,” said Ly.

With the average used car prices for these vehicle segments in mind, iSeeCars found that savvy car shoppers can still find quality cars that are below these averages. “Reliable pickup trucks and SUVs are more expensive than passenger cars and sedans, so we broke down how shoppers can get the best vehicles in each segment at the lowest possible price,” said Ly. 

“These vehicles are proven to last beyond 200,000 miles, which means they can last at least 15 years if they are driven at the average annual mileage,” said Phong Ly. “So even a nine-year-old vehicle, if well-maintained, can still have many more years on the road.”

Whether you want a passenger car, pickup truck, or SUV, here are the best affordable used cars by price to help you get the most out of your vehicle purchase.

Best Used Cars at Affordable Prices (iSeeCars Study)
Category Winner Runner-Up Third Place
Best Used Passenger Cars Under $10,000 2012 Honda Civic 2011 Honda Accord 2012 Chevrolet Impala
Best Used SUVs Under $15,000 2012 Ford Expedition 2012 Honda Pilot 2012 Acura MDX
Best Used Pickup Truck Under $20,000 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2012 Toyota Tacoma 2011 Toyota Tundra

Best Affordable Used Cars Under $10,000

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

“With a budget of $10,000, shoppers are most likely to find a safe and reliable vehicle in the generally lower-priced passenger car segment,” said Ly.

Best Used Cars Under $10,000
Vehicle Average Used Car Price
2011 Toyota Prius $9,076
2012 Chevrolet Impala $9,240
2011 Honda Accord $9,363
2012 Honda Civic (Coupe) $9,406
2013 Mazda Mazda6 $9,534
2012 Honda Civic (Sedan) $9,552
2012 Toyota Corolla $9,655

Two Toyota vehicles make the list of the best used cars under $10,000 including the 2011 Toyota Prius hybrid hatchback and the 2012 Toyota Corolla sedan. “Toyotas are known for their longevity, so even the older model vehicles on the list are smart vehicle purchases,” said Ly. “The compact Toyota Corolla boasts impressive reliability ratings and good safety scores, while the Toyota Prius has superior fuel economy estimates and a spacious interior.” 

The list also includes three Honda cars, including the 2011 Honda Accord and the 2012 Honda Civic sedan and coupe variants. “The Accord and Civic are both popular vehicles known for their safety and reliability,” said Ly. 

Rounding out the list are the 2013 Mazda 6 and the 2012 Chevrolet Impala. “The Mazda 6 is known for its driving dynamics and strong reliability scores, while the Chevrolet Impala is a safe and spacious sedan that offers a comfortable ride to make it a great choice for a family-friendly vehicle.”  

Best Affordable Used Vehicles Under $15,000

The average used car price is $22,661. However, car buyers with a slightly higher budget looking for a used car under $15,000 can find newer versions and additional passenger car models than what is available for under $10,000. For $15,000, there are also reliable SUVs to suit their needs. 

Best Used SUVs Under $15,000

Car buyers who want an SUV can find a reliable vehicle within their $15,000 budget. The most reliable SUVs in this price range span the 2011 through 2013 model years.

Best Used SUVs under $15,000
Vehicle Average Used Car Price
2013 Honda CR-V $13,469
2012 Honda Pilot $13,925
2012 Ford Expedition $14,232
2012 Dodge Durango $14,528
2012 Acura MDX $14,662
2011 Toyota Highlander $14,900

Two Honda SUVs make the list of used SUVs under $15,000 including the 2013 Honda CR-V compact SUV and the 2012 Honda Pilot midsize SUV. “The Honda CR-V has strong safety and reliability scores while providing among the most cargo and passenger space in its class,” said Ly. “The Honda Pilot, known for its family-friendliness, offers one of the most spacious third rows in its class.” Also making the list is the 2012 Acura MDX, which shares the same platform and many of the same parts as the Pilot.

Two additional spacious midsize SUVs make the list including the 2012 Dodge Durango and the 2011 Toyota Highlander. “The Dodge Durango is a popular family-friendly SUV for drivers with a strong engine and nimble handling,” said Ly. “Meanwhile, the Toyota Highlander is known for its reliability and earns the distinction of the longest-kept car among consumers, so older versions are still a smart buy.” 

Rounding out the list is the full-size 2012 Ford Expedition. “The Ford Expedition is a capable family hauler with a spacious third row and is one of the longest-lasting vehicles, so even a nine-year-old version still has a lot of life left.” 

Passenger Cars Under $15,000

For consumers who want a passenger car with a sedan, coupe, or minivan bodystyle, there are many reliable and long-lasting vehicles to choose from under $15,000. “Because passenger cars tend to be less expensive than SUVs, you can get later model versions while maintaining a $15,000 budget,” said Ly.  

For the list of the best used cars under $15,000, eight additional models join newer model year versions of the seven vehicles featured in the “Best Passenger Cars Under $10,000” list.

Best Passenger Cars Under $15,000
Vehicle Average Used Car Price
2015 Mazda Mazda6 $12,969
2014 Nissan Maxima $13,190
2015 Honda Civic (Sedan) $13,432
2014 Honda Accord $13,484
2015 Honda Civic (Coupe) $13,759
2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid $13,849
2016 Dodge Grand Caravan $13,859
2015 Kia Sedona $13,966
2017 Toyota Corolla $14,186
2015 Toyota Camry $14,221
2012 Toyota Sienna $14,274
2013 Toyota Avalon $14,508
2016 Chevrolet Impala $14,703
2013 Honda Odyssey $14,792
2015 Toyota Prius $14,911

Four additional Toyota vehicles make the list across multiple vehicle types: sedan, minivan and hybrid. “The Toyota Camry debuted six standard safety features for the 2015 model year to help prevent accidents, which helped it earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ distinction,” said Ly. “Meanwhile, the 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid offers great fuel economy and the excellent reliability ratings to provide a more efficient version of the popular standard Camry sedan.”

Rounding out the list of Toyotas is the 2012 Sienna minivan. “The Sienna has class-leading cargo space as well as high safety scores,” said Ly.

Three additional minivans make the list including the 2015 Kia Sedona, the 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan, and the 2013 Honda Odyssey. “The Kia Sedona was redesigned in 2015, so this version has the same styling as its later year counterparts with many of the same features at a more affordable price,” said Ly. “The 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan is among the lowest priced minivans with convenient features like the popular ‘stow-and-go’ seating option, making it a good option for those who want a used family vehicle. Meanwhile, the 2013 Honda Odyssey was named the Best Minivan for Families according to U.S. News and World Report, and its high-tech features make it one of the more expensive vehicles in its class.”

Rounding out the list is the 2014 Nissan Maxima. “The 2014 Nissan Maxima is known for its agile handling and comfortable ride quality,” commented Ly.

Best Affordable Used Vehicles Under $20,000

Used car shoppers with a budget of $20,000 can purchase vehicles from segments that are generally more expensive than passenger cars such as used pickup trucks, sports cars, and later model used SUVs. Here are the best used cars under $20,000 by segment.

Best Used Pickup Trucks Under $20,000

On average, consumers pay more for used pickup trucks than for any other vehicle segment with an average used price of $29,705. “For consumers who want a reliable pickup truck, a budget of $20,000 or more can get them a reliable model that can last many more years,” said Ly. “Because of the durability of pickup trucks and the fact that owners likely perform necessary repairs and maintenance on them because they are used for work, a later model version of these vehicles can be a wise purchase.”

Of the used pickup trucks for sale under $20,000, the most reliable and best buys include the 2012 Toyota Tacoma, the 2011 Toyota Tundra, and the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado. “The compact 2012 Toyota Tacoma was named the ‘Best Compact Pickup Truck for the Money’ by US News and World Report and is praised for its class-leading mpg and smooth handling,” said Ly. 

Two full-size pickups make the list: the 2011 Toyota Tundra and the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado. “Toyota trucks are known for their reliability and longevity, which makes the Toyota Tundra a practical choice,” said Ly. “The Tundra is a capable hauler with a powerful engine and strong towing capability. Those with a $20,000 budget can buy the slightly newer 2013 Chevrolet Silverado, which is known for its pleasant ride and powerful engine.”

Best Used Pickup Trucks Under $20,000
Vehicle Average Used Car Price
2012 Toyota Tacoma $18,963
2011 Toyota Tundra $19,064
2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 $19,937

Best Used SUVs under $20,000

With a budget of $20,000 consumers can purchase newer versions of the used SUVs that are available for $15,000 as well as five additional models. 

Best Used SUVs Under $20,000
Vehicle Average Used Car Price
2013 Acura MDX $17,138
2013 Ford Expedition $17,175
2013 Toyota Highlander $18,239
2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid $18,270
2014 Dodge Durango $18,494
2014 Honda Pilot $18,591
2012 Chevrolet Suburban $18,794
2016 Honda CR-V $19,061
2011 Cadillac Escalade $19,472
2012 Chevrolet Tahoe $19,529
2012 GMC Yukon $19,801

The five SUV models that make the list of used SUVs under $20,000 include the 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban, the 2011 Cadillac Escalade, the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe, and the 2012 GMC Yukon. 

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid stands out as the only alternative fuel vehicle on the list. “Hybrids are more expensive than their gasoline counterparts, so a 2012 Highlander Hybrid can be purchased at a comparable price to a standard Highlander that is just one model year newer,” said Ly. “Both the Highlander and the Highlander Hybrid are long-lasting, reliable vehicles that offer a third-row of seating to accommodate families.” 

The four remaining SUVs on the list are full-size SUVs made by General Motors and are built on the same platform. They include the 2012 versions of the Chevrolet Suburban, the Chevrolet Tahoe, and the GMC Yukon, as well as the 2011 version of the luxury Cadillac Escalade. “These full-size SUVs are built on a truck platform, which gives them truck-like durability” said Ly. “They are all proven to be safe and long-lasting, which make them good options for a family hauler.”

Best Used Sports Cars Under $20,000

Similar to pickup trucks, sports cars are an expensive vehicle segment. With a $20,000 budget, car buyers can buy these three used performance vehicles that are safe and long lasting.

Best Used Sports Cars Under $20,000
Vehicle Average Used Car Price
2014 Dodge Charger $16,075
2012 Audi S4 $17,848
2014 Ford Mustang $18,278

Two American sports cars from the model year 2014 make the list of used sports cars for sale under $20,000: the Dodge Charger and the Ford Mustang. “The consummate American muscle car, the Dodge Charger is known for its powerful engine and its spaciousness that appeals to those who want a roomy car with more power than a standard sedan,” said Ly. “A second classic American sports car, the Ford Mustang is a dream car for many, and since sports cars are driven less than the average vehicle, an older version can still be a sound choice for buyers.”

Also making the list is the 2012 Audi S4, which is the performance variant of the Audi A4 small luxury vehicle. “The 2012 S4 has a supercharged engine and has the superior ride and handling characteristic of the Audi brand,” said Ly. 

Best Affordable Used Vehicles Under $25,000

Shoppers with a higher used car budget of $25,000 can choose later model year versions of the trucks and SUVs available for $20,000 as well as some additional models.  

Best Used Pickup Trucks Under $25,000

For $25,000 or less, here are the best used pickup trucks a consumer can buy:

Best Used Pickup Trucks Under $25,000
Vehicle Average Used Car Price
2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 $22,206
2013 Toyota Tundra $23,176
2015 Toyota Tacoma $23,958
2014 Ford F-150 $22,553

The list of used pickup trucks under $25,000 includes newer versions of the models on the $20,000 and under list: the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, the 2013 Toyota Tundra, and the 2015 Toyota Tacoma. “Spending $25,000 gets shoppers more features on newer trucks with less mileage,” said Ly. “The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 was also redesigned in 2014, which could be of interest to shoppers in this budget range.” 

Also making the list is the 2014 Ford F-150. “The Ford F-150 is the best-selling pickup truck,,” said Ly. “Its enduring popularity is likely because of its powerful engine and hauling capabilities.” 

Best Used SUVs under $25,000

Used SUV shoppers who raise their budget to $25,000 can purchase even newer models of the SUVs featured on the $20,000 and under list, as well as their larger and luxury variants.

Best Used SUVs Under $25,000
Vehicle Average Used Car Price
2012 GMC Yukon XL $20,505
2014 Ford Expedition $20,730
2013 Chevrolet Tahoe $22,408
2012 Cadillac Escalade $22,878
2013 GMC Yukon $23,087
2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid $23,323
2015 Acura MDX $23,406
2013 Toyota 4Runner $23,485
2016 Dodge Durango $23,542
2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV $23,587
2014 Lincoln Navigator $23,600
2018 Honda CR-V $24,026
2016 Toyota Highlander $24,705
2014 Chevrolet Suburban $24,758
2016 Honda Pilot $24,819

Additional models making the list include the 2012 GMC Yukon XL, the 2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV, and the 2014 Lincoln Navigator. “The GMC Yukon XL and the Cadillac Escalade ESV are longer versions of the GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade which provide more cargo room than these already-spacious vehicles,” said Ly. “The Lincoln Navigator is the luxury version of the Ford Expedition, suiting shoppers who want a more premium version of the popular family hauler.”  

Best Affordable Cars by Metro Area

Because used car prices vary by area, iSeeCars looked at the data geographically to determine the best affordable used cars in the top 20 most populous metro areas. 

Best Affordable Cars by Metro Area

Metro Area

Vehicle

Price

Atlanta, GA

2015 Honda Civic (sedan)

$13,199

Boston, MA-Manchester, NH

2015 Honda Civic (sedan)

$12,592

Chicago, IL

2015 Honda Civic (sedan)

$13,316

Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH

2015 Mazda Mazda6

$12,933

Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX

2014 Nissan Maxima

$12,696

Denver, CO

2015 Mazda Mazda6

$13,150

Detroit, MI

2014 Nissan Maxima

$13,397

Houston, TX

2012 Honda Pilot

$12,797

Los Angeles, CA

2015 Mazda Mazda6

$12,535

Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2014 Honda Accord

$11,900

Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

2015 Honda Civic (coupe)

$12,397

New York, NY

2014 Honda Accord

$12,715

Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL

2015 Mazda Mazda6

$12,543

Philadelphia, PA

2015 Mazda Mazda6

$13,118

Phoenix, AZ

2015 Mazda Mazda6

$12,537

Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA

2014 Nissan Maxima

$13,387

San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA

2016 Chevrolet Impala

$13,508

Seattle-Tacoma, WA

2016 Dodge Grand Caravan

$13,264

Tampa-St Petersburg (Sarasota), FL

2015 Honda Civic (sedan)

$12,573

Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD)

2015 Mazda Mazda6

$12,975

The Mazda6 was the best affordable car in seven metro areas, making it a smart choice for used car buyers.

Bottom Line

When purchasing a used car from a dealership or private seller, there are precautions consumers should take to ensure that they get the best vehicle possible for their money. “When a shopper determines the used vehicle they want, it’s important to do additional research to compare it with similar models for sale,” said Ly. “The iSeeCars VIN Report provides shoppers with important pre-purchase analysis to help shoppers get the best price and to determine if a car is a smart buy,” said Ly. “Along with taking a test drive, shoppers should always obtain a vehicle history report such as a Carfax to make sure the vehicle hasn’t been in any accidents, and have the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic.” 

Methodology

iSeeCars analyzed over 6.1 million used cars sold from October 2019 through March 2020 from model years 2011 onward. Cars that were previously determined to be among the Longest-Lasting Cars and had an overall crash test rating of 4.0 or higher from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) were eligible for further analysis.  The average price of each model was calculated for each model year, and the latest model year with an appropriate average price for each budget was determined.

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is a car search engine that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, like the iSeeCars VIN check reports. iSeeCars.com has saved users over $217 million so far by applying big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of new cars and used cars.