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10 Best Used Cars Under $6,000

Setting a $6,000 budget for a used car offers you plenty of choices, from sporty coupes to practical sedans and SUVs. Even a few pickups in good shape will squeeze in under $6,000.

We’ve rounded up 10 of the best ways to spend $6,000 or less. Here’s your shopping list:

1. 2006-2016 Chevrolet Impala

2016 Chevrolet Impala Front Right Side in Silver

Need plenty of space but don’t want an SUV? The ninth generation Chevy Impala has you covered. This old-school American sedan boasted a standard front bench seat (buckets were optional) and loads of features. It was a fairly humdrum sedan until 2012 when Chevy swapped in a 3.6-liter V6 rated at a hefty 302 horsepower, which put all that power to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. This made for a seriously quick sedan, and these four-doors earned a reputation for durability through their service in police and municipal forces. One tip: The 2014-2016 versions were only available to fleets, so we’d stick with an earlier one for more options and perhaps a more pampered past. Find a Chevrolet Impala on Autotrader

2. 2003-2007 Honda Accord

2007 Honda Accord Front Right Side in Beige

 

Honda’s biggest sedan offers tremendous reliability paired with zippy handling and lots of features for the money. The 2003-2007 version is easy to find within our budget, and you may be able to locate one of the better-equipped EX versions with the powerful 3.5-liter V6 that could be paired with either automatic or manual gearboxes. A few updates for 2006 brought revised styling and more features, plus optional stability control for higher-end versions, so try to seek one of these out for the added safety net. Find a Honda Accord on Autotrader

3. 2003-2006 Lexus ES

2006 Lexus ES Front Right Side in Silver

There are plenty of luxury cars on the market for under $6,000, but few offer the reputation for reliability of the Lexus ES. This V6-powered four-door has a spacious interior, and almost all feature soft leather upholstery, real wood trim, and plenty of nice extras like a sunroof, power seats, and even premium audio. The V6 engine is a sweet, smooth choice, and it’s linked to a slick four-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. The result is a soft, cruiser-oriented sedan with long legs for highway trips or lengthy commutes. Find a Lexus ES on Autotrader

4. 2006-2010 Ford Explorer

2010 Ford Explorer Front Left Side in Red

If you’re after an SUV with decent inclement weather ability and a tow rating that can handle a reasonably large trailer, look to the Ford Explorer and its Mercury Mountaineer sibling. The Explorer was reworked for 2006 with revised styling and a few more features, and it retained a V6 engine as standard fare with a powerful V8 as an option. The Explorer isn’t especially frugal, and its interior can feel a little cramped up front, but it offers good ground clearance and loads of durability for the money. Find a Ford Explorer on Autotrader

5. 2003-2008 Mazda Mazda6

2008 Mazda6 Front Left Side

After years of bland sedans, Mazda got with the program when it introduced the Mazda6 for 2003. This sharply-styled four-door was fun to drive and boasted a willing 4-cylinder and a strong 6-cylinder, plus wide availability of manual and automatic gearboxes. The real winner here is the hatchback, which looks just like the sedan from most angles but boasts huge cargo capacity. A wagon version was even available, though it was a slow seller and can be hard to find used. Mazda tweaked the 6 a few times throughout its run, and the best examples came at the end. Look for a 2006 through 2008, and seek out that nifty hatchback. Find a Mazda Mazda6 on Autotrader

6. 2012-2015 Toyota Prius c

2015 Toyota Prius c Front Left Side in Red

 

If filling up your tank often stresses you out, the Toyota Prius c is the most frugal choice on our list. This small hatchback helped broaden the automaker’s Prius lineup thanks to its hybrid-electric powertrain. With fuel economy ratings as high as 53 mpg in the city, the Prius c is still one of the thriftiest cars ever made. Given the Prius c is a relatively new model, it comes well-equipped with the safety features more typically found in brand new models, and some versions could even be had with a touchscreen infotainment system. Find a Toyota Prius c on Autotrader

7. 2011-2014 Volkswagen Routan

2014 Volkswagen Routan Front Right Side in Light Blue

Forget that the Routan was sold through VW dealers. This minivan is all Chrysler underneath, and it was built at the automaker’s Windsor, Ontario, assembly plant in Canada. This oddball rebadge lacks the Chrysler and Dodge versions’ Stow’n Go middle seats that fold flat into the floor, but it was otherwise identical and most versions featured durable vinyl upholstery rather than stain-prone cloth or leather that can dry out. Look for a 2011 or newer as these models came with Chrysler’s strong 3.6-liter V6 and featured a far nicer interior. The best news? Routans usually cost way less than equivalent Grand Caravans. Find a Volkswagen Routan on Autotrader

8. 2009-2013 Honda Fit

2013 Honda Fit Front Right Side in Silver

The subcompact Honda Fit was one of the automaker’s smartest designs ever, and that’s really saying something given Honda’s reputation for building brilliant small cars. This city-size five-door hatchback is as frugal and as fun as we’ve come to expect from Honda, and it boasts a rear seat that can be folded out of the way to make for impressive cargo capacity for a car that stretches fewer than 14 feet between its bumpers. Honda added stability control  and a few other nice features for 2011, and these models should be easy to find for around $6,000. Find a Honda Fit on Autotrader

9. 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe

2010 Pontiac Vibe Left Profile in Red

Ignore the red logo on its front end. The Pontiac Vibe was really just a Toyota Matrix with different styling. A rework for the 2009 model year brought way more features and a pair of new, Toyota-built engines that could be paired with front-or all-wheel drive and either manual or automatic gearboxes. The Vibe boasted Toyota assembly quality, and its hatchback design delivers up to 111 cubic feet of interior volume aided by rear seatbacks that fold almost completely flat to handle all sorts of cargo. Unlike the Matrix, the Vibe suffered from colossal early depreciation, and it remains a bargain relative to the Toyota. Find a Pontiac Vibe on Autotrader

10. 2008-2011 Subaru Impreza

2011 Subaru Impreza Front Left Side in Blue

Standard all-wheel drive, a spacious hatchback configuration, and a willing chassis largely shared with the decidedly sporty WRX make the standard Impreza a great choice. The flat-4 engine can deliver good fuel economy and decent acceleration especially with the standard 5-speed manual transmission. Moreover, the Impreza has long been one of the safest compact cars, so it’s a good choice for families or young drivers. Find a Subaru Impreza on Autotrader

10 Best Used Cars Under $6,000

1. 2006-2016 Chevrolet Impala
2. 2003-2007 Honda Accord
3. 2003-2006 Lexus ES
4. 2006-2010 Ford Explorer
5. 2003-2008 Mazda Mazda6
6. 2012-2015 Toyota Prius c
7. 2011-2014 Volkswagen Routan
8. 2009-2013 Honda Fit
9. 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe
10. 2008-2011 Subaru Impreza

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