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8 Good Used Compact Cars Under $5,000 for 2019

It may seem difficult to find a good car for under $5,000, but there are great options even at these lower price points. Any used car you find for around $5,000 or less will likely have high miles and be more than a couple of years old, but that’s OK. Remember that a pre-purchase inspection can go a long way when buying any used car. With that out of the way, here are eight used compact cars that are great for shoppers with a budget of under $5,000.

2006-2011 Honda Civic

2006-2011 Honda Civic

Like just about any Honda product, the Civic makes for safe, reliable, quality transportation, and is one of the best used compact cars you can buy. Over 300,000 Civics have been sold every year for the past decade, meaning that there are plenty out there for just about any budget. Buyers looking to spend around $5,000 should look for a 2006-2011 model from the Civic’s eighth generation. In addition to being offered as a sedan, the eighth-generation Civic was offered in a unique coupe body style, which is becoming increasingly rare in the compact segment. Find a Honda Civic for sale

2010-2013 Mazda3

2010-2013 Mazda3

The fun-to-drive Mazda3 is available in both sedan and hatchback body styles, and buyers can currently pick a 2010 to 2013 model for around $5,000. Right now on Autotrader, there are over 100 to choose from, most of which are of the sedan variety. Regardless of whether you opt for the sedan or hatchback, the second-generation Mazda3 came with one of two 4-cylinder engines. The base engine — found on the ‘i’ trim levels — was a 2.0-liter making 148 horsepower, while the ‘s’ model came with a 2.5-liter making 165 hp. Regardless of which one you choose, expect a Mazda3 to come with great driving dynamics and a higher quality interior than what you’ll find in the competition. Both are traits that have been part of the Mazda value proposition for years. Find a Mazda3 for sale

2008-2011 Ford Focus

2008-2011 Ford Focus

The Ford Focus has been a leader in the compact car segment ever since it debuted back in 1999, and buyers can currently pick up a 2008-2011 model for around $5,000. Available in both sedan and coupe body styles, the Focus is a simple, reliable used car. Additionally, parts are readily available should the need for repairs arise. Right now on Autotrader, there are over 400 2008-2011 Focus models to choose from at the $5,000 price point. Around 50 of these are stylish coupe models, while the remainder are practical 4-door sedans. Find a Ford Focus for sale

2005-2010 Scion tC

The tC is a stylish coupe sold by Scion, and 2005 to 2010 models are easy to find for around $5,000. Toyota’s Scion brand focused on being fun and modern, and the tC was no exception, thanks to the availability of a 1600-watt Pioneer sound system and a large panoramic sunroof. The tC was powered by a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine making 161 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Currently on Autotrader, there are over 150 Scion tCs listed for around $5,000 or less, a third of which come with a 5-speed manual transmission. Find a Scion tC for sale

2008-2015 Fiat 500

Reintroduced in 2008, the Fiat 500 is one of the more modern vehicles you’ll find for $5,000, with around 100 examples listed on Autotrader that fit our budget, some as new as the 2015 model year. The 500 is also the smallest vehicle you’ll find on this list. Classified as a city car, it measures under 12 feet in length, making it easily maneuverable in urban environments. The 500 also achieves good fuel economy and buyers should see figures in the low 30s miles per gallon in the city and high 30s mpg on the highway. There aren’t a ton of options at the sub-$5,000 price point, but if newness is what you’re after, a used Fiat 500 is probably your best bet. Find a Fiat 500 for sale

2007-2012 Nissan Sentra

2007-2012 Nissan Sentra

The Sentra is Nissan’s compact sedan and competes with the likes of the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic. The sixth-generation Sentra was introduced in 2007 and sold through 2012, and buyers can currently find Sentras from these years for around $5,000. The sixth-generation Sentra offered what is arguably more unique styling than that of its primary competitors from Toyota and Honda. There are currently around 250 2007-2012 Nissan Sentras listed on Autotrader for around $5,000. Of these, around 20 come with a manual transmission, and a handful are even sporty SE-R and SE-R Spec-V models, which came with a 6-speed manual transmission and an optional limited-slip differential for improved handling. Find a Nissan Sentra for sale

2009-2013 Toyota Corolla

2009-2013 Toyota Corolla

The Corolla has long been one of the best-selling vehicles in America, and therefore there are plenty to choose from on the used market, many of which are available for $5,000 or less. We recommend looking for a 2009-2013 model, of which there are currently around 100 listed for sale on Autotrader that fit our budget. Alternatively, consider an earlier model, sold from the 2002 to 2008 model years, and there are currently over 400 listed on Autotrader. Regardless of which one you choose, the Corolla is extremely basic, with a focus on efficiency and simplicity, and will serve as reliable day-to-day transportation for years to come. Find a Toyota Corolla for sale

2009-2015 Chevrolet Cruze

2009-2015 Chevrolet Cruze

The Cruze is Chevrolet’s compact offering and replaced the underwhelming Cobalt starting with the 2009 model year. Reviewers like the Cruze for its roomy trunk and enjoyable handling characteristics. The Cruze has experienced faster depreciation than alternatives from Toyota and Honda, and as a result, buyers can find a relatively new example of Chevrolet’s compact offering when compared to the alternatives. Right now on Autotrader, there are around 150 first-generation Cruzes for sale for around $5,000 or less. Find a Chevrolet Cruze for sale

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill is an author specializing in competitive analysis, consumer recommendations, and adventure-driven enthusiast content. A lifelong car enthusiast, he worked in the auto industry for a bit, helping Germans design cars for Americans, and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He runs an Instagram account, @MountainWestCarSpotter, which in his own words is "actually pretty good", and has a... Read More

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