In today’s installment of “Hoovie and Doug Talk About Cars,” Hoovie and Doug are talking about some of the best used cars you can buy for less than $5,000. With a budget of $5,000, you don’t have a whole lot of options, but you have some better options than you might expect.
Tyler kicks things off with a surprisingly practical recommendation: Buick models from the 1990s and 2000s that have been pampered by a more mature generation of drivers. More specifically, Tyler recommends Buick models powered by the venerable Series II 3800 V6 that was available in the Century, Regal, LeSabre and Park Avenue. This engine has become famous for its rock-solid reliability, its abundant parts availability, its simplicity in maintenance and its respectable balance of power and fuel economy.
On that note, Doug chimes in with a few other GM recommendations from the same era powered by the same trusty engine like the Chevy Impala and the Pontiac Grand Prix. However, something to keep in mind is that Buicks generally attract older drivers and often live up to the stereotype of only being driven to church and the grocery store. It’s generally pretty easy to find a Buick from this era that hasn’t seen a lot of miles or a lot of abuse from previous owners.
Continuing the theme of practical transportation at an affordable price, Doug suggested getting the nicest reliable Japanese car you can find at this price point. Think about the cars that always come up in a discussion about practical transportation like the Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord and Honda Civic. Any of these is a safe bet.
Another surprisingly sensible suggestion from Tyler is a second-generation Toyota Prius. These have gotten extremely affordable on the used market and have been around long enough to have a well-proven record for reliability. Don’t be surprised to see a Prius of this vintage hit 200,000 miles without a lot of drama. Even if you need to replace the hybrid battery someday, it’s a repair that shouldn’t cost more than around $2,000, not to mention the perks of the incredible hybrid fuel economy.
If you like the idea of an affordable SUV, a couple of suggestions that come up are the Jeep XJ Cherokee if you can find one in decent shape at this price point. It’s becoming an enthusiast favorite for beginners in off-roading and their market values are starting to reflect that. Another option is a 1990s Ford Explorer, which is easier to find for less than $5k and has a good measure of reliability and SUV versatility.
An obvious choice for an enthusiast car at this price point is a used Mazda MX-5 Miata, which is beloved for its delightful driving dynamics and lightweight flickability. A couple of other options are Ford Mustangs or Chevy Camaros from the ’90s, but the ones you find for under $5k might be in rough condition.
A few cars to avoid if you’re looking for a practical, bargain-priced used car: just about anything German or anything that was really expensive when it was new. An older German luxury car could be a fun thing to own at a very low cost of entry, but the ownership costs could make your dream car a nightmare.
What cars did Doug and Hoovie miss? Sound off in the comments with some of your own recommendations for good used cars for under $5,000. Find a used car under $5,000 for sale
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