12 Reliable Used Cars That Are Dirt Cheap

It's fun to see all the new car release announcements and drool over the specs and beautiful designs. I could look at concept car photos all day, but let's be honest. Most people can't afford to drop $60-80k on a new car, so while it may be fun to dream, we also need a car to get to work. 

So what are the practical, budget-friendly cars on the market that will get us to and from work without taking our whole paycheck? 

Jalopnik asked its readers to share their top recommendations for the perfect car for broke people, and they had a lot of fantastic insight into affordable, reliable rides. 

And spoiler alert: they're all known for their fuel efficiency and reliability. What else is there?

Toyota Corolla

old Toyota corolla
Image Credit: nitinut380/Shutterstock.

The Toyota Corolla is known for its reliability, fuel efficiency, and low maintenance costs. It's considered one of the best cars on the market, and you can get one for around $10k if you look for a 2014-2017 model. Corolla's have good resale value and reasonable repair expenses.

Honda Fit

Honda Fit
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The Honda Fit is a subcompact car with five doors and a hatchback body style. It has just enough space inside, it has excellent fuel efficiency, and they're pretty easy to work on yourself. Honda is renowned for their high quality and reliability when owners perform regular maintenance work. If you're looking into purchasing a Fit, ask for maintenance records and look for a 2010-2013 model.


woman driving motorcycle
Image Credit: Idan Grunberg/Shutterstock.

If you're just looking for a way to zip around town and don't need the space of a car, a motorcycle could be a great option. They are generally more fuel-efficient than cars, and if you find a used one, they can be dirt cheap. 

Geo Prizm

2nd geo prism
Image Credit: IFCAR/Wikicommons.

The Geo Prizm is just a rebadged version of the Toyota Corolla. Everything true about the Corolla is true about this car. You can just search for them under a different name for more options. 

Buick LeSabre

old Buick LeSabre
Image Credit: Ken Morris/Shutterstock.

These cars may look like grandpa cars, but they're known for their spacious interiors. Since most people don't think these cars are attractive, their price tag is as low as possible. If you just need a vehicle that can get you from point A to point B, and you don't care about the style, then this is the car for you. 

Toyota Echo

Toyota Echo
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Everyone thinks this car is, well, funny-looking. And since the design is weird, that makes the price tag look really good. The Echo is a small, economical option. It's simple, and it's got Toyota's reputation of excellence behind it. 

3rd Generation Toyota Prius

toyota Prius
Image Credit: CL Shebley/Shutterstock.

Another Toyota option. Surprised? We're not. Toyota is just great at producing reliability. The third-generation Prius is a hybrid car, which means you are saving even more money at the pump. And by now, these cars have depreciated just enough in price to be affordable without being too old. 

Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi Mirage
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A Mirage is one of the most affordable newer car options. It's cheap and slow, but it's reliable, and it leaves your dollars in your wallet. Pick one that's around 4-5 years old, and you're good to go.

2000 Toyota Camry

toyota Camry
Image Credit: Art Konovalov/Shutterstock.

If you are lucky enough to spot an older Toyota Camry model, like the 2000 version, please scoop it up. Some of these are available for under $5k and can get you another 150k miles on the road with enough tender love and care. 

GM Delta Platform Car

2005 Pontiac G5
Image Credit: Ramphex/WikiCommons.

There are several options for GM's Delta platform, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5. These cars often have reasonable price tags and great fuel efficiency, and after a quick Google search, I found one for under $4k. In this market, that's as cheap as it gets.

Saturn Ion

saturn ion
Image Credit: IFCAR/WikiCommons.

The Saturn Ion is a practical choice, but not necessarily a pretty one. But we're not looking for pretty; we're looking for cheap. I did a quick search on CarGurus and found three options in my area under $8k with less than 100k miles on it, so there are plenty of these out there to snag. 

Pontiac Vibe

Pontiac Vibe
Image Credit: Art Konavalov/Shutterstock.

This option is cheap because Pontiac is out of business, but it's awesome because it's basically a Toyota Corolla. It's got excellent cargo space, and you can probably find one under $5k if you do your homework and haggle a little.