Top 10 Best Used Cars Under $10,000 For Beginners

Top 10 Best Used Cars Under $10,000 For Beginners

At first glance, $10,000 may not seem like it will get you much in the used car market these days. But after shopping around a bit, you'd be surprised by the amount of options that are actually out there for that amount or even less.

If you're in the market for a used car that's under $10,000, here are 10 solid recommendations to consider. 

Keep in mind that every make and model that made this list receives an extensive 150-point inspection from Shift’s certified mechanics. And each has a complete vehicle history report, too. So you can be confident that your next used car is as good as new.

Best Used Cars Under $10,000

2012 Honda Civic (from $9,950)

2012 Honda Civic (from $9,950)

A simple, reliable compact car with a sporty streak in its repertoire, at least as far as car clubs and racing enthusiasts are concerned, the Honda Civic was first released in 1972, which means it's creeping up on its 50th birthday. They've grown a bit in size and matured in looks over the years, but at its core the Civic is as trustworthy as always. When well cared for, Civics – and most any Honda model, for that matter – are known to last at least half that many years, if not more, which makes it a popular solid contender among the ranks of used car options. New Civics start at $21,050, but used models usually go for right around $10,000 or less.

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2012 Honda Civic (from $9,950)

A simple, reliable compact car with a sporty streak in its repertoire, at least as far as car clubs and racing enthusiasts are concerned, the Honda Civic was first released in 1972, which means it's creeping up on its 50th birthday. They've grown a bit in size and matured in looks over the years, but at its core the Civic is as trustworthy as always. When well cared for, Civics – and most any Honda model, for that matter – are known to last at least half that many years, if not more, which makes it a popular solid contender among the ranks of used car options. New Civics start at $21,050, but used models usually go for right around $10,000 or less.

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2014 Ford Focus SE (from $8,950)

 2014 Ford Focus SE (from $8,950)

Just before the turn of the millenium, Ford decided to focus on unifying its varying country-specific models around the world by way of the Focus, hence the name. In the United States, the Focus replaced the Escort as the brand's poster child compact car in 1999, a year after it was released in Europe. The car had a good two-decade run, thanks to its fuel efficiency and accessible price point, but Ford officially discontinued the Focus in 2018, a move that came as part of the company's effort to refocus its vision on trucks, crossovers and full-size SUVs. Nevertheless, plenty of used Focus S and SE models can still be found for sale in the range of $8,000-$10,000.

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 2014 Ford Focus SE (from $8,950)

Just before the turn of the millenium, Ford decided to focus on unifying its varying country-specific models around the world by way of the Focus, hence the name. In the United States, the Focus replaced the Escort as the brand's poster child compact car in 1999, a year after it was released in Europe. The car had a good two-decade run, thanks to its fuel efficiency and accessible price point, but Ford officially discontinued the Focus in 2018, a move that came as part of the company's effort to refocus its vision on trucks, crossovers and full-size SUVs. Nevertheless, plenty of used Focus S and SE models can still be found for sale in the range of $8,000-$10,000.

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2014 Nissan Versa S Plus (from $9,950)

 2014 Nissan Versa S Plus (from $9,950)

On the roads since 2006, the Nissan Versa is one of the few subcompact cars that's still in production for the North American market today, as automakers increasingly shift their efforts further into the crossover SUV trend. Nevertheless, the Versa continues to impress, having won the Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy Award in 2020 and 2021. With a fuel economy of up to 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the freeway and a base price that literally is nearly impossible to beat, it's a no-brainer why. New Nissan Versas start just below $15,000, but used models can go for just shy of $10,000.

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 2014 Nissan Versa S Plus (from $9,950)

On the roads since 2006, the Nissan Versa is one of the few subcompact cars that's still in production for the North American market today, as automakers increasingly shift their efforts further into the crossover SUV trend. Nevertheless, the Versa continues to impress, having won the Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy Award in 2020 and 2021. With a fuel economy of up to 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the freeway and a base price that literally is nearly impossible to beat, it's a no-brainer why. New Nissan Versas start just below $15,000, but used models can go for just shy of $10,000.

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2013 Dodge Dart Aero (from $9,500)

2013 Dodge Dart Aero (from $9,500)

Dodge first introduced the Dart as a full-size sedan in 1960, then as a midsize sedan in 1962 and finally a compact car from 1963 to 1976, after which it was put out to pasture. More 35 years later, in 2012, Dodge resurrected the name after its merger with Fiat and the Dart made a surprise return to the market once again as a compact car to replace the Dodge Neon. Fiat Chrysler ultimately pulled the plug yet again on the Dart in 2016, citing its decision to concentrate on the ever-growing crossover SUV market. But used Darts are still up for grabs, and some are priced as low as $6,750.

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2013 Dodge Dart Aero (from $9,500)

Dodge first introduced the Dart as a full-size sedan in 1960, then as a midsize sedan in 1962 and finally a compact car from 1963 to 1976, after which it was put out to pasture. More 35 years later, in 2012, Dodge resurrected the name after its merger with Fiat and the Dart made a surprise return to the market once again as a compact car to replace the Dodge Neon. Fiat Chrysler ultimately pulled the plug yet again on the Dart in 2016, citing its decision to concentrate on the ever-growing crossover SUV market. But used Darts are still up for grabs, and some are priced as low as $6,750.

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2011 Mazda Mazda3 i SV (from $8,650)

 2011 Mazda Mazda3 i SV (from $8,650)

Available in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles, the Mazda3 first debuted in 2003. Now in its fourth generation, more than 6 million have been sold worldwide, making it one of the best-selling Mazdas to date. A compact car it may be, but it still manages to pack a horsepower of up to 250 and also comes with an all-wheel drive option. Not to mention, the car exudes a decent amount of design given its surprisingly low sticker price. While new Mazda3 base models start at $20,650, used Mazda3s can be found for $8,500-$10,000.

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 2011 Mazda Mazda3 i SV (from $8,650)

Available in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles, the Mazda3 first debuted in 2003. Now in its fourth generation, more than 6 million have been sold worldwide, making it one of the best-selling Mazdas to date. A compact car it may be, but it still manages to pack a horsepower of up to 250 and also comes with an all-wheel drive option. Not to mention, the car exudes a decent amount of design given its surprisingly low sticker price. While new Mazda3 base models start at $20,650, used Mazda3s can be found for $8,500-$10,000.

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2012 FIAT 500 Sport (from $9,300)

 2012 FIAT 500 Sport (from $9,300)

The perfect ride for playing out all those “Roman Holiday” fantasies, the 21st century-take on the Fiat 500 is actually a throwback to the 1957 version that was made by the Italian automaker up until 1975. After a 32-year pause, the 500 – along with the entire Fiat brand, for that matter – returned to the U.S. market in 2007, and with flying colors, too. Some 2 million units sold in the first decade alone. These days, new Fiat 500s start at $26,500, whereas used 500s go for as little as $7,000.

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 2012 FIAT 500 Sport (from $9,300)

The perfect ride for playing out all those “Roman Holiday” fantasies, the 21st century-take on the Fiat 500 is actually a throwback to the 1957 version that was made by the Italian automaker up until 1975. After a 32-year pause, the 500 – along with the entire Fiat brand, for that matter – returned to the U.S. market in 2007, and with flying colors, too. Some 2 million units sold in the first decade alone. These days, new Fiat 500s start at $26,500, whereas used 500s go for as little as $7,000.

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2013 Chevrolet Volt (from $11,000)

 2013 Chevrolet Volt (from $11,000)

The Chevrolet Volt made its first appearance in 2011 as one of the first plug-in hybrids on the road, powered in part by a lithium-ion battery that allows it to travel up to 40 miles before needing to tap into the gas tank. Once dubbed the best-selling electric car in the United States, Chevrolet ceased production of the Volt in 2019 in order to make way for Chevrolet's fully electric-powered Bolt. Nevertheless, the Chevrolet Volt is known for being one of the longest-lasting plug-in hybrids around, thanks much in part to the fact that its lithium-ion battery is cooled by liquid rather than air, allowing it an increased life span than its would-be counterparts like the Nissan Leaf. Today, used Volts, depending on the model year, can go for as little as $8,500.

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 2013 Chevrolet Volt (from $11,000)

The Chevrolet Volt made its first appearance in 2011 as one of the first plug-in hybrids on the road, powered in part by a lithium-ion battery that allows it to travel up to 40 miles before needing to tap into the gas tank. Once dubbed the best-selling electric car in the United States, Chevrolet ceased production of the Volt in 2019 in order to make way for Chevrolet's fully electric-powered Bolt. Nevertheless, the Chevrolet Volt is known for being one of the longest-lasting plug-in hybrids around, thanks much in part to the fact that its lithium-ion battery is cooled by liquid rather than air, allowing it an increased life span than its would-be counterparts like the Nissan Leaf. Today, used Volts, depending on the model year, can go for as little as $8,500.

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2012 MINI Cooper S (from $9,950)

 2012 MINI Cooper S (from $9,950)

Founded in the U.K. in 1969, Mini continues to manufacture what is without a doubt one of the most iconic pieces of drivable pop culture on the road today – the Cooper – despite the fact that BMW purchased the company in 2000. Contemporary Coopers, while significantly less miniature than their original counterparts, still pack quite a punch under the hood that make them extremely enjoyable to drive and come in various body styles including the traditional three-door hatchback and a larger five-door crossover. New Mini Coopers start at $22,400, but used models can go for as low as $7,850.

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 2012 MINI Cooper S (from $9,950)

Founded in the U.K. in 1969, Mini continues to manufacture what is without a doubt one of the most iconic pieces of drivable pop culture on the road today – the Cooper – despite the fact that BMW purchased the company in 2000. Contemporary Coopers, while significantly less miniature than their original counterparts, still pack quite a punch under the hood that make them extremely enjoyable to drive and come in various body styles including the traditional three-door hatchback and a larger five-door crossover. New Mini Coopers start at $22,400, but used models can go for as low as $7,850.

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2006 Toyota Prius (from $8,450)

 2006 Toyota Prius (from $8,450)

The Toyota Prius holds the lofty title of the world's first hybrid car to be mass produced for the global market. More than 4 million have been sold worldwide since its release in its home country of Japan in 1997, followed by the United States in 2001. With a fuel economy of 58 mpg on city streets and 53 mpg on the freeway, it goes without saying that the Prius – now in its fourth generation – paved the way for a new era of EV vehicles on the road. New Toyota Prius models are priced starting at $24,500, but used models cost as little as $8,000.

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 2006 Toyota Prius (from $8,450)

The Toyota Prius holds the lofty title of the world's first hybrid car to be mass produced for the global market. More than 4 million have been sold worldwide since its release in its home country of Japan in 1997, followed by the United States in 2001. With a fuel economy of 58 mpg on city streets and 53 mpg on the freeway, it goes without saying that the Prius – now in its fourth generation – paved the way for a new era of EV vehicles on the road. New Toyota Prius models are priced starting at $24,500, but used models cost as little as $8,000.

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2015 Ford Fiesta SE (from $9,400)

2015 Ford Fiesta SE (from $9,400)

An economic subcompact classic – not to mention a mainstay among rally racing circuits – since its release in 1976 the Ford Fiesta, with its petite size and thrifty fuel economy, has always enjoyed more popularity in Europe than stateside. In fact, last call for new models of the little Ford with the festive name came in 2019 – in the United States at least – when the company decided to center its attention on developing trucks, crossovers and full-size SUVs for the North American market. That means these days, used Ford Fiesta models are nothing less than collector's items and many can be found for $8,000-$10,000.

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2015 Ford Fiesta SE (from $9,400)

An economic subcompact classic – not to mention a mainstay among rally racing circuits – since its release in 1976 the Ford Fiesta, with its petite size and thrifty fuel economy, has always enjoyed more popularity in Europe than stateside. In fact, last call for new models of the little Ford with the festive name came in 2019 – in the United States at least – when the company decided to center its attention on developing trucks, crossovers and full-size SUVs for the North American market. That means these days, used Ford Fiesta models are nothing less than collector's items and many can be found for $8,000-$10,000.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team