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Article Comments - The 10 Best Used Cars for Less Than $5,000

Karen@EdmundsKaren@Edmunds Posts: 5,028
There are three things you need to know about this list. First, as soon as the unit cost of automotive fun starts to look too good to be true, it probably is. You're not going to get a $10,000 car for $5,000. Second, cars this capable of driving goodness with sub-$5,000 price tags have at least 100,000 miles — universally. Get over it. Finally, all of them — with careful shopping and plenty of patience — are still worth it.

The 10 Best Used Cars for Less Than $5,000

Karen-Edmunds Community Manager

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Comments

  • tallman1tallman1 Posts: 1,874
    Best is a relative term in this case. Fun, sporty, etc. might be better choices... but "best"?? :confuse:
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    Fun, sporty, etc. might be better choices... but "best"??

    Perhaps. But the title of the article uses the plural, cars, which provides a fair bit of latitude in defining "best" and the word "best" is far more succinct than including 10 different categories in the title which would cause everyone's eyes to glaze over.

    How about some comments on the cars named in the article instead? :)

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • My former ride was a '97 Prelude (non-SH) and it was a fun car to drive. If I had to pick between it and a same year GS-R for a "fun car" though, I'd go with the GS-R. It weighs less, is faster, and gets better gas mileage. Also, the Prelude required premium, not sure if the GS-R did. I think the Prelude looks much better though (and yes, I know I'm in the minority for thinking the 5G Prelude was a good looking car).

    Anyway, this is a great article. I was thinking to myself a few days ago that a "most fun used car for $X" type article would be a cool idea and low and behind one appears on Edmunds.
  • Keep the used car assessments coming. I think it is particularly useful when you can summarize the model year differences, problem areas, and particular options that are desirable.

    Do a $5-$10k or $10-15k top 10 next!!
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    In this case, "Best" seems to be most bang for the buck.

    These cars are going to require more TLC than a Civic DX for example.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,195
    Yeah, that's certainly so.

    Can you really get a 2000 Miata for $5K? I suppose with enough miles. I was looking for one a year ago and the prices were north of that for anything in the second generation Miata.
  • Absolutely enjoyed this article.

    I spent about 7500 on my 2000 Mustang GT with about 70k miles on it about a year ago, so I think these prices are right on the money. American cars depreciate ridiculously.
  • I bought a 1 year old Mustang LX 5.0 5-speed in 1988, I loved that car. There's a 1991 near me now that might be available, I am very tempted.

    Stay away from the first gen Eclipse/Talon if you're tall, Same thing for the early 90's 240sx (which I sold in 1990-91). I'm 6-4 and my head hit the roof in both models.

    I would bet that less than 5% of the 240sx's out there are unmodified. You ain't kidding that they are popular with the drifter crowd.

    Finally, you can get a pretty good deal on a Porsche 944. I have seen plenty of sub 100k mile cars for $5-6k. If it's just a toy why not a Porsche vs a 240sx.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    Stay away from the first gen Eclipse/Talon if you're tall,

    I had one of those '90 Talons and absolutely loved it! :)

    I am of average height and it fit like glove but, yes, a very tall person would be a bit cramped.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    Finally, you can get a pretty good deal on a Porsche 944. I have seen plenty of sub 100k mile cars for $5-6k. If it's just a toy why not a Porsche vs a 240sx.

    Because 944 running costs will eat you out of house and home.
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    I had one of those '90 Talons and absolutely loved it!

    I am of average height and it fit like glove but, yes, a very tall person would be a bit cramped.


    I had a 95 Eclipse GST, great car!
  • I'd love to have a first gen or second gen Miata as a "toy". Just simply a wonderful car, meant for the purity of driving a fun car. It will lose a drag race to a minivan or even a modern econobox, but it's not always about speed is it?

    There was an unmolested 240SX around me a few months ago. It's a shame that most of them have gone to "rice rocket" land, along with the DSM cars (Don't forget the Plymouth Laser version of the first gen cars) the MR2, Prelude (another one I'd love to have).

    For the pony cars, I've always been a Mustang fan. I never cared for the look, the interior or the driving position of the GM cars.

    Great list, I'd give more props to the 944 suggestion, but the prices for parts,are,uh, Porsche. I recently started looking in the 5k realm for a used car. 5k COULD get you a BMW 750iL. But just researching the parts via Advanced Auto Parts internet site was sobering enough. Combine that with the V12 thirst for premium fuel and you remember why they were rare (where I live) to begin with and why many don't exist now.

    But oh for owning a V12 powered anything! :shades:
  • I just picked up a 1.8L 16V with some minor modifications for $1500. This car is completely tossable and handles like a go-kart. We'll see how reliable it is. There is an abundance of parts and references out there for this car too.
  • Thanks for the article post. I've been searching a long time for the perfect kind of starter car for myself, Stick obviously, and I know there were places to find them cheap but I had no foundation and no one to say "ok, here's a list of good, decent cars and with budget you can't beat ay ANY dealer". I agree Prelude's are the most underrated car I've ever seen but that makes me chase them because I want a car that rarely anyone would see or drive. All I see is Civics, Camrys, Corollas, etc. the normal average cars.
  • I don't think that you should overlook the Ford Contour SVT as a best buy for under 5k. It has as good or better performance as some of the cars listed, plus it has four doors for hauling the kids too. It also sounds awesome and is a ton of fun.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,195
    Good candidate. That's indeed a fun car and in teh right price range.
  • Another good one would be the 89'-94' Ford Taurus SHO with 3.0 and 3.2 and 5 speed...the v6 throws out 220 hp and 200 lb-ft...I had one and the yamaha built v6 sounded really good it has plenty of interior room and 4 doors definitely cheap too
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    How are those old SHO's on maintence? I'm not talking about door knobs and that kind of little stuff.... Is that Yamaha still a pretty good engine when it gets old? How about the 5-speed?

    Since they're speciality items, the general rule says that they're either going to be really good.... or really bad.

    I had a friend who had an SHO when they were still new; it was a really nice car. Then he got married, and traded it for a - wait for it - Chrysler mini van to haul the kid around. Sic transit gloria mundi, is it not so?
  • The 89' sho used a cable shifter which wore out after a while and would kink up and cause shifts to be hard but in 90' ford switched to rods which held up good...they make a kit to put a rod shifter in the 89'...the engine is amazing and sounds good...mine had 150,000 miles on it and ran like the day it came out of the factory...you can get a low mile sho in really good shape for 2-3 grand...parts are a little expensive but no more than some imports...maintence is no more than any other car except for a 100,000 mile tune up that was kind of expensive
  • I also think the 5g prelude to be good looking so you're not alone :). The article was talking about getting an SH and I wondering if you can tell by the VIN number if you can't tell from the owner and symbols and I'm guessing you couldn't get ATTS on base models right?
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