Full-size sedans and SUVs are great for hauling cargo, but used small and compact cars check so many boxes. They are usually cheaper for starters, so your wallet will thank you. They are also perfect for new car buyers. And since small cars have small engines, they require less maintenance than one equipped with a V6 or V8.
If you’re looking for the best used cars under $5,000, Consumer Reports ran tests on several models. The best part? These small cars are equipped with electronic stability control, which is now required on all new vehicles.
Consumer Reports recommends the following models in the small car segment:
Toyota Corolla models from 2003 to 2005 may surprise you
Price: $4,425 – $4,850
The Toyota Corolla is truly a fan favorite, and it’s easy to see why. Models from 2003 to 2005 deliver excellent performance (and a total of 29 mpg). It is powered by a fast 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine and provides good road holding. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but a four-speed automatic is available.
Inside, the cabin feels roomy for the size of the Corolla. All buttons and controls are easy to use and the tachometer gauges are easy to see. As if that weren’t enough, the Toyota Corolla is still the best-selling car in the world.
Not only did Consumer Reports selected the Toyota Corolla as one of the best used small cars under $5,000, but it also gave the 2005 Toyota Corolla a reliability score of 5/5 and an overall satisfaction score of 4/5. Owners love the handling and acceleration of this small sedan. Some say it is comfortable and not too noisy.
2004 to 2005 Toyota Prius models are also priced under $5k
Practical, stylish and exceptional fuel economy? That’s the Toyota Prius 2004 – 2005 for you. The Prius hybrid is equipped with a 76 hp 1.5 liter four-cylinder gas engine and a 67 hp electric motor. It offers a total of 44 mpg on regular gas. In addition, the CVT, or continuously variable transmission, ensures smooth shifting and travel.
The center display of the hybrid car shows important vehicle information, including fuel consumption and the operating power source. Inside, your taller passengers will stay comfortable. The rear seats are spacious and the legroom is generous. In addition, there are many storage compartments in these particular Toyota Prius models.
Consumer Reports gave the 2005 Toyota Prius a reliability score of 4/5 and a 5/5 owner satisfaction score. Consumers say it offers excellent handling and acceleration, especially on the highway. They also state (aside from routine maintenance) that they have had no major or very few repairs. It’s no wonder Consumer Reports ranked this used car as one of the best used small cars under $5,000.
Is a small car the right choice for me?
The answer really depends on your needs. If you have a large family or want to take your adventures off road then probably not. However, if you need a cheap used car that can get you where you need to go (and beyond), a used small car may be the best option for you. Small cars are also great for driving around town. For example, they can easily maneuver through traffic and fit into those tight parking spaces. They are also fuel efficient, so you spend less time at the gas pump and more time driving to the places you love.
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