Best Used Cars for Students Under $10,000

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Whether it's a Honda, Toyota, or Audi, you can easily buy a safe and stylish vehicle for less than $10,000. All you need is a firm commitment to thorough research and a bit of time for shopping around.
Dealers and private sellers are both good sources for used cars. While your money may go further with a private seller, a dealer may offer a more straightforward purchasing process.
If you’re financing a used vehicle as a student, you may want to consider having a parent co-sign the loan to lower your interest rates.
No matter which vehicle you choose, be sure to look at its maintenance records before handing over your cash—and take it in for an independent inspection, if possible. Even reliable brands can lose their quality if they’re not maintained well.
Drum roll, please…here’s the list of the best used cars for students under $10,000, assembled for you by the car insurance comparison app Jerry.

Honda Civic, 2006 to 2015

A gray Honda Civic 2006.
Honda Civic 2006
Window price: $3,550 to $10,000+
There are two generations of Honda Civics in this category, and they both deserve a place at the top of our list. These vehicles are reliable, stylish, and easy to maintain. Civics offer a fun driving experience without sacrificing safety—the perfect balance for a student.
Good fuel economy is another prized trait in the Civic, and we also love the Civic’s low maintenance costs. For a student who wants to save money and drive a reliable car, the Honda Civic is our number one recommendation.
  • Attractive exterior
  • Nice features in the interior
  • Reliable with good fuel economy
  • Low cost of ownership
  • Not a sporty drive
  • Some drivers may want more room

Toyota Prius, 2004 to 2012

A red Toyota Prius 2012.
Toyota Prius 2012
Window price: $4,099 to $10,000+
Green cars are a great choice for students, and the Prius has proven again and again that it deserves a top spot in this category. Students will appreciate the eco-friendly nature of the Prius—especially the savings that come with not having to fuel up as frequently.
Be aware that a battery pack replacement may be imminently required in the older models. However, most Prius batteries last through 200,000 miles. 
  • Clean power
  • Great mileage
  • Lots of room
  • Batteries can be expensive to replace
  • Basic interior

Honda Fit, 2007 to 2016

A blue Honda Fit 2016
Honda Fit 2016
Window price: $4,000 to $10,000+
You can find a used Honda Fit for less than $5,000 if you’re lucky. This car is popular for good reason. Its small size is good for students, and the Fit is a reliable and well-organized vehicle overall. 
Students will also love the Fit’s great fuel economy. Saving money on gas means more cash for take-out! 
  • Very affordable
  • Great fuel economy
  • Fun to drive
  • Small
  • A bit noisy on the highway

Mazda3, 2010 to 2015

A red Mazda 2015.
Mazda 2015
Window price: $5,860 to $10,000+
Mazdas are sleek—and the Mazda3 is not only an attractive vehicle, but also a reliable one. Young (or young-at-heart) drivers will love the strong engine, which offers a peppy driving experience. 2014 and newer models will push the $10,000 budget, but they provide improved reliability and styling over their older siblings. 
The Mazda3 is available as a hatchback or sedan. 
  • Attractive exterior
  • Reliability
  • Spacious interior
  • Few features in the base model
  • Expensive

Acura TSX, 2004 to 2012

A silver Acura TSX 2004.
Acura TSX 2004
Window price: $4,997 to $10,000+
Here’s another vehicle priced near the $5,000 mark. The Acura TSX is a sedan that offers sporty handling. It has plenty of room for people and stuff, and the later models have enough technology to keep students connected. If you’re looking for a vehicle that can handle the demands of a busy lifestyle, consider the TSX.
These are generally reliable vehicles suitable for a student, though the mileage is not particularly impressive for someone on a budget.
  • Sharp handling
  • Timeless, if not contemporary, exterior
  • Inefficient mileage
  • The back seat is a bit small
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Toyota Camry Solara, 2004 to 2008

A white Toyota Camry Solara 2006.
Toyota Camry Solara 2006
Window price: $5,500 to $10,000+
Practicality may be the first thing that comes to mind for students looking for a used car. But practical doesn't have to mean boring—try the two-door coupe or convertible version of the Toyota Camry! The Solara rides the perfect middle ground between an edgy sports car and a doldrum sedan. 
The Solara is easy to maintain and fun to drive. Its engine is powerful enough to satisfy drivers who are looking to add a little zest to their everyday commute.
  • Reliability
  • Sporty and powerful without being dangerous
  • Good fuel economy
  • Tiny back seat

Toyota Avalon, 2005 to 2012

A dark gray Toyota Avalon 2012.
Toyota Avalon 2012
Window price: $5,800 to $10,000+
The Avalon doesn't feel like a student-on-a-budget car—and that’s why many young drivers love it. The Toyota Avalon is a sedan with good mpg and conservative styling. It offers impressive features like leather upholstery and built-in navigation. Commuting to class (or to a first job) is practically pleasurable in the Avalon.
If you’re looking for a vehicle that doesn’t scream “penniless student,” the Avalon is a fantastic choice.
  • Luxury look
  • Decent mileage
  • Reliable performance
  • Not exciting to drive
  • Not sporty

Honda Accord, 2011

A view of the back of a gray Honda Accord 2011.
Honda Accord 2011
Window price: $8,195 to $10,000+
While it’s not the flashiest vehicle around, the Honda Accord is very safe, affordable, and can last practically forever. Young drivers (and their parents) will love its straightforward features and top reliability ratings. There’s a reason you see so many Accords on the road!
Students will appreciate the size of the Accord (not too big, not too small). This model can easily carry them through to the next phase of life if it’s maintained well.
  • Reliability
  • Safety
  • Comfort
  • Basic features
  • Unexciting exterior
  • Hard to find a low mileage used Accord

Lincoln MKS, 2008 to 2012

A black Lincoln MKS 2012.
Lincoln MKS 2012
Window price: $5,995 to $10,000+
The dark horse on this list, the Lincoln MKS is actually much better used than new. The MKS is a luxurious sedan with straightforward styling that has held up to contemporary standards for more than 10 years. 
If you’re looking for a powerful ride with plenty of technology, the Lincoln MKS is a good choice. Just know that you’ll have to contend with below-average reliability and gas-thirsty engines.
  • Luxurious, inside and out
  • Plenty of technology
  • Reliability ranks lower than other models
  • Poor mileage

Toyota Corolla, 2012

A view of the back of a red Toyota Corolla 2012.
Toyota Corolla 2012
Window price: $8,998 to $10,000+
Looking for a compact vehicle that's safe and reliable? You can’t do better than the Toyota Corolla. These cars are built to last and are affordable to maintain. Busy students on a tight budget will appreciate the Corolla’s low cost of ownership and its reputation for reliability.
The only drawback is that the Corolla all too easily blends in with the crowd. But if the lack of personality doesn’t bother you, it will make a wonderful starter car.
  • Compact size (great for new drivers)
  • Reliability
  • Affordable to maintain
  • Not sporty

Mazda6, 2009 to 2013

A silver Mazda 6 2009.
Mazda 6 2009
Window price: $5,995 to $10,000+
A student car should prioritize performance and safety, and the Mazda6 achieves this balance perfectly. This vehicle is fun to drive thanks to its zippy engine, yet its repair costs are fairly low.
The Mazda6 also has enough storage space and features to be useful for years to come, allowing students to continue driving this car into the next stage of their lives and beyond. The only major drawback to this vehicle is the fuel economy. 
  • Sporty for a sedan
  • Plenty of legroom and cargo space
  • Low repair costs
  • Fair fuel economy
  • Muted interior
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Hyundai Elantra, 2014

A red Hyundai Elantra 2014.
Hyundai Elantra 2014
Window price: $8,000 to $10,000+
Available as a sedan or hatchback, the Hyundai Elantra is a modern and attractive vehicle thanks to its 2014 refresh. The interior and exterior are equally stylish, and the Elantra’s safety ratings are impressive. 
As one of the newer model years on this list, the 2014 Elantra offers more technology than an older Toyota or Honda—which may be an important criterion for a young person.
  • Appealing exterior and interior
  • Available as sedan or hatchback
  • Good safety ratings
  • Small size

Kia Soul, 2013

A light green Kia Soul 2013.
Kia Soul 2013
Window price: $7,498 to $10,000+
If you're looking for something more unique than the typical sedan, consider the Kia Soul. The Soul has a boxy look, which people seem either to love or hate. Either way, it’s definitely easy to spot in a crowded parking lot—a boon for a busy student in a rush to their next event.
The Kia Soul is fuel-efficient and has plenty of room for people and gear. If that’s not a recipe for pleasing a student driver, we don’t know what is.
  • Lots of room for stuff
  • Efficient fuel economy
  • Boxy exterior is a bit outdated

Ford Fusion, 2010

A red Ford Fusion 2010.
Ford Fusion 2010
Window price: $5,499 to $10,000+
You can take home a 2010 Ford Fusion for around $6,000 and up. This four-door sedan is a great choice for students thanks to its sporty look and smooth handling. The Fusion’s trunk is larger than those of competitors (meaning, plenty of room for duffle bags and groceries). Students will also appreciate the modern infotainment system.
Pro tip: If you can find an upper-trim Fusion on the used market, it includes an excellent blind spot monitoring system.
  • Powerful and sporty
  • Spacious interior and lots of cargo space
  • Difficult to find a low mileage used Ford Fusion

Audi A3, 2009

A dark gray Audi A3 2009.
Audi A3 2009
Window price: $7,000 to $10,000+
A five-seat hatchback, the Audi A3 has plenty of room for a driver and friends. The impressive safety ratings and a powerful Audi engine will delight young drivers. Luxury features like leather upholstery make the A3 feel nicer than your run-of-the-mill student car. 
Drivers who love blasting their music—or parents who want to give their student a hands-free driving experience—should look for an A3 that has Bluetooth connectivity, on-board navigation, and the available Bose stereo system.  
  • Luxurious exterior
  • Lots of features
  • Powerful driving
  • Lacking reliability
  • Can be expensive to maintain
  • Small back seat for long legs

Finding affordable car insurance

Car insurance can be costly for young drivers—and it's never a good idea to sacrifice essential coverage just to save on bills. So, how do you find an affordable policy that offers the coverage you need?
Jerry is the best way for students to quickly compare rates. It takes zero effort (well, it depends on how you classify a free download and a few swipes and clicks). With Jerry, you can get an affordable insurance policy between Netflix episodes or before you go to bed. 
Jerry will show you up to dozens of personalized quotes from top providers, and all you need to do is pick your favorite. From there, Jerry will help to cancel your existing policy (if applicable) and get you started with your new one—no human interaction required.
The average Jerry user finds nearly $900 in annual savings, by the way—at no cost to you. Students deserve affordable car insurance, and Jerry is here to help.
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