Buying a car is perhaps one the most difficult things we have to do in our lives. It might not sound hard, especially to those who have had to go through it, but finding the right car for your needs can be quite stressful. It isn't just one thing you have to factor into, its several—including safety, price, durability, and reliability.
Price is, of course, the main thing we all worry about, because we naturally want an affordable car, but we also don't want it to be a piece of rubbish. On the other hand, we don't want to pay for a great car if it is going to put us into debt, so it can be a bit of a dilemma for us all.
The good thing is, though, that there are quite a few cars out there that can be bought for a modest sum on various markets, be it in the US or in Europe, that do last a long time, ten years or more, and that are quite affordable. Not just new cars either, but older models of good cars that can still do exactly what you need them to do despite them being that little bit older. It does sound quite improbable at first, considering how expensive cars can actually become, but you may well find the perfect car for around $10,000, which is, of course, a win-win situation.
20 Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen is one of Europe’s leading car manufacturers, and the Golf has been a fixture in the company’s lineup since 1974. One of the original ‘hot hatches’ that were prominent, especially throughout the 1980s with the GTI variant, the Golf has grown in stature and size and also dependability, and is a true workhorse for anyone that owns one. It won ‘World Car of the Year’ in 2009 and is one of only three cars to have been voted ‘European Car of the Year’ twice—alongside with the Vauxhall Astra and Renault Clio. Yet despite all this, it is never really spoken about as an exciting car. But then again, most cars like this aren't, really.
19 Dacia Sandero
Upon first glance, the Dacia Sandero may not appear to be very interesting, and indeed it isn’t. And it was of course the butt of many Top Gear jokes, with ‘Great news’ coming from James May about the car before Jeremy Clarkson swiftly moved on. The thing is though, when actually reviewed by Top Gear for the website, the verdict came out pretty positive, especially on durability. Whilst not a great design, its seven-year warranty option is a sign that it is clearly a reliable car, plus later models have improved a good deal in safety terms. Not to mention that the great price point has stayed the same. Around $5,000!
18 Audi A3
Audi is perhaps not one of most interesting car manufactures in the world, and the A3 is probably not an incredibly interesting car either. However, Audi is well known for making very good and dependable cars, and the A3 is no exception.
Introduced in 1996, the car has gone through various design changes since then, but has remained fundamentally in the same form since its birth.
It has spawned the RS3 Sedan, as well as the A3 e-Tron hybrid, all variants being very reliable and with great safety ratings. Like the Golf though, this has earned it a slightly boring reputation. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing, as we know.
17 BMW 3 Series
BMW is another German car company who knows how to produce very reliable and fairly inexpensive cars, as well as quite a few that have rather attractive proportions. The 3 Series has been around since 1975, spread across six generations, and has become the base point for the incredible BMW M3, which first appeared in 1986.
Early versions were incredibly elegant, and the car is quite unrecognizable now compared to how it looked then.
But it has been on Car and Driver’s 'Ten Best' list 22 times consecutively from 1992 to 2014—which is a staggering achievement and shows the great qualities and dependability of the car.
16 Land Rover Range Rover
The Land Rover Range Rover falls under the luxury SUV banner, and it can often be a point of contention among petrol heads. Yes, they are rugged, spacious, reliable and good machines, but they are huge and quite expensive to run. The question is asked a lot if cars this size are truly necessary, especially if you only have two people in it with you. Despite all this though, the Range Rover will get you from A to B for as long as you need it too, even if it does cost you an arm and a leg to run it. And yes, you can get a used one for around $10,000, which does seem quite remarkable.
15 Toyota Camry
Toyota is perhaps one of the top five car manufacturers in the world, regularly producing incredibly reliable and dependable machines to export globally—and the Camry is no exception.
First seen in 1982, it has been released in wide and narrow body variants, while the model's roots actually go back to the Celica Camry from 1979.
Unsurprisingly, there is now also a hybrid version of the Camry, which is a much better car than what the Prius could ever be. Alongside the Land Cruiser, the Camry is one of Toyota’s flagship products. And it will probably continue to be so for years to come as well.
14 Subaru Legacy
Subaru is another famous Japanese car manufacturer, and the brand's exploits in the World Rally Championship have become the stuff of legend. But its flagship car is quite different from the Impreza that the company used in the WRC.
The Subaru Legacy features the traditional boxer engine that Subaru is famous for, and is one of the company's most successful vehicles sold, if not the most successful.
From 1989 to 2008, over 3.6 million Legacies had been sold in their various forms, making it a huge success for the company and it is still in production today, and probably will be for years to come.
13 Toyota Aygo
The Aygo is one of the best little cars out there, and is perhaps the natural successor to the original Toyota Yaris, though later versions have grown somewhat bigger than the original. The Aygo is a city car, and has perhaps as expected, grown a bit in size since the first models were introduced in 2005. But it is still incredibly affordable and, thanks to the Toyota workmanship, an incredibly likable and reliable car. If it is anything like my 2004 Yaris, it is going to last someone a very long time indeed. Hopefully it doesn't become too large like the Yaris either.
12 Toyota Yaris
Speaking of the Yaris, here is our third Toyota car in the list and it is indeed the Toyota Yaris. It seems remarkable that the Yaris has been around since 1999 in its various forms, including Coupe and larger Sedan versions which are labeled as the Platz. And the Yaris has indeed grown in size to be somewhat bigger than the original. But you can buy a base model for around the $10,000 mark if indeed you are looking for a very strong subcompact car, that is absolutely perfect for everyday use. Even if it has got a bit larger over time, still, it does indeed look the part.
11 Ford Fiesta
The Fiesta may well be one of the worlds most well-known cars, even if it is not perhaps the most exciting car in the world. It is, however, ultra reliable and a long term fixture in Ford's lineup, as well as being quite an attractive machine as well.
Remarkably, the first Fiestas were rolled out back in 1976 and the model is currently in its sixth generation.
The Fiesta has truly grown in size since those early days, and thankfully now looks much better than the uninspired fourth generation model that rolled out in 1995. If you want a car to last a long time you really should consider the Fiesta.
10 Hyundai i30
Hyundai really does not get the credit that they deserve, because the South Korean car company does produce some very good cars, and is perhaps most famous for the rather cool Hyundai coupe that we all know and love. The i30, a wonderful small family car, was introduced back in 2007 and has picked up various accolades along the way worldwide, including ‘Car of the Year’ in 2007 for Carsguide and wining national awards as well, such as ‘Best Family Hatch’ of 2009 in New Zealand. The i30 is a great car that just does not get enough global attention, which it really deserves.
9 Kia Cee’d
The Kia Cee’d is a very interesting car, emphasized because it has an apostrophe in its name. It’s also a very well-built compact car, first introduced in 2006 exclusively for the European market.
There is nothing ground breaking or particularly innovative about the Cee’d, other than it being well-built and very good at doing what is required to do.
It perhaps does not get quite the recognition it deserves, rather bizarrely as it is indeed a great car. Over two million have been built over the cars three generations, and it is one of the brand's best-selling European models.
8 SEAT Leon
SEAT are a Spanish car company, and one you do not tend to hear much about for some reason, but they do a very good job at producing reliable and sturdy cars—and the Leon is no exception.
The Leon has been with us since 1998, and is based off the Volkswagen Group A platform with which it does indeed share many components.
The Leo has also feature in the World Touring Car Championship and even the British Touring Car Championship, showing the car's diversity as a racing car, even if its racing prominence has fallen off a bit over the last few years.
7 Volkswagen Up!
With a name like Up!, you may find yourself a bit cautious before committing to buy such a car, even if it does come from Volkswagen. But here's the thing, despite its unusual name, the Up! is a fantastic little city car and perhaps one of the company's best models to date, regularly receiving high reviews on sites such as Autocar, AutoExpress, and WhatCar. Featuring both petrol versions and an electric one called the E-up, the Up! has received global acclaim since its inception in 2011, even seeing a GTI version being created. It’s compact, reliable, economical and very spacious.
6 2011 Honda Accord
Now if you want to buy a good used car for around the $10,000 mark, you can’t do much worse than a 2011 Honda Accord. In fact, you couldn’t do wrong with any Honda Accord. A 1991 edition has been in my family since that year and still goes strong, so it shows you how well Honda produces a car and it’s longevity is a testament to the Accord’s reliability. The 2011 version is still very modern, in terms of looks and feel, and I would go as far as saying it could be the best in the Accord range. It is well worth considering as a secondhand purchase.
5 2013 Honda Civic
Another older Honda that is perhaps worth considering is a 2013 Honda Civic, another one of Honda’s finest modern cars. The first Civics were introduced in 1972 and the car is still in production, and a good used one will still last you an awfully long time, should you feel the need to pick one up.
They are very spacious and sleek, and a bit more affordable than the Accord, as well.
With one of the highest safety ratings of any car in the US, having received good marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), including a five star for frontal impact, an older Civic is certainly worth looking at.
4 2011 Nissan Juke
The Juke is one of Nissan’s various SUVs , and personally not a favorite of mine because it does look a bit funny in my eyes. I have been in one though, and I felt very safe and comfortable, and if you don’t want to break the bank then you can’t go wrong with a 2011 version, the first model of the car to be introduced. The car does achieve a coupe-like appearance, and you have to commend Nissan for going down a slightly different route with its appearance over your regular SUV’s. And it still has a great safety rating on the NHTSA.
3 2010 Acura RDX
I will admit, I actually did not know this car existed until I did some research. The RDX is Acura’s first attempt at a luxury, compact crossover SUV and it has been in production since 2006. It has an incredible safety rating, featuring five stars on almost everything it has been tested on via the NHTSA, and the first generation still holds out very well if you can’t afford the second one. It is perhaps not as well known as the Nissan Juke, but I would argue it is better, in terms of looks, safety and durability. Of course, it is virtually a Honda when all said and done, and we all know how good Hondas are.
2 2008 Toyota Corolla
This may seem an odd choice to some, being a ten year old version of a car that isn’t really that interesting, but the Corolla is a very, very good car. It was in fact the best-selling car worldwide in 1974, and it has been with us since 1966, having gone through quite a few redesigns. A 2008 tenth-generation model is a good starting point if you want a used example, and still holds out quite well against the more modern generations, even if it does look a bit older compared to the sleek and gorgeous newer generation. Still, at under $10,000 for a car that has already lasted ten years, and will likely do another ten, can you go wrong?
1 2010 Ford Fusion
The Ford Fusion is another example of a Ford that has gotten more visually appealing as time has gone on, and those grilles at the front just make the cars stand out.
Of course, a later Fusion will break the bank a bit, but you can’t go wrong with a 2010 model from the used car market.
And it’s still the first generation! The NHTSA gave it incredibly high safety ratings, and it impressively holds out very well in that regard still here in 2018, and the 2010 model features a refreshing look over earlier first-generation variants, which do show their age a bit.