Chicago—June 11, 2010—The economy may be rebounding, but the quest for an affordable ride lives on. To help those consumers looking for a quality vehicle that is easy on their wallet, Cars.com editors put together a list of the best cars that $10,000 can buy.
"There are a lot of great cars available for buyers on a budget," says Cars.com Editor in Chief Patrick Olsen. "However, it is important for car buyers to consider the entire package when choosing a wallet-friendly model. Our best $10K cars help buyers find cost-friendly options that still deliver features like safety and gas mileage."
The Cars.com editors examined cars from the 2005 model year or newer with typical mileage for their age and a retail value around $10,000. They crunched reliability and crash-test scores, considered standard and optional safety features and looked at how easy it is to find a car with those options. Finally, the editors considered their own qualitative impressions, including ride comfort, roominess and driving enjoyment.
Cars.com's Best Cars for 10K:
2009-2010 Nissan Versa
The Nissan Versa sedan is the only new car in this list, but it's here for more than just its low price. It's roomy for its class, has a comfortable ride and is powered by a choice of efficient four-cylinder drivetrains that will help you save money at the gas pump. Expect to pay more if you want the hatchback.
2007 Kia Optima
Kia's approach is to load its cars with lots of features and then sell them affordably. Unlike most sedans of its era, the Optima made a stability system optional on its base model, so a used Optima LX might be found with the feature. Roughly half of Kia's powertrain warranty -- five years/60,000 miles -- transfers to the next buyer, providing the car has been properly maintained.
2006 Ford Freestar
Having children is definitely a reason to re-evaluate your choice of car, and if you have kids, you know they don't care if you drive new or used. Their messes are the same regardless. For those who need a minivan, the Freestar offers the bare necessities, but it can take on soccer equipment and crumbs just as well as a brand-new van.
2006 Ford Fusion
Based on the Mazda6 platform, the Fusion packs nimble handling, an adult-friendly backseat and a large trunk without its Mazda cohort's spotty reliability. The four-cylinder is capable, and V-6 models employ a responsive, high-tech six-speed automatic. All trims come reasonably well-equipped, and the Fusion's sleek styling has aged well. For $10,000, this is a lot of sedan.
2006 Hyundai Sonata
The 2006 Sonata was a turning point for Hyundai. The sedan offered an eye-pleasing exterior design with comfortable accommodations for a family of four. It was also at the forefront of a trend that's become the norm: making important safety features standard. Even though it's a few years old, there should still be a lot of life left in a well-kept model.
2006 Mitsubishi Galant
While the Galant may be louder on the road and ride rougher when compared with some of its competition, it's a rather sporty, large sedan with a modern interior that hasn't aged as poorly as others of its vintage. In fact, a brand-new Galant isn't much different than this older version. Call it timeless, if that makes your decision any easier.
2005 Ford Five Hundred
The Five Hundred doesn't get much respect. It isn't stylish like its successor, the 2010 Ford Taurus, and its interior quality wasn't great, even back in 2005. But it has remarkable interior space, some of which the redesigned Taurus sacrificed in the name of appearance. The backseat is cavernous, and the trunk can hold eight golf bags. All this in a car that's not very long. All-wheel drive is optional.
2005 Honda Accord Sedan
A longtime best-seller, the Accord sedan now faces stronger competition than ever from all directions, including the U.S. and Korea. In 2005, though, the Accord held a strong lead in many ways such as mileage and overall refinement. If you're going back five years in search of a midsize sedan, the Accord is a good place to start.
2005 Hyundai Tucson
Introduced in 2005, Hyundai's pint-sized crossover was soon leapfrogged by its peers in terms of overall refinement, but its safety features remain competitive to this day. The optional V-6 is thirsty on gas, but it hustles along when pushed. The Kia Sportage is a related sibling, but it's slightly pricier -- and less reliable. If you need a cheap crossover SUV, the Tucson is a solid bet.
2005-2006 Toyota Corolla
There's a reason the Toyota Corolla is so common on American roads: It's reliable and fuel-efficient -- two things that are especially important when shopping for a car with a limited budget. There's no question there are snazzier cars available for $10,000, but it's hard to think of one that's more sensible.
Cars.com is the leading destination for online car shoppers, offering credible, easy-to-understand information from consumers and experts to help buyers formulate opinions on what to buy, where to buy and how much to pay for a car. With comprehensive pricing information, side-by-side comparison tools, photo galleries, videos, unbiased editorial content and a large selection of new- and used-car inventory, Cars.com puts millions of car buyers in control of their shopping process with the information they need to make confident buying decisions.
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