Reliable and affordable. These are two words that don’t always go together when it comes to buying a car. But every day, countless people scroll through classified ads and walk onto car lots looking for just that: cheap and reliable cars that will last them a long time with minimal repairs.
Sometimes people get lucky and drive home in an automobile that costs less than they expected to pay, and are still driving that same car five or six years down the line. However, more often than not, the result is one of exhaustion and frustration. In the worst cases, you spend more than you were prepared to, and in a few months post your own ad, desperate to get rid of the beater you somehow got cajoled into buying.
Before you go out searching for what many consider to be a mythical car, remember that you’ll be more successful if you know what you’re looking for. With this in mind, here is a brief and helpful guide for those who are looking to buy a great car on a budget.
First, let’s consider some family cars that are big enough to hold all your luggage and all your kids’ toys while also being incredibly safe. In this category, it’s hard to look at anything other than the Mazda family of station wagons and crossovers.
These cars hit on a number of must-have features: great gas mileage, affordable pricing, drivability, and perhaps the top feature families look for the most: safety. The Mazda CX-5 and Mazda 6, among others, were ranked Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
If you’re looking for a great deal on smaller cars, there are a range of great options to choose from. The new generation of these small cars includes the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Spark. According to Kelley Blue Book, the Nissan Versa ranks as the most affordable car of 2016.
Of course, if you want to buy a used car, you have a much bigger pool of options to choose from, which can be a good thing but also completely overwhelming.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is the type of used car you want to buy. Unless you’re looking for a hobby car or a vehicle to work on and fix up, avoid salvage cars. Make sure you get a clean title with your car. This means the vehicle hasn’t been in a major accident deemed a total loss and hence, will be a more reliable car.
Second, decide on what type of car you want. What are you looking for? The beauty of buying used is you can buy dream cars you could never come close to affording if they were new. With this in mind, here are a few categories of cars and some models that fit the bill:
- For a luxury automobile, look for a Volvo. These legendary Swedish vehicles are famed for their safety, style and above all, endurance. It’s common for a Volvo to clock in over 250,000 miles before it’s finally taken off the road.
- If you need space, take a look at the 2010 Scion xB. Despite its unusual look, this car has an exceptional safety rating, ample room and a reputation for being reliable.
- Looking for a pickup? Let your friends argue over whether a Ford or a Chevy is better. If you need a truck strictly for utilitarian reasons and don’t care about being a “Ford guy,” look for a 2009 Nissan Frontier.
- What’s the best overall used car? It’s hard to say, but for now the award goes to the Honda Fit. This little vehicle packs a big punch. It’s insanely reliable and can be yours for a low price.
Most people want an affordable car that’s also reliable, but far too many have concluded that this is a mystical beast — the unicorn of the car world. But this list proves they exist. So bookmark this page for the next time you’re in search of a car. You’ll be happy you did.