10 Reliable Used Cars You Can Buy For $6,000 Or Less - SUV VEHICLE

10 Reliable Used Cars You Can Buy For $6,000 Or Less


Car prices have increased a lot over the years, and even the cheapest used cars have climbed in value. Reliability is a common concern among buyers in the market for a cheap second-hand car, but shopping for the right models and best years can be the difference when searching for a reliable car.

This can make picking the right car seem like a daunting task, but there are some impressive used cars under $6,000 that are capable and reliable. Buyers do need to manage their expectations, though. For instance, most cheap used cars will have a lot of miles on the clock, but higher mileages shouldn’t totally deter buyers. A quality used vehicle should be able to last hundreds of thousands of miles without expensive repairs and breakdowns.

How we got our model selections: HotCars analyzed used car model years 2020 and older available on the market today.

Used cars with higher reliability ratings (with Quality & Reliability scores of at least 80/100, according to J.D. Power) and that are under $6,000 (as per Kelley Blue Book’s fair market value) were factored into model selections. Fuel economy data came from FuelEconomy.gov.

The following model selections were sorted from lowest to highest J.D. Power scores.

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10 2010 BMW 328i: 80/100

KBB Fair Market Value: $5,904

E90 BMW 3 Series
Via: BMW

The E90 generation BMW 3-Series is a sporty executive sedan that is surprisingly reliable. The 325i and 328i came with the inline-six N52, an engine that is very popular among BMW enthusiasts for its reliability and power.


  • J.D. Power Reliability Score: 80/100
  • Average Used Price: $5,904 for the rear-wheel drive sedan
  • Standout Offerings: 3.0-liter inline-six N52 motor with 230 horsepower, often considered to be one of the most reliable engines made by BMW

These were one of the last naturally aspirated sedans that BMW built, not only making this a special car, but the lack of forced induction also helps with reliability and maintenance costs. This makes the E90 3-Series one of the most reliable used BMWs.

The hydraulic power steering unit also deserves mention for its reputation for handling. The 328i is also available with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, but these cars command a premium in the used car market.

9 2007 Ford Escape: 82/100

KBB Fair Market Value: $3,822 – 5,141

2006 Ford Escape

The Ford Escape is a good option for gearheads looking for an SUV or crossover on a budget. Used Escape models can be had as low as $3,837, according to KBB Fair Price values, making them one of the cheapest secondhand cars to buy. These cars have enough room and practicality for a family of four and the 200-horsepower V6 feels adequate on highway runs.


  • J.D. Power Reliability Score: 82/100
  • Average Used Price: $3,837 to $5,141 depending on trim
  • Standout Offerings: Impressive 8.2-inch ground clearance, optional all-wheel drive, 3.0-liter V6 engine with 200 horsepower

While this is not a proper off-roader by any stretch, Ford did offer an optional all-wheel drive system for additional grip. The front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive cars are both very reliable.

Some owners have reported issues with rust and the transmission, but proper care and preventive maintenance can help these cars run dependably for a long time.

8 2007 Honda Civic: 82/100

KBB Fair Market Value: $4,520 – 5,877

2009 Honda Civic Sedan

The Honda Civic is a versatile car that is very easy to recommend. It has enough room on the inside to comfortably seat four, and the 1.8-liter VTEC motor is peppy and free-revving enough for what it is. The Civic comes with a choice of a CVT or a manual transmission and is also available as a coupe.


  • J.D. Power Reliability Score: 82/100
  • Average Used Price: $4,520 to $5,877 depending on trim
  • Standout Offerings: Impressive EPA-rated fuel economy of 25 mpg (city), 36 mpg (highway), and 29 mpg (combined). The 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid is even more efficient with a fuel economy of 40 mpg (city), 45 mpg (highway), and 42 mpg (combined)

There’s a more powerful Honda K20-powered Civic Si available for buyers looking for a sportier car, too. And with an EPA-rated highway fuel economy of 42 mpg, the Civic Hybrid is especially good on gas for an old car.

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7 2007 Toyota Sienna: 83/100

KBB Fair Market Value: $5,262 – 6,121

2005 Toyota Sienna XLE Ltd AWD

The Toyota Sienna offers phenomenal value for buyers looking for budget minivans. The 3.5-liter V6 engine makes this minivan significantly more powerful than competitors like the Honda Odyssey. Toyota offered the 2007 Sienna with ABS, stability control, traction control, and side curtain airbags for all three rows as standard.


  • J.D. Power Reliability Score: 83/100
  • Average Used Price: $5,262 and $6,121 for the CE and LE trims respectively
  • Standout Offerings: Seating for up to eight passengers and a total cargo space of 148.9 cubic feet with the back rows folded, 3.5-liter 2GR-FE V6 engine with 266 horsepower

The 2007 model year is very reliable, but some owners have reported issues with oil pressure lines, though this is not a major concern, especially with the right preventive maintenance.

6 2008 Honda Fit: 83/100

KBB Fair Market Value: $4,659 – 5,434

2008 Honda Fit

The Honda Fit is a very capable hatchback and is a common contender against the Toyota Prius in the used car market. The Fit offers good fuel economy without the expensive hybrid system (that will inevitably require a replacement).


  • J.D. Power Reliability Score: 83/100
  • Average Used Price: $4,659 to $5,434
  • Standout Offerings: EPA-rated fuel economy of 28 mpg (city), 34 mpg (highway), and 31 mpg (combined)

Being a Honda, not only is it very reliable, but the car’s running costs are quite reasonable, too. The Honda Fit is also surprisingly fun to drive for a sub-compact car and is a good option for those in the market for a used hatchback.

5 2008 Mazda 6: 84/100

KBB Fair Market Value: $4,916 – 5,712

Exterior shot of the 2005 Mazda 6 MPS

The Mazda 6 is one of the most fun-to-drive mid-sized sedans available in the used car market. Buyers can choose between a 2.3-liter inline-four-cylinder engine or a larger 3.0-liter Duratec V6. Both engines can be had either a manual or an automatic transmission. The Mazdaspeed6 uses a turbocharged version of the 2.3-liter engine and puts out an impressive 274 horsepower.


  • J.D. Power Reliability Score: 84/100
  • Average Used Price: $4,916 to $5,712 depending on trim and body style (hatchback or sedan).
  • Standout Offerings: Optional 3.0-liter V6 with 212 horsepower. Four-cylinder models offer a good EPA-rated fuel economy of 29 mpg on the highway.

The Mazda 6 is known for its handling and driving dynamics and can be a good choice for enthusiasts looking for a practical and reliable used car under $6,000.

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4 2007 Mercedes-Benz E350: 85/100

KBB Fair Market Value: $5,563 – 5,825


The W211 E-Class is a good example of German luxury on a budget. These cars feature a plush leather interior with wooden trim, satellite navigation, climate control, and gasoline and diesel engine choices ranging from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder to a 6.2-liter V8.


  • J.D. Power Reliability Score: 85/100
  • Average Used Price: $5,563 to $5,825 for non-AMG models
  • Standout Offerings: 3.5-liter V6 motor with 268 horsepower, optional 4MATIC all-wheel drive

This generation of the E-Class is very reliable and is often considered to be one of the best generations of the E-Class to buy in the used market, but labor and part costs will understandably be higher than a Japanese car.

3 2007 Toyota Corolla: 88/100

KBB Fair Market Value: $4,751 – 6,162

2007 Toyota Corolla CE

The Toyota Corolla is known for its bulletproof reliability and is a very capable car. It’s powered by a 1.8-liter 1ZZ-FE inline-four, an engine known for lasting over 300,000 miles with just regular maintenance. The engine’s 130-horsepower power output will not break any records for performance, but it’s adequate for a compact city car like the Corolla.


  • J.D. Power Reliability Score: 88/100
  • Average Used Price: $4,751 to $6,162
  • Standout Offerings: EPA-rated fuel economy of 26 mpg (city), 35 mpg (highway), and 29 mpg (combined).

The fuss-free ownership experience and dependability make the Corolla one of the top five reliable budget used cars to buy.


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2 2007 Mercury Grand Marquis: 88/100

KBB Fair Market Value: $5,318 – 5,697

2007 Mercury Grand Marquis

Panther body cars like the Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Lincoln Town Car offer exceptional value when bought used. While there is no shortage of Crown Vics in the used market, most examples in the market are usually ex-police cruisers.

The Lincoln Town Car, on the other hand, is extremely luxurious and can still be had for under $6,000, but finding a clean car can be difficult, and the rear air suspension is a pricey repair.


  • J.D. Power Reliability Score: 88/100
  • Average Used Price: $5,318 to $5,697
  • Standout Offerings: 4.6-liter V8 motor with 239 horsepower

The Grand Marquis of the cheapest second-hand vehicles in the USA right now and is very reliable, comfortable, and offers decent performance. The Mercury offers the best of both worlds and combines the luxury of the Lincoln Town Car with the fuss-free ownership experience of the Crown Victoria. These are gas guzzlers, though, so buyers looking for an efficient car should look elsewhere.

1 2008 Ford Taurus: 89/100

KBB Fair Market Value: $4,623 – 4,648

2008 Ford Taurus front 3_4

The 2008 Ford Taurus is a very comfortable sedan that makes for a very competent highway cruiser. It has oodles of room in the interior and is very practical with a cargo space of 21.2 cubic feet. Despite being a full-sized sedan, the 3.5-liter Duratec V6 has enough power to feel punchy while overtaking or cruising on the highway.


  • J.D. Power Reliability Score: 89/100
  • Average Used Price: $4,263 to $4,648
  • Standout Offerings: 263 horsepower from a 3.5-liter Duratec V6 engine and an optional all-wheel drive system

The Taurus is a very reliable car, with a J.D. Power Reliability Score of 89/100, and can comfortably munch hundreds of thousands of miles. Some owners have reported problems related to the fuel pump and transmission, but these are manageable with proper maintenance.

Sources: J.D. Power, Kelley Blue Book, FuelEconomy.gov, RepairPal, CarComplaints


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