With soaring used car prices and a lack of good options on the market, finding a reliable daily driver can be a daunting task. But what if you want a car that’s cheap, reliable, and fun to drive? Well, don’t expect anything in the sub-$5,000 price range.
Instead of going for terrible cars like the Chrysler PT Cruiser or the Dodge Avenger, there are plenty of machines on this list that are fun to drive. garage. These cars are reasonably reliable and have good gas mileage. There’s not much to go against them, so here are some fun daily driver options that won’t break the bank.
10/10 1993-2004 Ford Mustang SN95 ($3,000)
Many expect the Ford Mustang lineup to be expensive to own and maintain because of the powerful powertrain. But if you’re on a tight budget, his SN95 Mustang, which came out in 1993, is a great choice. This is considered his one of the simplest and most reliable generation of Mustangs ever to hit the market.
A fourth-generation Mustang can be purchased for around $3,000 for a car with less than 150,000 miles. This is especially good considering the price of Camry and Corolla on the used market. All engine options are perfect, with the V6 being the most fuel efficient. Also, many college students skipped it for more fuel-efficient cars, so you might get some low-mileage examples.
9/10 2003-2008 Toyota Matrix ($3,000)
The first generation Toyota Matrix may not be the go-to choice for those looking for a beater car that’s fun to drive. The cheap price tag and Toyota badging meant it was an everyday driver and nothing more, but the Toyota Matrix has a lot to offer with its go-kart-like behavior and peppy 1.8-liter 4-banger engine. It made him one of the best driving hatchbacks of his time.
The Aisin automatic transmission is bulletproof, as is the engine. In addition, the safety and interior features are substantial, and the car does not feel frugal. The design is well matured. Priced at around $3,000, he’s one of the few beater cars that doesn’t run into serious problems before hitting the 200,000 mile mark.
8/10 1999-2004 Nissan Xterra ($3,500)
The first generation Nissan Xterra is the only SUV on the list and one that should never be skipped. With a 4WD drivetrain and torquey engine, this SUV can tackle hardcore off-road without much trouble. The inexpensive price, the many clean examples still running, and the macho design are also appealing.
Common problems include leaking power steering, leaking valve cover gaskets, cracked manifolds, and rust. However, both the inline 4 engine and the V6 engine are solid. The 4-speed automatic is also famous for its long life. For just $3,500 you can get a decent example without going crazy with repairs and maintenance.
7/10 Lexus GS300 ($3,500)
The Lexus GS300 is extremely reliable and easy to drive, making it perfect for enthusiasts on a budget. With his 2JZ engine under the hood, coupled with an Aisin automatic transmission, the powertrain is quite famous for being able to go a good distance with little to no trouble. Performance is also impressive.
Rearranged suspension, a roomy cabin, and streamlined tech and features are some of this vehicle’s other selling points. A slightly more mileage GS300 could be available for his low $3,500 price tag if you search a little harder. Top-notch reliability means you don’t have to worry too much about a high mileage vehicle if it’s serviced regularly.
6/10 Mazda Miata ($5,000)
The Mazda MX-5 Miata must be one of the top picks for any driving enthusiast. Early model-year Miatas sell for ridiculous prices, so it’s not what many would expect to find in this price range.
For under $5,000, you can get a high mileage NA generation Miata. However, the NB generation moniker is highly recommended as the engine is much more sophisticated. A nearly perfect machine means you don’t have to spend a lot of time in the garage.
5/10 Lexus LS400 ($5,000)
Considered by many to be one of the most reliable luxury cars of all time, the Lexus LS400 is the perfect choice for those wanting a powerful V8 engine and RWD drivetrain configuration. His 30-plus-year-old LS400’s used car prices are pretty affordable.
The ride is very comfortable due to the luxury inside and the extraordinary interior space. Most of the parts are still available and the prices aren’t ridiculously high like Mercedes and his BMW back then. A few performance upgrades make the LS400 a fast four-door sedan, even by his 2022 standards.
4/10 2007-2013 Mazda Speed 3 ($5,000)
The 2007 Mazda Speed 3 was a hot hatch that put a big smile on everyone’s face. Equipped with a turbocharged in-line four engine producing 263 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, the Mazda Speed 3 enabled him to go 0-60 MPH in just 5.8 seconds. 15 years later, it’s still as impressive a fast hatchback as it was before.
The 6-speed manual is perfect and the multi-link suspension allows for handling. Mazda is very reliable. Common problems include VVT actuator problems, bad turbo seals, bad engine mounts, and leaking injectors. But not all of this is ridiculously expensive to fix. The price of 5,000 yen is also an exceptional bargain.
3/10 2006-2011 Honda Civic Si ($4,000)
The 8th generation Honda Civic has always been an ideal choice for those looking for a car on a budget. Low maintenance costs, easy parts availability, and high engine performance made it the perfect choice for many. However, you can’t one-up on a Civic and get a powerful Civic Si for that much money.
A 190-horsepower K20 inline 4-cylinder engine and a smooth 6-speed manual transmission handle the fun part. The design also looks more attractive than the regular version. Maintenance is even cheaper than the Mazda Speed 3, and there’s usually not much to go wrong with the Civic Si. Reasonable fuel consumption and reasonable used car prices are also attractive.
2/10 2004-2008 Acura TL ($1,900)
If you want a more luxurious and comfortable ride than the Honda Civic Si, the 2004-2008 Acura TL is for you. What makes the Acura TL an even more attractive buying option is the Monica’s declining market price.
You can get a high mileage model for as low as $1,900. An example of a lower mileage could be $3,000 to $4,000. The only major drawback of the 2004-2008 Acura TL is his cumbersome 5-speed automatic with a high failure rate. That’s why we recommend getting the version equipped with a 6-speed manual. Rust and internal rattle are some of the common issues reported by owners.
1/10 2005-2007 Scion TC ($4,000)
The first generation Scion TC is an easy choice among many options if you want to look cool but don’t want to spend a lot of time in the garage. The 2.4 liter 2AZ FE inline 4 engine producing 161 horsepower is almost bulletproof. The 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic are also reliable. What makes it even more perfect is the low price.
Enough aftermarket support is provided to improve the ride quality and keep the Scion TC looking younger. Fender and rear quarter rust is common on cars in rust zone areas. Some previous models had high oil consumption. Apart from that, Scion TC is the perfect partner if you want a car that can go over 200,000 miles with just regular maintenance.