The Most Fuel Efficient Used Cars Under $10,000
Car buyers are pretty predictable. When gas prices plunge, we buy big SUVs and trucks. When gas gets expensive again, we buy used fuel-efficient cars.
But if you think about it, that’s pretty short-sighted behavior. Gas prices zig-zag like Charlie Brown’s shirt, but you may own your car for 10 years or more. The best way to save money in the long run is to search for cars with the best gas mileage. And the best way to save money in the short term is to look for used cars under $10,000. Here’s the best of both worlds: Compare.com has compiled a list of smart picks for fuel-effiency, including conventional, electric and hybrid vehicles.
The Best EVs and Hybrids Under $10,000
When the Toyota Prius was first sold in the United States in 2001, it cost around $20,000. The idea of a hybrid car under $10K seemed ludicrous — but now, it’s easy to find them. Here are our picks for the best used hybrids and electric vehicles under $10,000.
2011 Toyota Prius
The Prius has always been a champion of fuel efficiency. The 2011 model gets 51 mpg city/48 mpg highway. U.S. News named the 2011 model its Best Hybrid Car for the Money, and that still holds true now that you can snag one for half the original price. Be aware, however, that the battery pack may begin to fail after 80,000 miles, requiring expensive replacement or reconditioning. It’s possible to find later models of the Prius for under $10,000, but they may have more wear and tear.
2015 Nissan Leaf S
Cars don’t get much cuter — or much greener — than the Nissan Leaf. This adorable little EV gets a MPGe (equivalent) of 126 city/101 highway. The catch? Its range is just 84 miles, so it’s more of a grocery-getter than a road-tripper. The 2015 Nissan Leaf S sold for around $30,000 when new, so it’s kind of amazing you can find these electric cars for under $10,000 now. Why are they so cheap? It’s not that the Leaf is a lemon. It’s just that virtually every buyer got a hefty tax credit for buying these new, and the used Leaf supply outweighs the demand. So go pick one off the used-car tree!
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
The Ford Fusion hybrid doesn’t scream “eco-warrior.” It doesn’t scream anything, in fact; it says in a conversational tone, “I am a sensible car.” But that’s OK! The 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid was named the North American Car of the Year, winning praise for its 41 city/36 highway gas mileage, roomy interior and safety features.
2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid
Your brain wants a fuel-efficient used car under $10,000. Your heart wants a sports car. Well, the Honda CR-Z might be your best shot at compromise. It’s a good-looking car, unlike its staid hybrid cousins, yet it gets up to 35 mpg city/39 highway. Of course, the CR-Z is far from perfect. While the six-speed manual version is fun to drive, reviewers say the CVT version is clunky. Its gas mileage isn’t outstanding. And the CR-Z only has two seats. Nevertheless, if you want a fun, green, and affordable ride, the CR-Z is a good pick.
The Best Fuel-Efficient Gas-Powered Cars Under $10,000
Tiny is mighty when it comes to fuel efficiency, and these small wonders are all good bets.
2015 Ford Fiesta
A brand-new Fiesta costs about $14,000, so it’s no surprise you can grab a late-model version of this fuel-efficient car for under $10K. It gets 27/37 mpg (city/highway) and is a zippy, fun drive. As Edmunds said in its review, “the 2015 Ford Fiesta in particular proves that a small and inexpensive car doesn’t have to be dull and undesirable.”
2013 Fiat 500
A sporty and flirtatious fuel-sipper, the Fiat 500 is one of the best gas-mileage cars available (excluding hybrids). The manual-transmission version gets up to 31/40 mpg (city/highway), but the automatic transmission lowers efficiency to 27/34 mpg. Look around and you may find the Sport trim for under $10,000, which includes alloy wheels, fog lights and an Alpine audio system.
2013 Honda Fit
While the most affordable 2013 Fits may have quite a few miles on the odometer, they’re still great picks for fuel-efficient cars under $10,000. With an automatic transmission, the Fit gets 28/35 mpg city/highway. It has a surprising amount of cargo room, with a Magic Seat that can be folded like origami. Plus, it comes in candy-bright colors, like Blue Raspberry and Orangeburst Metallic.
2013 Smart ForTwo
The itty-bitty Smart car gets a combined 36 mpg and can fit into even the smallest parking space — a bonus for city dwellers. Despite its size, the ForTwo is roomy on the inside and gets good safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. You can easily find a low-mileage 2013 Smart ForTwo for under $10,000.
Tips for buying a fuel-efficient used car
Do you plan on buying a new or used car in the near future? Read our tips for car buyers. And once you find your perfect ride, use compare.com to compare car insurance quotes online to find the best rates available.