Shopping for a car can quickly go from exciting to stressful, especially when you’re sticking to a budget. According to Kelley Blue Book, as of May 2020, a new small car averages $20,000, while the median cost of a new midsize model is $26,000. That’s a hefty price tag. In this economy, such a high cost could send many Americans running for the hills. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend anywhere near that amount to get a great car. The trick is to shift your search to used cars that have proven to be safe and reliable — with plenty of life left in them.
Using an iSeeCars analysis that found the safest and most reliable used cars dating back to 2011, GOBankingRates compiled a list of the models — SUVs excluded — that you can buy for less than $15,000. These featured automobiles tout a lifespan of over 200,000 miles and have scored at least 4 out of 5 stars in safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), making them ideal cars for families. So, consider these 22 models if you’re looking to buy a car during the pandemic.
Last updated: Oct. 22, 2021
2015 Toyota Prius
- Average price: $14,911
Consumer Reports found that the 2015 Toyota Prius gets a striking 44 mpg overall, making it one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road.
2013 Honda Odyssey
- Average price: $14,792
The 2013 Honda Odyssey topped Consumer Reports’ minivan ratings that year.
2016 Chevrolet Impala
- Average price: $14,703
The 2016 Chevrolet Impala has been praised for its luxury-sedan-like ride and excellent braking.
2013 Toyota Avalon
- Average price: $14,508
Sleek yet spacious, the 2013 Toyota Avalon ranked No. 1 on U.S News & World’s Report’s roundup of best 2013 affordable large cars.
2012 Toyota Sienna
- Average price: $14,274
The 2012 Toyota Sienna was ranked No. 1 in 2012 minivans by U.S News & World’s Report, and No. 2 in used minivans under $20,000.
2015 Toyota Camry
- Average price: $14,221
The Toyota Camry is generally considered one of the most reliable models you can buy and has sold millions of units throughout the course of its existence.
2017 Toyota Corolla
- Average price: $14,186
Kelley Blue Book lauded the 2017 Toyota Corolla for its safety features and fuel efficiency and noted that it might be “the perfect first car.”
2015 Kia Sedona
- Average price: $13,966
Chic meets durable in the Kia Sedona, which has no shortage of modern luxury features.
2016 Dodge Grand Caravan
- Average price: $13,859
With its roomy cabin and folding seats, the Dodge Grand Caravan is the perfect vehicle for a large family outing or a summer road trip.
2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid
- Average price: $13,849
As smooth as it is sturdy and fuel-efficient, the 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid has dazzling reviews. U.S. News & World Report ranked it No. 1 in the “hybrid car” and “affordable midsize car” categories in 2014.
2015 Honda Civic (Coupe)
- Average price: $13,759
The 2015 Honda Civic was the highest-rated compact car of 2015, per Kelley Blue Book.
2014 Honda Accord
- Average price: $13,484
The 2014 Honda Accord — described as “nice to drive and easy to live with” by Consumer Reports — is both dependable and low-maintenance.
2015 Honda Civic (Sedan)
- Average price: $13,432
The Honda Civic sees both its coupe and sedan models on this list. Famously reliable, the Civic was the bestselling car in California last year, according to data from Edmunds.
2014 Nissan Maxima
- Average price: $13,190
J.D. Power and Associates gave the 2014 Nissan Maxima a reliability rating of 4.5 out of 5, which, as noted by U.S. News and World Report, was one of the highest scores given to any vehicle on the market at the time.
2015 Mazda Mazda6
- Average price: $12,969
The Mazda6 has everything you’d want in a traditional sedan — with a sporty, high-tech feel and impressive fuel efficiency.
2012 Toyota Corolla
- Average price: $9,655
At 32 mpg overall, the 2012 Toyota Corolla is impressively fuel-efficient.
2012 Honda Civic (Sedan)
- Average price: $9,552
Spacious and comfortable, the 2012 Honda Civic is available in both hybrid and natural gas versions.
2013 Mazda Mazda6
- Average price: $9,534
The 2013 Mazda Mazda6 is the most affordable Mazda model on this list.
2012 Honda Civic (Coupe)
- Average price: $9,406
If it hasn’t become clear, Honda has a penchant for making safe and reliable cars. Opt for the coupe version of this Civic if you want to save a few more dollars.
2011 Honda Accord
- Average price: $9,363
The 2011 Honda Accord has been extolled for its safety, nabbing all five stars from the NHTSA.
2012 Chevrolet Impala
- Average price: $9,240
The 2012 Chevrolet Impala is Chevy’s most affordable option on this list and comes equipped with a powerful 3.6-liter V-6 engine.
2011 Toyota Prius
- Average price: $9,076
At 44 mpg overall in Consumer Report’s tests, the 2011 Toyota Prius is, like newer Prius models, a knockout in fuel efficiency.
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GOBankingRates compiled this list of 22 safe and reliable cars under $15,000 using data from an iSeeCars study.
Photo disclaimer: Photos are for illustrative purposes only. As a result, some of the images may not reflect the model, trim and/or year listed in this article.