Many shoppers who’re thinking about buying a used car fret about vehicle reliability, and these qualms aren’t without merit. Relative to a new car, a used vehicle is more likely to need work under the hood earlier in the ownership experience. And the older the used car, the greater the likelihood of a significant repair bill. 

So it’s no surprise that reliability is often the number one consideration for shoppers in the used car market.

An excellent resource in this area is J.D. Power. Every year, this company surveys more than 80,000 verified owners of three-year-old vehicles. The survey focuses on the type and number of problems these car owners have experienced with their daily drivers within the previous 12 months. The models with the lowest number of reported problems get the highest scores. 

If you’re looking for a used vehicle that’s both affordable and reliable, Klipnik is here to help. We’ve sorted through the data to uncover seven excellent used vehicles that lead the pack in dependability, all while costing less than $10,000. 

Our selections cover a diverse range of vehicle categories, from roomy family crossovers to city-friendly subcompacts, and each of them has achieved segment-topping scores in J.D. Power’s reliability ratings. 


Subcompact Hatchback – 2011 Honda Fit

The 2011 Honda Fit is a wee wonder of clever packaging and design, offering amazing versatility that belies its tiny footprint. It comes with a surprisingly roomy back seat, and it provides a whopping 57.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity with its rear seats folded. The 2011 Fit also impresses with its fuel economy, achieving up to 28/35 MPG city/highway, according to EPA estimates.  

In J.D Power’s 2014 survey, the 2011 Fit was rated the best small car, beating rivals like the Kia Rio and Ford Fiesta. The 2011 Fit earned the highest score in its segment for overall and mechanical reliability, so it’s less likely than other models in its class to develop expensive powertrain issues.  

Used 2011 Fit hatchbacks start at roughly $9,000.


Sports Car – 2007 Mazda MX-5 Miata

The fun-to-drive Mazda MX-5 Miata is affordably priced when new, and it’s even more of a bargain on the used market. With its thrilling handling and classic exterior design, it’s easy to see why this small roadster has achieved iconic status among budget-minded enthusiasts.

Base models are pretty leanly equipped, but the 2007 Miata can be upgraded with options like satellite radio and keyless entry. And for those who want even more rewarding performance, the optional Suspension package brings in amenities like Bilstein shocks and a limited-slip differential. 

In J.D. Power’s 2010 survey, the 2007 Miata earned the highest scores for reliability among compact sports cars.

Pricing for a used 2007 model starts at around $7,000.


Compact Crossover – 2012 Kia Sportage

In J.D. Power’s 2015 survey, the 2012 Kia Sportage took top honors as the most dependable small crossover. The Sportage earned the highest score in its segment for both overall and mechanical dependability. This means it’s less likely than others in its segment to develop powertrain and transmission problems. 

Of course, the 2012 Sportage is no one-trick pony. It also has engaging handling to its credit, and its handsome exterior design catches the eye. It comes standard with Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio, and it’s available with amenities like heated front seats, keyless entry and ignition, a ventilated driver’s seat and a panoramic sunroof. 

Used 2012 Kia Sportage crossovers start at around $9,300. 


Compact Car – 2010 Toyota Prius

Its hybrid powertrain endows the 2010 Toyota Prius with an eco-friendly disposition and unparalleled fuel economy. According to the EPA, this green machine achieves mileage of up to 51/48 MPG city/highway, making it the most fuel-efficient car of the 2010 model year.  The Prius is also exceptionally spacious, with lots of rear-seat legroom and 21.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity. 

This Toyota also happens to be a very dependable choice. In J.D. Power’s 2013 survey, the 2010 Prius earned the highest marks for reliability in its segment, beating compact cars like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.

Pricing for a used 2010 Prius starts at roughly $9,000.   


Luxury Car – 2010 Audi A6

When shopping for a used luxury car, there’s even more reason to pay attention to reliability. Luxury vehicles often come with costlier components than mainstream models, and this can make them more expensive to repair.

The 2010 Audi A6 is a midsize luxury sedan that’s as dependable as it gets. This model earned class-leading scores in J.D. Power’s 2013 survey for overall reliability, as well as exterior and interior dependability. Additionally, the 2010 A6 earned the highest score in its segment for the reliability of its features and controls. 

Audi’s A6 also provides elegant sheet metal and an exquisitely designed cabin. Used models are affordably priced, allowing you to enjoy German automotive luxury on a budget. A used 2010 A6 can be yours for as little as $9,000. 


Midsize Sedan – 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Japanese family sedans like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry get lots of praise for offering excellent reliability, but they aren’t the only models in that segment blessed with this attribute. Though it doesn’t get as much acclaim as some models, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is a clear leader in dependability. In J.D. Power’s 2016 survey, the 2013 Malibu earned the highest scores for reliability among midsize sedans, beating favorites like the aforementioned Camry and Accord, as well as the Hyundai Sonata. 

The 2013 Malibu offers an upmarket cabin, and its compliant ride quality makes daily commutes more pleasant. It also provides impressive fuel economy, with EPA-estimated mileage of up to 25/36 MPG city/highway. 

Pricing for a used 2013 Chevy Malibu starts at roughly $8,500. 


Midsize Crossover – 2009 Nissan Murano

Rewarding handling is one the 2009 Nissan Murano’s best attributes and makes this midsize crossover a blast to drive. With swooping lines and a dramatic grille, the Murano also makes a statement with its bold exterior design. 

Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are offered, and the list of standard features includes amenities like dual-zone automatic climate control and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column. The Murano can be upgraded with bells and whistles like Bluetooth connectivity, a rear-seat entertainment system and a premium Bose stereo. 

In J.D. Power’s 2012 survey, the 2009 Murano took top honors for reliability among midsize crossovers, earning higher scores than models like the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander. The Murano got the highest score in its segment for overall reliability and exterior and interior dependability, and it was at the front of its class when it comes to the reliability of features and controls. 

Used 2009 Murano crossovers are available at prices that start at around $5,600. 


Bottom Line

Used cars are far more affordable than new ones. In fact, by our estimates, buying a five-year-old model saves you more than $20,000 on average versus the buying the equivalent new car, over a period of 60 months.

Nevertheless some shoppers still hesitate to buy used because of fears they’ll be stuck with a money pit when it comes to repairs. By choosing a model with a history of superb dependability, though, anyone can vastly improve their chances of ending up with a car that’s not only affordable to acquire but also to own over the long run.

As always, if you’re are in the market for an outstanding used car, be sure to utilize our community, where members can help you at every step along the way.

Photos courtesy Audi, Chevrolet, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, and Wikimedia Commons

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About Warren Clarke

Warren Clarke is a writer and editor whose work has been published in outlets such as the New York Daily News and Edmunds.com. He enjoys providing car owners with information that can help enhance and simplify their lives.

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Best Used Cars