Discover the 10 best used cars under $10,000 for teen drivers. Our guide reviews affordable, reliable models that prioritize safety and are easy for new drivers to handle.
Perhaps one of the most nerve-wracking times of a parent’s life is when their teen becomes old enough to drive. For the teen, it means a sense of freedom and independence. For parents, it means a lot of waiting by the phone, and maybe even some late nights. Parents also must face the difficulty of adding another car to the family budget.
We get it. You don’t want to drop a lot into a vehicle. You may even make your teen responsible for the payments or maintenance. Either way, you want something that is not only safe but also affordable. It also needs to be something in which they can learn the rules of the road without a lot of distractions.
Before you pull the trigger on just any old car, take a look at what can be had for less than $10k all while being drivable and safe.
There are a lot of variations of the Honda Civic on the used market today. You’ll most likely find Civic sedans in the sub-$10k price range with modest mileage – sometimes less than 100,000 miles. They are great driving cars with excellent safety ratings.
One of the cool things about having so many variations available is that there can be some with a higher “cool factor” than a sedan provides. For example, you can pick up a Civic SI that only comes with a six-speed manual transmission. You may have to settle for higher mileage, however.
The Toyota Prius is known far and wide for its fuel-saving powertrain. It is also a great driving car with a five-star IIHS safety rating. The Toyota Prius is a great choice for teens who are involved in extracurricular activities (such as band or sports) because it has a sizeable cargo capacity – much larger than other vehicles in its class.
If your teen drives a Prius, they might just forget how to pump gas since it gets a whopping 48 MPG combined EPA rating. That can put a lot of extra spending money back in their pockets. That’s not such a bad idea since college isn’t cheap! Before buying an older Prius, make sure to have a professional look over the condition of the battery to confirm that it’s in good condition.
It has impressive cargo space along with a NHTSA five-star overall safety rating. This car may not cost much, but it will save parents some of their sanity. It doesn’t do badly on fuel mileage either. It has a respectable fuel mileage of 31 MPG city/41 MPG highway.
The Volkswagen Jetta can be had for less than $10k with less than 100k miles on the odometer. These little sedans can be found with an inline four-cylinder or an inline five-cylinder engine. If your teen wants something different from the usual Chevy/Ford/Dodge, this might be the car for them.
They’re also great if you live in an area where there is snow in the winter because of their AWD capability.
The Hyundai Tucson was never one of the highest-rated SUVs out there, but this little crossover can be had for less than $10k. They are safe and drivable with more cargo space than a lot of sedans can provide. This is great for teens who are always on the go with sports or other school activities.
They come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission, so they are easy to drive and handle. The Chevrolet Cruze was discontinued in 2019, but the used market is packed with them at the time of this writing.
The Chevy Cruze can be had for well under $10k with mileage that is less than 100k miles. These sedans feature a modest 153-horsepower inline four-cylinder engine which is perfect for teens. Your teen will have plenty of cargo space for their needs and will have a fuel economy of around 36 MPG combined.
One variation to consider is the Honda Accord Crosstour. This version of the Accord features the 3.5L V6 and AWD capability. This is a great feature if you live where the weather is especially wet or snowy. And by the way – it also carries a NHTSA five-star overall safety rating.
Honda has another great car for teens – the Honda Accord. This sedan came with both a 2.4L inline four-cylinder and a 3.5L V6. Both of these engine options are available below the $10k mark. You’ll mostly find them with an automatic 5-speed transmission.
The Chevrolet Malibu is known to be a safe car and was rated with a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA.
Chevy’s second entry on the list comes in the form of the Malibu, however, you may have to settle for one with 130,000 miles or more. These incredibly drivable cars came equipped with several inline four-cylinder configurations as well as a 3.6L V6.
The Ford Escape boasts either a variation of an inline four-cylinder engine or a V6 depending on the model year. Additionally, they offered a hybrid option which is also available on the used market for less than $10k! There’s more than enough room for cargo, and they drive remarkably well for an SUV.
The Ford Escape can be found at sub-$10k, and you won’t have to settle for one with a ton of miles either. They can sometimes be found with less than 100k miles on them! These compact crossovers have been available since their introduction in 2001, so they are plentiful on the used market.
One cool variation is the Hyundai Elantra GT Hatchback. This model is equipped with a 2.0L inline four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and, of course, the hatchback body style! A coupe version of the Hyundai Elantra was also made, but they are a little harder to find.
The Hyundai Elantra reminds you of the Honda Civic because of how many variations are on the market. Most of them can be found under $10k, and they can be found with less than 100,000 miles on the odometer.
The Kia Optima gives your teen plenty of cargo room. The Kia Optima may not save your teen as much money at the pump as some of the other choices on the list, but it boasts a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA. They’re easy to drive too!
Another sedan that should be considered is the Kia Optima. These are equipped with a 2.4L inline four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. You can find them with below 100,000 miles on them regularly.
Things aren’t getting any cheaper, and having a teen who is fiending for a car can really put Mom and Dad in a hard place financially. However, there are plenty of safe, drivable cars on the used market that can help lift some of the financial burden.
Let’s face it: Kids want the coolest car on the road. In reality, we often have to make choices as adults that sacrifice a little bit of cool for things such as safety, cargo space, drivability, and practicality. Putting them in a safe car is the number one priority, after all.