If you need a car under $5,000 that is cheap on gas, check our top 10 list. We have picked 10 models that are available on the used car market at around $5,000, have relatively good fuel economy and more or less dependable; as much as you can expect from a $5,000 car.
Toyota Corolla 1993-2001
You won’t miss with this car. The Corolla is a simple and reliable small sedan. It’s not too fancy inside, but if you need something to drive around without paying too much for gas, this is your choice. The EPA rates 2001 Toyota Corolla with an automatic transmission at 26/36 MPG or approximately 344 miles on one 13.2-gallon tank. How can you beat that? The estimated annual fuel cost: $1,900. Look for a 4-speed automatic model, as the 3-speed auto Corolla is rated poorly for highway MPG.
Honda Civic 1996-2001
Another obvious top choice, the Civic is a comfortable small car. Redesigned for 2001, Honda Civic offers sporty handling and firm ride. The Civic was available as a two or four-door sedan. The 2000 Civic with a 1.6-liter engine and an automatic transmission is rated at 24/32 MPG; with the annual fuel cost estimated at $2,100.
Chevrolet Prizm 1998-2002
If we included the Corolla, why not Chevy Prizm? It is the same Corolla with the Chevrolet bowtie. You won’t find too many of them, but if you come across one, why not give the Prizm a chance? There was another Prizm under the name Geo, which is also re-badged Toyota Corolla. The 2001 4-speed automatic Chevy Prizm is rated just like the Corolla, at 26/36 MPG. As with the Corolla, Look for a 4-speed automatic model, as the 3-speed automatic Prizm is only rated at 25/30 MPG.
Mazda Protege 1997-2003
The Protege is a simple small car with a comfortable interior and firm ride. The Protege is easy to maintain. Consumer Reports rates Mazda Protege as “Good Bet”. The 2001 Mazda Protege with a 1.6L engine and an automatic transmission is rated at 23/30 MPG; with the annual fuel cost estimated at $2,150.
4-cylinder Honda Accord 1995-2002
Honda Accord is a popular mid-size car available as a two- or four-door sedan. We have included the Accord in our list because it is dependable and the 4-cylinder Accord has good fuel economy: the 2001 Accord automatic is rated at 20/28 MPG with the estimated annual fuel cost at $2,450. In addition, it’s a very comfortable car to drive.
Mitsubishi Lancer 2002-2005
Mitsubishi Lancer is another possible pick at around $5,000. The Lancer is nothing fancy, but a simple practical small car. The 2002 Lancer with a 120-hp 2.0L engine and an automatic transmission is rated at 21/27 MPG or roughly $2,450 a year in fuel costs with average driving.
4-cylinder Toyota Camry 1995-2002
Why did we include another mid-size sedan in the top 10 list that should be dominated by small cars? The 2000 4-cylinder Camry with an automatic transmission is rated at 20/28 MPG with the annual fuel cost estimated at $2,450. If you compare these numbers to 20/29 MPG rating of the 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier, it makes more sense to drive more comfortable and reliable Camry. Even though the Camry is more expensive, you can find quite a few of them priced at close to $5,000.
Saturn S-series 1997-2003
Looking for an American car? Although it’s rated not better than “Average” for reliability, we have included Saturn S-series for its fuel economy and positive owner reviews. The 2001 Saturn SL with an automatic transmission is rated at 24/34 MPG with the annual fuel cost estimated at $2,100.
Hyundai Elantra 2000-2005
Hyundai Elantra was redesigned for 2001. Available as a sedan or hatchback, the Elantra offers 132-hp 2.0L engine with a five-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The reliability is not better than average. The EPA rates the 2004 Elantra with a 4-speed automatic transmission at 21/29 MPG or approximately $2,350 a year in fuel costs. The Elantra can travel estimated 313 miles on one 14.5-galon tank.
Chevrolet Cobalt 2005-2008
The Cobalt came as a replacement for the outdated Cavalier for 2005. The Cobalt has its shortcomings and the reliability is not better than average, but it you know what you buy, it’s not a bad car for this price. The Cobalt is available as a 4-door sedan or sporty-looking 2-door coupe. The 2005 Cobalt with an automatic transmission is rated at 21/29 MPG or around $2,350 for fuel per year.