Admission News Budgeting Going to College

The 8 Best Cars for College Students under $5,000

Written by CB Community

You are on a new high after you just graduated high school. All those golden years of high school are now way behind your past. It is now high time to embrace a new journey on your life path.

Yes, you are now all set to experience college life at its best. You go through your college essentials list again.

Books? Check. New wardrobe? Check. New gadgets? Check. New car? Oops, how did you miss that?

Cars are a must-have for any college student. Your personal car signifies that you are an independent individual and don’t depend on others for free rides.

However, let’s warp back to reality, your budget is too tight for a car at this moment.

Of course, your dream 2021 Tesla Model X won’t roll over to your garage from out of the blue. Don’t fret though, as we guarantee to hook you up with a decent used car within a meager budget of 5 grand.

Here we present you the 8 best used cars under $5000 that will be perfect for your college life:

1. 2002-2006 Toyota Camry

Toyota’s cars are well-known for having an excellent track record of reliability. The Camry is the torchbearer in the Toyota lineup thanks to its excellent reliability.

This midsize sedan is built to withstand the test of time. There is also an interesting fact about the Camry, where 90 % of the Camrys manufactured since 1995 were still going strong on the road till 2010.

This is a testament to the Camry’s incredible durability. Any Camry from the 2002-2006 year models can be yours for under $5000.

The Camry may not be the best looking car you may get, but its decent practicality and fuel efficiency serves you well for the entirety of your college life

2. 2001-2007 Ford Escape

The Escape made its way into the automotive scene in 2001 and was an instant hit among SUV lovers. The Escape was Ford’s first-ever SUV. Hence, it attracted many Ford devotees alike, leading to a large number of sales.

This is good news for you as it is now easier to get a decent used SUV at a wickedly cheap price.

The Escape sports a large trunk area to fit in all of your cargo. Its parts aren’t hard to come by either, often found at an inexpensive rate through a Ford dealer or your local repair shop.

If you are lucky, you may even find a model as recent as 2010 under $5000.

3. 2006-2010 Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is one of the most sold cars in the United States.

Every year thousands of Civic leave their showrooms and find themselves in the hands of happy families. So you won’t have a hard time finding any used Civic in a decent condition under $5000.

The Civic also offers you a lot of variety which you crave as a college student.

You can get a coupe, a sedan, or even a hybrid Civic at this low price range. The Civic’s great stint with reliability and its efficient performance is known to everyone, making it the perfect cruiser for a student.

4. 2004-2010 Toyota Sienna

The Toyota Sienna is the perfect example of a large practical minivan that could be sought for under $5000.

If you are planning to carry a lot of friends or haul plenty of stuff to your college, the Sienna is the perfect deal for you.

By sticking to this model year range, you can get a lot of decent options with all-wheel drive as standard that fit right within your budget.

The Sienna’s roomy dimensions and stellar reliability will go a long way through your college life.

5. 2005-2009 Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback has made a name for itself with its competent off-road dynamics and refined performance. The Outback is the car for you if you plan to explore the wilderness in those occasional off-day college trips.

The standard AWD system is a boon for students whose colleges are in remote snowy areas like Alaska.

The Outback also boasts of a splendid feature list and commodious cargo capacity. All of these can be yours for as little as $3000.

6. 2003 Acura TL

The Acura TL was a competent sedan competing in the near-luxury end of its segment. With a robust V6 under its hood and a long list of standard features, the TL is one of the best value-for-money cars you can get.

Its parent company Honda is known for its reliable cars.

So you can bet upon the Acura TL to reflect those qualities as well. However, to find a TL under $5000, you have to settle for a 2003 or earlier model.

Still, despite its age, the Acura TL lends a carefree ownership experience for any college fresher.

7. 2008-2011 Ford Focus

The Ford Focus may be one of your best bets while looking for an inexpensive car that hasn’t passed too many years on its lifeline.

The Focus offers a lot of variety and options at a bargainable price.

It is also relatively easy to fix if things do go south. It possesses a decent ride quality and fuel economy to justify it as a splendid everyday college ride.

8. 2008-2015 FIAT 500

The FIAT 500 is one of those newer car models that you can seek in the market under $5000.

This compact car is very easy to maneuver around the city for newbie drivers. Parking in tight spots never felt easier as with a FIAT 500.

The 500 also returns economical MPG figures close to 28 in the city and 33 on the highway. This may help you save up some much-needed college funds.

You may have to compromise on some features while opting for a newer set of wheels though.


Buying a used and reliable car for your college endeavors is now a piece of cake, thanks to our informative article.

These cars have a great history of reliability behind their backs, meaning they don’t end up on the sidelines too often.

However, do bear in mind that you have to set realistic expectations and don’t go overboard.

Also, thoroughly inspect the used car for those little details like the odometer reading, scratches, wear and tear, and cleanliness. Make sure to purchase car insurance before you make any move.

This will help you stay on the safer side regarding your finances, in case of an accident.

Also, buy a car from a private dealer or a used car dealership only after you verify the car’s maintenance history and ongoing inspections.

All these tips should ensure that you travel safely every day to your college.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.