6 great daily drivers for $2500–$5000


Automakers sold more than 17.2 million cars in the United States last year, and by last month the average price of a new ride was $37,149. That’s a lot of dough. If you can afford it, great. But what if you’re like me and can’t?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/02/13/6-great-cars-under-5k


If you are a fan of the Crown Vic/Merc Marquis, sometimes you can get the decommissioned police versions of these vehicles. Especially interesting if you are interested in speed.



I’m surprised Corolla got picked as the compact to get in this group. I figure the Ford Focus, Mazda Protege, or Honda Civic of the era would be a more enthusiast-friendly choice.

I never drove that particular generation of Corolla but I drove the ones before and after and I thought both had a sort of ‘disconnected’ feel, like they were aiming for the driving dynamics of a traditional American car. I had an Escort at the time and it was much better sorted.


6-speed, v-6 equipped Accords certainly werent slow. 14 second 1/4 miles and a near 140mph top speed are nothing to sneeze at. Especially 10+ years ago.


Agreed, the Civic or MSP Protege would have been better options.


I’ll add to the list the Mk4 (4th-generation) Volkswagen Golf, offered from 1997 to 2004. A year ago I bought a 2002 GLS, 2.0L, manual, red over black, for $2900, with 118K miles. I’ve had to replace suspension components, plugs & wires, front brakes, and the AC compressor, but all-in it’s been a great car for about $5K or $6K, and someone who is mechanically inclined could have done all that work for far less than I paid a shop.


I bought an 03 Corolla brand new and drove it for 14 years and 187,000 miles. The A/C quit working the last year I owned it, but other than that it was an incredibly reliable car. When I decided to get rid of it, I listed it on LetGo and sold it in 45 minutes for $2,000. My original asking price was $2,500, but a 17 year-old kid came to my house with his dad to buy his first car. Maybe I’m just a softy, but the excitement that kid had for my old Corolla brought me back to the day I bought my first car - a 73 Lesabre 4-door hardtop for $900.


I would add the late 90’s/early 2000’s Buick Century and LeSabre to the list. You can still find quite a few of them with under 100k miles, and most were driven gently and properly maintained by their senior citizen owners.


I would add the Cobalt SS and '05-'10 Grand Cherokee to this list. You can still find both for reasonable prices. This might sound strange, but the Cobalt is the one car I’ve spent time in that I enjoyed driving as much as my Dad’s 2002 BMW M3. The problem with the M3 is that I needed to be especially careful not to damage it. The Cobalt is a hoot, handles extremely well, get’s great mileage, and feels very solid for a small, inexpensive car. My friend’s son has one with some mods and it runs 12’s in quarter and you can drive it in the winter with snow tires.