Just because you want a cheap car that’ll last, doesn’t mean you should throw performance and style out the window! There are plenty of awesome cars you can buy for under 4 grand, and most of the cars on this list, are WAY cheaper than that!
These rides will save you hundreds, if not thousands, on maintenance without feeling like you borrowed them from your mom. These cars are fun and affordable, but most importantly, they won’t break down on you even if they’re hit with a nuclear warhead.
So if you’re looking for a car that will last forever, we got you. Here’s 8 super cheap cars that will never break down on you:
2000 LEXUS ES300: Luxury For a Lifetime
Now, the first car on this list is like a doomsday bunker on wheels that’s got such a plush interior, you’ll be riding out the apocalypse in comfort and style!
The luxury car that’ll outlast you… is the Lexus ES300. If your budget maxes out at $2,000 and you’re looking for a ride that will last a lifetime, I bet you never envisioned yourself sitting on Lexus leather. That’s right, the Lexus ES300 is like a Camry wrapped in Lexus amenities. So why spend your hard-earned cash on a Toyota trim when you could be riding with Lexus luxury?
Going 0 to 60 in an unimpressive 7.6 seconds, you won’t be running anyone off the road, and the ES300 handles more like a Boston Whaler than a sport sedan. But if durability, comfort, and a quiet ride are on the top of your priority list, the ES300 is the car for YOU.
This car is so quiet, inside and OUT, that you won’t wake granny when you’re pulling out of the driveway, and you’ll hardly hear a thing when you’re cruising down the highway. Gas mileage on the ES300 is solid at around 20 MPG. However, like most other Lexus models, it does require premium fuel. The upside of this is that the 3.0-liter V6 engine won’t break down until the end of eternity, and you’ll save a fortune on replacement parts that you would’ve had to shell out for if you had bought a less reputable ride.
And this reliable luxury roller is CHEAP. Like CRAZY cheap. We found a clean-titled ES with only 100K on the clock for just 2 GRAND. Leather power and an L on the grill? Now, that’s an IDEAL deal!
Now, it is a Lexus, so keeping it running might cost a little more than you want, but this next car was built to run FOREVER, and do it on a government paycheck….
2008 FORD CROWN VIC POLICE INTERCEPTOR: Police, Defunded
Pull over! This is the police!
We all know that replacing anything on a Ford costs about as much as the loose change you have in your pocket right now. And the Crown Vic is a WORKHORSE used for cop cars, taxis, and limos for good reason: these bad boys consistently run over 300,000 miles with barely any maintenance. And thanks to rear-wheel drive and a big american V8, you can have a ton of fun driving them the entire time.
Pro tip: if you do buy a Crown Vic, don’t tell your friends about it until you get to see the look on their faces when you pull them over in your sweet new cop car. Definitely helps if you buy a cop uniform too! Who doesn’t want to play cop for a day?
Another pro tip: if you’re looking to buy a Crown Vic, make sure you take a look at the idle hours. Since most of these cars have been used as a cop car or a taxi at some point, chances are that they may have thousands of idle hours on them even if the mileage on the odometer is relatively low.
The only other car on this list you’ll see on the road more than the Crown Vic… is the Honda Accord.
2005 HONDA ACCORD: Life-Long Mid-Size
It seems like you can’t drive anywhere without seeing three or four Honda Accords on the road, and there’s good reason for that. These are the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches of durable sedans. While it’s no filet mignon, it’s tried and true, and it’ll always be there for you when you need it.
This is one of the newer cars on our list, and also one of the sportiest. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine cranks out 160 horsepower with impressive fuel economy around 35 mpg on the highway. The Accord is basically good at EVERYTHING!
Honda also rolled out a hybrid version of the Accord in 2005, but buyers found that the higher price wasn’t justified by great improvements in fuel economy. So if you’re looking to buy an Accord, better to just go with the standard.
If you change your oil consistently and resist the urge to drive like a madman, these Japanese juggernauts should last you over 300,000 miles. No one will believe you only spent 3 GRAND to get the keys to this 2005 accord that looks like a million bucks!
You can pack a ton of people into your Accord, but if you need a little more utility, and a car that can survive literally ANYTHING, then the next ride is for you!
1993 Toyota Pickup: Hello Hi-Lux!
If you need a pickup for your landscaping business, for construction materials, or just for cruising around the countryside, you NEED the Toyota Pickup.
That’s right, it’s just called the “Pickup”, which is incredible. It’s like if Tesla released a car that was just called the “Tesla Car”. The Toyota Pickup is the Nokia cellphone of trucks, which is to say, it’s completely indestructible.
In truth, the actual name of this model is the Toyota HiLux, a combination of the words “high” and “luxury”, although I wouldn’t say luxury is exactly this pickup’s forte. But if you’re looking for an inexpensive and reliable pickup that can be put to work, this model carries a payload over 2,200 pounds with an engine that lasts a lifetime. They say there are three things that will survive the apocalypse: cockroaches, Chuck Norris, and the Toyota Pickup.
I wouldn’t suggest taking this clunker off-road, though, since the handling is subpar and the braking and steering certainly aren’t too impressive either. But if you want an affordable truck with good bed space and an engine that will outlive your grandchildren, the Toyota Pickup is your best bet. Oh man, I just can’t get over that name.
Now, what I WOULD take down a windy dirt road… is a Subaru. Specifically, an Impreza Wagon.
SUBARU WAGONS: Rally Racing Reliable
While “speed” and “Subaru” are two words that don’t typically go together, Subaru actually first made a name for itself in the international market by proving itself on the rally racing stage.
The Impreza proved that it was capable of taking serious abuse offroad and handling on extremely difficult terrain, and this legacy (get it? Legacy?) has continued today with the Impreza Wagon being a gold standard in reliable wagons. You could roll one over the side of a cliff twice and it would probably still drive.
The Impreza Outback is equally reliable and has the same drivetrain internals that make Subarus so durable. The standard Outback comes with a 2.5-liter four cylinder engine that pumps out 175 horsepower, which will help you conquer the toughest terrains imaginable and can even tow up to 2700 pounds.
If what you’re looking for is a hatchback wagon that you can take off-road a million times before it breaks down on you, I would suggest either the Subaru Impreza or Impreza Outback. And for under 3 grand, you can’t go wrong!
1997 GEO METRO: Underpowered Overachiever
When General Motors set out to create the most fuel efficient car possible without the slightest bit of research and development, the result was the Geo Metro.
The Mighty Little Metro features the world’s cutest little engines, either a 1.3-liter four-cylinder or a hilariously small 1.0-liter three-cylinder that produces a whopping 70 horsepower. And it’s also got a body made of cardboard. Well, not really, but it might as well be!
Say what you will about the Geo Metro, but the thing will last eons with very little maintenance required if you treat it properly. And with excellent fuel economy around 40 mpg, this oversized toy car is guaranteed to save you a fortune over its lifespan. But at such an affordable price, you get what you pay for.
The Metro offers no unnecessary luxury and comes with extremely limited safety features. There’s only one airbag for the driver and its impact protection is equivalent to wearing a bicycle helmet. It’s fairly clear that GM did the absolute bare minimum when considering industry safety standards. This is not the car for any safety freaks reading this.
But the Metro will probably outlive you, and the next owner! And for just $1,200, you could be the proud… or not so proud.. owner of this mighty Metro!
Now, a brand synonymous with safety, unlike the Geo Metro, is VOLVO. Those Swedes are the pioneers of protection, and the most iconic Volvo ever has got to be the 240.
1991 VOLVO 240: Long Live The Queen
If you want to give the impression that you have a degree from an esteemed college or that you read old philosophy books for fun, pulling up in a Volvo 240 is the way to do it. The appearance of this iconic car has become synonymous with safety and responsibility, and it seems like the 1% are always driving these around.
The 240 became so popular thanks to Volvo’s signature safety features and because of its resilient engine that just WILL NOT DIE. And due to how popular this car is, if you do need a replacement part (which chances are you won’t), it won’t end up costing you an arm and a leg.
One major problem that owners of the 240 run into, however, is that the classy exterior can quickly turn trashy and rusted. Versions of the 240 made after 1988 offer far superior corrosion protection to versions made before that year, but even the later versions can end up looking like they belong in a scrapyard after only a few years. If you are going to buy a 240, maybe spring for some rust-proofing or hook up an electronic anti-rusting module to keep the exterior as reliable as the drivetrain!
Good examples are getting pricey, like this one for 4 grand, but think of all the money you’ll save not having to fix anything!
Now, the last car on the list has the style and handling of a professional dancer, if professional dancers were completely indestructible.
1990 MIATA: Drop Top That Don’t Stop
The Miata is definitely the most FUN car on our list. And it’s always the answer when we get asked about affordable, reliable cars. Literally, Miata stands for “Miata Is Always The Answer”, and how can you argue with branding like that?
Just imagine yourself driving along Miami beach on a Saturday night with the top down and those pop-up lights shining. And having that kind of swag for only $2,000???
But the Miata doesn’t just look pretty, it’s an invincible little ball of energy with a dynamite transmission that’ll have you zipping through traffic from the day you buy it until you’re old and grey.
The 1.6-liter engine in the 1990 model generates significantly less power than the 1.8 that replaced it in future models, but the upside is that this underpowered engine will last forever. And the lightweight body gives the drivetrain incredible longevity that will keep you cruising stress-free down any interstate decades after you buy your Miata.
See, not all cheap cars have the shelflife of a carton of milk. And not all reliable cars are as boring as math class.
Which of the cars on this list was your favorite? Was it the Luxury Lexus? Or that NA Miata with the roof chopped off? Or was it the off-roading rogue wildebeest with terrifying towing power, the Subaru Impreza?
Check out our video on these super-cheap, super-reliable driving machines!