Buying a used car, either as a first car or a second car for families can be a really cost-effective option - not only can you afford a better model but you don't instantly lose thousands off the value as soon as you drive it away.
Using the annual Used Car Safety Ratings Guide, we’ve found 10 cars with a 5-star safety rating that are priced under $10,000*.
Audi A3 (2004-2013) From $5,000
Pros: Well-featured and refined interior, now fully depreciated. Great to drive, especially sports models.
Cons: Potential for maintenance to have been skimped on.
BMW 1 Series (2004-2013) From $6,000
Pros: Economical, good handling, well equipped, refined.
Cons: Cost of car parts and maintenance. Tyres may be more expensive than in mainstream cars.
Nissan Pathfinder (2005-2018) From $9,000
Pros: Proven mechanicals in earlier models. Reasonable off-road ability.
Cons: In later models, CVT reliability and thirsty V6 petrol engine.
Nissan X-Trail (2007-2014) From $8,500
Pros: Affordable, good selection of vehicles in used market.
Cons: Basic interior, engine noise due to CVT transmission.
BMW 5 Series (2003-2010) From $7,500
Pros: Interior refinement, good performance, great handling for vehicle size.
Cons: Higher maintenance costs compared to mainstream cars. May be difficult to sell later.
Kia Carnival (2006-2011) From $6,000
Pros: Hugely spacious, flexible interior. Affordable.
Cons: Fuel consumption on petrol models. Interior can wear quickly.
Ford Mondeo (2007-2015) From $5,000
Pros: Spacious, especially the wagons. Diesels are efficient, great alternative to a large SUV.
Cons: Servicing diesels can be pricey, lack of cruise control on some models, drab interior.
Holden Commodore VF (2013-2017) From $9,900
Pros: Plenty of room inside, excellent handling.
Cons: V6 engine can be coarse, technology beginning to age.
Mitsubishi Triton (2006-2015) From $7,000
Pros: Good value. Hardy, but simple interior materials.
Cons: Coarse engine in earlier models.
Subaru Liberty/Outback (2010-2014) From $9,000
Pros: Full-time all-wheel drive. Outback does SUV job without looking like one.
Cons: CVT can cause excessive engine noise, on-time servicing essential with these engines.
*Prices sourced from publicly available used car listings in February 2021.
Last updated: February 2021