Bottom Line/Personal: What is the best used car you can buy for $5,000 or less in 2015?

I’m Steven Kaye, Editorial Director at Bottom Line Publications, and today my guest is auto analyst Karl Brauer, Kelley Blue Book Senior Director. Karl says yes, if you want to spend only $5,000 or less, there actually is a car out there – actually, two corporate cousin cars that share a platform – that you can find for $5,000 or less that are used and that are very, very nice.

So we’re going to talk about those. Karl, thank you for coming today.

Karl Brauer: Yeah, let’s talk low-priced cars that aren’t actually a tremendous travesty to have to be driving around in.

Bottom Line: Right, absolutely. With the average car selling new for more than $30,000, and $5,000 for a nice car that looks good?

Brauer: Got to be careful, but you can do it.

Bottom Line: Okay, so how do you do it?

Brauer: Well, again, I’m a big fan of warranty coverage on used cars. I think if you can have that new car sense of protection and peace of mind, I think that’s how you want to go. Again, Hyundai and Kia, they are the ones who have done the most work on trying to put peace of mind in people who buy their vehicles.

You can get a 40,000 to 50,000 mile roughly 2010 Hyundai Accent or Kia Rio, which are corporate cousins – they do share the same platform – they should feel relatively new and be in pretty good shape, too, at only being about 4 years old. You should be able to find one that’s very clean. 40,000 miles is very few in terms of its total lifespan.

When you think about $5,000 for a car that is still going to be dependable and a nice driver, that’s a fairly big challenge. You can find any car for any price, but you may not want to buy or drive most of them. I think this is a good compromise between a low cost and still a new vehicle sense of ownership.

Bottom Line: Now, the Kia Rio and the Hyundai Accent, what configurations do they come in? We know obviously there’s a hatchback; isn’t there also a sedan? Here we have a sedan.

Brauer: Yeah, there’s the sedan of the Kia Rio. You can get a hatchback for this or the Hyundai Accent. So it gives you some variety in terms of what your needs are. Do you need the practicality of a hatch? Do you prefer the styling of the sedan or the hatch? Whatever you’re looking for, you’ve got some variety to choose from.

You’re going to end up with very similar platforms and similar drivetrain options because they’re shared between the corporate cousins there. But again, a relatively new car, some peace of mind, for $5,000.

Bottom Line: And how should these cars look after 3 or 4 years of whatever use they were getting if they weren’t mistreated? Does Hyundai and its nameplate Kia, do they use enough quality in terms of paint, in terms of interior, that after 3 or 4 years, you’re still going to have something that looks nice and looks impressive?

Brauer: You should. I think that’s more up to how the car was treated after purchase than it is the car’s inherent design. You can wear out any car, or you can help any car last longer. So I would look carefully for cars that not only are new enough to have some warranty coverage on them, but also look like they were well-treated.

Bottom Line: So at $5,000 or less, you should still be able with these cars to get something that looks pretty nice. And everything works.

Brauer: Relatively new look and feel to the car. You should absolutely be able to have that. With 40,000, 50,000 miles, the car should feel not worn out at all.

Bottom Line: Okay, that’s terrific. And those are real cars with real warranty coverage that look good for $5,000 or less.

Brauer: Yeah. That’s a challenge a lot of people wouldn’t think you could meet, but I think it’s out there if you look carefully in the market.

Bottom Line: That’s great. Thank you very much, Karl.

Brauer: Absolutely.

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