Best Cars Under $25,000

If you've got a budget cap for a car at $25,000 but aren't sure which kind you want to get, our list can help narrow down your choices.

Best Cars Under $25,000

Everyone’s got a budget, or at least, everyone looking for a car for under $25,000 has a budget, and it’s important to maximize every dollar. For that, you should be looking at functionality, horsepower, size, and practicality. All of these things help to get more bang for your buck.

Best 2017 Cars Under $25000:

  • Honda Civic Si
  • Mazda6 Sport
  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • Mazda Mx-5
  • Subaru Forester

New cars are safe bets, usually because of the warranty but also because they’ll have the newest technology around. It’s harder to budget for a new car vs. a used car, however that doesn’t mean there aren’t totally affordable options in every category.

Coupe - Honda Civic Si
  • MSRP: $23,900
  • Speedy and Efficient

For our brand new coupe, the Civic Si is the best choice. It offers brilliant performance with Honda reliability, and while it is still FWD it still makes more than 200 horsepower out of a tiny turbocharged four-cylinder engine and gets almost 40 MPG on the highway, which is staggering. The new Civic Si is fitted with bigger brakes, adaptive suspension, and a manual transmission, all for about $24,000.

Sedan - Mazda6 Sport
  • MSRP: $21,945
  • Good Handling

It’s back to basics with our choice for a brand new sedan. The Mazda6 doesn’t have a turbo or 200 horsepower, but it is cheap and handles well. It’s also front-wheel drive and still gets about as good mileage as the Civic Si. It’s cheaper and comes with a bigger engine, as well as a choice of which kind of transmission you’d like to have. It’s comfortable, not particularly sporty but is very nimble.

Truck - Chevrolet Colorado
  • MSRP: $20,000
  • Fuel Efficient

Finding a decent truck that isn’t the Ford F-150 for less than $25,000 begins and ends with the Chevrolet Colorado. It’s pretty well-rounded, getting 30 MPG on the highway and having a towing capacity at up to 7,000 pounds. It’s also well underneath our price cap, at $20,000. For a light pickup truck, a Chevy is pretty solid and reliable.

Sports Car - Mazda Mx-5
  • MSRP: $24,915
  • RWD

Mazda broke the mold when they created the new MX-5. It’s a little down on power, but the handling has never felt better. Unfortunately, traction control can be a bit invasive, but thankfully there’s a button for that. Space is decent for two grown adults, the top goes down easily and when it’s up the road noise isn’t bad, though visibility does suffer a little.

Shifting gears is a smooth operation, and throttle response is exceptional. It’s a bit pricey for the power you get if it had 200 horsepower but kept the same handling and weight distribution it would be perfect. For a brand new sports car though, $25,000 isn’t a terrible price. Just know that ponying up a few extra thousand will get you a limited-slip differential (LSD) which means more fun.

Best Cars To Buy
Used Car Buying Tips

SUV - Subaru Forester
  • MSRP: $22,595
  • Decent Towing Capacity

Realistically, the best SUVs out there cost more than $25,000 unfortunately. However, if that’s your budget, then look no further than the Subaru Forester which is certainly a fantastic choice. You’ll get more than 30 MPG on the highway, the ability to tow as much as 1,500 pounds, and can have the option of a manual transmission.

The Foresters are good on acceleration and handling as well, so the available power should feel just perfect as long as you can use it properly. For a reasonable starting price of $22,595, Subaru offers a great SUV option.

Best Used Cars to Buy Under $25,000

  • 2012 Mustang GT
  • 1994 Dodge Viper
  • 2010 E550 AMG
  • 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab SXT 6.25 ft.
  • 2013 Honda Pilot

Used cars are way more fun to drive because it’s the newest stuff, just a few years old if that makes sense. In any case, with used cars, you’ll always get more bang for your buck.

Coupe - 2012 Mustang GT
  • KBB Estimate: $19,076
  • Cheap Performance Per Dollar

The second year of Ford’s new Mustang 5.0, 2012 is still plagued with the same manual transmission as the previous year. However, you still get more than 400 horsepower out of a V8, which feels amazing behind the wheel.

The car feels big and heavy but handles decently and again, has more than 400 horsepower. It’s a quick coupe that has four seats. Well, two front seats and two extra storage buckets. It’s a ton of horsepower for only $19,000, continuing the Mustang tradition of providing cheap yet decent performance.

Sports Car - 1994 Dodge Viper
  • KBV Estimate: $21,000
  • Pure Grunt

For a used sports car, you can’t overlook the 8.0-liter V10 equipped Dodge Viper from 1994. We are aware that sports cars are designed to be fast, and while the Viper doesn’t exactly fit this description (despite its horsepower advantage), it is a great value.

The Viper’s lack of speed is mainly due to the fact that in order to be fast, you need traction, something that the Viper just doesn’t have. But it will do endless burnouts and as soon as you turn the wheel it’ll graduate to donuts, which is what any sports car driver really wants anyway.

Sedan - 2010 E550 AMG
  • KBB Estimate: $23,638
  • Comfortable, Luxurious

Mercedes’ E-Class is virtually unrivaled when it comes to a perfect combination of speed and comfort. AMG, of course, takes it a few steps further, making the car even faster while preserving the comfort and luxurious Mercedes stability. It might have been a little pricey when it first came out, however, now the 2010 E55 AMG is worth a reachable $23,638. No longer is it priced in outer space.

Truck - 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab SXT 6.25 ft.
  • KBB Estimate: $22,608 (“good” condition)
  • Excellent Towing Capacity

Rumor has it that France bought a 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab SXT equipped with a 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel Inline-six, and used it to tow the Statue of Liberty through the Atlantic. With 600 lb-ft of torque, this truck can tow everything, and it even comes with a manual transmission.

This is a massive truck that can do burnouts with minimal effort, while towing a redwood tree, in the snow. You can now find them to be worth about $22,608 as long as you’re willing to deal with one in “good” condition, but it’ll tow 24,000 pounds. The power is apparently enough to make people sick.

SUV - 2013 Honda Pilot
  • KBB Estimate: $24,255 (“very good” condition)
  • Well Rounded Vacation Car

It’s got a V6, 250 horsepower, AWD, can tow 4,500 pounds, and still gets 25 MPG on the highway. The 2013 Honda Pilot is a solid choice for an SUV, new or used, and is honestly the most sensible and practical choice on this list. It might not be super cool, but it’ll do everything you need an SUV to do, and comfortably.

Not only is it the newest car on this list for pre-owned cars, but it’s also one of the most expensive at $24,255. While it’s not a performance car, it gets better mileage than the Mustang, better traction than the Viper, is more reliable than the E55 and won’t make you throw up like the Ram.

Brian GrabianowskiBrian Grabianowski

Avid Formula 1 fan and motorcyclist, I enjoy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and long rides to the beach.