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Five of the Best Cars for the Money Under $500

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If you’re shopping for a car on a budget, a used vehicle can be a great way to get out on the road for less. But you’ll want to find a vehicle that’s going to provide solid driving performance and be reliable over the long haul, too. That’s why our Best Cars for the Money awards honor cars that balance quality and value. We put each of these vehicles through rigorous testing, and the winners deliver on their promises.

There are plenty of good used cars on the market for $500, but you’ll need to do your homework if you want to make the right purchase. To help you out, we’ve gathered five of the best affordable rides available on Autotrader and outlined what makes each model worthy of your hard-earned cash.

The Honda Civic is a perennial favorite among the best cars you can buy used, and this hatchback version is one of the best. Its 200-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four is a potent performer, yet the Civic Si also provides plenty of everyday practicality. Its hatchback body style offers more cargo room than sedans, while its manual gearbox adds a sporty element to the proceedings.

This mid-size luxury SUV isn’t the most popular choice in its class, but it delivers on the promise of big-name brand reliability and a surprisingly comfortable ride. It also has a robust suite of safety features and a roomy, flexible cabin that can accommodate up to seven passengers.

A redesigned 2024 Toyota Prius Prime has a sleek exterior that turns heads, plus it has livelier acceleration and better fuel economy than most of its rivals. The plug-in hybrid is a quiet, smooth, easy-to-live-with family hauler that can return up to 50 mpg in the city.

The 2024 Chevrolet Trax isn’t the most exciting utility vehicle on sale, but it does what you need it to do and does it well. It has a spacious backseat and returns 34.1 mpg in combined fuel-economy testing. It also gets a nod for being the only small, two-row utility vehicle to offer an active safety feature like forward collision warning and lane-departure alert.

A BMW 7 Series may be an expensive luxury sedan, but it’s still one of the most rewarding drives in its class thanks to its masterful blend of cruising comfort and athleticism. Those skills extend to the 740i, a more affordable option that’s even more fun to drive. Its nimble handling and precise steering are a welcome counterpoint to the buttery ride quality of rival models like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Lexus LS.

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