Sometimes our budget for a car doesn’t stretch that far. Yet whether the vehicle is for ourselves or we’re a parent buying that first car for one of the offspring, wouldn’t it be nice to have confidence around reliability if spending just $10,000 or less.
And speaking of parents, dads often have plenty of advice to offer on the subject of cars.
So, just what kind of cars might such a trusted source as a dad suggest for someone looking for a trustworthy vehicle for a relatively small outlay? Here are 5 dad-approved cars under $10,000.
5 Dad-Approved Cars Under $10,000
Like Dr Who’s Tardis, the Honda Jazz city car transcends its compact exterior dimensions.
While among the smaller vehicles available in Australia since its 2002 debut, Honda’s hatchback maximises its interior space thanks to tricks such as repositioning the fuel tank under the front seats (rather than the rear seats) to create more versatility for the back seat.
Dubbed ‘Magic seats’, the rear bench lives up to its name as it flips and folds in various ways to create loading space between the front and rear seats or expand boot space (which was already best-in-class) by flattening the rear seatbacks.
The Jazz’s practical nature is completed with excellent headroom and legroom in both halves of the cabin and plentiful storage.
Petrol engine options were 1.3L and 1.5L in size, though even the smaller motor was zippy enough around town. There was also a petrol-electric hybrid version, though it wasn’t vastly more economical with fuel use.
And the cleverly packaged Jazz comes wrapped in Honda’s fabled reputation for reliability.
With from-new prices starting from about $15,000, a second-generation Jazz (2008-2014) is now within reach of four-figure budgets.
Hyundai i30 Wagon
The 2007 i30 is the car that erased memories of the cheap but iffy Excel and started a transformation of Hyundai’s reputation in Australia for cars that were well built and drove competently.
Two years after its debut, a wagon variant badged CW joined the range as a more practical small-car offering.
Not only did a longer wheelbase – the distance between the front and rear wheels – liberate some extra rear-seat cabin space but a longer rear overhang increased boot space by 75 litres (to 415L).
The boot also featured an extended cargo blind and 12-volt socket, while the exterior added roof rails over the regular hatch.
There was an extra premium for choosing the 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine over the 2.0-litre petrol, but the diesel was the pick for its extra pulling power and better fuel economy. Unlike some similar cars, it was also available with an automatic gearbox.
A second-generation i30 Tourer came later but it’s the original version that fits the $10K-or-less budget.
Toyotas may not be regarded as the most exciting cars to drive but they are (deservedly) renowned for quality and durability.
Both reputations are epitomised by the Toyota Aurion that first appeared in 2006. It was essentially a Camry with differently styled front and rear ends, and a V6 rather than four-cylinder engine under the bonnet.
The front-wheel drive was the pragmatist’s choice compared with the rival cars it was created to rival – the rear-drive Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore – but nothing wrong with that.
The locally built Aurion’s 3.5-litre V6 was smooth, plenty powerful, good on fuel economy, and linked as standard to a six-speed automatic.
Good cabin space and a big boot are further positives.
The Aurion nameplate disappeared in 2017 along with local manufacturing. The last (second-generation) model would still be too expensive for a $10,000 budget, but Gumtree ads suggest a 2010 base model (labelled AT-X) would be attainable.
And while it was an entry-level model, it was still well equipped.
The Subaru Forester has been a consistent favourite with Aussies for more than two decades now.
Its appeal isn’t difficult to figure out. It builds upon the permanent all-wheel-drive reputation formed by the Impreza WRX rally car for the road but mixes it into a mature SUV form with high seating, great all-round vision, and with power coming from the brand’s mechanically tough ‘boxer’ engines.
While the Forester wasn’t a heavy-duty off-roader, its effective AWD system and decent ground clearance were a great combination on unsealed roads, including gravel and sand.
Earlier versions of the third-generation model sold between 2008 and 2013 are now within reach of a budget only just scraping into five figures – provided you’re happy with the base model dubbed X.
You could, of course, opt for an even older model in a higher specification, though the bonus of the Forester Mk3 is that it improved cabin and boot space over its predecessor.
Slow sales mean the smallest Volkswagen imported to Australia is no longer available, yet the Up!’s shortage of popularity had much more to do with its lack of an automatic gearbox option than anything else.
That lack of buyer interest when it was new, plus the manual-only gearbox, makes the Up! a great used-car bargain. (Yes, the exclamation mark is part of the name!).
It’s a mechanically simple package – including a little three-cylinder engine – which is a positive in terms of reliability – as well as allowing for easy fixes if something does go wrong.
Two body styles were offered between 2012 and 2014 priced from $13,990, with the five-door Up! offering extra practicality over the three-door version. There’s more space in the rear seat than you might imagine from the car’s size, and the boot compensates for its short length with good depth.
And no micro car drives as well as the Up! thanks to the Volkswagen’s wonderfully supple suspension and nicely weighted, highly accurate steering.