Top 10 Most Reliable Cars Under $25K

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

In the market for a cheap, affordable vehicle that won’t cause you headaches after a few years of ownership? AutoGuide has compiled a Top 10 list of the most reliable vehicles on today’s market under $25,000 based on data from Consumer Reports‘ 2013 Annual Auto Survey.

All of the vehicles on this list received Consumer Reports‘ “recommended” rating and have been reported to be relatively problem-free by owners who participated in the survey documenting how many issues owners experienced in the last 12 months of ownership.

Kicking off the list is the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen 2.5, which is also an IIHS “Top Safety Pick.” The base model Jetta SportWagen S has a starting price of $21,615 including destination and comes equipped with a 2.5-liter engine with 170 hp, 177 lb-ft of torque and a five-speed manual transmission. Volkswagen also offers its Jetta SportWagen with a TDI clean diesel engine with 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque but that’s priced from $27,070.

The all-new Mazda 6 has already become a popular midsize sedan on the market and it’s easy to see why. Powered by a 2.5-liter engine sporting the automaker’s SkyActiv technology, the Mazda6 boasts 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque while maintaining an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Best of all, it has a starting price of $21,785, making it an attractive, affordable and reliable option for families.

Accents can be exciting and exotic unless you’re talking about small cars from South Korea. Still, it’s a fuel-efficient, reliable and extremely affordable car. The Hyundai Accent GLS with a six-speed manual transmission starts at just $15,455. The eco-friendly 1.6-liter GDI engine generates 138 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque while getting up to 38 mpg on the highway. It’s also available in five-door hatch form for those that need more storage space.

The popular Volkswagen Golf is seventh on the list and is an affordable four-door hatch with a starting price of $20,790. The 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine is good for 170 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. But just like the Jetta SportWagen previously mentioned on the list, buyers can opt for a clean diesel TDI engine that comes in the form of a 2.0-liter turbo four with 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. Again, the Golf TDI starts at $25,995 – just a tad past the $25,000 budget we’re aiming for on the list.

For decades, the popular Honda Civic has been known for its affordability and reliability and the most recently model is no different. Though its styling has been a bit controversial, the automaker has acted quickly on giving it tweaks to make it more attractive in today’s marketplace. Coming standard is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder powerplant with 140 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque that gets a respectable 28 mpg city, 36 mpg highway rating with a five-speed manual. The Civic LX sedan starts at just $18,985 making it no surprise why there’s so many on the road today.

The Subaru WRX is more exciting, but it’s the Impreza that impresses with its reliability and attractive price. It has a base MSRP of $19,165 and is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder BOXER engine. It might not scream excitement with just 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque under the hood, but it does provide 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

The Subaru Legacy 2.5 has a starting price of $21,065 but you get quite a bit for your money. The popular sedan not only sports aggressive good looks, but also gets up to 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Powering the Legacy is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder BOXER engine with 173 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. Best of all, it comes standard with all-wheel drive and has plenty of room to pack everything your family needs for a road trip.

It might be outdated in the styling category and hasn’t received the same overhaul as the Mazda3 and Mazda6 models, but the Mazda5 minivan remains one of the most reliable vehicles available. It comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 157 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque. Also standard is a six-speed manual transmission, all for a starting price of $20,735. The Mazda5 however is due for a redesign within the next couple of years, so unless you’re in dire need of a new, reliable minivan, it would be wise to wait.

Growing in popularity over the recent years, the Honda Fit is one of the most affordable cars on the list with a starting price of $16,215. Even the most expensive Fit Sport with Navigation model slides under our $25,000 range with an MSRP of $20,580. Hiding under the hood is a fuel-efficient 1.5-liter engine with 117 hp and 106 lb-ft of torque. In a manual-equipped model, the Fit is rated at 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, while the automatic transmission will get owners 28-mpg city, 35-mpg highway.

Topping the list of most reliable cars under $25,000 is the Scion xB. While its funky shape is no longer so unorthodox with other models such as the Kia Soul on the market, the xB still remains a popular choice among shoppers looking for a competitively priced vehicle with plenty of space. The Scion xB is powered by a 2.4-liter engine with 158 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque while getting 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The manual transmission-equipped model starts at $17,725 while the automatic xB is priced from $18,675. Best of all though, you’re getting the most reliable car available for under $25,000.

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

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  • Bill Bill on Oct 02, 2016

    I have a 2012 Ford Transit I've spend 1200.00 and the problem is still there. The air condition starts to come out warm and the starts reading hot. I immediately turn off the air conditioner and the gage goes back to normal. They have changed the whole two fan units. Whats the problem with my car?