Miata or GTI? Our Favorite Used Cars on Carvana for Less Than $18,000
It’s never been more difficult to find a good used car, but we found a few gems online.
I'm going to share an embarrassing fact with you. Even though I make a living writing about the automotive industry, I have never owned a car. I've spent my life getting around on two wheels. Finally, that's about to change. The problem is that this might be the worst time in history to buy a used car. In order to get a closer look at what's really out there, the writers at The Garage trawled Carvana to find our favorite used cars for less than $18,000.
A shortage of parts, mainly computer chips, means that used car prices are astronomical. So, to say we've brought you bargains that are tempting us to dip into our savings would be untrue. But if we had to buy a used car today and our budget was $18,000, these are the models that would get our money.
As you'd imagine, the team takes buying cars pretty seriously. Jonathon Klein needed a second computer monitor for the number of browser tabs he had open for his top picks. I'm particularly vested in this piece because I'm in your shoes. Let's get to it.
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- 65,608 miles
When you see a Miata in this condition, not much needs to be said. It's a two-door, rear-wheel-drive convertible, famed for its engaging drive and responsive handling. The peppy 2.0-liter inline-four doesn’t make a ton of horsepower, but that's part of the fun. This way you can get involved with its crisp five-speed manual transmission without license-losing speeds. And it’s a Mazda, meaning it’s a sports car you can drive every day without worrying too much about it breaking down. If something does go wrong, parts are plentiful, especially aftermarket performance ones.
- 71,568 miles
Look, I can’t go five seconds without recommending a GTI to somebody. The newer cars are out of the price range, but this sixth-generation car is still modern, fast, and fun. I also own one.
- 97,063 miles
There’s history here with me and this model Volkswagen Touareg, a memory from my first few years doing this whole car journalism thing professionally. If you want the story, which I can’t repeat in public, buy me a beer one day and I’ll tell you the tale. This one is a VR6-powered model and looks impeccably clean, even with nearly 100,000 miles on the clock.
- 81,467 miles
I’m confused, y’all. I don’t think I’ve ever taken Carvana’s “deals” seriously because I’m too much of a skinflint. To me, there are no damn deals. Still, if you must buy something from this high-ass place, I’ve always had a soft spot for these backward-baseball-cap-looking Mini coupes. This one’s the S model with the six-speed manual. Should be a ton of fun for a somewhat reasonable price, at least reasonable-ish considering the dealership.
- 94,511 miles
I am always on the lookout for a good truck at a bargain price, and this 2.9-liter inline-four Canyon is a sweetheart. According to Carfax, the truck had one owner for all of its nearly 12 years, someone who drove it an average of only about 8,000 miles annually. The owner kept it registered and serviced regularly, which is a good sign the pickup was loved.
- 80,247 miles
New-age crossovers, SUVs, and wagons can feel big and bulky, especially when driving in a city, but the Golf SportWagen offers a nice compromise of compact practicality. Its Golf spirit and a manual transmission add some fun to the mix, and the turbo four-cylinder will help keep gas stations at a distance. Regular maintenance and a clear title ease the mind as well.
- 58,330 miles
There are a lot of great vehicles on Carvana, but this Dakota is the only one that really spoke to me. I owned two of the previous generation, and I have a lot of love for them. The drivetrain is rock solid, it gets decent gas mileage for a V8, and the truck is just the right size for hauling the typical gearhead goodies. Just keep an eye on rust and keep that undercarriage clean.
- 74,964 miles
This prompt has taught me two things about Carvana: First, its search filter for "manual transmission" is broken (bummer) and second, this is definitely not the cheapest place to find a car (sorry). However, it is neat how you can spin the vehicle images 360-degrees and the delivery option does seem convenient. All that said — this Accord coupe would probably carry you back and forth across the country or across town reliably and relatively comfortably. Plus, it looks quite fetching.