Five Under $5K: The Best Cheap Cars We Found For Sale (Reno Edition)

Reno, Nevada is a smaller market, but has plenty of gems to go around.

byPeter Nelson|
Five Under $5K: The Best Cheap Cars We Found For Sale (Reno Edition)

Last week we were paging through the classifieds of Las Vegas, Nevada. This time we're perusing what its smaller sibling to the far north has to offer: Reno.

Reno is a neat little city nestled in the High Eastern Sierra Foothills, not far from such gorgeous outdoor splendor as Lake Tahoe and seemingly endless breathtaking, mountain-top geography. A lot of this can be accessed via U.S. Route 395, which stretches all the way down to the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

Reno's a hub for gaming enthusiasts and outdoor lifestyle folks alike, attracts people from all over the United States, and despite its small metropolitan area, has some cool vehicles currently for sale on Craigslist. Because of its elevation, and the elevation of surrounding towns, there are plenty of all- and four-wheel drive vehicles for sale, many in what looks like good, taken-care-of condition. Here are a few that we found worthwhile to point out.

And as always, a heads up: The Garage’s “five under five” highlights five cars listed under $5,000 within a specific geographic region. The idea is to keep a finger on the low-end car market’s pulse and provide some context on the current state of what’s on Craigslist. We don’t know these sellers and haven’t seen any of these cars in person. We’re just sharing them based on what’s apparent in the ad, so break out your wallet at your own risk!

Deeply Discounted Luxury: 2002 Audi A8L

Craigslist Craigslist
  • Miles: 208,000
  • Price: $3,450
  • Link

I love a D2 Audi A8/S8, and this looks to be a very nice example, especially for less than $5,000. The mileage is a bit high, but the owner appears to have proudly taken good care of it. They detail that it's the last of the generation before the A8 badge became more complex and electronics-laden, and it's been a daily driver for 10 years.

The D2 is truly a German car of yore in its styling. I bet it's also an excellent highway cruiser—especially with a sprightly 4.2-liter V8 under its hood—and it's probably good fun in the snow as well due to its Quattro all-wheel drive.

Servicing these can be tricky and expensive, so being DIY-minded is probably the move, and finding replacement exterior and interior parts could be a little tough. Though, considering it's been lovingly owned, that's probably far less of a concern than if one were to pick one up in mechanic's special condition.

The Economical Family Hauler: 2001 Toyota Camry LE

Craigslist Craigslist
  • Miles: 184,000
  • Price: $3,900
  • Link

While this early '00s Camry is only front-wheel drive, it's still a solid choice for getting around due to being generally indestructible, having an economical 2.2-liter four-cylinder under its hood, and being a spacious sedan. This would make for a great commuter and/or family hauler, and mounting up a set of winter wheels and tires would probably be a cheap proposition due to having a presumably common wheel and tire size—just look at those bubbly sidewalls.

The mileage is a tad concerning, but again, Toyotas of this vintage are quite solid, and probably very inexpensive to maintain. Parts availability would never be an issue as you can't throw a rock in any American metropolitan area without smashing one's windshield. It looks like the owner's done some recent maintenance, and both the exterior and interior look very clean for its age and mileage.

The Off-Road-Ready All-Rounder: 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited

Craigslist Craigslist
  • Miles: 166,370
  • Price: $3,999
  • Link

Like the Toyota, this Jeep is a common fixture all over the United States and therefore probably not very expensive to maintain. Especially in this example's case, which appears to be clean and well taken care of. The interior is a little worn, but otherwise, it looks great.

This could serve as a family hauler, potential work vehicle, or really any variety of daily driver. Plus, it's ready to take on all kinds of terra firma with real four-wheel drive, so it might make for a great off-road/overlanding project.

Project Potential: 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup

  • Miles: 222,222
  • Price: $2,500
  • Link

Now, this is cool: a 1982 VW Rabbit pickup. Well, the listing is a tad unclear, but it looks like the seller is including two of them so that you can have a good head start cobbling together your dreams and aspirations of old-school water-cooled VW ownership. Be sure to bring an extra-long trailer.

It takes a bit of imagination, but imagine lovingly restoring one of these into a fine example of fresh, German tuner car glory. The seller is including an engine, but personally, I'd swap something a tad more vivacious, like a 1.8T from a Mk4 GTI/GLI.

A Sturdy Subie: 2002 Subaru Outback

Craigslist Craigslist
  • Miles: 202,000
  • Price: $2,700
  • Link

We couldn't talk about a Quattro-propelled Audi and 4x4 Jeep without mentioning an all-wheel drive Subaru.

This Outback looks to be in very clean condition for its mileage and age. It even looks like it's had some recent service to boot. Like the other four-wheel-powered fare, this would be great for traversing snow-covered mountain roads en route to trails, ski slopes, wherever, and it even has a roof rack that's ready to accomodate a bunch of gear.

The price seems a bit low, or maybe my gauge of used Subaru pricing needs adjustment. Regardless, it's worth investigating for sure.

Previous Regions Featured on ‘5 Under 5’

You're probably not going to be able to buy the exact cars in these previous window shopping rundowns, but they should still give you a sense of what kind of hardware's available in different corners of the United States.