Budget-friendly options with tons of features!

Best Used Cars Under $15K | CarMax

Whether you are looking for a great daily commuter, a family hauler, or an ideal first car for someone special, you'll find a surprising list of great cars with average prices under $15,000. Many sedans, hatchbacks, and coupes come equipped with great standard features, amazing tech, and even gasoline, hybrid, and fully electric offerings. So there is something for everyone.

To help you on your search, we've compiled a list of the 10 best used cars under $15,000 for 2020 shoppers, based on CarMax average prices and sales data from June 1, 2019 through November 30, 2019.1 Be aware that some trim levels and select model years may increase the price of the vehicles on our list to more than $15,000.

  1. Volkswagen Jetta
  2. Nissan Versa
  3. Kia Soul
  4. Chevrolet Cruze
  5. Ford Fusion
  6. Ford Focus
  7. Hyundai Sonata
  8. Toyota Corolla
  9. Hyundai Elantra
  10. Nissan Sentra


Volkswagen Jetta

Best Used Cars Under 15K: Volkswagen Jetta | CarMax

We start off our list of the best used cars under $15,000 with the fantastic Volkswagen Jetta. The Jetta has historically delivered great engineering in a compact sedan package, and the 2017 Jetta is no exception. For 2017, Volkswagen offered the Jetta in four trims: S, SE, SEL, and the sporty GLI. In 2018, Volkswagen also added the cool Wolfsburg variant to the lineup. Both the 2017 and 2018 Jetta offer the same choice of three turbocharged four-cylinder engines including a 150-hp 1.4L, a 170-hp 1.8L, and a 210-hp 2.0L. The 2019 model year saw a complete redesign. The 2019 Jetta is offered in several trim levels including S, SE, R-Line, SEL, and SEL Premium. Even the base S model has these great features for 2019:

  • Touchscreen sound system with 6.5-inch color display
  • Automatic LED headlights
  • LED taillights
  • Six-speed manual transmission
  • Six-way manually adjustable driver seat
  • Cloth seating surfaces


Nissan Versa

Best Used Cars Under 15K: Nissan Versa | CarMax

For the 2017 model year, Nissan offered the Versa sedan in S, S Plus, SL, SV, and SV Special Edition trim levels. All 2017–2019 Versa sedans are offered with the same 109-hp 1.6L four-cylinder engine. Opt for the 2017–2019 Versa in S Plus and SV trims and expect an EPA-estimated 39 mpg highway and 31 mpg city (with CVT).2 Even the base model 2019 Versa S comes with standard equipment like:

  • Five-speed manual transmission
  • Rearview camera
  • Seven-inch touchscreen display
  • Bluetooth® streaming audio and phone integration
  • Cloth seat trim
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control System (TCS)


Kia Soul

Best Used Cars Under 15K: Kia Soul | CarMax

The Soul represents a nice boxy alternative to a traditional family car as we move through our list of the best used cars under $15,000. Available in a variety of trims, the 2017 model year of the funky Soul even came with an all-electric EV model. Choose between the 2017 Soul base, Soul + (plus), Soul ! (exclaim), and the Soul EV, each featuring a variety of engine choices, features, and options. With all seats in place, the 2017–2019 Soul has 24.2 cubic feet of cargo space and a massive 61.3 cubic feet with the seats down! For 2018, the Soul added Kia's UVO interface and automatic climate control as standard equipment. The 2019 Soul still comes with the same great trim levels including the electric EV. The base 2019 Soul comes equipped with standard features like:

  • Automatic headlights
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • Bluetooth and USB connectivity
  • Rearview camera


Chevrolet Cruze

Best Used Cars Under 15K: Chevrolet Cruze | CarMax

Looking for a sleek, well-appointed four-door? Look no further than the Chevrolet Cruze. Available in both sedan and hatchback layouts, the Cruze offers a great deal of standard and optional features. The 2017–2019 Cruze comes with a 153-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine or a 137-hp 1.6L turbo-diesel four-cylinder. The 2017 and 2018 Cruze with the diesel engine and manual transmission have an EPA-estimated 52 mpg on the highway.2 After minor changes for the 2018 model year, the 2019 Chevrolet Cruze comes in L, LS, LT, and Premier trim levels. Look for standard features on the 2019 Cruze L like:

  • Seven-inch touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay ® and Android Auto™
  • Two USB ports
  • Cloth seating surfaces
  • Equipped with OnStar® functionality with available Chevrolet connected services.3


Ford Fusion

Best Used Cars Under 15K: Ford Fusion Energi | CarMax

If you are looking for a bit more space, check out the midsize Ford Fusion sedan. For 2017–2019 you can choose from six engine options including hybrid and plug-in models. Opt for the base 2.5L four-cylinder and get 175 hp or choose from a variety of optional gas, hybrid, and plug-in engines including a 2.7L turbocharged V6 with 325 hp in the Fusion Sport. There are also five trim levels available including the S, SE, Titanium, Sport, and Platinum. After minimal changes for 2018, Ford added additional wheel and color options for 2019. Standard equipment on the 2019 base S trim includes:

  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Six-way manual driver seat with manual lumbar
  • Halogen headlamps
  • SYNC® System with 4.2-inch LCD screen

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Ford Focus

Best Used Cars Under 15K: Ford Focus | CarMax

We break into the top five of the best used cars under $15,000 with the brilliant Ford Focus. This versatile four door is available as a sedan and hatchback. Most 2017–2018 Focus models come with either a 123-hp 1.0L three-cylinder or a 2.0L 160-hp four-cylinder. The performance-focused 2017 Focus ST is motivated by a 252-hp 2.0L EcoBoost® four-cylinder mated to an all-wheel drive. The 2017–2018 Focus RS is even more powerful with a 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder making 350 hp. Expect key standard features across 2017 and 2018 models like:

  • 4.2-inch center display screen
  • Keyless entry
  • Power front windows
  • Power-operated side-view mirrors
  • Automatic headlights
  • Hill start assist


Hyundai Sonata

Best Used Cars Under 15K: Hyundai Sonata | CarMax

Joining the Ford Fusion on our list is another great midsize sedan, the Hyundai Sonata. So for those who need a larger option with an average price under $15,000, the Sonata should definitely be on their shopping list.1 For 2017, Hyundai offered the Sonata in six trim levels with three engine options. The Sonata received a major update for the 2018 model year and offers seven trim levels including SE, Eco, SEL, Sport, Limited, Sport 2.0T, and Limited 2.0T. For 2019, the Sonata was largely unchanged, look for great features on the base model such as:

  • Rearview camera
  • Automatic headlights
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Seven-inch touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Keyless entry


Toyota Corolla

Best Used Cars Under $15K: Toyota Corolla | CarMax

The Toyota Corolla compact sedan was updated for 2017, a year that marked the model's 50th anniversary. There are tons of great Corollas out there to choose from with six trim levels for 2017 including the L, LE Eco, S, XLE, and XSE. The 2017–2019 Corolla is powered by a 1.8L four-cylinder engine rated at 132 hp (140 hp in the LE Eco). After minor updates for the 2018 model year, Toyota added a hatchback version for the 2019 model year. Expect standard features on the 2019 base L model like:

  • Bi-LED headlights
  • Entune™ Audio system with 6.1-inch touchscreen display
  • Bluetooth wireless technology
  • Integrated back-up camera
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
  • Lane-departure alert with steering assist
  • Fabric-trimmed six-way adjustable driver seat


Hyundai Elantra

Best Used Cars Under $15K: Hyundai Elantra | CarMax

Hyundai's compact Elantra lands in the second spot on our list of the best used cars under $15,000. The feature-rich Elantra was updated significantly in 2017 and most come equipped with a 147-hp 2.0L four-cylinder. The Elantra Eco model came equipped with a 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder capable of putting out at 128 hp. For 2018, Hyundai updated the lineup by adding a hatchback layout for the Elantra GT trim level. The 2019 Elantra comes in six great trim levels including the SE, Value Edition, SEL, Eco, Sport, and Limited. Take a look at the base 2019 SE and you'll find a solid list of standard features including:

  • Five-inch color display
  • Rearview camera
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone system
  • 60/40-split-folding rear seats
  • Cruise control (automatic transmission only)
  • Tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls


Nissan Sentra

Best Used Cars Under $15K: Nissan Sentra | CarMax

Topping our list of the 10 best-selling used cars at CarMax under $15,000 is the fantastic Nissan Sentra. This compact sedan received a thorough update in 2016, and for 2017 Nissan continued to improve the Sentra, adding sporty Sentra SR Turbo and Sentra NISMO trims. You can also choose from the S, SV, SR, and SL trim levels for 2017. For the 2018 model year, Nissan made a rearview camera, five-inch center display, and other great features standard on all models (except the NISMO). For 2019, the base Sentra S comes with great standard features like:

  • Cloth upholstery
  • Bluetooth and USB connectivity
  • Keyless entry
  • Seven-inch touchscreen
  • Automatic headlights
  • Rearview camera

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1Based on CarMax average prices between June 1, 2019 through November 30, 2019. Actual prices may vary based on your selected model year, features and trim packages. Prices do not include taxes, tags, titles, and any applicable fees
2Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates for when vehicle sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. Unless specified, figures are for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. See fueleconomy.gov.
3OnStar features require activation and most require a paid OnStar plan to use. Wi-Fi hotspot functionality may also require an additional data plan. Limitations and restrictions apply. See onstar.com for more information
Unless otherwise noted, information relating to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.