Everyone knows cars can be expensive, but you can find a great used one without going broke. In fact, you can find a great used car for under R100 000. Of course, not every make and model will fall into this category, but several familiar ones do. You may have to go with an older model or one with more kilometres on the odometer, but if you choose a reliable make and model, the trade-off will be well worth it.
The Mazda3 is something of an old standby when it comes to small, inexpensive cars, and you can't go wrong with a 2008. It drives well with precise handling, particularly for an automatic. Some versions of the 2008 Mazda3 come with upscale features, but do not expect them on every model. If you are looking for a reliable, quality car you cannot go wrong with this one.
If you are willing to drive an older vehicle - from as far back as 2003 - you might be able to find a luxury sedan such as the Infiniti G35 for under R100 000. It comes standard with a six-disc CD player, curtain-side airbags and keyless entry, as well as the award-winning Nissan 3.5-litre V6 engine. Sure, it may have many kilometres on it already, but its reputation for excellent durability supersedes the odometer. Throw in the vehicle's sporty appearance, and you have quite a nice little car for a great price.
The Acura TSX is comparable to the European Honda Accord, and it is one of the best smaller cars for your money. The car is reliable, sporty, drives well and uses less petrol per kilometre than some others in its class. It also offers plenty of interior space for a car of its size. Go with a 2005 model for the best deal.
The Toyota Avalon is quite popular in South Africa and other parts of the world, and rightfully so. It is bigger than a Camry and comes standard with even more features including a roomy interior, both in the front and back seats. It also comes with a powerful V6 engine, and you will not have to take it into the shop very often as it has a reputation for being low maintenance. Opt for a 2005 Toyota Avalon and, if possible, the Touring model.
If you are looking for a minivan, SUV or station wagon, the Honda Pilot is a bit of all three rolled into one vehicle. You can usually find a 2005 model for under R100 000. It seats eight passengers and has a spacious interior. It also drives smoothly, and it is easy to handle. Some models even have a rear-view camera. The third seat folds into the floor for extra storage space, which comes in handy for long holidays.
You probably already know Kia makes great affordable vehicles, so it only seems natural that the 4-cylinder Kia Optima makes the list. Built in 2007 and 2008, the Kia actually performed better than mid-sized sedans manufactured by companies like Honda and Toyota, thanks to its smooth performance. If you can find an EX-trim model, it will feature anti-lock brakes. All vehicles come with a top-notch, roomy interior.
Even new Honda Civics are a great option for anyone on a budget and looking for a two or four-door sedan, but a used 2006 model should be pretty inexpensive. It is reliable, uses less petrol per kilometre and generally requires less maintenance than other makes and models. If you are concerned with the aesthetics, both the exterior and interior designs have great modern appeal.
Finally, if you need a pickup truck, try a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. Sure, it has the older body type and it may have already been driven many kilometres, but these trucks are built to last. They come with a selection of V6 engines and both manual and automatic transmissions. Toyota Tacomas built between 2003 and 2005 have a reputation for being dependable.
No matter what car you choose, always take a look at its individual history. Even the best makes and models can have problems or end up with some bumps and bruises. Be sure to ask the seller if he or she can provide a detailed history. If a newer model of one of these listed becomes available for a great price, you should usually go with the newer one if it does not have any significant issues. Newer vehicles are often safer due to new standards and regulations in the car industry, and they may even come with more luxury features. Newer vehicles are also more likely to use less petrol per kilometre, and that can save you even more money.