To that end, we spent the day scouring local used car listings, and have come up with this list of 10 cars you could buy for the cost of a new Mac Pro. And since we didn't want to get too crazy/deathtrappy, we kept the age to a maximum of 12 years. Be sure to hit us with your own suggestions in the comments, as well.
2012 Subaru WRX Hatchback
If you know me you know I'm partial to Subarus, and so when this challenge came through I couldn't help but seeing what I could find for that money. It took me approximately 3 minutes of Googling to find this clean, 2012 Subaru WRX hatch that's rocking a lovely white/gold color combo. Though not exactly a premium brand of wheel, they look great on this hatch, one of the final years of production before the WRX went sedan-only.
This generation of WRX has all the same visual appeal of the STI, meaning fender flares and even a spoiler. Mileage is not disclosed, so you'll want to inquire about that. And, given the nature of this particular generation of EJ, you'd be wise to look for signs of knock or other engine unpleasantness. But, given the choice, I'd rather go ice racing in this thing than have a flashy new desktop computer -- impressive though the new Mac Pro may be.
OK, so you can buy a lot of great cars for this much money, but what about an EV? Yep, you surely can. In fact, you can probably buy two last-generation Nissan Leaf
for $12K, but I wanted something a bit more modern. Enter this 2016 Kia Soul EV Plus. In electric form, the Soul is punchy and fun to drive, but also quiet and refined. (Pardon the use of Kia's stock photo here, but if you click through to see the listing, you'll note the seller's pictures are tragically blurry.)
In Plus trim you'll get niceties like parking sensors, an autodimming rearview mirror and even seats that can cool as well as heat. My only question on this guy would be how they managed to put 36,000 miles on the clock of a car that offered a maximum of 93 miles of range. You'll want to check for signs (or smells) of pizza delivery duty.
I've always felt that the 2008-2012 Audi A5 is one of the more beautiful
to hit the streets in the last 30 years. Its organic design is wearing particularly gracefully, and its high-quality interior and robust performance are nothing to sneeze at, either. In particular, I'm a fan of
higher-performance S5 variant, particularly earlier ones that come equipped with the 4.2-liter V8 also shared with Audi's R8 supercar.
If you're patient, you can find a nice manual-transmission example for under $12,000, but since most of you out there prefer automatics, I've located this clean-titled 2010 example, which comes with a six-speed automatic for $11,800 before haggling. All S5s comes standard with all-wheel drive, so they're year-round usable. With 350 hp on tap and an amazing exhaust note, you won't be bored, either. Spend some time poking around, and you can probably find one with fewer than this Katy, Texas example's 105,000 miles, too.
If you're looking for a well-built, safe and attractive SUV for less than you'd spend on that Mac Pro, then you should look no further than this 2009 Volvo XC90 V8 AWD. The
completely changed the SUV landscape when it debuted initially, and once they added its exquisite 300-plus-horsepower Yamaha-designed V8 engine (which also saw duty in the bonkers-fast Noble M600), it became one of the secret best used car buys of all time. Lesser versions are more frugal of course, but why not just send it with an epic transverse-mounted V8.
You don't often find FJ Cruisers in used car listings, and that's because they hold their value extremely well. The FJ Cruiser looked like nothing else when it debuted in 2006, and put up quite a fight against the Jeep Wranglers of the world in terms of off-road chops. You could even get it with a six-speed manual transmission!
This 166,000-mile example from Massachusetts looks as good as it likely did the day it rolled off the factory line, and is priced just under the $12,000 cap. It's rugged, durable and pretty spacious inside. And hey, its windshield has three wipers. Three!
If you're looking for something a little more in the vein of a big, American sedan, might I present this 2013 Dodge Charger. Said to have formerly served police duty, this Hemi-having choice nevertheless has what appears to have a full interior -- plus the added benefit of a bulletproof barrier between the front and rear seats. Perfect for Uber drivers. And, since it already has nearly 115,000 miles on the clock, you won't feel bad about adding more.
This car has
5.7-liter V8, which in stock trim put down 370 horsepower. The listing quotes 400, which may mean it's seen some enhancements for police duty -- or was written by someone with a generous sense of mathematical rounding. Suspension and brakes are also said to be upgraded, and that brush-guard on the nose sure wasn't there from the factory. Perfect for anyone who hates drivers who linger in the left lane on the highway!
Mazda's second-generation Mazdaspeed3 was a car that didn't quite get the respect it deserved when it was new, and a third generation never came to fruition. That doesn't mean that it's not worth a look today. Its happy-yet-aggressive styling has aged better than the basic 3's from that era, and its gnarly, 2.3-liter turbocharged engine can still shred tires and torque steer like mad. With a few basic upgrades, the Speed3 will have you tearing up a track or backroad with the best hot hatches on offer today, and all for less than $12,000.
When Toyota introduced the
, the company declared that the plural of
is Prii. My Latin is not sufficient to question the merit of Toyota's marking department, but I do know that the Prius V offered a lot more practicality than the base Prius at the time. This hybrid wagon will return 44 miles per gallon in city driving, which isn't all that far off from the 2019 Prius's 54 mpg.
The 52,200 miles on the clock mean this Toyota's really just getting broken in. We've certainly heard tell of Prius batteries lasting far than this, but you'll still have at least two years of Toyota's battery warranty in effect. Tan and black was never my favorite color combo, but the interior looks clean and that aftermarket window tinting will help keep the kids cool -- even if they are getting dropped off at school in dad's Prius.
Ask a car enthusiast to recommend a great secondhand convertible and they'll probably tell you to buy a Mazda Miata. That's fine; the Miata's a great car. But I've always had a soft spot for the
roadster, especially in its high-revving, AP1 guise.
This particular example, listed near Phoenix, Arizona, shows 142,000 miles on the odometer -- which isn't all that high, especially for notoriously long-life Honda motors. It's clean, inside and out, though I wish the stock steering wheel were in place. Regardless, S2000s hold their value extremely well, and this looks to be a well-kept example of my favorite not-a-Miata two-seat convertible.
With its latest models, BMW has started to recapture some of the finesse and fun-to-drive nature that helped it rise to prominence as maker of The Ultimate Driving Machine. But there was a pretty long period of time where nothing in the brand's lineup drove as entertainingly as its 1 Series coupe and convertible. Not only were these cars entertaining, they were also among the most affordable models in the automaker's range. Today, it's relatively easy to find a 10-year-old 135i -- the one with the bigger engine -- for under $12,000.
This pretty Le Mans Blue Metallic example has relatively high miles (131,000), but it's also got a clean title and is also over a thousand dollars under our $12,000 price cap before negotiating. You'll likely be able to find one with significantly fewer miles if you're patient. Six-speed manual versions like this one are the most involving, but there are plenty of paddle-shift automatic models out there, too. Do your homework to make sure you've found a well-taken-care of example with full service history, and you'll have yourself a fast, tossable little coupe with an unassailable German pedigree for less money than a new Mitsubishi Mirage.