Whether you’re looking for a great starter car or something that will last for years, there are plenty of options available on a smaller budget. Here are the top five cars for $30,000 and under, as well as their best features:
## Toyota RAV4
This [compact crossover SUV](https://www.carmax.com/cars/toyota/rav4) is for weekend warriors who want plenty of room to take all the gear they need. The current model fits up to five people, has a foot-activated lift gate and seats that split 60/40. The vehicle also has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
The interior is notoriously quiet, and the vehicle rates high on safety as well. It comes standard with forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beam lights. Its engine has 176 horsepower and the car gets about 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
This vehicle was extremely popular in 2017, and according to Car and Driver it was more popular than the Camry with 407,000 models sold. This makes it the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. outside of pickup trucks.
## Honda HR-V
The HR-V is for people who want an entry-level SUV. It’s slightly [smaller than the CR-V](http://www.howdyhonda.com/blog/2016-honda-cr-v-vs-2016-honda-hr-v/), spacious and a practical buy. The vehicle fits five people, and adults will find they don’t have to bend in the backseat. The backseat itself folds completely flat, setting this vehicle apart from its competitors.
As for safety, [the Honda HR-V](https://www.carmax.com/cars/honda/hr-v) has gotten top marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The base model has a very user-friendly entertainment system with a 5-inch central display screen, a USB port and Bluetooth capabilities.
The HR-V comes with front-wheel drive and a manual transmission. The engine offers 141 horsepower, up to 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. Overall, this vehicle is great for people who regularly transport a lot of passengers or a lot of cargo.
## Mazda CX-5
This car may look like an SUV, but it really has the handling of a sports car. The newest version of the Mazda CX-5 comes with Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control technology, which means it briefly transfers weight to the front axle during turns for a better steering response. While most [used Mazda CX-5](https://www.carmax.com/cars/mazda/cx-5) cars will not have G-Vectoring tech, the steering capability is still comparable to popular sports vehicles.
The interior is very sleek compared and it uses quality materials for a comfortable ride. It fits five adults, and the car is quiet on the highway. The standard model has two USB ports, Bluetooth and a 7-inch touch screen system. Standard safety features include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alerts and automatic braking at low speeds.
The only available engine is their 187 horsepower four-cylinder, making for decent acceleration in the city or on the highway. The gas mileage is estimated at 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. However, with an upgrade to all-wheel drive the mileage bumps up by 1 mpg.
## Ford Explorer
The Explorer has been part of the Ford lineup since the 1990s, and it really introduced the U.S. to the SUV craze. The modern models have a luxury edge to them both on the interior and the exterior. It also has room for seven people plus their luggage in the back.
For a big car, the Explorer packs a lot of muscle. It has a V6 engine with between 280 and 365 horsepower. Plus the ride is very smooth with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The Explorer does pretty well with gas mileage, at an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 27 [mpg on the highway](https://www.carmax.com/research/mpg-calculator).
Safety features include a rearview camera and a MyKey system, which people to set limits on other driver. For example, a parent can program their teen’s key to have lower audio volumes and limit vehicle top speeds.
## Subaru Outback
This vehicle is one of the most recognizable wagons in the U.S. The interior is very spacious, fitting five people comfortably in the front and back seat. It has 36 cubic feet of space in the cargo area, but it can expand to more than 73 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
The Outback has some of the [best standard entertainment features](https://gizmodo.com/how-i-turned-my-subaru-outback-into-a-real-adventuremob-1716068985), such as satellite and HD radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Subaru offers an EyeSight safety system in their vehicles. These camera-based systems include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, pre-collision braking and automatic high beams.
This vehicle’s engine is pretty solid, just don’t expect to go racing anytime soon. It has a 175 horsepower four-cylinder base engine, but the 256-horsepower six-cylinder is best for people’s towing needs. As for gas, it gets 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.