Can You Recommend Me a Car for (Max) $18k?

Hi all,

I'm looking to purchase a car for (max) $18k which will be used for commutes to work (country driving) and monthly long-distance (~900km return) journeys.

Ideally, I'd like a sedan and am looking for something with reliability, safety and comfort for long-distance, country driving.

I've only ever driven older cars ('04 Corolla) so have quite limited car buying knowledge.

Can anyone recommend a car that fits my needs or help point me in the right direction to assist my decision?



  • +8

    Camry appears to be the official car of the OzBargainer, as historical forum posts will show.

    • +1

      Your search link has a rather low number of actual car recommendation threads haha….

    • I thought ozbargain liked the Corolla

      • Yeah they do, recommended for the younger folk

    • I like camry's and by stats they are the best choice but they are a boring drive IMO.

  • +11

    'reliability, safety and comfort'

    For 18k and country driving, I'll get a 2015+ Toyota Aurion.

    • I was looking at ~2014+ Toyota's as they seem to be a popular choice.

      I was planning on looking at this one sometime this week if it's still available:

      • +9

        Corolla's are reliable but if it's for long distance country driving, I'd rather much drive an large Aurion. Much more comfortable, safer and powerful.

        • Agreed with the Aurion/Sportivo recommendations.

          Also I hate Holdens, however, that later series Evoke (Commodore), you know the last Holden's that they actually Made in Australia before everything went to GM and outsourced to USA/Thailand, that is actually a decent car. Its decent in terms of safety, interior, performance, efficiency, styling, and as far as I know reliability.

          They should be above your budget, but being mass available and a household name, it should be entering into your budget segment now/soon. Here's the low-down!

        • +3


          If going Australian (Auction isn't really considered Aussie but is as Aussie as the Falcodore) I'd get a Falcon over a Commodore.

          Engine is more reliable and is cheaper for the same year. All other thing being equal, Inline 6 is always better than V6.

        • @JB1:

          Falcon isn't better than Commodore. And a Commodore isn't better than a Falcon.

          Don't blindly follow the Brand, look at the actual product specifically and make an informed decision on that.

          Like I said above, I hate Holdens…but I overlook my bias to see the product for what it is. Now you might be right that a similar priced 2015 Falcon might be better than a similar priced 2015 Commodore, but you didn't link any specific cars so it's not possible to prove you right.

        • +2


          Never said one is better than the other overall but the falcon engine is better than Commodore.

          I've never owned a Falcon or Commodore.

        • @JB1: Citation required.

        • +1


          That an 4.0L inline 6 is better than a 3.0L V6?

          Also note the Falcon also came with a great auto transmission (ZF 6 speed).

        • Ah, noted! Thanks for your input!

  • Any other requirements?

    E.g.: Need to fit family incl kids?

    Will there be rough/unsealed roads/off-roading?

    Do you have any aesthetic/other preferences?

    From your intended use, without knowing more I'd say get a used Toyota that already has a lot of mileage. That'll save you the insane depreciation hit you'll basically immediately get by putting so many kms on it (900kms trips monthly?!) and save you some money that way.

    • No other requirements come to mind.

      No children. No real aesthetic preferences other than I would prefer a sedan.

      Yes, some unsealed roads (albeit only 2-3km's every month or two visiting family).

      Unfortunately, a ~900km return trip monthly (or every second month) is the only viable option to visit family (interstate) as I'll be living regional.

      • +4

        That should make it fairly easy then actually - wait for some of the more knowledgeable commenters to chime in about specific models and years and trim levels, but yeah an older (but ideally still in warranty) Toyota Camry/Aurion would probably be your best bet because of its size, reliability, and general comfort for long range driving.

  • +3

    Aurion or Camry would be your best bet. Reliable, made in Australia, very popular (so really easy to find parts or knowledgeable people), easy to maintain and fuss free. I used to drive an older Camry, then got an Aurion before they were discontinued. Been really happy with both. My wife drives a Corolla, also really happy with that.

    • Great! I've been doing some research for a Camry/Aurion/Corolla at that price-point and it seems it might be the best option. Thanks for your reply!

  • +2

    It sounds like you'll be doing above average kms per year. Is ~20000kms about right?

    You may consider a diesel or hybrid. Hybrid Camry or a prius.

    • +1

      Oh yeah OP, this is a great point. Getting a Hybrid (if you can find one within your budget) will save you a load with your mileage.

      • +12

        hybrid wouldn't help while country driving, it has low-consumption only within the city, the consumption on the open road will be similar to non-hybrid version…

        • +1

          I have Toyota Prius. I drove Melbourne to Sydney my fuel economy were close to 5 with u91. Mostly on cruise control.

        • +1


          When I had it, I did the same in my 2013 Golf 90 TSI (1.4L turbo) and averaged 4.4L/100km.

          Hybrids make great sense in the suburbs and cities, and none if you’re mostly doing highway kms.

    • Unfortunately that's correct… although many of those kms will be country/highway driving (still not great for reselling the car though).

  • +1

    If you don't like the Camry, Mazda 6 would be the main competitor.

    • +4

      Not sure about Camrys, but I wold not recommend a Mazda 6. We have one and road/wind noise is quite noticeable in the cabin. Much prefer my Ford Falcon. Falcon doesn't cost any more to run due to the fact it uses 91 RON vs the Mazdas 95 RON.

      • I was considering Mazda 3 or 6 but have read the noise inside the cabin is quite loud compared to it's competitors. If I'm driving for extended periods of time, I feel as if that's something that would annoy me quickly.

        • The latest Mazda 6 has fixed that issue. Although thay means 30+k which is over your budget.

      • We have one and road/wind noise is quite noticeable in the cabin.

        Am I the only person who drives with the music volume at 80%+? I honestly have never even really thought about the cabin noise issue!

      • Sounds like you had an older 6. It isn’t an issue with the current ones.

  • +1

    New or used?

    • +1

      I'm fine with used.

  • +4

    2014-onwards Mazda 3
    Lots of choice
    Good car
    I reckon the sedan looks great

    We have an SP25 2014. We drive mostly at 100kph on country roads. Stock Dunlop tyres I didn't find too noisy, but when we replaced them with Bridgestones at 55k's, I have to say the noise did reduce. So it's more tyre choice/noise that is heard, than the 'car' being noisy.

    I would recommend the 2.5L over the 2.0L, but drive both and see what you think.

  • You need a hybrid camry, corolla or prius. Think of the petrol savings.

    Example. 3 liters difference per 100km x $1.50 per liter x 25 (2500km) = $112.5 dollars a month in your pocket. Conservative, compared to a small hatch/ sedan

    • I bought a 2012 LPG VE Commodoore about a year ago. Paying 66c-80c per litre instead of $1.50 trumps using 10L/100km instead of 13L/100km in my mind.

      The big question for the OP is which state he is in. Victoria has pretty good LPG availability but other states might not.

  • This: Sedan Demo $17,990 Drive Away
    ask them to throw in Rego etc.


  • What about something like this Hybrid Camry 77,000 km $18,500 All Toyota Hybrids have a 8 year 150,000 KM BATTERY warranty

    • +1

      Suspect VIN number

      • 6T1BD3FK50X139393. What's wrong with it?

        I am more suspect of that front bumper and lack of rego on a 77,000km car.

  • +1

    Funny question to ask as a car is such a personal choice.
    Your sex, age, licence type, are you good with maintaining cars,animal strike's are also factors that may be helpful.

    I'd buy a BMW E60 545i for $10k

    • +6


      Just no.

      • +4

        You underestimate what a high yield investment this is.

    • -1

      All good til it breaks down in the middle of woop woop

    • +3

      If you can't afford a new BMW then you certainly can't afford a second hand one.

    • +1


      I don't understand this fear of BMWs. It seems there's this herd mentality that because of the badge, it's costly or unreliable, or some other rubbish.

      I've owned two, both second hand and maintain them myself. Oil is Castrol Edge 5w-30 (BMW LL-01 approved). You see this come up on OzB like every other month for $30 or so. Oil filters are $10-$15 for OEM; fairly standard. Long service interval of 20,000km or 12 months. Spark plugs are good for up to 100,000km. Other consumables (air filter, cabin filter, brake fluid, brake pads, etc) cost the same as any other car.

      5-series has a wonderful ride. NVH is minimal to none, bumps are absorbed very effectively, not to mention you get lovely seats and factory stereo is fantastic. My current 3-series gets around 6L/100km on highways (this is from a six cylinder turbo).

      Take care of them, learn to turn a wrench, and you'll have years of trouble-free motoring.

  • +2

    I agree with the recommendations about a Camry but would avoid a hybrid due to the type of driving you are doing. A normal modern petrol motor will get great economy on the open road and be a lot cheaper and simpler to maintain in the long term.
    A hybrid battery will quickly discharge on a long journey and you'll be running a small petrol motor that is operating outside its optimal operating range.
    It would be a different matter if your journey comprised of continuous up and down hills.

    • +2

      It will be constantly recharging

    • +2

      TO add correction, they hybrid batteries constantly recharge. I drive my 2013 Camry Hybrid up and down the M7 daily (100 km/hr commuting during off-peak times) and average 4.5L/100KM. That's impressive considering the size of a Camdy Hybrid.

    • There are just so many misinformation and fear mongering in this comment.

      A normal modern petrol motor will get great economy on the open road and be a lot cheaper and simpler to maintain in the long term.

      Talk to most hybrid owners and they'll tell you are wrong regarding the fuel economy. The electric motors intermittently compensates the load on open road.

      Call up most mechanic and none of them ever touch the electrical component of a hybrid system. Talk to taxi owner who has hybrid cars and they'll tell you that they never have problem with the electric motors.

      you'll be running a small petrol motor

      No. The size of the motor is exactly the same between non hybrid and hybrid.

      • Sorry Pig.
        I stand corrected. I thought the Camry was the same as most other hybrids which only have a small petrol motor that is optimised for recharging the batteries.
        I did a bit of reading and the Camry Hybrid petrol motor is the same capacity. It is a different variant and runs a much higher compression which requires 95 petrol but that is a small trade off for the excellent economy you are achieving.
        Toyota have obviously done a great job of maintaining reliability. I guess the batteries are a normal maintenance item and will eventually need replacing.

  • How many people?
    1 or 2: A small car would do. Probably a brand new Mazda 2 with lower specs.
    3 or 4: A medium-large car. Second hand Mazda3/Camry/Aurion.

    Since it's mostly highway driving I wouldn't worry about fuel consumption. I loved the Mazda3 2.5L over the 2L on highways. The extra grunt is well worth it for a bit of fun and overtaking/merging.

    • 90% of the time, it'll only be me in the car. The other 10% of the time, it'll be myself and my partner.

      I have been looking at the Mazda 3 2.5L - it gets great reviews but the cabin noise is such a shame. I might have to see if I can test drive one somewhere.

      • In that case you need to test drive a BN Mazda 3 SP25.

        The BN is quieter than the BM but noice level is still somewhat noticeable. It doesnt bother me personally.

        SP25GT could be out of your range and some people prefer the cloth trim of the SP25 anyway.

  • whats wrong with 04 corolla? 14 years old is basically brand new

    • Absolutely nothing wrong with it. Hasn't missed a beat in the ~12 years it's been in the family.

      It's just time for an upgrade and if I'm going to be driving significantly long distances, I want something that is safer and more enjoyable to drive.

      • +8

        more enjoyable to drive.

        There're a lot of Camry suggestions, while it is definitly safer and bigger and more comfortable, it is absolutely not enjoyable. I call mine toaster on wheels. It's a well priced, reliable, appliance.

        • Can it make jaffles?

        • @pao2x: No but it has a wash and spin cycle for most fabrics

        • @pao2x: There's a decent area on the headers

  • +2

    Subaru Liberty. Great, reliable cars. Good features. Also is AWD so more responsive steering and suspension. Probably 2014/2015 model around your price range. Check out the premium model for some extras, might be able to find a good price.
    If you're set on getting a Toyota. Try CMI on West Terrace in the city. They give you warranty and take care of any issues within the first few months, just incase you get screwed over by a private sale. There's a guy called Christos there who's really good.

    • Thanks, I'll keep this in mind.

    • A nice car the Liberty.
      I just bought a 2013 Volvo S60 for $15000 with 56K on the clock. Blind spot warning, collision avoidance, heaps of other safety features not in Camry/Corolla types.
      Stunning leather interior, terrific media/nav system including voice command. 2.5 litre engine is really powerful, but would've preferred the diesel.
      It has one other feature that Camry/Aurion/Mx3 etc don't have. STYLING.

      • +2

        Dont buy a volvo ….I have a 2010 XC90 I have had it since 2013 , Volvo parts cost a fortune , I end up shipping them from the UK which works out 40 to 70% cheaper after shipping than buying them locally.

        Its a great car BUT not cheap to run…

        • Who do you order parts from?

          Fortunately I found a very reasonable priced Volvo specialist who will allow me to supply my own parts.

          However I've been doing the basic maintenance myself of late.

    • AWD has no affect on steering and suspension.

      • +1

        AWD has no affect on steering

        Try engage or disengage the centre diff on 4wd and feel the difference.

  • +1

    I'm also in the market, and found two cars come close.
    One has been mentioned often here, is the Aurion. The top model called a presera (stupid name I've probably spelt wrong) but comes close to a Lexus fit out. Just have to get over the ugly would grain. 2012 onwards and easy under 18k. Keep in mind high k models might have been used as ubers. 160000k

    The other car similar kw power but rear drive sedan perhaps not as luxurious as the Aurion, Ford FG G6E 2012yr onwards.
    2012 onwards has HID lights which should be brighter on country roads.
    Almost the same engine since the BA Ford 2004(first released I think) called the Barra i6. Straight line 6, 4 litres similar fuel economy to the Aurion.
    Should be easy to get repaired as the rest of the car uses many swappable parts.
    Most common fault rear suspension rubbers that holds the diff and axles up, wear. You have to get that checked before committing.

    You could also get some brand new cars for those dollars.

    Good luck.

    • ah yes those luxurious Aurions!

    • +2

      2012 onwards has HID lights

      HIDs were never fitted to FG (or any model) Falcons.

      • My bad. Projector lenses. Figured they had improved since my NA. However can retro fit HID.

  • +5

    I love my 2012 Honda Accord Euro - great mileage on long distances (6.6L per 100km) - can travel Melb to Adelaide on a tank of petrol.

    Great sound system, relative luxury for the price. Can thrash out decent acceleration for such a "boring" car.

  • +3

    For that money, you can also opt for a brand new kia Cerato

    • +1

      …with 7-year manufacturer's warranty.

  • Mazda 3 SP25

  • +1

    I'd put your 900 KM monthly return trip above other requirements because that's a lot of distance. For munching such distances covering the motorways and country roads, you would need a car with a long wheelbase (which translates directly to ride comfort). This is why a lot of people have been recommending the Aurion to you, which is an excellent choice.

    A Camry or Mazda 3 is not even in the same league when it comes to comfort over such distances. Not to mention the additional firepower the Aurion offers to overtake on country roads.

    Other options:
    * 2014 or above Mazda 6 (get the largest engine you could)
    * A Nissan Altima or a Nissan Maxima with the 3.5L V6 - These are the same cars with some differences in the exterior and some on the inside. DO NOT buy a smaller engine - this V6 won the Wards best engine awards 10 years in a row! Test drive one on the motorway to find out why.
    * 2015 or above Subaru Liberty with the straight 6 engine (A good example may be slightly above your budget?)
    * A Honda accord V6.

    • I agree, longer wheelbases seem to be more comfortable. Except if it’s a bus, van or Ute. I’m curious, How do longer wheelbases contribute to improved comfort?

      • +4


        Put a pen on a stack of post it notes, lift one side up 2cm. The pen will slide off because it's steep.

        Put a pen in the middle of a ream of paper. Again, lift it up 2cm. The pen won't move because you have to lift one side of the ream of paper far higher to make the same slope. Longer wheel base (distance between tyres) means it's more comfortable in the centre of the car.

        • Thnanks :)

        • +1

          My Pleasure.

    • +2

      Isn’t the Subaru 6cyl a horizontally opposed 6? Like the flat four but with 2 extra cylinders.

      • Isn’t the Subaru 6cyl a horizontally opposed 6? Like the flat four but with 2 extra cylinders.

        You're absolutely right there; it's indeed a boxer engine. I just had a moment in there, typing about the liberty as I was thinking about the 3 series for some reason.

  • Could wait out for new Mazda 3 released November 2018.

  • Hyundai i30 Go. If you're shit at bargaining with dealerships use one of those dealership bargaining services like autoexpert.

  • +4

    BD (MY19) Cerato S Sedan Demo.

    Most KIA dealers should have one. Ring around to see who will do one for $18k Drive Away.

    Expect 5,000km, 6 months rego and 6 and a half years of unlimited km warranty/road side assist.

    $18k is a very good price for one of these. They will try to talk you up to $19k. Don't budge. Someone will be desperate enough to do that deal. Make sure you say $18k drive away at the start of the conversation and make sure stamp duty is on the contract they send you to sign.

    You should be able to sell after 5 yr/100,000km for around $10k trade, up to $14k privately.

    • Thanks for your reply! You're the second person to recommend this — I'm tempted. I'll have to find a dealer and give it a test ride. This thread has given me a lot more choices to choose from.

  • honda civic? the 2016 model above hard to find under 18k though. (this is 19k)

  • +1

    Camry, Aurion, Falcon, commodore. All solid decent basic cars great for chewing up miles comfortably on the open road. They are all fairly good on fuel on the highway too.

    Take comments like the Mazda 6 having more noise in the cabin with a grain of salt, it’ll probably still be better than an old corolla, but just not as good as the current benchmarks.

    Test drive a few and see what you like. Although not taking my own advice, I’ve tended to check what I like on specifications/price/features, read some reviews. then I test drive the model I’ve narrowed it down to and see if I can live with its shortcomings. All cars will fall short in some way or other, so you need to work out what you can live without.

  • 4 or 5 year old Mondeo Titanium Tdci could be an option, very unloved in Australia, not sure if it`s warranted but they are popular in other markets.

    • Avoid. The issues that plague the Powershift dual clutch transmissions in these cars are very well documented and it would be far better to just avoid the hassle entirely.

      • true, however I believe the problem of more prolific with the dry DSG's rather than the wet

  • +1

    For $18k you can get something new with a long unlimited kilometre warranty.

    In October 2016 I got my sister into a brand new MY17 Kia Cerato sedan for $18000 driveaway. Includes a 7 year unlimited kilometre warranty. Two years in she's loved it since day one.

    Very economical, all the modern features you'd want aside from maybe nav (which you could have added for about $1k more as part of a factory AV pack).

    Bluetooth, front and rear Park sensors, reversing camera, and all the usual safety stuff.

    The new model is out so you can get a deal on the just replaced one. Dealers have them listed for $16990 driveaway or $18k with the AVpack adding CarPlay and Android Auto. Probably still a bit of wiggle room too.



    • Great, thanks for your reply. Never considered a Kia but I'l look into it — thanks!

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