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Where I reside (north Texas) that budget unfortunately will get a 2008-2012 model with well over 100,000 miles. Before Bidenflation those were $4,000 and under cars. No idea where you'd find a 2018 anywhere near that price, but if you can you should snatch it up quickly (assuming it isn't a salvage title).
 

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Yes but the second criterion in the OP question was "What's a good year, trim ect to look for? "!
It is really hard to have both worlds met you can normally get one or the other. The first will likely mean spending an additional 1-3 thousand more dollars to get it reliable and safe. As for salvage titled vehicle's that all depends on how that came about. I would never rule them out. The case of the vengeful wife that took her husband's hammer and broke out every window and hammered everybody panel. The car was totaled by the insurance company. Sold at action to a body shop that repaired it. But it gained the negative title of salvage title?
Following the market for used vehicles is slowly returning to normality in the last couple of months. I would suspect by summer 2023 back to reasonable prices. No one is buying those ridicules priced used cars in quantity at this time, so the pressure is to lower the prices. Cash in hand at used car dealerships with a "wink" of what gets reported on the documentation as actual selling cost has been readily picking up again. 😁

The funny thing is that the flooring cost to dealers both New and used NEVER increased during the high value increase of vehicles. Makes you have to really think about and wonder who is making out with the most profit by the last 18 months of so-called shortages of used vehicles? :cool:
 

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I love 2008 hatchback, 268000 care free miles. Replaced struts n brakes, O2 sensor never had the valve cover off. Get an automatic. A lot of the parts say " Ford Mo Co " on them . Just take care of it, synthetic oil every 20,000 miles, magnetic drain plug. Flush the transmission instead on draining it.
 

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Not much wrong with an 08-12 model year. The 2.3L motors do have a history of excessive oil burning but that can come down to how well it was maintained. The auto transmissions can also have issues but once again, that can come down to how well it was maintained. My 08 has 140K miles and burns no oil, it's been a pretty reliable car overall. I'm not sure where you live but if they salt the roads in the winter then be on the lookout for rust, Mazdas aren't generally the best in resisting it. Other than that, they are pretty solid cars.
 
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