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Best JDM Cars under 5K: Way.com’s Picks!

  • Cars Explained
  • Ray Sanders
  • 5 minutes

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JDM cars are known for their distinct styling, peppy performance, and their cult status. Getting one of those is a dream for many car enthusiasts out there. However, affordability is often the key when making buying decisions, particularly something fairly expensive as a car. So, today we’ll talk about some of the best JDM cars you can get under 5k. Read along to find the car of your dreams.  

While you may not be able to find cars like a Toyota Supra or a Nissan GT-R, cheap yet fun alternatives are available in the market, which you could lay your hands on, and probably modify to match your tastes. Our top picks are: 

Toyota MR-2 


This classic Toyota should be on top of your list if you’re in search of a neatly engineered mid-engine JDM sports car under 5K. We would recommend a third-generation MR-2 that came out with a 1.8L 1ZZ-FED I4 engine, offering close to 140hp of power. Also, don’t forget to check out the previous generations of this car if you’re a fan of the funky pop-up headlights.  

Best JDM Car under 5K

Is Nissan 350Z a good JDM car under 5K?


Performance, handling, styling, versatility, you name it. The Nissan 350Z is one car that checks all these boxes. Expect the 350Z to deliver around 305hp of power from its 3.5-liter V6, enough to make your daily drives interesting. In addition, it also comes with a manual transmission version. 

The 350Z is also the best JDM car under 5k if you plan to drift and do donuts on the weekends, thanks to its real wheel drive with a front engine layout that delivers adequate power. The interior, on the other hand, looks extremely cheap. But let’s overlook that hiccup on Nissan’s part because of the bang for the buck you get with this vehicle. 

Also read: What Is a JDM Car? Is Getting a JDM Car Worth It?

Honda del Sol 

MercurySable99, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Honda del Sol is probably the rarest automobile to feature in the best JDM cars under the 5k list. This is because there was only ever one generation of this car. However, it came out in different engine options. Our pick would be the punchy 1.6L DOHC VTEC that churns out 160 horses. This car only came out in a Front Wheel Drive version. So, keep that in mind before shortlisting this model. 

Mazda RX-8 


The RX-8 is one of the cheapest Mazdas you can get in the market right now. It is also one of the last production vehicles to come out with a rotary engine, which makes it one of the rare picks among the best JDM cars under 5k. The distinct design bits of the car, such as sun visors made of mesh and rear half doors, make it the best bet if you’re looking for a JDM car that stands out of the crowd. However, get ready to face issues like chugging and failure in apex seals which are common in cars with rotary engines.  

Lexus LS 400: Best JDM luxury car under 5K

Enigma3542002 at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One of Lexus’s most iconic models, the LS 400 might not be the car that caters to your sportscar aspirations. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a boring car, either. Under the hood is a 4.0L V8 that churns out 245 horses at 5400 rpm. You can easily find one produced around 1990-1994 under 5k.  You can get a sense of how luxurious this vehicle is by remembering that it went up against the likes of the Mercedes Benz S Class and the BMW 7 Series.

Mitsubishi 3000GT 

Best JDM Cars under 5K
IFCAR, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Mitsubishi launched the 3000GT in two engine options, out of which you could easily find a 225hp generating 3.0L naturally aspirated version for under 5K. You can have more fun behind the wheel with the 3.0L DOHC 24-valve twin-turbo V6 version if you’re willing to spend a little more money. 

Toyota Celica 

IFCAR, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Toyota Celica is widely regarded as one of the most well-designed cars of all time. Would it surprise you to learn that it is also the first Japanese car to win the World Rally Championship? Although you cannot get the rally-spec 2.0L 3S engine here in the US, you can get one with a modest non-turbo 2.2L 14 engine in its sixth-generation model. Furthermore, the sixth-generation Celica also came out as an FWD alongside the RWD, in case you’re looking for one. All of these specs make the Celica one of the best JDM car picks under 5K.  

Mazda MX-5 Miata (NA): Best JDM car under 5k?


This list wouldn’t be complete without the legendary Miata. This classic model, which has stood the test of time, is widely considered to be the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car of all time.  

The MX-5 Miata (NA) came out in 1.6L B6ZE(RS) DOHC I4 as well as 1.8L BP DOHC engines and their supercharged versions to choose from. Out of these, the 1.6L is more fun to drive thanks to its free-revving nature due to its lighter flywheel. Mazda still produces the MX-5 Miata, but the 90’s Miatas are something else, and you can easily get one under 5k 

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