Which Car Models Make Great Used Cars?

By Staff WriterLast Updated June 24, 2020
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In the market for a new (to you) used car? It’s no secret that some cars hold their value over the years better than others, but that higher price tag doesn’t always translate to better value under the hood. In some cases, the “value” of a used car has more to do with a brand’s pricing power than actual quality.

When you’re ready to put your money on the line for a used car, you don’t want to be sidetracked by all the marketing hype. You want the truth about which models really make great used cars, and we’re primed and ready to point you in the right direction. Let’s take a look at some of the best used car choices on the road, according to Consumer Reports.

Subcompact/Compact Under $10,000: 2011-2012 Mazda3

The only thing that’s better than driving off in a great used car is sealing the deal on that great car at a great price. Several used cars fit the bill at sweet price points that come in below $10,000. In the subcompact sector, the 2011 and 2012 Mazda3 vehicles offer some valuable features for the price. Freshly remodeled in 2010, the sleek design offers smooth handling, stability, impressive fuel economy and blind spot detection (starting with the 2012 model). Average 2020 retail price range: $5,600-$10,000.

Photo Courtesy: U.S. News & World Report

Midsize/Full Size Under $10,000: 2010 Mazda6

The 2010 Mazda6 offers a smooth ride and a stylish body that turns heads. The fuel efficient engine saves at the pump, an impressive feat for a sporty car that is a decade old. Besides plenty more years of reliability, the Mazda6 also features a spacious rear seat and high-quality interior trimmings to complete the package. Average 2020 retail price range: $6,200-$7,400.

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Luxury Under $10,000: 2010 Lexus ES

Premium luxury vehicles like the 2010 Lexus ES don’t always come with a budget-friendly price tag, but if you can wait patiently for the price to eventually come down, it can be worth the wait. This model Lexus is sleek but still has plenty of that roomy, big car feel. The interior is quiet and filled with luxury features. The navigation system and rear backup camera add to the premium perks on this full-size model. Average 2020 retail price: $10,150.

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Subcompact/Compact $10,000-$15,000: 2015-2016 Honda Fit

Honda has established itself as a powerhouse automotive brand over the years, so it’s no surprise to see the Honda name on this list. In particular, the 2015 and 2016 Honda Fit models stand out for their fuel efficiency and smart interior design that makes the most of the subcompact space limitations. This generation of Fit vehicles also includes many premium features, such as Bluetooth connectivity and heated seats. Average 2020 retail price range: $10,800-$15,000.

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Midsize/Full Size $10,000-$15,000: 2012-2013 Toyota Avalon

The 2012 Toyota Avalon offered premium features like spacious reclining rear seats and a decked out interior that compares to the luxury of Lexus long before the redesign that came with the 2013 model. The new design added improved handling as well as modern safety features like blind-spot detection, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning system and rear cross-traffic alert. Both versions of the vehicle are a great used car choice for families. Average 2020 retail price range: $11,300-$14,700.

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Luxury $10,000-$15,000: 2012-2013 Acura TSX

The Acura TSX may not be in production any longer for new models, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still take advantage of the luxury quality and premium features offered by the existing vehicles. The 2012 and 2013 Acura TSX models come in at an attractive price point and offer perks like a stylish, well-appointed interior, backup camera and navigation system. Average 2020 retail price range: $10,800-$14,700.

Photo Courtesy: U.S. News & World Report

Subcompact/Compact $15,000-$20,000: 2016-2017 Toyota Prius

The 2016 and 2017 Toyota Prius models feature top-of-the-line fuel economy — 52 mpg! — that is virtually impossible to beat for non-electric vehicles. The compact, hatchback style offers surprising interior space that feels more like a mid-size sedan. The manufacturer expanded safety features on the 2017 model to include automatic emergency braking and standard forward collision warning system. Average 2020 retail price range: $17,100-$20,900.

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Midsize/Full Size $15,000-$20,000: 2016-2017 Toyota Camry

Fully equipped with premium features like a touchscreen infotainment system to improve every ride, the 2016 and 2017 Toyota Camry models are a popular choice with families all over the country. The vehicles have respectable fuel efficiency, even on models with V6 engines, and handle smoothly for a comfortable ride. Revisions to the vehicle in 2015 also improved crash test results. Average 2020 retail price range: $14,100-$21,200.

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Luxury $15,000-$20,000: 2017 BMW i3

With a unique pair of rear-hinged back doors, the fully electric 2017 BMW i3 hatchback has an ample supply of desirable features. The rear-wheel-drive vehicle features an aluminum and carbon fiber lightweight frame and seats four passengers comfortably. Charge time is about 4.5 hours on a 240-volt connection. Average 2020 retail price range: $12,600-$18,200.

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