Consumer Reports recommends buying used cars as a way for consumers to get the biggest bang for their buck. However, picking out a good used car isn’t easy.
It has compiled a list of reliable, affordable, and safe used cars for model years 2005 through 2014 to help consumers find the best small car, sedan, or SUV.
Highlighted are the best small cars, sedans, and SUVs in four price ranges: from $10,000 or less up to $25,000. Each performed well in Consumer Reports’ testing when new and had above-average reliability for the model years shown, based on Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Survey. All models came standard with electronic stability control unless otherwise noted.
Used cars for every budget
Here are some of models that earned a spot on Consumer Reports’ 2015 list of the best used cars and comments on the cars by the organization:
LESS THAN $10,000
Small car: The Mazda3 s 2008 with available ESC, has everything most want in a small car: reliability, fuel efficiency, a fun-to-drive attitude, and an interior that feels upscale for the price.
Sedan: The slick-handling Acura TL 2005 allows buyers to stick to their budget and still get a reliable luxury car.
SUV: The Honda Pilot 2005 provides room for eight passengers, has smooth V6 acceleration and carlike handling
$10,000 - $15,000
Small car: The boxy, yet stylish Kia Soul 2010-12 has tons of features for a small car and an expansive cargo space, making it a smart choice for recent grads.
Sedan: The Infiniti G35 2006-07 blends sporty handling with interior refinement.
SUV: The Toyota Highlander V6 2005-07 has rock-solid reliability and a family-friendly, seven-passenger interior, in a parking lot friendly size.
$15,000 - $20,000
Small car: The Toyota Prius 2010-13 has always proved that consumers don’t have to give up space or ride comfort to get stellar gas mileage, and the 2010 model brought a quieter engine and standard electronic stability control.
Sedan: The Honda Accord 2008-12 is a perennial crowd pleaser with a cavernous backseat, responsive reflexes, and 23 mpg to 25 mpg in 2011-12 – from its four-cylinder engine.
SUV: The Lexus RX 2006-08 is the go-to upscale SUV for used-car buyers, with its reliability, plush seats, and luxury ride. The hybrid version offers that plus 23 mpg overall.
$20,000 - $25,000
Sedan: The Toyota Camry Hybrid 2012-13 has a composed ride, responsive handling, and a class-leading 38 mpg.
SUV: The Nissan Murano 2011-12 has long been one of Consumer Reports’ favorite SUVs with secure handling and a rich interior.
The worst of the worst used cars
The Consumer Reports “Worst of the Worst” used cars list includes 2005 to 2014 models that have had multiple years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability, according to Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Survey.
Twenty-four cars from the following automakers made this year’s list: BMW, Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Jeep, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Nissan, Saturn, and Volkswagen. Among the models included are the BMW 330i & 335i, Buick Enclave, Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500, diesel, Ford Fiesta, and Volkswagen Tiguan.
For more information on used cars, get a copy of Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Issue, which is available on newsstands or in libraries or visit the 2015 Autos Spotlight page on ConsumerReports.org.