Article: The Top 25 Best Cars to Buy Used 2010 and Newer: HowStuffWorks
The Top 25 Best Cars to Buy Used 2010 and Newer
By: Ian Fortey
Image: Wiki Commons by Kickaffe (Mario von Berg)
About This Article
Next to buying a house, buying a car is likely to be the biggest purchase you ever make in life. This is a staggeringly big industry. Nearly 80 million cars were sold in 2018 alone. The dollar amount for that is beyond staggering. Volkswagen alone made over $280 billion in 2018. Ford's revenue was $160 billion. GMC was $147 billion. Add up all the manufacturers in the world, and we're going to have to move from billions to trillions. That's mind-boggling. So it's pretty reasonable to say that looking for a used car is a good idea. Cars are a big money industry, and you need to save a few bucks wherever you can.
Used cars had a pretty shady history in the past; most people have heard a few old-school jokes about not trusting a used car salesperson. But those are old cars and old ways. If you want a really good used car that's going to give you value for your money and the feel of a new car but not the price, you're going to want to look from 2010 and beyond. Modern technology, modern conveniences, modern sensibilities, but old-school prices. That's what you want. So if you want to check out 25 of the best used cars from 2010 and on, buckle up and take a look!
Got $10,000? Get Focus'd
If you're looking for a good car on a budget, check out the Ford Focus. You can find a 2012 easily for under $10,000 and sometimes under $9,000 still in exceptional condition. The Focus will get you 38-mpg on the highway. It's not a bare-bones set of wheels on an empty chassis either; it's pretty decked out for an affordable car with things like Bluetooth, rear camera, nav system, sunroof and everything you'd expect in a car that's setting you back another $5000.
Rely on this one
The Nissan Leaf has only been around since 2010, and there's actually no year you can point to that wouldn't make for a good used car choice right now. This car got four perfect reliability scores across five different years, which shames its main competition, the Tesla. This was the 2011 European Car of the Year, the 2011 World Car of the Year, the 2010 Green Car of the Year and it's also the world's best-selling highway-capable electric vehicle. Most 2015 and older models are under $15K.
The ultimate Altima
The Nissan Altima is just a good, all-around automobile and is still in the top-20 selling cars in America in 2019. A model like the 2014 will run you less than $15,000 with less than 100k miles on it. With 38-mpg on the highway, Smartkey entry, traction control, a rearview camera, enough trunk space to fit an entire adult (not that you'd want to) and a pretty sleek look overall, you're getting a lot for your money. Plus it scores high in crash tests and has great handling!
Take a chance on the little guy
If fuel economy is a concern, the Smart Fortwo is in your wheelhouse. Thirty-one-mpg city and 39 highway make sure it leaves most other cars in the dust. You can find a 2016 for around $10,000. Yeah, it's a small car, but that's the point. If you just need to go from one place to another and you're not hauling a whole family or a load of bricks, then this could be the perfect option. Plus, there's even an app you can get to help you find extra-small Smart-sized parking spots in some cities.
Crossover to the Rav4 Hybrid
It's hard not to be conscientious about the environment and your impact on it. One of the best things we can do is drive something like a hybrid vehicle to try to reduce that carbon footprint. A 2016 Rav4 hybrid will set you back around $20-25K, but keep in mind you're getting a lot of vehicle for that price. The Rav4 boasts 34-mpg in the city, and it has a noticeably roomy interior and is basically in a class by itself given its performance. This is literally the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive hybrid on the road.
The best-selling truck for a reason
The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling pickup truck in America since 1977. That's over 40 years! Clearly there's a reason to look into these trucks, and 2013 is a fine year to invest in. You can find these trucks for under $15,000 at this point, and the number of options you have at your disposal is dizzying. The 2013 offers up numerous option packages that can see you getting a turbocharged V6, adjustable heated seats, rear-parking sensors and if you go for the Raptor, over 400 horsepower.
Who's more excited about getting a new car than a first-time driver? If that's a consideration for you, maybe look into something like a 2014 Toyota Camry. Less than $15,000 is a good start — not to mention a touchscreen interface, Bluetooth, traction control and a four-cylinder engine with good fuel economy. It's the kind of car that puts a parent's mind at ease and also gives kids something that has enough cool features that they're not going to feel embarrassed driving it around.
Drive and keep driving!
How does 54 miles per gallon in the city sound? That's almost twice as good as some other current models, which makes the 2016 Toyota Prius a car worth looking at. This is consistently ranked as one of the best used cars you can get by places like Edmunds. It comes with six different trim packages, expanded cargo room, more driver leg and headroom, a touchscreen and a pricetag that clocks in under $20,000. You're saving the world, saving your wallet and looking good doing it.
Ride in style
Some people want a luxury name, the power of an SUV and the fuel-efficiency of a hybrid. Bringing those together is a relatively new thing in the auto world, but the Lexus RX 450h does it better than the rest. Is it dirt cheap? Nope. But it does look incredible, offers a smooth and exceptionally quiet and safe ride, a massive 12.3-inch touchscreen display, 300 horsepower and 30 miles per gallon. That's a lot to get, and with the Lexus name, it might be worth the price tag (which, for a 2016, can get up to around $40-45k).
There are over 40,000 fatal accidents per year and over two million injuries from accidents. Safety has to be a concern when buying a car, and one of your top options is a 2010 Audi A4. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the A4 top ratings in every category, making it a Top Safety Pick and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it a five-star rating. At under $10,000, it's a great option to keep you and your family looking good and being safe.
The great outdoors awaits!
If you're the kind of person who drives not just for necessity but for fun, to get away, to experience nature and camping and living life to the fullest, then take a look at the 2014 Subaru Outback. Roof-rack rails with foldout crossbars, massive storage capability, all-wheel drive and incredible traction that leads to a smoother-than-expected ride when you go offroad — these specifications together make the Outback a great option for campers and lovers of the out of doors. Plus 30 miles per gallon isn't terrible.
Give it a chance!
Remember the Toyota Venza? Probably not. Discontinued in 2015, no one really liked this sort-of sedan, sort-of station wagon because of its awkward look, but that's really unfair. This car had amazing reliability ratings in every year of its production. The interior had a lot of room, there's a V6 engine and the 2012 model can be found for around $12,000 right now. It's a family-friendly vehicle that never seems like a road-hungry SUV, is easy to drive and has an overall four-star safety rating.
Run to the 4Runner
If you want a vehicle you can count on, consider the Toyota 4Runner. This SUV has had 13 consecutive years of highest possible ratings on durability from Consumer Reports. Thirteen years! This is a tough vehicle that will last and perform the way you want it to on and off-road. As an added bonus, the 4Runner hasn't been redesigned since 2010, so there isn't even really a model year you need to worry about between then and now.
Flex on this
If you like muscle cars but don't like new muscle car prices, let's take a ride back to 2016. The 2016 Chevy Camaro LT was redesigned from previous models to look sleek and sexy while still bringing the power you crave. Either a V6 or a V8 engine that still offers a surprisingly quiet and smooth ride. You're still getting around 30 miles per gallon as well, which is not the efficiency you'd expect from a traditional muscle car, adding some more value to the deal here.
Stow and go
If you're the kind of person who likes to bring the kids, the dog, the groceries, some golf clubs and 100 other items in your car, you want one that's both roomy and versatile. The 2016 Honda Fit is worth a look. Around $15,000, the Fit has what they call the "Magic Seat" in the back. This thing can be lowered, flipped, rotated, moved; it goes wherever you need it to go to make more room to cram whatever you want inside. If you have stuff to move, move it in a Fit!
The Odyssey for you
When you need a minivan to carry all your gear and the family and maybe a few friends, consider looking at the 2011 Honda Odyssey. 2011 introduced the fourth generation with a good-sized van that still handled like a much smaller vehicle. It's also decked out with some great safety features like run-flat tires and electronic stability control to ensure that it's not just a reliable vehicle but one that will give you some peace of mind when you have your family on board as well.
2013 was the end of the Suzuki Grand Vitara, but if you're looking for a quality 4x4, you might want to see if you can track one down from those last few production years. It looks like a sporty little SUV but has that ability to take you off-road, making it the rare mix of form and function you can usually only hope for in the higher-priced luxury SUVs. It also out toughs competitors like the Rav4 and the CR-V.
Love the luxury
Luxury doesn't have to be brand new, does it? A used luxury car offers all those amazing features at a much more reasonable price, and if you really want to go get your money's worth, try a 2015 Buick LaCrosse. This will set you back around $20,000 and comes with some of the best features you can buy. Do you want a Bose Centerpoint audio system? You got it. Do you want your own mobile Wi-Fi hotspot? You got it. You want Tamo ash wood trim? You got it! Luxury and price working together is never a bad thing.
Some people want a car that looks good. Some want good mileage. Some want exceptional safety. Where do you look if you want just the right amount of everything? What's your Goldilocks car? Try the 2015 Subaru Legacy. This car has a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, comes with all-wheel drive, seating for five, good fuel economy up to 36-mpg highway and it's under $20,000.
Simple and efficient
The crossover SUV market is a good one for people who don't want the hassle or expense of a full-sized SUV and also don't want to settle for something they just feel is too small and underpowered. If you like the idea of a crossover SUV but don't want to have to deal with too many complications, your best bet is the 2012 Honda CR-V. There's only one option under the hood: it gets 31 mpg and it gets the job done.
The heaviest of the heavies
Not everyone needs or wants a tiny, fuel-efficient coupe or sedan. Sometimes you want a truck. And not just a truck but a heavy-duty truck like the 2012 Ram 2500 Power Wagon. Voted the best pickup truck of that year by Four Wheeler magazine, the Power Wagon is a monster. Huge interior, a 383 V8 engine or a diesel engine that sports 800 lb-ft of torque; this can potentially tow over 15,000 pounds. Now that's heavy-duty.
Be a good sport and get sporty
If you want something sporty in a used car, then look no further than the Subaru WRX STI. Introduced in 2015, the WRX and the STI are quick to accelerate, great to handle and comes complete with all-wheel drive to make sure those fast-spinning wheels aren't coming off the road. The car has a nice, low center of gravity which is key for a performance vehicle. At 305-hp, you'll be flying in the WRX from 0-60 in less than six seconds.
A cute commute
Not everyone is just driving to the corner store once a week. Some of us need a commuter car to handle that drive to work day in and day out — something that can stand up to a lot of use. The Volkswagon Jetta TDI has your back if you need to make the long-haul drive to work every day. 42-mpg on the highway, decent interior room for a more comfortable ride and an easy-to-use and pretty extensive electronics interface is all you need to be on your way for under $10K if you're looking to 2011.
A car's car
What if you're not a car person? What if every car is a car to you and not a sedan or a coupe or a crossover? What if you just want something that looks good on wheels, performs well and doesn't suck? The Toyota Avalon is your answer! This is one of the best sedans on the market, and it was redesigned in 2013. Huge storage capacity, luxury interior, high horsepower, a solid 31-mpg and even three-zone climate control. It's just everything you need without ever having to sacrifice one thing for another.
A little prestige
Few cars have made waves in the last few decades like Tesla. No car has had the hype and excitement around it aside from maybe the DeLorean. Is it the cheapest car on the road? Heck no. But do you know what it is? It's a Tesla! The Model S has been in production since 2012, and there are so many reasons to try one out. The 2013 model had optional seven-passenger seating, tons of cargo space, a 17-inch touchscreen and a range of over 200 miles on a single charge. Plus, used, you're looking at around $35K.
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