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Used car prices have been surging lately, thanks to shortages in new vehicles caused by supply chain problems. But even though prices have been rising, it’s still possible to find a good deal on some used vehicles with manual transmissions. In fact, two Ford models with manual transmissions are on CarMax’s list of the best used cars for 2021. Read on to learn whether either might be a good choice for you.

CarMax’s roundup of the best used cars for 2021

Ford cars are seen on the sales lot at the Metro Ford dealership in December 2008 in Miami, Florida
Ford cars | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

To help car shoppers, CarMax puts together an annual list of the used vehicles it considers the best in various categories. The used vehicle retailer categorizes cars by price (under $10,000, $15,000, and $30,000) and more specific tags, such as car style, transmission style, and gas mileage. 

Many of the car style lists are impressively subdivided even further. For example, if you’re in the market for an SUV, CarMax divides its “best” SUV lists into categories such as AWD, Hybrid, Large, Midsize, Luxury, SUVs With 3 Rows, and SUVs With the Best Gas Mileage. 

But if you want a more budget-friendly option than an SUV, CarMax has you covered there too. Many of the models on its “Best Used Vehicles With Manual Transmission” list are quite affordable. The five models on the list for 2021 are the Ford Mustang, Honda Civic, Subaru WRX, Ford Focus, and Chevrolet Camaro. It’s noteworthy that Ford is the only manufacturer with two cars in the roundup.  

The Ford Mustang tops the list

Number one on CarMax‘s list is the Ford Mustang, which has long been a favorite of those seeking power on the open road. It’s one of the most classic cars still in production, having enthralled motorists for over 50 years. CarMax touts the latest technology that can be found “both inside the cabin and under the hood, designed to make the Mustang a pleasure to drive as well as make it faster than ever before.” 

Though Mustangs aren’t the most economical cars, their costs can be lower when bought used with a manual transmission. If you’re looking to keep costs down while still taking advantage of relatively modern technology, CarMax gives the nod to the 2013 and 2014 models.

For example, the 2014 Ford Mustang GT Premium features a 4.2-inch color LCD, a Ford Sync voice-activated connectivity system, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. 

Prices for a 2014 Mustang vary widely depending upon mileage, location, and features. For instance, you can snag a Stang in Birmingham, Alabama, with 20,000 miles for $31,998. But a similar price in Wichita, Kansas, will get you a Mustang with twice the mileage on it. Meanwhile, a 2020 model with 11,000 miles will run you nearly $43,000 in Orlando, Florida. 

Ford’s other model on CarMax’s list is arguably the polar opposite of the Mustang.

The Ford Focus ranks 4th for manual transmissions

If a relatively new Mustang seems out of reach for your budget, a used Ford Focus might fit the bill instead. CarMax notes this compact car came into production to replace the discontinued Escort economy model, but it offers some luxurious options. For instance, the Focus boasts optional leather-trimmed seats and automatic temperature control. Standard features on 2013 to 2018 models include five-person seating, ABS, and an SOS Post-Crash Alert System. 

A Focus can easily cost less than half the price of a Mustang. For example, a 2012 Ford Focus with 60,000 miles in Albany, New York, goes for only $11,599, while a similar price in Scottsdale, Arizona, gets you one with 95,000 miles on it. If you had something newer in mind, you could find a 2018 Focus with only 2,000 miles for just under $17,000 in Warner Robins, Georgia. 

2018 is the latest model year available for the Focus. Ford discontinued the model’s production after that year. The Blue Oval now focuses less on sedans and more on its impressive lineup of trucks and SUVs. 


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