These days, most families turn to SUVs and crossovers for hauling people and their stuff. But a sedan is still an excellent practical family vehicle—not to mention more fuel-efficient and easier to park than an SUV. And while used cars have only gotten more expensive these last few months, you can still find budget-friendly secondhand sedans.
Admittedly, some inexpensive used sedans are more trouble than their worth. But again, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent car. According to Autotrader, you don’t even have to spend more than $15,000. And if that’s your budget, Autotrader says these are the best used family-friendly sedans to buy.
Many of Autotrader’s best sub-$15,000 used sedans hail from Japanese and Korean brands
Autotrader has 10 models in its best used sedans list, and all but two are from either a Japanese or a Korean automaker. And two of these eight recommended used sedans are likely familiar faces to car shoppers.
#3 on Autotrader’s list is the Honda Accord, which regularly tops used car lists for affordability and reliability. Autotrader specifically lists the 2014 model for its “jewel-like assembly quality,” but the 2013 and 2015 models are also solid picks. Earlier Accords are even cheaper, but the 2013 redesign gave the sedan sleeker styling and more tech. And you might find a 2015 Accord Hybrid for under $15,000.
The other familiar face is the 2014 Toyota Camry, #9 on Autotrader’s list. Whether you prefer the hybrid model’s efficiency or the V6’s power, it’s hard to go wrong with a used Camry. Though it might be worth springing for the 2016 model to avoid some 2014-MY hiccups.
The #7 and #8 spots on Autotrader’s best used sedans list belong to the 2017 Nissan Altima and the 2014 Subaru Legacy, respectively. 2017 isn’t necessarily the Altima’s best year, but it’s still a practical, roomy, and comfortable family sedan. Meanwhile, the 2014 Legacy is both the fifth-gen model’s last year and a Car and Driver ‘best used sedan’ recommendation. And besides standard AWD, it scores high on safety tests, thanks to the available EyeSight suite introduced in 2014.
The #4 and #5 spots belong to Korean cars. Autotrader says the fourth-best used sedan under $15,00 is the 2016 Hyundai Sonata. But considering the 2016 Sonata’s problems, you’re better off getting a 2017 model instead. However, with the #5 sedan, the 2017 Kia Optima, it’s a different story. Not only is it stylish, but the hybrid model is an excellent affordable fuel-saver.
A few of Autotrader’s best used sedans under $15,000 won’t be around in dealers
Getting a used sedan isn’t just an opportunity to save money on a family car. It can also be a chance to own something that won’t be or isn’t available in showrooms anymore. And that’s the case with the other sedans on Autotrader’s list.
Firstly, the only two American models on the list. The #1 choice is the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu, a sedan that won’t see past 2024. Admittedly, it’s not the most reliable Malibu model year, but it’s also not the worst. And many of its issues stemmed from recalls, which owners have likely already performed. Plus, because the 2017 Malibu is “nearly identical” to the 2021 model, no one can tell you’ve bought it used.
Although the Malibu is still clinging to life, the second-best used family sedan under $15,000 isn’t. The Ford Fusion left after the 2020 model year, so any you see on the road are used by default. But getting a 2016 Fusion like Autotrader recommends means you get sharp styling, a comfy interior, and if you get the Fusion Hybrid, 42 mpg combined.
There’s also a now-discontinued Japanese sedan on Autotrader’s recommended list: the Mazda6. It’s gone from US dealers after 2021, leaving only the Mazda3. But a 2017 Mazda6 isn’t just affordable; it’s also genuinely fun to drive. And the driving thrills don’t come at the expense of ride quality or interior comfort, Car and Driver notes. Also, even compared to the contemporary Fusion, the Mazda6 is seriously stylish.
Rounding out Autotrader’s list of the best sub-$15,000 used family sedans is the #10 2016 Volkswagen Passat. Admittedly, it’s not the most reliable sedan, nor the most dazzling visually. But it has a spacious cabin, comfortable seats, and surprisingly good handling, Car and Driver reports. Plus, if you get a VR6 model—sometimes called ‘V6’—it’s a sleeper performance sedan. And despite rumors to the contrary, the VR6 engine is more reliable than some believe.
Some secondhand luxury family cars are cheaper and more reliable than you might think
While Autotrader lists some (mostly) solid used sedans, there are some alternative options. You can pick up a few luxury sedans secondhand for less than $15K. And not just Lexus ones, either.
$15,000 can get you a used 2010-2016 non-AMG ‘W212’ Mercedes E-Class sedan, for example. Arguably the most reliable modern Mercedes, a W212 E-Class offers basically everything the latest sedans have, including rearview cameras and ADAS features. And you can buy the most reliable used BMW sedan, a non-turbocharged E90 3 Series, for roughly the same price.
So, if you’ve been trying to find an affordable family vehicle, know that you don’t have to just buy an SUV. There are plenty of great used sedans out there to choose from.
Follow more updates from MotorBiscuit on our Facebook page.