Considering how quickly new cars can depreciate, buying new is rarely the best option for a budget-conscious consumer. Buying used isn’t entirely risk-free, though. Many older cars are more likely to need repairs, and some of them don’t have modern safety features like stability control. But that’s not all cars, as some of them are reliable and safe enough to be excellent alternatives to new cars.
If you’re in the market for a used car, Consumer Reports has released a list of nine vehicles that it recommends. All of them are reliable, fuel efficient, and come with electronic stability control, making them extremely safe bets. They’re also divided by price range because not every used car shopper has the same budget.
1. 2008 Mazda 3s
If your budget for a used car only goes up to $10,000, it’s hard to do better than the 2008 Mazda 3s. It’s reliable and safe like the rest of the cars on this list, but it also has a look that’s aged much better than most eight-year-old cars. As a bonus, it’s surprisingly fun to drive, too.
2. 2005 Honda CR-V
Not everybody with a $10,000 budget is looking for a car. Some people like the look and the feel of driving an SUV. For those people, the 2005 Honda CR-V is the best bet. It will be spacious and practical, all while delivering the expected Honda reliability.
3. 2007 Infiniti G35
If you have $15,000 to spend, the 2007 Infiniti G35 is an excellent choice. For the cost of a small economy car, you can buy a very capable luxury sports sedan instead. Parts and repairs may be a little more expensive, but a well maintained G35 likely won’t need them often.
4. 2005-2007 Toyota Highlander
If you’re looking to spend up to $15,000 and want an SUV, the one you want to go with is the 2005-2007 Toyota Highlander. The extra $5,000 in your budget buys you more space and comfort than the CR-V, but you can expect similar reliability.
5. 2010-2013 Toyota Prius
If you have $20,000 to spend, a 2010-2013 Toyota Prius is a great bet. It gets amazing gas mileage, so if your main concern is fuel economy, this is definitely the used car for you. It won’t be fast, but it will definitely be reliable and inexpensive to run.
6. 2008-2012 Honda Accord
For something a little more fun to drive in the $20,000 bracket, the 2008-2012 Honda Accord is the family sedan of choice. It’s not going to chase down the Infiniti G35 in the canyons, but with the V6, it’s surprisingly quick. At the same time, it’s still a Honda, so it’ll be just as predictable and reliable as you would expect.
7. 2010-2012 Toyota Camry
Family sedan buyers looking to spend up to $20,000 should also consider the 2010-2012 Toyota Camry. What the Camry gives up to the Accord in the fun-to-drive department, it makes up for by delivering even better reliability. It’s not that the Accord is unreliable. The Camry is just extra reliable.
8. 2009-2011 Toyota RAV4
Rounding out the $20,000 price bracket is the 2009-2011 Toyota RAV4. Most of what you get in the Camry, you get in the RAV4, but you also get the taller driving position and increased cargo capacity of an SUV. The optional V6 engine makes the RAV4 surprisingly quick, but its gas mileage still remains high.
9. 2009 Infiniti M35
If you have $25,000 to spend, the Infiniti M35 is about as good as it gets. For the price of a new midsize sedan with a few options on it, you can have a legitimate luxury sports sedan. Compared to the Infiniti G35, the M35 offers an interior with higher quality, more luxurious materials, and more features. If you’re in this price range, why not get the Infiniti? You deserve a taste of the high life.
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