How Much Should You Spend on a Used Car? These Are the Best Used Cars for $15K-$20K Says Consumer Reports

  • The Honda Accord offers great fuel economy and usable space
  • A Nissan Leaf is a killer used EV choice on a budget
  • The Toyota Corolla is hugely popular thanks to its variety

Here’s something you’re tired of hearing: used cars are expensive right now. We all know why. It’s that damn semiconductor shortage that’s costing the industry billions. Thankfully, Consumer Reports has put together an updated list of affordable models. Now, we’ve hand-picked the best ones on the list for those of you on a budget. Cars like the 2014 Honda Accord can be had for under $20,000 and there’s even an EV on the list.

The Honda Accord is the most reliable car under $20k

A dark blue Honda Accord Hybrid shot from the 3/4 angle
The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid | Honda

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We’ll start with the aforementioned Honda Accord. If reliability is a concern, the Accord is far and away the most reliable car on this list (not to say the others aren’t). Obviously, Honda is one of the most reliable vehicle brands out there, and the 2014 era of Accord models bolster that reputation. Expect to pay right around $14-$20,000 for a nice Accord of this vintage. Of course, the Honda Accord has other merits you’ll love to find in a used car.

First, there’s a hybrid trim on offer. So, strong fuel economy puts another feather in the Accord’s cap. Then there’s the cargo capacity. Being a midsize used car, the Accord has solid cargo capacity with a large trunk. For those looking for a little more power, there’s a 278 hp V6 on offer. Plus, if you look hard, you might be able to find one with a stick shift, which Honda dropped in 2021. That’s certainly something that can’t be said for the next car on Consumer Reports’ list.

Is the Nissan Leaf a good car?

A red Nissan Leaf shot from the front 3/4 angle
The 2018 Leaf is an excellent cheap EV | Nissan

If gas and hybrid power aren’t your thing, we’d suggest the Nissan Leaf. Unfortunately, there’s some caveats to that. If range in EVs is an issue for you, steer clear of any Nissan Leaf before 2018. Thankfully, the issue has since been remedied, and 2018+ Leaf (Leaves?) models return a healthy 150-226 miles of range. Obviously, that also means 2018+ models come at a premium. Consumer Reports says to expect pricing from $18,350-$21,150.

Thankfully, you’re getting a lot of car for the top end of our budget range. The Nissan Leaf offers hatchback practicality that the other cars on our list just don’t. The Leaf is also one of the more reliable EVs out there as well. Ride quality is another huge plus here, a quality shared with the Honda Accord. For those of you who can’t charge at home, do be aware the Leaf can take up to six hours to charge depending on the voltage of the charger. While it’s smaller than the Accord, the Leaf more than makes up for it, meaning the last car on the list has some work cut out for it.

Which Toyota Corolla model is best?

A grey 2017 Toyota Corolla on a back road
The Corolla is a bargain sedan | Toyota

That car is the Toyota Corolla. There’s a reason you see these on rental car lots everywhere. The Toyota Corolla is dead reliable. It’s also a very agreeable sedan to spend time in. While the ride isn’t as nice as the Leaf or the Accord, it’s more than sufficient for daily use. Plus, there’s a trim for every budget with pricing ranging from $17,000-$20,000. No matter your budget range, any of these cars is sure to provide safe, reliable transport for a range of consumers.

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