The 2018 Mazda3 Is One of the Best Used Cars Under $20,000

The Mazda3 is iconic. It’s flashy, it’s fun to drive, and it feels like you’re in control of every aspect of the car. It seats five and has something for everyone. It doesn’t always stand out against the other cars in its class, but recent versions of the Mazda3 have a secret weapon: shocking reliability. While Mazda has been looking forward and dreaming up wild new ideas for the model, it’s also ensured the cars on the road last a very, very long time.

Buying new vs. used

As the saying goes, you lose a huge percentage of the car’s value when you drive it off the lot. For brands like Mazda built on value and reliability, it’s not too bad. Until recently, the best option for a used Mazda3 was the 2015 model, which can be found between $9,000 and $13,000.

But in the middle of an uncertain sales season, as customers turn in their leases, a new model year began to make headlines. Not only is the 2018 Mazda3 one of the best model years on a very reliable Mazda offering, but it’s also one of the best cars available at under $20,000 – period.

Consumer Reports recently published their list of the best used cars available from $15,000 to $20,000. Among small cars, the only two models to make the list were the 2017-2018 Mazda3 and the 2017-2018 Toyota Corolla.

The Corolla is no surprise, given its status as America’s favorite reliable little sedan. But the Mazda3 is closing in on the Toyota Corolla. At a similar price range and with a much flashier reputation, Mazda is opening up a taste of luxury for reliability-focused consumers who didn’t know they could afford it.

Mazda’s focus on the used market

A general view of the all-new Mazda3 is seen during the L.A. Auto Show
The 2018 Mazda3 | Victor Decolongon/Getty Images for Mazda Motor Co.

RELATED: How Reliable Is the Mazda3?

Financially, purchasing a used car is generally a better decision. Let another buyer (or two) pay the heavy off-the-lot premium and pick the vehicle up gently used. But even with a 100-point+ dealership inspection, you can’t always be sure what shape the car will be in when you buy used.

The sheer reliability of the Mazda3 has allowed Mazda to get their foot in the door on an untapped market – one-owner cars. Allowing another buyer a couple of years with the vehicle and then purchasing it is a great way to save a chunk of money.

Even back in 2018, that year’s model of the Mazda3 was turning heads for its reliability. And over the following years, it’s made a stronger and stronger case for itself as a top-of-the-line used option. Buying a used car is usually an exercise in responsibility and wise financial judgment. It’s not supposed to be fun, and you’re not generally getting something that’s a blast to drive. But Mazda managed to flip the used car market on its head with its 2018 models.

How the Mazda3 became a standout used car

Available in either a hatchback or a sedan, the 2018 Mazda3 is reliable and well worth the money. Following up on the resilient 2015 model, Mazda went even further in 2018 to ensure that this version of the Mazda3 would be a hot ticket on used car lots for a long time.

The future of the Mazda3 line is uncertain. Between the rumored turbo and a massive blind spot, 2020 and 2021 may break the streak of reliable used Mazda3 models.

If you’re looking for something under $20,000 and a Mazda3 suits your driving needs, you can’t really go wrong with the 2018 model. And if you’re looking for something closer to $10,000 than $20,000? Go back in time just a little bit further and look into a 2015 Mazda3. Mazda can’t be expected to stay hot forever with these reliable used models, but it’s managed to crown itself king of the late-2010s.