Auto consumers looking on the used car market have a dizzying number of considerations to weigh before a purchase. Along the way, a look at safety, reliability, and cost of ownership must join the analysis of general quality that comes with buying a new car.
To help consumers wade through the endless amount of information, auto research site Edmunds.com compiles an annual list of best used vehicle values for every calendar year. In the 2014 edition, editors looked at automobiles from model years 2007 through 2012 to determine which were the best out there and — often as important — which were widely available to consumers.
Here are the best values for each segment of the used automobile market in 2014, according to Edmunds.com.
Subcompact: 2007-2012 Honda Fit
Fresh off a redesign for 2015, it’s easy to write off the old Honda Fit as dated and obsolete — but don’t. It’s still one of the most solid compact cars around, and Edmunds.com lauded its “nimble driving demeanor, high fuel economy, and incredibly space-efficient design.” It also has one of the most versatile interiors in its class, and is in every way still a fantastic car that will ride Honda’s reputation for longevity several hundreds of thousands of miles.
Compact Sedan: 2007-2012 Hyundai Elantra
Prior to 2001, the Hyundai Elantra left a lot to be desired. After its redesign, it was still largely a bland car that did what you needed but little more. Since then, the Elantra has gone from taking steps with each passing year to making massive leaps, and more recent models are comparable with any compact you choose for a comparison. Evenly matched against Corolla or Focus, Elantra remains cheap to maintain and easy to live with, making it a solid buy as a used car. Edmunds.com suggests the 2011 model or later for a more upscale cabin and improved fuel economy.
Midsize Sedan: 2007-2012 Ford Fusion
It may not have the sharp looks of the new model, but Ford’s older Fusion sedans are still solid cars. Edmunds.com noted that the 2007-2012 models — which bridge two different generations –offer a spacious cabin, responsive driving dynamics, and solid build quality. You’re likely to find a pretty good deal on one, too, and on the later model, the engines became more powerful and more safety options were included as standard. Hybrid models are available beginning in the 2010 model year.
Large Sedan: 2007-2012 Toyota Avalon
For a large, stately sedan that’s not too harsh on the wallet, the Toyota Avalon is a solid pick on the used car market. It offers luxury car-like accommodations in its interior volume and satisfying V6, with a slew of standard features normally reserved for the likes of Lexus. Since it’s a Toyota, repair costs will be cheap, few, and far between, and Edmunds.com notes that the differences from generation to generation are minimal at most. Stability control (available from the 2009 model year on) would offer the top safety features.
Coupe: 2007-2012 Honda Accord
The Honda Accord is known for its refined, smooth ride quality, longevity, and impeccable build quality, and the Coupe is no different. It offers a roomy, two-door format as an alternative to the best-selling sedan, and buyers can choose from a menu of engines spanning from a 160 horsepower four-cylinder to a 240 horsepower V6 for the earlier generations; 190 horsepower on four-cylinder Accord coupes; and 271 horsepower on the more recent (2008-2012) V6 versions.
Convertible: 2007-2012 Volvo C70
If you seeking a comfortable and mild-mannered convertible for less, a used Volvo C70 is a solid bet. “Thanks to its retractable hardtop, the Volvo C70 is essentially two cars in one,” Edmunds.com says. “Top up, it’s a luxury coupe with the quietness, weather isolation, and security of a solid roof. Lower and stow away the roof with the press of a button, and you have a stylish convertible in which you can share al fresco motoring with three other adults.”
Wagon: 2007-’12 Subaru Outback
Two generations of Subaru’s popular crossover/wagon are covered under Edmunds.com‘s recommendation, and honestly, it’s hard to go wrong. The earlier generation — prior to 2010 — was much more a high-riding wagon, and the later models are closer to the SUV-ish model we know today. Either way, both vehicles excel at what they were meant to do: Offer a no-frills, no nonsense, capable vehicle with plenty of interior space and off-road utility when you need it. “These Subaru Outbacks were also known for their solid build quality, well-balanced ride, and handling qualities,” Edmunds.com noted.
Compact SUV/Crossover: 2007-2012 Honda CR-V
To this day, Honda’s CR-V is one of the best-selling vehicles on the market, and certainly one of the best-selling crossover SUVs. Like most Hondas, the CR-V has a strong record of lasting for years (i.e., for hundreds of thousands of miles) and with low maintenance costs, they make for a wallet-friendly used option that will often last for many more years. “A smooth ride, an excellent reliability record, and strong crash-test scores underscore why the Honda CR-V is a top pick among our staff and consumers alike,” Edmunds.com lauded.
Midsize SUV/Crossover: 2007-2012 Toyota Highlander
As with many of the automobiles on this list, Edmunds.com editors loved the reliability and low upkeep costs of the most recent (2008 and beyond) version of the Highlander. The same goes for the original model that first appeared in 2001 and ended in the 2007 model year. More than a decade’s worth of these Toyotas are good for comfortable rides and sound handling. For shoppers looking for three rows of seating, start with the 2004 model year when it became an available option or the 2008 model year when it became standard. The second-gen Highlander is larger than the model phased out in 2007, while hybrids appeared in 2006.
Large SUV/Crossover: 2007-2012 Mazda CX-9
Larger than a Highlander, more agile than other SUVs in its class, and comfortable as any big vehicle, Edmunds.com gives a qualified thumbs-up to the Mazda CX-9 from model years 2007 through 2012. Editors for the auto research site were especially enthusiastic about the “peppy performance” in the CX-9’s V6 engine, not to mention the “precise steering” of the SUV that allows you to haul a big family unit. Look for 20-inch wheels for an added measure of comfort during the used car-buying process.
Minivan/Van: 2007-2012 Honda Odyssey
If it is on the market, used vehicle consumers will probably find value in any Honda Odyssey van going back to 1999. Specializing in spaciousness, safety, and adequate power from its V6 engine, the Odyssey got Edmunds.com‘s vote in the van category from its comparison tests that reveal a van “that drives more like a sedan.” Models from 2011 got bigger and had a different look to go along with feature upgrades, but there are enough of these Honda vans on the used market to fit any consumer’s bill.
Cargo Van: 2007-2012 Dodge/Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Billed as the standup cargo van compared to its shorter competitors, the Mercedes Sprinter that prior to 2008 wore a Dodge emblem convinced Edmunds.com editors of its value on the basis of its storage space and interior height. The Mercedes/Dodge Sprinter also scored high marks on torque quotient, light servicing schedule, and fuel economy in the class. At the end of the day, it’s all about cargo capacity in this vehicle class, and the Sprinter outclasses much of the competition — used or new.
Compact Truck: 2007-2012 Toyota Tacoma
Since used car shoppers don’t have the luxury of configuring a vehicle in a dealership, mass-market models with numerous variations make sense. In fact, Edmunds.com editors prized availability on the same level as reliability and safety in their analysis. The Toyota Tacoma midsize pickup won over the most editors for its reliability and general quality, but the available options on the used car market were also attractive. Tacomas of varying heights, weights, and cab sizes are out there in vehicles from model years 2007 through 2012.
Large Truck: 2007-2012 Ford F-150
Several million new models of the Ford F-150 sold between 2007 and 2012, so it goes without saying that the available pool of large trucks gives consumers countless options. Edmunds.com editors like the precision steering, superior brakes, and overall comfort of the F-150, but the number of models out there make it an obvious favorite when a used pickup is on the menu. Added power becomes available beginning in the 2009 model year.
Luxury: 2007-2012 Infiniti G35/G37/G25
For luxury car consumers who want an affordable, roomier, and cheaper-to-maintain car than a BMW 3-Series, Edmunds.com editors nominate the Infiniti G35 and later models G37 and G25 from model years 2007 through 2012. The rear-wheel drive engines, performance tuning, and overall juice make Infinitis a worthy alternative to entry-level German luxury sedans. This brand has never slighted on style, either.
Hybrid: 2007-2012 Toyota Prius
Many hybrids have come and gone — including some wearing a Toyota badge — but the Prius remains king in the eyes of editors at Edmunds.com. The secret to the Prius’s appeal is not complicated: Efficiency and interior space are best-in-class. Though exterior style takes a hit, the Prius manages to have the length of a compact car while squeezing in a midsize sedan’s cabin proportions. Second-generation models of the Prius (from 2004) get the thumbs-up, but models from 2007 and later are the focus of the 2014 best list.
Two-Seat Sports Car: 2007-2012 Chevrolet Corvette
America’s value supercar has held sway for decades, and that includes the sixth-generation Corvette that preceded the C7 scorcher. The Corvette from model years 2007 through 2012 offers a top speed around 190 miles per hour and 0 to 60 miles per hour times around 4.5 seconds in the base model, but the blistering specs of the top-tier models (e.g., Z06, ZR1) offer another dimension of affordability for two-seat sports cars. Edmunds.com says the used C6 is “a car that can run with exotics” or anyone that can’t afford a new Porsche.
Performance Car: 2007-2012 Ford Mustang GT
The original pony car was also delivered the spark for the muscle car revival when the fifth-generation Mustang launched in 2005. Edmunds.com endorses Mustang GT models from 2007-2009 that delivered 300 horsepower, but the 412 horsepower on tap after the 2011 model year is the irresistible choice for used performance car shoppers. Whether the headline is “The Return of the 5.0? or something similar, the 2011 Mustang GT delivers the thrills of great Mustangs past at a used car discount. At least one auto publication says it’s the best value out there in the performance segment.