It’s tough to know where to start when looking for a used car to buy, especially when sticking to a strict budget. It’s important to find one that provides plenty of safety and reliability and still stays within your budget. Buyers looking for affordable used cars might want to consider the Mazda3. This car has a lot to offer at a great price, including excellent handling.
iSeeCars.com picks the best used vehicles
iSeeCars.com recently came up with a list for 2021 of the safest, most reliable used cars that retain the most value. It looked at more than 24 million cars before making its recommendations.
All the vehicles on the list “have demonstrated long-term reliability, hold their value the best, and have the highest average safety ratings from the National Highway Transit Safety Administration (NHTSA).”
Data was used from the 2020 iSeeCars.com studies on “Longest-Lasting Cars” and “Cars that Hold their Value” along with 2011 to 2020 crash-test results from the NHTSA.
To appear on the list, vehicles had to be included in both studies and have at least one NHTSA crash-test result. Vehicles in each category were given overall scores based on individual scores for reliability, value retention, and safety.
The Mazda3 is the best used car under $5,000
For the best used car under $5,000, iSeeCars.com picked out the Mazda3. For a runner-up, it selected the Buick Regal. The Mazda3 has an overall score of 8.5 out of 10, and its NHTSA safety rating average is five out of five.
It also has a 48.0% five-year value retention, which is above average. iSeeCars.com proclaims the Mazda3 is fun to drive as well. It has above-average longevity too, and model years that are 10 or more years old have an average price of $4,970.
Is the Mazda3 a good used car?
The Mazda3 arrived for model year 2004, says Consumer Reports. A 10-year-old model today would be from 2010. The first generation lasted through 2009, and these Mazda3 cars are available as either a sedan or a hatchback.
Consumer Reports called its four-cylinder engine “strong and refined.” The interior is very nice, although the rear seats are snug. There is some interior cabin noise.
In 2007, stability control was added as a standard feature for Touring and Grand Touring trim levels. That didn’t become standard on all trims until model year 2011. Only some cars from the first generation came with curtain airbags, which became standard, along with side airbags, for model year 2009.
Looking at the 2009 Mazda3 in more detail, it comes with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or a 2.3-liter engine in the Sport and Touring trims, according to U.S. News & World Report.
It has good handling, and anti-lock brakes are standard. The base trim comes with a four-speaker stereo system, a CD player, and a tilt and telescope steering wheel.
Higher trims offer “foglights, power windows and door locks, keyless entry, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control, heated front seats, leather, a sunroof, navigation and an upgraded stereo,” says U.S. News & World Report.
The 2010 model year, the first for the second generation, was the first to earn a recommendation from Consumer Reports. If you’re looking for Apple CarPlay compatibility or Android Auto compatibility, you’ll want a Mazda3 from model year 2019 or newer, but that is well out of the $5,000 price range.
Buyers looking for safety, reliability, and value all in a great-to-drive vehicle, should look at an older Mazda3. These cars from 2004 to 2010 often cost less than $5,000 (and some cost less than $3,000), making them an all-around win.