Want a Reliable Used Car? These 3-Year-Old Cars Offer Affordable and Attainable Value

It’s no surprise that the used-car market is crazy right now. The days of finding a cheap reliable used car under $2,000 are, if not gone, at least on hold right now. Even though used car prices are starting to decline, it’s still difficult to find a used vehicle that’s affordable, will last a few years, and is actually still available. Consumers on the hunt should start their search with one of these four 2019 models.

What used car has the best reliability? You can’t go wrong with any of these four.

4. 2019 Nissan Leaf, a reliable used EV

The Nissan Leaf does not boast exciting driving characteristics or a sporty quality. Almost at all. But it is one of the most reliable small cars, and its status as an EV makes it a particularly good choice when gas prices are skyrocketing. Forward-collision warning (FCW) and automatic emergency braking (AEB) are standard, which makes this hatchback a safer used-car option.

How much does a 2019 Nissan Leaf cost? The Leaf retailed for over $30,000, but you can likely find a used 2019 Leaf for between $20,000-$28,000 today. 

Red 2019 Nissan Leaf, one of the most reliable used cars, displayed on a dealership's showroom floor
2019 Nissan Leaf | Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

RELATED: Here’s What to Expect When Shopping for a Used Car Under $3,000

3. 2019 Toyota Corolla, one of the most reliable small cars

Set your sights on a pre-owned 2019 Corolla and you’re likely to find one of the least expensive but most reliable used cars. Toyota is known for reliability, so it’s not a surprise that the Corolla would make it onto this list. The 2019 Corolla comes with standard forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning (LDW), and lane-keep assistance. It may not be an EV, but the Corolla sips lightly at around 32 mpg combined.

How much does a 2019 Toyota Corolla cost? Retail prices for the new model ranged from just under $20,000 to around $24,000. You may find yourself seeing similar prices even for used models these days, but savvy searches can always find good deals.

2. 2019 Toyota Prius, a highly fuel-efficient used car

Is Toyota the best used brand? Consider that the Prius is the second Toyota on this list of most reliable small used cars—Toyota’s presence on most reliability lists is a strong clue that buying one used is generally a good idea. The 2019 Prius returns about 52 mpg combined, and its spacious cargo area makes it a convenient option. The 2019 model also introduced all-wheel drive.

How much does a 2019 Toyota Prius cost? New, the Prius cost around $25,000 – $33,000 depending on options. You can likely find a low-mileage used 2019 Prius for low $20,000s.

2019 Toyota Prius, one of the most reliable used cars, on an auto show stage lit by dramatic lights
2019 Toyota Prius | Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

RELATED: The Average Price of a Used Car Is up by Thousands in the Last Week

1. 2019 Toyota Prius Prime, a versatile and reliable used car

The fact that three out of the four cars in this ranking of long-lasting small used cars helps give some weight to the claim that the most reliable brand of car is Toyota. Similar to the Prius, the 2019 Prius Prime offers hybrid performance but with an EV element. This reliable little car is versatile, generally affordable, and long-lasting.

How much does a 2019 Toyota Prius Prime cost? New, this hybrid hatch was priced at around $30,000, but you should be able to get your hands on a used 2019 Prius Prime for a little over $25,000.

Be a savvy consumer and shop around

Why shop for a three-year-old used car? Consumer Reports points out that most car leases last for 36 months (or, three years) and have some kind of mileage restriction. Leased cars also tend to be taken care of better than owned cars, since lessees typically want to avoid excessive turn-in fees. That means that when you shop for a used 2019 car, hatchback, hybrid, or coupe, you’re more likely to find a reliable used car with low mileage that’s been well-maintained.

So, what is the most reliable long-lasting used car? Searching by make, model, and year is a great place to start, but it’s always a little more complicated than just buying any 2019 Corolla or Leaf. The most reliable cars are those from solid brands that have been well-taken care of. The longest-lasting used cars are the ones you continue to take good care of.

So, when shopping, always be sure to shop around. Look for used Toyota cars or a used Nissan Leaf, compare mileage and maintenance, and get a mechanic check, if possible. 

RELATED: How To Get A Great Used Car Price During The Shortage