These used cars are most affordable, reliable, safe

WOBURN, Mass. – 

It’s no secret that in looking at various surveys and studies on vehicle reliability, Toyota and Honda usually stand out. Those automakers also stand out in affordability. That is according to iSeeCars’ most recent study, which is titled “Best Affordable Used Cars” and lists “reliable and safe used cars” by price and segment.

But other manufacturers also performed well in the survey, in which iSeeCars analyzed more than 6.1 million cars from model years 2011 and newer to determine the used cars showing long-term reliability and an average safety rating of at least four stars out of five from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

iSeeCars said that buyers across all budgets can find a good car, so the company further examined which used vehicles are the smartest buys across multiple price points.

Starting out by looking at the best used vehicles under $10,000, the Toyota/Honda trend continues, with two Toyota models and three Hondas taking five of the seven spots. The 2011 Toyota Prius placed at the top of the list, with an average used-car price of $9,076.

But two non-Toyota/Honda models also showed strength in making the top seven. The 2012 Chevrolet Impala placed second with an average used-car price of $9,240. The 2013 Mazda Mazda6 came in fifth at $9,534.

iSeeCars chief executive officer Phong Ly praised the Mazda 6 and Chevrolet Impala, highlighting the Mazda 6 for its driving dynamics and strong reliability scores.

The Chevrolet Impala, Ly said, “is a safe and spacious sedan that offers a comfortable ride to make it a great choice for a family-friendly vehicle.”

iSeeCars data shows the average used-car price for passenger cars to be $18,404. The average used SUV price is $24,906, and the average used pickup price is $29,705., which is a car search engine that looks to help shoppers find the best car deals by providing insights and resources, had average used-car prices for these vehicle segments in mind in finding that car shoppers can still find quality cars that are below those averages.

“Reliable pickup trucks and SUVs are more expensive than passenger cars and sedans, so we broke down how shoppers can get the best vehicles in each segment at the lowest possible price,” Ly said.

Ly continued, “These vehicles are proven to last beyond 200,000 miles, which means they can last at least 15 years if they are driven at the average annual mileage,” Ly said. “So even a nine-year-old vehicle, if well-maintained, can still have many more years on the road.”

iSeeCars also showed leaders in the categories of best used vehicles under $15,000, best used vehicles under $20,000 and best used vehicles under $25,000.

Best used vehicles under $15,000

iSeeCars noted the average used-car price is $22,661.

But the company said car buyers looking for a used car under $15,000 can find newer versions and additional passenger car models compared to those under $10,000. For $15,000, reliable SUVs are available to suit their needs.

iSeeCars said the most reliable SUVs in the under-$15,000 price range span the 2011 through 2013 model years.

Two Honda SUVs are included in the under-$15,000 used SUV list: the 2013 Honda CR-V compact SUV and the 2012 Honda Pilot midsize SUV.

Ly said the Honda CR-V shows strong safety and reliability scores and provides among the most cargo and passenger space in its class.

“The Honda Pilot, known for its family-friendliness, offers one of the most spacious third rows in its class,” Ly said. The 2012 Acura MDX, which shares the same platform and many of the same parts as the Pilot, also made the list.

Two additional spacious midsize SUVs — the 2012 Dodge Durango and the 2011 Toyota Highlander — also made the list.

“The Dodge Durango is a popular family-friendly SUV for drivers with a strong engine and nimble handling,” Ly said.

Ly continued, “Meanwhile, the Toyota Highlander is known for its reliability and earns the distinction of the longest-kept car among consumers, so older versions are still a smart buy.”

The full-size 2012 Ford Expedition also made the list, and Ly described it as “a capable family hauler with a spacious third row and is one of the longest-lasting vehicles, so even a nine-year-old version still has a lot of life left.”

Looking at passenger cars under $15,000, iSeeCars said consumers looking for a passenger car with a sedan, coupe, or minivan bodystyle have many reliable and long-lasting vehicles to choose from under $15,000.

“Because passenger cars tend to be less expensive than SUVs, you can get later model versions while maintaining a $15,000 budget,” Ly said. 

On the list of the best used cars under $15,000, eight additional models join newer model-year versions of the seven vehicles shown in the “Best Passenger Cars Under $10,000” list.

Four additional Toyota vehicles make the list across multiple vehicle types: sedan, minivan and hybrid.

“The Toyota Camry debuted six standard safety features for the 2015 model year to help prevent accidents, which helped it earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ distinction,” Ly said.

Ly continued, “Meanwhile, the 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid offers great fuel economy and the excellent reliability ratings to provide a more efficient version of the popular standard Camry sedan.”

The 2012 Sienna minivan rounds out the list of Toyotas.

“The Sienna has class-leading cargo space as well as high safety scores,” Ly said.

Three additional minivans make the list: the 2015 Kia Sedona, the 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan, and the 2013 Honda Odyssey. Ly noted that the Kia Sedona underwent a redesign in 2015.

“So this version has the same styling as its later year counterparts, with many of the same features at a more affordable price,” Ly said.

Ly continued, “The 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan is among the lowest priced minivans with convenient features like the popular ‘stow-and-go’ seating option, making it a good option for those who want a used family vehicle.”

Ly added that U.S. News and World Report named the 2013 Honda Odyssey the Best Minivan for Families, “and its high-tech features make it one of the more expensive vehicles in its class,” Ly said.

The 2014 Nissan Maxima rounds out the list, and Ly said that vehicle is known for its “agile handling and comfortable ride quality.”

Best used vehicles under $20,000

Used-car shoppers with a budget of $20,000 can purchase vehicles from segments that are generally more expensive than passenger cars such as used pickup trucks, sports cars and later-model used SUVs.

iSeeCars went on to discuss the best used cars under $20,000 by segment.

Looking at best used pickup trucks under $20,000, iSeeCars said that on average, consumers pay more for used pickup trucks than for any other vehicle segment, with a $29,705 average used price.

“For consumers who want a reliable pickup truck, a budget of $20,000 or more can get them a reliable model that can last many more years,” Ly said.

Ly continued, “Because of the durability of pickup trucks and the fact that owners likely perform necessary repairs and maintenance on them because they are used for work, a later model version of these vehicles can be a wise purchase.”

Of the used pickup trucks for sale under $20,000, iSeeCars said the most reliable and best buys include the 2012 Toyota Tacoma, the 2011 Toyota Tundra and the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado.

Ly noted that US News and World Report named the compact 2012 Toyota Tacoma as Best Compact Pickup Truck for the Money. Ly added that the vehicle receives praise for its class-leading fuel economy and smooth handling.  

Two full size pickups make the list: the 2011 Toyota Tundra and the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado.

“Toyota trucks are known for their reliability and longevity, which makes the Toyota Tundra a practical choice,” Ly said.

Ly continued, “The Tundra is a capable hauler with a powerful engine and strong towing capability. Those with a $20,000 budget can buy the slightly newer 2013 Chevrolet Silverado, which is known for its pleasant ride and powerful engine.”

Addressing the best used SUVs under $20,000, iSeeCars said that with a budget of $20,000, consumers can purchase newer versions of the used SUVs that are available for $15,000, in addition to five other models.

The five SUV models on the list of used SUVs under $20,000 include the 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban, the 2011 Cadillac Escalade, the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe, and the 2012 GMC Yukon.

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is the only alternative fuel vehicle on the list.

“Hybrids are more expensive than their gasoline counterparts, so a 2012 Highlander Hybrid can be purchased at a comparable price to a standard Highlander that is just one model year newer,” Ly said.

Ly continued, “Both the Highlander and the Highlander Hybrid are long-lasting, reliable vehicles that offer a third-row of seating to accommodate families.”

Full-size SUVs made by General Motors and built on the same platform are the four remaining SUVs on the list.

They include the 2012 versions of the Chevrolet Suburban, the Chevrolet Tahoe, the GMC Yukon and the 2011 version of the luxury Cadillac Escalade.

Ly noted that those full size SUVs are built on a truck platform, and that gives them truck-like durability.

“They are all proven to be safe and long-lasting, which make them good options for a family hauler,” Ly said.

iSeeCars went on to discuss the best used sports cars under $20,000, noting that they are similar to pickup trucks in that they are an expensive vehicle segment.

The company said car buyers with a $20,000 budget can buy these three used performance vehicles that it says are safe and long lasting: The 2014 Dodge Charger, the 2012 Audi S4 and the 2014 Ford Mustang.

The Dodge Charger and the Ford Mustang are two American sports cars from the model year 2014 to make the list of used sports cars for sale under $20,000.

Ly described the Charger as “the consummate American muscle car.”

Ly added that the Charger is known for its powerful engine and spaciousness, which appeals to those wanting “a roomy car with more power than a standard sedan.”

“A second classic American sports car, the Ford Mustang is a dream car for many, and since sports cars are driven less than the average vehicle, an older version can still be a sound choice for buyers,” Ly said.

The 2012 Audi S4 made the list, and iSeeCars said it is the performance variant of the Audi A4 small luxury vehicle.

“The 2012 S4 has a supercharged engine and has the superior ride and handling characteristic of the Audi brand,” Ly said.

Best used vehicles Under $25,000

Those with a used-car budget of $25,000 can choose later model year versions of the trucks and SUVs available for $20,000, in addition to some additional models. 

Discussing best used pickup trucks under $25,000, iSeeCars’ list includes newer versions of the models on the $20,000-and-under list. Those include the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, the 2013 Toyota Tundra and the 2015 Toyota Tacoma.

Ly said shoppers spending $25,000 get more features on newer trucks with lower mileage. The redesign of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 in 2014 could also be of interest to shoppers in that budget range, Ly said.

The 2014 Ford F-150 also made the list. Noting that the Ford F-150 is the best-selling pickup truck, Ly said the reason for the vehicle’s enduring popularity is likely its powerful engine and hauling capabilities.

Discussing the best used SUVs under $25,000, iSeeCars said for that price, used SUV shoppers can purchase even newer models of the SUVs seen on the $20,000-and-under list, in addition to their larger and luxury variants.

The 2012 GMC Yukon XL, the 2012 Cadillac Escalade ESV, and the 2014 Lincoln Navigator were additional models making the list.

Ly said the GMC Yukon XL and the Cadillac Escalade ESV are longer versions of the GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade, and those provide more cargo room than “these already-spacious vehicles.” Ly said.

“The Lincoln Navigator is the luxury version of the Ford Expedition, suiting shoppers who want a more premium version of the popular family hauler,” Ly said. 

iSeeCars also noted the best affordable cars by metro area. The company said that because used-car prices vary by area, it reviewed the data geographically to determine the best affordable used cars in the top 20 most populous metro areas.

Because the Mazda6 was the best affordable car in seven metro areas, it is a smart choice for used car buyers, iSeeCars said.

Best Used Cars at Affordable Prices

Category Winner Runner-up Third place
Best used passenger cars under $10,000 2012 Honda Civic 2011 Honda Acord 2012 Chevrolet Impala
Best used SUVs under $15,000 2012 Ford Expedition 2012 Honda Pilot 2012 Acura MDX
Best used pickup trucks under $20,000 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2012 Toyota Tacoma 2011 Toyota Tundra

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