Everyone loves that new car smell. You know what everyone doesn’t love? That new car price tag. If you want to ride around town in the latest and greatest ride, it’s going to cost you big time. Between the price of the car, the warranty, the insurance, and more, you will be lucky to get out of the dealership with your pants still in place. Buying a new car is expensive, which is why so many people turn to used vehicles as a better option.
What do you picture when you think of a used car? Most likely, you imagine a shady salesman trying to pressure you into a worn-out convertible with a leaky roof and rusty bumpers. Once upon a time, car like this were just about your only option on the used market. Thankfully, times have changed, and there are plenty of great used cars available these days. As an added bonus, many dealers now offer warranties on “certified pre-owned” used cars, meaning you can enjoy some of the same protections you get when you buy new.
So which models should you look for when you head to the local used lot? Here’s a list of models that have proven to stand the test of time.
There is nothing flashy about driving a Honda – especially a Civic. This small car won’t necessarily stand out from the crowd, but it’s unlikely to leave you standing on the side of the road, either. Honda has a great reputation for building reliable vehicles, which is exactly what you want to find when buying used. The Civic isn’t going to make you forget about the Porsche 911 anytime soon, but that’s not the point. When getting from point A to point B is your main objective, the Civic should get the job done for years to come.
When looking for a used midsize pickup truck, there is the Toyota Tacoma, and then there is – well, more Toyota Tacomas. Like Honda, Toyota has a great reputation for building reliable vehicles, and the Tacoma has been a great seller for many years. Since Ford ducked out of the midsize pickup game when they scrapped the Ranger, the Tacoma has been carrying the load in this category (although the Chevy Colorado has recently re-entered the market).
Midsize pickups are attractive because they offer an open bed for hauling while not burning as much gas (or taking up as much road) as a full-size model. If you’re able to get your hands on a well-maintained used Tacoma, you will love everything it can do.
Let’s be honest – you aren’t going to sit down in a used Ford Escort and think you have gotten into a Mercedes by accident. These cars aren’t meant to be luxurious, which is good, because they aren’t. Yet again, the point here is economy. If you’re buying a used car to save you money while still getting where you need to go, the Escort is an attractive option which usually comes along with a low price tag.
To capture that thrilling motoring experience that so many drivers are looking for, you will want to save up your pennies and buy something else. To get around town effectively in an affordable ride, the Ford Escort will do the job.
Buying a sporty used car is a dangerous proposition. First, you’re usually dealing with a car that was used by the previous owner for entertainment or excitement – meaning it wasn’t exactly driven with care. Also, sports cars tend to break down more than traditional sedans, so you could be staring at costly repairs soon after you make the purchase. With that said, the S2000 offers you the opportunity to have some fun out on the road without paying full price for a new convertible at the dealership. If you are looking for a “second car” which you can take out on sunny weekend afternoons, looking around for an S2000 is not a bad plan.
Often, it’s families who are looking to buy a used car. Having kids is expensive, especially for young couples who have not yet made their way up the corporate ladder. To save money, families with young kids will frequently look for used cars – but they don’t want to sacrifice safety at the same time. A used Subaru Outback is a great way to find seating capacity, safety, and handling at a great price. Most people won’t associate a used Outback with a thrill ride, but you probably aren’t looking for a thrill if you’re shopping wagons in the first place.
For the third time, a Honda vehicle has made the list. This time it is the Odyssey, which is the dominant minivan on the market for several years running. A used Honda Odyssey will fall into a similar category as the Subaru Outback – not necessarily exciting, but great for family travel. As it is a Honda, you can expect to get reliable performance while saving money over a brand new model.
In the end, the best used car is the one that fits your needs perfectly. You need to think about what you’re looking for in terms of cost, performance, style, and more. Are you in a position where you can afford to fix the vehicle if something breaks down, or do you need the safest bet possible? Make a list of the characteristics that you are looking for in a used car prior to hitting the lots with checkbook in hand.
Buying a used car might not be quite as exciting as buying new, but it is still a thrill to bring home a ride that is new to you. Whether you pick from the list above or find your own diamond in the rough, have fun shopping!