Best Used Cars

Which Corvette Should I Buy? C4 vs. C5 vs. C6

You can’t help it. You’re captivated by the sleek styling, the open top, the storied heritage, the rumbling V8 that shoves you back in the seat. Let’s face it. You’ve got Corvette Fever.

You’ve also got a budget ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 — a relatively modest outlay that nevertheless gains you access to three different generations of Chevrolet’s iconic sports car, spanning 30+ years and a wide variety of styling, engineering, and performance options.

The Safest Used Cars for Families: Top Picks for $20,000 or Less

Safety is a prime consideration for most car shoppers, and it’s not surprising when you consider the statistics. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 34,439 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2016 alone. Scary stuff. A vehicle’s safety performance can make the difference between life and death in many accident scenarios.

If you think you need to pony up big bucks for a new car in order to get all of the latest safety features, think again. We’ve identified five great used family vehicles that deliver safety in spades — and for as little as $10,000.

Buying Guide: Acura TL 3rd Generation (2004 – 2008)

For the last few decades, Honda’s influence on the auto industry — and its corresponding sales volumes — has been nothing short of revolutionary. Consider that the latest Accord just made Car and Driver’s 10 Best list for a record 32nd time; meanwhile, the Civic recently became the top-selling car in America.

This makes the underperformance of Acura, Honda’s luxury division, somewhat puzzling. Acura was the first premium Japanese marque to launch in the US, with sixty dealerships by 1986, and its early years were heralded by world-class machines like the Legend and the NSX.

Buying Guide: BMW 3 Series E46 Generation (1999-2006)

Long a favorite of driving enthusiasts, BMW’s 3 Series has nonetheless gotten bigger, heavier and less engaging with each successive generation. Nowadays, even a car buff could easily mistake a newer 3 Series sedan for a 5 Series.

Make no mistake, the 3er’s performance is still impressive, but for many who relish time behind the wheel, the less quantifiable “fun to drive” factor has dropped off. Indeed, many enthusiasts feel that the E46 generation marks the last time the 3 Series was truly engaging and true to its roots — a spry athlete of a car that offered not only quick reflexes but communication through the steering wheel and seat of one’s pants that let you know in no uncertain terms what the tires were doing.

The 7 Most Reliable Used Vehicles for Under $10,000

Many shoppers who’re thinking about buying a used car fret about vehicle reliability, and these qualms aren’t without merit. Relative to a new car, a used vehicle is more likely to need work under the hood earlier in the ownership experience. And the older the used car, the greater the likelihood of a significant repair bill. 

So it’s no surprise that reliability is often the number one consideration for shoppers in the used car market.

Buying Guide: Volkswagen Golf / GTI Mk6 (2010-2014)

Suppose you’re looking for one car that’ll do it all. Slip into compact spaces with ease. Accelerate and handle with grace. Fit four adults and their luggage in a well-appointed interior with little apparent cost-cutting. Command the road at highway speeds. Let’s throw in 30 MPG fuel economy for good measure.

Now suppose you’re looking to spend $15k or so, and the cheaper the better. If you’re thinking about new cars, don’t waste your time. Even the cheapest new car on the lot will likely surpass the $15k threshold, and the only boxes it’ll check are the ones pertaining to parking and fuel economy.

Buying Guide: BMW 1 Series E82 / E88 Generation (2008-2013)

Many enthusiasts hold that the E46 3 Series is the pinnacle of the BMW formula: a marvelous combination of sporting character and everyday usability in a timeless design. In fact, we heartily sing its praises in our E46 buying guide, calling it “one of the most enjoyable drives available in an affordable used car.”

But there are downsides. For example, the E46 interior can age poorly. Rubberized plastics on the center console and the door cards tend to scratch and flake; headliners are prone to sagging. And there are a few dogs in the range with sub-200 hp ratings that can feel pretty anemic compared to more modern machines.

Buying Guide: 996 Generation Porsche 911 (1999-2004)

The ever-increasing mania and resulting skyrocketing values of air-cooled Porsche 911s have put those cars way out of reach for most buyers. Meanwhile, prices for the 996 generation, the first 911 with a water-cooled engine, have languished, in part because the prevailing wisdom among Porsche collectors is that the sun rises and sets only on the air-cooled cars.

Values are depressed, too, because of a known design flaw in the standard 996 engine that can, if not attended to, lead to a catastrophic failure, costing tens of thousands to repair. While this understandably gives most buyers pause, the truth is that a preemptive fix is readily available — and, even better, that many 996 examples on the market today have already had it applied.

Used Cars with Great Gas Mileage: Top Picks for $15,000 or Less

According to data gathered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, on average, American drivers add 13,476 miles to their odometers each year. With that much driving, it’s easy for fuel costs to leave a notable dent in the pocketbook.

A vehicle’s gas mileage plays a crucial part in this equation. Mileage can vary dramatically from model to model, even among those within the same vehicle category. For this reason, Klipnik recommends taking a hard look at fuel economy if you’re considering a vehicle purchase.

Which Miata Should I Buy? MX-5 Generations NA vs. NB vs. NC

It’s pretty much common knowledge among car enthusiasts that if you really get a kick out of driving, it doesn’t get much better than wheeling a Mazda Miata down a road that on a map resembles dropped spaghetti.

In fact, when you factor in its great reliability as well as its low acquisition and running costs, Mazda’s sporty roadster is a strong candidate for “Bang for the Buck” champion of all time.

Cheap Cars with Great Engines: 10 Picks For As Little As $5000

While there are some excellent battery-powered vehicles like the new Chevrolet Bolt trickling into our garages, the good, old fashioned, oil pumping, octane swilling, internal combustion engine is still at the heart of the automotive experience. It has been ever since, some 130 years ago, Karl Benz bolted a one banger of his own design onto the back of a three-wheeled cart.

And it’s been a glorious run. Sure, there were low points, like the anemic power plants that wheezed through the 1970s while automakers struggled to cope with strict new emissions and fuel economy regulations. Anyone remember the 1975 Ford Granada? Its 4.1 liter inline six had a California variant that puttered out just 71 horsepower. Folks, that’s less than 20 horsepower per liter.