Used vehicles continue to be strong sellers in these pandemic-afflicted times. Healthy inventories of pre-owned cars, trucks, and SUVs are providing cash-strapped consumers with money saving alternatives to new models that are currently in shorter supply than normal thanks to COVID-19-related shutdowns earlier this year, and a recent spike in demand.
December in general, and the days preceding Christmas and New Years Day in particular are among the best times of the year in which to shop for a used vehicle. According to the analysts at the car search website iSeeCars.com, you’re 18.1 percent more likely than average to strike a great deal if you hit a dealer’s lot on Christmas Eve, with a 20.5 percent better chance of obtaining a deep discount on New Year’s Eve. And if you’re too busy to go car shopping before we close the books on 2020, take heed that there are historically 28.7 percent more deals offered in January and a whopping 39.2 percent better than average chance of scoring one on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 18).
Of course, buying a used vehicle tends to be fraught with peril, and as such you’d want to look into a given model’s overall reliability to determine which will best be able to go the distance without draining your finances at the repair shop. All else being equal, you’d also want to choose a model that is deemed to be among the safest on the road, and one that holds onto its resale value most tenaciously to bring back more cash when trade-in time rolls along.
That’s a lot of research to dive into, but fortunately the aforementioned experts at iSeeCars.com have put together a list of the used vehicles that have best demonstrated long-term reliability and hold their values the best, based on two separate studies of over 20 million cars. They further culled down the top choices according to crash test results conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2011-2020. While some, like the Honda CR-V, are typically among the top sellers in the new-vehicle market, others, including the Buick LaCrosse, have since been discontinued and can only be found on used-car lots.
Of course, no matter which make, model, and model year you ultimately choose, it still pays to do some due diligence before signing on the proverbial dotted line. For starters, it’s always prudent to take a used car or truck you’re considering to a trusted mechanic to ensure that it’s in good running order and to get an idea of which, if any, issues might surface in the near term. Always run a model’s vehicle identification number (VIN) through a title-search service like Carfax or AutoCheck to make sure it hasn’t been previously flood-damaged or salvaged and subsequently rebuilt. Such reports will also give you an idea of how well the car was maintained, how many times its changed hands, and whether it’s been in an accident, along with other key data.
Here’s a quick look at what the site deemed as being the best and second best models in each of 21 used-vehicle segments, along with the top overall choices you can find going for less than $10,000 and $5,000:
- Best Compact SUV: Honda CR-V; Runner-Up: Subaru Outback
- Best Luxury Compact SUV: Acura RDX; Runner-Up: N/A
- Best Midsize SUV: Toyota Highlander; Runner-Up: Toyota 4Runner
- Best Luxury Midsize SUV: Acura MDX; Runner-Up: Lexus RX 350
- Best Full-Size SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe; Runner-Up: Ford Expedition
- Best Luxury Full-Size SUV: Lincoln Navigator; Runner-Up: Cadillac Escalade
- Best 3rd Row SUV: Toyota Highlander; Runner-Up: Honda Pilot
- Best Luxury 3rd Row SUV: Acura MDX; Runner-Up: Lincoln Navigator
- Best Midsize Truck: Toyota Tacoma; Runner-Up: N/A
- Best Full-Size Truck: Toyota Tundra; Runner-Up: Chevrolet Silverado 1500
- Best Compact Car: Honda Civic; Runner-Up: Toyota Corolla
- Best Luxury Compact Car: Lexus IS; Runner-Up: 250 Lexus IS 350
- Best Midsize Sedan: Honda Accord; Runner-Up: Toyota Camry
- Best Luxury Midsize Sedan: Lexus ES 350; Runner-Up: Cadillac CTS
- Best Large Sedan: Toyota Avalon; Runner-Up: Chevrolet Impala
- Best Luxury Large Sedan: Buick LaCrosse; Runner-Up: Cadillac XTS
- Best Sports Car: Ford Mustang; Runner-Up: Chevrolet Camaro
- Best Electric Car: Tesla Model S; Runner-Up: Tesla Model 3
- Best Hybrid Car: Toyota Prius; Runner-Up: Toyota Camry Hybrid
- Best Hybrid SUV: Toyota Highlander Hybrid; Runner-Up: N/A
- Best Minivan: Honda Odyssey; Runner-Up: Toyota Sienna
- Best Car Under $10,000 Toyota Yaris; Runner-Up: Ford Focus
- Best Car Under $5,000: Mazda MAZDA3; Runner-Up: Buick Regal
You can read the full report here.
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