A good used car is one that gets the job done at the right price without causing headaches in the reliability department. It also helps if a used car can offer many of the modern conveniences and features that we have all come to expect in new vehicles. Not everyone has the same driving needs, so there's no blanket list of the best used cars currently on the market. That being said, we've put together a number of good used cars that should cover most of the bases for buyers on a budget who still want to drive a quality ride.
Let's take a quick look at 10 good used cars.
Good Used Cars- 01 - Toyota Camry
What is there to say about the Toyota Camry that hasn't already been repeated a hundred times over? The Toyota Camry is perhaps the most respected family sedan in the business, due to its combination of power, fuel efficiency, and reliability. Recent used Camry models built between 2006 and 2011 are the ones to target, especially with the 268 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 under the hood, as this motor's fuel mileage is close enough to that of the weaker four-cylinder to be tempting. Expect 23-mpg in combined driving from the six-cylinder version of this spacious automobile.
Good Used Cars- 02 - Subaru Forester
The Subaru Forester has held the line as the Japanese brand's compact SUV offering for over a decade, and along the way it has created a fiercely loyal group of buyers who regularly trade-in and re-up on their Forester experience. Essentially a tall wagon for the outdoorsy set, the Subaru Forester delivers five passenger seating and just under 70 cubic feet of total cargo space. Of course, let's not forget standard all-wheel drive, which is well-matched with its entry-level 173 horsepower, 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine. Fuel mileage isn't great for a used Subaru Forester, but the SUV is virtually unstoppable in winter driving, which counts for a lot in colder climates.
Good Used Cars- 03 - Ford F-150
The Ford F-150 has dominated the full-size pickup segment for decades. Available in a wide range of body styles, including comfortable five and six-passenger four-door crew cabs, the Ford F-150 can fill in as a daily driver or tackle tougher tasks such as towing. There's even a decent amount of off-road capability locked up in the FX4 editions of the F-150. Recent used F-150 models feature a variety of engine options, but it's best to target either the high-output version of its 4.6-liter V-8 (292 horsepower) or its available 5.4-liter V-8 (320 horsepower) if you need to get serious work done.
Good Used Cars- 04 - Lexus IS
The Lexus IS is a luxury sedan that was originally aimed at the sportier crowd - particularly, at buyers who might have considered a BMW 3 Series but who were frightened away by the repair costs associated with these automobiles. The Lexus IS isn't quite as engaging to drive as a Euro sedan, but it's certainly far more reliable over the long term, which makes first-generation versions of the car an appealing and affordable prospect. The 2JZ 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that was standard with these models produces 220 horsepower and it's also extremely responsive to modifications, making it a favorite amongst tuners.
Good Used Cars- 05 - Toyota Corolla
One of the best things about a used Toyota Corolla is that it's really not all that different from a new 2013 Toyota Corolla. In fact, versions of the Toyota Corolla built between 2006 and the current model year include the same 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that returns around 35-mpg on the highway and offers up just under 130 horsepower. A four-speed automatic transmission is out there, but it’s the five-speed manual that you'll want to look for in order to benefit from the best levels of performance and efficiency. There are a lot of used Corollas lurking on second-hand lots, since these cars have a well-deserved reputation for running on well past 100,000 miles without so much as a hiccup.
Good Used Cars- 06 - Cadillac CTS
The second-generation Cadillac CTS is a premium sedan that straddles the line between the mid-size and compact segments. Bigger than a BMW 3 Series but smaller than an Audi A6, the Cadillac CTS (which can also be had in wagon and coupe editions) is nimble and comfortable at the same time. Available with all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, the CTS offers the choice of either a 270 horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 or a 306 horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 (each of which offers 18-mpg in city driving and 27-mpg on the highway). A six-speed manual transmission can also be found on certain used CTS models.
Good Used Cars- 07 - Infiniti G35
The Infiniti G35 - which comes in coupe and sedan body styles - is another entry-level premium contender that deserves inclusion on our good used cars list. The Infiniti G35 combines Japanese reliability with the sporting acumen of parent company Nissan's engineering team, giving the Infiniti a fun-to-drive character as well as styling that was ahead of its time when first introduced. 2001 - 2007 editions of the G35 come with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that is good for between 260 and just under 300 horsepower, depending the version of the car as well as whether it is outfitted with a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive editions of the G35 sedan are also available.
Good Used Cars- 08 - Honda Civic Si
The Honda Civic Si is an example of a car that is almost better than the latest and greatest when found in used form. The current Honda Civic Si's larger four-cylinder motor simply can't match the high-revving character of the 2.0-liter mill found under the hood of the 2005 - 2011 cars. Capable of generating 197 horsepower, this engine's visceral personality is an excellent match for the tight chassis of the Civic Si, which is available in both coupe and sedan editions. All versions of the hotted-up Civic feature a manual transmission, which offers some of the smoothest shifting amongst all other compact performance cars.
Good Used Cars- 09 - Mazda Miata
The Mazda Miata is an excellent buy in almost every iteration, from its debut back in 1989 all the way up to the most recent version which adds a power retractable hardtop to the mix. The Mazda Miata woos sports car fans with its excellent handling and lightweight reflexes, and although the roadster has never generated more than 180 horsepower from its four-cylinder engine (and that mark was only reached by the limited-production MAZDASPEED model back in 2005), it still delivers excellent thrills in a road course-ready package. Better yet, it's reliable and affordable to maintain.
Good Used Cars- 10 - Lexus ES
Our list of good used cars started with the Toyota Camry and it's going to end with that sedan's spiritual cousin, the Lexus ES. Sharing its platform with the Toyota, the Lexus ES offers premium comfort and a number of available high end features inside a package that is roomy and reliable when compared against many of its entry-level competitors. The Lexus ES is far from being a driver's car - picture a living room on wheels - but that's just fine for anyone seeking a V-6 powered commuter with roughly 270 horsepower on tap and highway fuel mileage that checks in at 27-mpg.