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Used hatchback cars can supply most of the advantages as new ones, only for a lower cost. That makes them ideal for customers on a budget since the cost benefit is usually the main motivation for buying a used hatchback: The majority of mainstream automakers that sell hatchbacks in this country also sell sedan versions of the same car, and they tend to make the four-door vehicles the least-expensive entry points to the lineup. At some brands, the difference in price between the lowest-MSRP sedan and hatchback from the same nameplate can be a couple of hundred dollars—yet on the used car market, that cost differential can shrink to zero.

Another thing to keep in mind about the used hatchback car market is that it also includes certified pre-owned vehicles. Used hatchbacks that qualify for these "CPO" programs have been carefully inspected by dealership technicians and then brought up to brand standards to help ensure customer satisfaction. As a result, many will come with more extensive warranty coverage than other used hatchback cars. But in either case, when you are inspecting a potential used-hatchback purchase yourself—which should be done when buying any pre-owned vehicle—remember to make sure the hatch is in proper working order. Pay special attention to the support struts, rear-window seals and rear windshield wiper, if there is one, and don't forget to see if you can reach and close the lift gate comfortably. Inside, you'll want to verify that the car's rear seats fold down without difficulty so you can take advantage of that hatch.

Finally, adventurous shoppers can leverage the used-car market to significantly expand their choices. For drivers who want to ease their way into a luxury hatchback, those models have noticeable price breaks for pre-owned vehicles. There are also older hatchbacks that are no longer being built today, but can still be credible transportation solutions—or relatively inexpensive collector's items—for the right buyers.