In this rundown of the 10 best used sedans are all sorts of ideas, because pre-owned allows for more choices. Defining “best” is a moving target, but high sales numbers and fine reputations help. A certified pre-owned (CPO) model is a good idea. The initial hit of depreciation was taken by the first owner, but the car is still fresh enough to have plenty of current technology and up-to-date styling, plus a comprehensive warranty.
If the budget doesn’t extend to something quite so recent, then still strive for a car with full maintenance records. And have an expert technician (not the seller’s friend) give any possible purchases a thorough going-over. It could save a ton of money down the road.