If you’re shopping around for a used car, you want to make sure the vehicle you’re buying is going to be reliable for many years to come.
Clark generally likes the idea of buying used cars, preferably two to three years old, but only dependable ones.
Read more: How to buy a used car
Best used cars for your money right now
Utilizing years of test data and survey responses, Consumer Reports has released a list of the 30 best used cars under $30,000 – and there’s really something for everyone.
“Each one performed well in our road tests when it was new and has above-average reliability for the model years shown,” Consumer Reports said.
We know $30,000 is a lot of money to spend, so we’ve shortened the list by cutting the budget in half to $15,000.
Let’s start on the low end of that budget. If you don’t want to spend more than $10,000, the best options are going to be smaller cars that are about seven to 10 years old.
Best used cars for $5,000 to $10,000
- Honda Fit, 2007-2011
- Pontiac Vibe, 2007-2010
- Toyota Corolla, 2007-2011
- Toyota Matrix, 2007-2008, 2010
- Toyota Prius, 2007-2009
Large and midsized cars
- Honda Accord, 2007
- Toyota Camry, 2007-2008
Have a little more money to work with? In addition to newer models of the cars on the previous list, there are some larger sedans, small SUVs and even luxury vehicles for less than $15,000.
Best used cars for $10,000 to $15,000
- Honda Fit 2012-2013
- Toyota Corolla, 2012-2014
- Toyota Prius, 2010-2012
Large and midsized cars
- Honda Accord, 2008-2012
- Toyota Avalon, 2007-2010
- Toyota Camry, 2009-2012
- Acura TL, 2007-2009
- Acura TSX, 2007-2010
- Buick Verano, 2012-2013
- Infiniti M, 2007-2008
- Lexus ES, 2007-2009
- Lexus GS, 2007
- Mazda MX-5 Miata, 2007-2011
- Honda CR-V, 2007-2010
- Toyota RAV4, 2008-2009
- Lexus RX, 2007
- Toyota Highlander, 2007-2008
Clark’s advice for used car buyers
Although Clark says Consumer Reports’ list (click here to see all 30 cars) is a great place to start, riding off in one of these vehicles doesn’t guarantee that you’re getting a good, reliable used car.
That’s why there are two things every used car buyer needs to remember:
- Check the vehicle history report. Run the VIN through CarFax.com to find out if it’s a flood vehicle or if it’s been in a horrible accident.
- Have the used vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic. One of the key things to know about buying a used car is that you buy “as is.” CarFax alone is not enough of a check; you need to take this additional step.
Finally, arrange auto financing in advance! Look at credit unions, online banks or even traditional banks. Only take dealer financing if it beats any other offer you have.
Read more: The most reliable car brand is…