The 7 best late-model used cars to buy right now

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When shopping for a used car, you’re usually looking for a vehicle that’s safe, reliable and a great value.

Money expert Clark Howard recommends that you buy a car that’s two or three years old because brand new cars begin to lose value the second they’re driven off the dealer’s lot.

With a used vehicle, you don’t eat that depreciation — a key benefit to buying a pre-owned car.

Read more: 10 vehicles you’ll most regret buying in 2017

New ranking: Best late-model used vehicles, a car shopping and research website, analyzed long-term value retention projections and driver satisfaction reviews (expert and consumer) to identify the best recent-year used car models in seven categories.

“Figuring many used cars are bought when they’re 3-5 years old, we’ve sifted through mountains of data to find which used cars will retain the most value over a 12-year span—meaning you’ll be able to get a good chunk of your initial investment back when it comes time to sell and move on to the next car,” said Matt Smith, an editor with the site.

Let’s take a look at the winners! The 2017 CarGurus Best Used Car Awards recipients are”¦

Compact Sedan/Hatchback

1st Place: 2013-2016 Dodge Dart

2nd Place: 2011-2016 Hyundai Elantra
3rd Place: 2012-2016 Subaru Impreza

Midsize Sedan

1st Place: 2011-2017 Dodge Charger


2nd Place: 2013-2016 Ford Fusion
3rd Place: 2010-2014 Chrysler 200

Luxury Sedan

1st Place: 2013-2016 Lincoln MKZ

2nd Place: 2012-2016 Audi A3
3rd Place: 2010-2016 Volvo S60

Small Crossover/SUV

1st Place: 2007-2016 Jeep Wrangler

2nd Place: 2013-2016 Subaru XV Crosstrek
3rd Place: 2012-2016 Honda CR-V

Midsize Crossover/SUV

1st Place: 2010-2016 Toyota 4Runner

2nd Place: 2007-2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
3rd Place: 2008-2016 Toyota Venza

Full-Size Crossover/SUV

1st Place: 2013-2016 Hyundai Santa Fe

2nd Place: 2007-2016 Ford Expedition
3rd Place: 2011-2016 Dodge Durango

Full-Size Truck

1st Place: 2011-2017 Ram 1500


2nd Place: 2009-2014 Ford F-150
3rd Place: 2007-2016 Toyota Tundra

Read more: The 19 best used car models under $15,000

Clark’s key takeaway

Although you may find a vehicle that you love on this list, take these rankings with a grain of salt. Online ratings are a great resource, but there’s no guarantee the used car you get will be reliable.

That’s why there are two things every used car buyer needs to remember:

  1. Check the vehicle history report. Run the VIN through to find out if it’s a flood vehicle or if it has been in a horrible accident.
  2. 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.

Clark’s advice when a buying used car

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