Best and Worst Used Cars: Checking Out the Lists

Used-car lot

The classic best and worst lists online seem to come from Forbes and Consumer Reports, but there are plenty of others out there on the Web. We’ll give you a bird’s-eye view of how these guys rank used cars—but first, these messages.

  1. Japanese cars predominate in the “best” lists, but they certainly aren’t the only alternative.
  2. A new Kelley Blue Book survey shows that most used-car shoppers are paying cash, spending less than $15,000, and have no interest in incentive offers. They are definitely going conservative.
  3. Do your homework. Two weeks ago, we gave you buying advice, and there’s a very good “how-to-buy” webpage here. One of your best tools is the CarGurus DealFinder.

Now to the lists.

Consumer Reports emphasizes reliability, which of course is key when buying used. Also important is residual value of the car and, yes, performance. Here are CR’s top three in three select categories (see their full list) for model years 2000 to 2009:

Small Cars: Honda Civic, Honda Fit, Toyota Echo.
Family Cars: Honda Accord, Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion.
Sports and Sporty Cars: Mazda MX-5 Miata, Honda S2000, Lexus SC.

CR’s worst of the worst lists 33 cars, among them: 17 from GM, 6 from Chrysler, and 4 from Volkswagen.

For its 2009 list (the latest I could find) Forbes liked: the Honda CR-V, the Lexus ES, and the Subaru Impreza WRX. Its worst cars included the Dodge Caravan (AWD version) and the Pontiac G6 (with V6).

One of the more recent lists, from, ranked the most reliable used cars as follows:

Small Cars: Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza.
Sedans and Station Wagons (Family): Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Subaru Outback.
Large SUVs: Lexus LX, Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Sequoia.

Keith’s Used Cars Blog features current and reliable tips about how to buy used and what kinds of problems a buyer may run into. One of these is the “1.4 million used cars that were recalled but not repaired.” They constitute about 3 percent of used cars sold annually. Buyer beware!

What do you think is the best used-car deal available today? The worst?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Honda Civic
Used Honda Fit
Used Toyota Echo
Used Honda Accord
Used Toyota Prius
Used Ford Fusion
Used Mazda MX-5 Miata
Used Honda S2000
Used Lexus SC
Used Honda CR-V
Used Lexus ES
Used Subaru Impreza WRX
Used Dodge Caravan
Used Pontiac G6
Used Toyota Corolla
Used Subaru Impreza
Used Toyota Camry
Used Subaru Outback
Used Lexus LX
Used Toyota Land Cruiser
Used Toyota Sequoia

1 Comment

  1. I would be very careful on what lists for buying cars you base your choice on. One recent list I saw on a well known car dealership website listed the most popular cars to buy, based on the sales of their own cars.
    Try to find a website that is independent and is not a dealership.

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