Buying a used car is a great way to save money on a big purchase. But those savings can go away if the car isn’t reliable, or if you don’t enjoy driving it.
Consumer Reports polled more than 200,000 subscribers to see how satisfied they are with their vehicles and whether they’d buy them again. In addition to being reliable, they were fun to drive, had great fuel economy, and had high-tech features or luxurious cabins.
There are some exceptions to the rule. For example, the Toyota 4Runner consistently scores high marks from owners, but its unsettled ride and clumsy handling hurt it in Consumer Reports tests.
Besides the initial price of the car, Consumer Reports says you need to take a hard look at maintenance costs to see if the vehicle will work for your budget.
CR broke down our data to look at 3- and 10-year-old vehicles.
The three year old models are a little more expensive, but they’ll have the latest safety and comfort features. On the other hand while a 10-year-old model is less expensive to buy, you have to figure in the cost of repairing it.
For example, a mid-sized favorite, the Toyota Camry Hybrid, will cost you about $13,500 to $18,000 and about $55 in maintenance and repairs in year three. At year 10, expect to pay around $6,500 to $7,800 but $370 in annual maintenance costs.
No matter the age, Consumer Reports tests and satisfied owners alike found you can’t go wrong with these two small SUV's: the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV-4.
Need a minivan for the family? Consider the Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna both of which are likely to make it to 200,000 miles or more.
And finally, subscribers liked the Toyota Tundra pickup truck for its driving and reliability.
Consumer Reports also says you can save money by buying used and save the planet. The Toyota Prius was among the most satisfying cars for both three and 10 year old models for its combination of fuel efficiency and reliability.