When people ask us what car we would recommend for them, it's usually not easy to answer. To make a useful recommendation we must consider which of the numerous vehicle segments fits their needs best, and then choose one of the many vehicles offered in each segment. For some people, new cars don't meet their expectations of value, because they lose so much of it the moment they are purchased and driven off the dealer lot. For them, there's always the used-car market, where great deals can be found, but cars' histories of reliability and maintenance records - and perhaps that Certified Pre-Owned warranty - become ever-important factors playing into purchase choice.

To help out, Edmunds has done us the favor of assembling a list of the best used vehicles money can buy, covering model years 2006-2011, according to what it considers the most important criteria when shopping for used autos: reliability, safety, value and availability. That means unreliable, unsafe, super-expensive or limited-edition models don't appear on the list, but instead cars from each segment that are more likely to satisfy the general population.

There are some real goodies on the list, including but not limited to vehicles such as the capable Honda Fit, the cultish Honda Accord coupe (which can be had with a 240-horsepower V6 and a six-speed manual transmission some years), and the powerful Chevrolet Corvette. While Edmunds' choice of the Volvo C70 for best used convertible baffled us at first (not that it's a bad car), it redeemed itself by stating that the Mazda MX-5 still is an unofficial top choice if you don't require more than two seats.

Be sure to visit Edmunds to study its recommendations, each of which is accompanied by a short explanation of why it made the list, and check out our photo gallery of the 18 vehicles that made the list.


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  • 44 Comments
      Cruising
      • 1 Year Ago
      Cheap thrill, not picky? Cobalt SS. Not abused preferred. Earlier examples can be had for well under 10k if you can find them. Sure interiors might not be refined but they were some great driving cars.
      b.rn
      • 1 Year Ago
      My biggest issue with Edmunds Used Car ratings is that they often contradict their new car suggestions. When buying new, Edmunds pushes you toward cars with high resale value. With used, they should be pushing you toward cars with low resale value, but there's not a definite pattern there (though the 2012 Fusion is the exception, with great deals right now). In the article they reference their True Market Value numbers, but when Inside Line (a now defunct Edmunds site) sold their used cars, they discovered Edmunds TMV had no relationship to reality. Personally when buying used, I recommend looking at cars with high depreciation. Some deserve it, but many don't (thanks to overly critical automotive press).
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @b.rn
        Agreed. The Prius. Fit and Odyssey have very low depreciation, so logically that would make them poor used car choices.
      chrismcfreely
      • 1 Year Ago
      The FIt, Accord, CRV, Highlander, Tacoma, and Prius have such a high resale value, that buying one used is a terrible idea. They are great as a new car, because of that resale value, but not used. The C70 is a crappy choice, just because. What a horrible, lazy, pointless thing to put out. F-
        over9000
        • 1 Year Ago
        @chrismcfreely
        Why do you equate high resale values as terrible? Should you decide to resell it again, you would still enjoy the benefits of high resale value, not to mention reliability...
        normc32
        • 1 Year Ago
        @chrismcfreely
        The most recalled too. The Honda and Toyota have the most recalled cars from that time period with the Honda Odyessy Accord V6 transmission replacement being the most expensive.
          makasay
          • 1 Year Ago
          @normc32
          The Accord V6's haven't had widespread transmission problems since 2003. The Odyssey since 2004. The Fit, and CR-V have never had transmission problems and I agree that they are terrible used car buys because of the resale. Add the Civic to that list also. Btw, recalls do NOT have a direct bearing on reliability, depending on the problem. The CR-V I have was recalled for a door lock issue. In and out in 1 hour. I'd rather have a car manufacture own up and fix problems then sit on them for a long time...
          Jesus!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @normc32
          Norm I agree with you to a point. If there are a lot of recalls one a model, that means the manufacturer did a poor job of keeping quality in line. It also depends ont he types of recalls. Obviously if its a labeling issue that is not too bad. I do not think there are too many bad cars left these days, however, there are some that do need work and are not worth the purchase.
        thequebecerinfrance
        • 1 Year Ago
        @chrismcfreely
        That Fit is way overrated. Bought a 2010 in 2012. Always had a problem, small ones but after 5 different visits at dealers for different problems and having a new one, I sold it back in 2013. And this is a very noisy SOB with a bad ride.
        stevenh
        • 1 Year Ago
        @chrismcfreely
        First words out of any of your friend's mouth if you told them you bought a C70 would be " WHY???" With so many better choices in quality, ergonomics, driving dynamics and fun factor, the C70 would not even make the initial cross-shopping list
          ravenosa
          • 1 Year Ago
          @stevenh
          First words out of my mouth whenever somebody buys any McVolvo is "why???"
        breakfastburrito
        • 1 Year Ago
        @chrismcfreely
        I concur. A dodge Intrepid has a super low resale value, so that's the best choice! No wait, only crazy people drove Intrepids, and the point of a used car is that it WON'T DIE. Essentially, the most reliable cars are best, new or used. WHEW! Logic brain saved me again!
          chrismcfreely
          • 1 Year Ago
          @breakfastburrito
          Altim, maxima, legacy, Mazda 6, and several others, are all almost as good as accord, but are waaaay cheaper used. Most of these vehicles have an almost as good but cheaper alternative. Your brain has no logic, it is broken.
      bonehead
      • 1 Year Ago
      hands down with out a question IMO the best used car deal is a use pontiac vibe. Pontiac is no more so these cars depreciate a lot. But they are built by toyota so you get toyota reliability. They are more powerful and practical than a fit, with barely less mileage. I owned a 2003 from 2008 till this year. went from 55k miles to 105k and only changes oil, brakes, tires. no major work. I purchased it for $5900 and sold it for $5600. I replaced it with a 2009 model with 22k miles for $10,900. Seriously you cannot beat the deal or reliability of these cars. (though the 2003 model was a superior car to teh 2009). Pricing a similare mazda3, fit, civic, or Matrix put me easily $3-5k more expensive and not worth it. (but i keep the S2000 as my fun car on the side, Vibe us just the commuter/hauler)
        Jesus!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bonehead
        Toyota reliability...lol. Too early for koolaid my friend. That reputation was real more than a decade ago.
          bonehead
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jesus!
          Ive owned many toyotas over the years and the reliability of my 2003 vibe, 2005 Sienna, and 2009 vibe were impossibly perfect. As for the 2003 Vibe, i drove it from 55k-105k and only changed oil, replaced tires, changed breakpads (IE all the parts designed to wear out). And the interior withstood the abuse of kids and the car looked almost new when i sold it. The Sienna was the same. My 2009 so far has been great but thats not saying much.
        IBx27
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bonehead
        I was thinking about that back when Pontiac went under; the second-gen Vibe's actually have some attractive lines to them!
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      MX-5, if your also against style and love outdated center stacks.
        blasds78
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        The MX-5 is lost on you if you're whining about its dashboard. To steal another automaker's tagline... Drive one. You'll understand.
        A Yahoo! user
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        I have owned two Corvettes, great cars loved them, now drive a MX5 love it more. As said above, drive one, you will understand.
        domingorobusto
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        I find the NC's center stack refreshingly simplistic. I hate all of these modern dashes with a poorly functioning touch screen and no real buttons. 3 dials works perfectly fine for climate control, I LOVE the simple and elegantly functional radio, and I love that that's all that's there, because what else do you need in a sports car? And the NC has never been a bad looking car.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        Karl_T
        • 1 Year Ago
        What part of the word 'following' has you lost? The part you decided to not quote states the years recommended in the article have 240 hp. They go on to write "...the FOLLOWING GENERATION..." has 271 HP on the V6.....
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Karl_T
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Karl_T
          [blocked]
          bonehead
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Karl_T
          >>The text of which in Mac OS X 10.8.4, using Safari 6.0.5 displays as such and ONLY mentions 240 HP. LMFAO- holy crap did you find that on haich tee tee pee colon forwardslash forwardslash doubleU doubleU doubleU dot autoblog dot com?
      over9000
      • 1 Year Ago
      Toyota Corolla is always a safe bet.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @over9000
        If you dont mind paying too much for a very mediocre car.
        Jesus!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @over9000
        Why? Because it has a Toyota emblem on it? Have you sat in one lately? Cheap cheap, tinny sounding doors. Probably mediocre crash tests as well. I can think of better choices.
      domingorobusto
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not a bad list. The only one I actively disagree with is the Avalon. Sure, they're very competent and well built. They are also the singularly most boring vehicle it has ever been my displeasure to drive. It's like driving Ambien. Everything is done in the most boring, safe way imaginable. The handling is marshmellowy and safe, understeering when pushed, just enough body roll controll not to be egregiously bad. The power is....competent. The interior is wonderfully built, and takes absolutely no risks. It's the most determinedly boring car ever designed. I don't know how anyone drives one without falling asleep. Buy an old LS400 instead. Same feel, but at least not quite as boring.
      Kip
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think Edmunds missed a key attribute of a good used car: parts cost and availability. If, as the article states, people are looking for value in used cars, parts come in to play here. Something like F150 or MX-5 is going to have good part availability and decent aftermarket support. With that volume of available parts, prices are generally cheaper. Something like the Avalon or C70, not so much. Granted, strong reliability may offset some costs, but eventually that starter, CV joint, wheel bearing, etc. is going to go.
        Jeff Tripp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kip
        Much of the Avalon underpinnings are shared with the Camry and Highlander, so other than Avalon-specific sheet metal, parts shouldn't be tough to find anywhere. Just my $0.02.
      Shiftright
      • 1 Year Ago
      Doesn't Honda's V6 put out more like 270 hp?
        bonehead
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Shiftright
        the article recommends the 2006-2011 accord which had two difference v6 throught that span. A 3.0L with 240hp and a 3.5L with something like 267hp
      Jaybird248
      • 1 Year Ago
      My pristine '09 Honda Fit Sport with 38K miles came from a dealer for only $12K in 2012 so I don't see that as a bad deal compared to the identical car new for $17K. Let somebody else take the depreciation hit. I didn't.
      IBx27
      • 1 Year Ago
      Are there any used cars that are less than 2 years old which aren't a good buy? Any cars that weren't a bad buy when new, that is. If you want to rank the best used cars for 2013, review older cars from 10 years ago instead.
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