The demand for high quality used cars has increased significantly since 2008. According to Polk automotive data the average age of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads in 2012 is 11 years (up two years from a decade ago). This is matched by a significant decrease in new car sales figures over the same period, with a particular down spike during 2008/2009. Manheim Consulting further asserts that used car sales have increased 5% year over year since 2012, with a staggering 10% increase since 2010.
Below is an aggregation of the “best used cars” from my research.
Cream of the Crop
The Honda Accord was at or near the top of every list. The 2000, 2001, and 2007 models all remain extremely popular. The reason most often cited for the Accord’s popularity is its reliability. It’s also well-known for good gas mileage and being “remarkably easy to drive and user-friendly.” The 2008 model got a bit bigger, but also came with a host of standard accoutrement, including keyless entry, power moonroof, leather upholstery, security, six-disc changer, Sirius XM, navigation and bluetooth.
The Ford F-150 series of trucks is also included in most “best used car” lists. In fact, AutoTrader’s list is 70% F-150 models. Model years 2004-2010 are all highly sought-after in the secondary market. The well-designed, comfortable, and spacious interior is one reason why the F-150 is a perennial favorite. Consumers also seem to like the powerful engine which not only offers best in class handling but a “quiet and refined” ride for your money.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee also made an appearance on nearly every list. The Grand Cherokee is an iconic brand for off-road enthusiasts, and they have continued to refine SUVs since the model’s inception. The 2011 model includes much-improved handling and a bit more refinement. The 2006 and 2007 model years are quite popular in the used market thanks to comfortable seats, multiple-driveline choices, and offroad capabilities.
The Toyota Camry, cited by a number of car experts, is the “best-selling car in America.” Both the 2002 and 2007 models are hot sellers because they are a bit bigger than past models, and Toyota has a reputation for producing high-quality, durable, and reliable cars. They also boast excellent power and good fuel economy.
The following list is based on email requests made through websites to both private sellers and dealers about specific models, as well as searches in automotive databases. In addition to the cars above, it includes the 2007 Honda Civic for it’s fuel economy and refinement. The 2006 and 2004 Ford Mustang, 2007 Jeep Wrangler, 2008 Nissan Altima, 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, 2009 Toyota Corolla, 2003 Chevrolet Corvette, 2004 BMW 3 Series, and the 2006 Toyota Tacoma are also listed.
Some websites include the 2007 and 2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 models as top sellers. The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, which was the first year of the Camaro since 2004, boasts top-of-the-line acceleration and performance, along with a popular retro muscle-car design and a stylish interior.
Edmunds tends to have a bias towards new cars so their list was a bit different from the rest. It included the Toyota Highlander, Avalon, and Prius, as well as the CRV, Accord, and Fit from Honda, all model years 2006-2011. Rounding out the list was the Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Fusion, and Infinity G-Series.