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The 8 Best Used Cars to Buy in 2019

The sheer number of used cars on the market can be daunting. “Used” can mean anything from a couple months to a couple decades. But whether you’re looking to spend several thousand dollars or a couple hundred, you’d like the car to last and do its job. To help, we narrowed down eight makes and models that performed well consistently for eight years running according to both car critics and consumers.

Each of these best used cars has high expert and consumer ratings from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) for all model years from 2019 back to 2011 and good safety crash test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). We also checked that KBB expert ratings did not dip below a score of 3 out of 5 for each model we choose all the way back to its 2000 model year (or when the model first came out).

8 best used cars to buy

Ford F-150

A full-size pickup, the Ford F-150 series offers many types of cabs, engines, drive trains and bed lengths to suit. Even through 2018, consumers on Edmunds left reviews on the 2000 model year F-150 noting that it has required very few repairs. It’s earned four- and five-star NHTSA crash test safety ratings since 2011. Model years 2011 through 2018 for the F-150 regular cab rated an average 4.3 KBB expert rating and 4.6 KBB consumer rating.

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Honda CR-V

A compact crossover between an SUV and a wagon, the CR-V has a good combination of interior room, engine power and fuel economy. Multiple consumer reviews on Edmunds say that the 2000 model year still runs well even after 200,000 miles. Depending on the model year, four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available. The CR-V earned top safety awards from the NHTSA and the IIHS. Models years 2011 through 2019 have an average 4.4 KBB expert rating and 4.2 KBB consumer rating.

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Hyundai Sonata

One of the most affordable and safe mid-size sedans, the Sonata regularly starts off at a low MSRP for its class even as a new car and has earned five-star crash test safety ratings from the NHTSA since 2011. Models years 2011 through 2019 have an average 4.2 KBB expert rating and 4.6 KBB consumer rating.

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Jeep Grand Cherokee

A mid-size SUV, the rugged Grand Cherokee promises to get you almost anywhere you need to go. Model years 2011 through 2019 have an average of 4.1 stars from KBB experts and 4.4 from consumers on KBB. It earned four- and five-star crash test ratings from NHTSA on all model years since 2011.

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Lexus ES

This mid-size luxury sedan is an example of sport-tuned suspension and great cabin noise insulation. It’s been rated as a high quality vehicle for reliability, and has earned top safety ratings from NHTSA and IIHS since 2013. Year models from 2012 through 2018 have an average of 4.1 stars from KBB experts and 4.6 stars from consumers on KBB.

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Subaru Outback

Subaru vehicles are famous for being able to handle all sorts of gross, wet conditions while keeping passengers safe and dry. The IIHS has rated Outback models as a Top Safety Pick since 2010 and a Top Safety Pick+ since 2013. Year models 2019 through 2011 have an average 3.9 KBB expert rating and 4.5 KBB consumer rating. Note, however, that if you are looking at a model year 2010 or older, be sure to ask the owner or dealer whether the head gasket has been replaced and if it hasn’t, get it inspected to make sure it’s not leaking.

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Toyota Prius

The first mass-market hybrid, this famous vehicle came out as cutting-edge technology in 2001. The largest concern about the car was how well the battery would last — but according to fuel economy and acceleration tests by Consumer Reports, a Prius with 206,000 miles and all original equipment barely lagged behind a Prius with 2,000 miles. In addition, there’s even a club for Prius owners with 299,999+ miles on their car, which was established to offer greater exclusivity as there were so many people in the 200,000+ miles Prius club.

The Prius has one of the lowest five-year cost-to-own ratios and great safety ratings. It’s been a Top Safety Pick or a Top Safety Pick+ by IIHS since 2012, with one exception of the 2014 model year. Year models from 2011 through 2018 have an average of 4.1 stars from KBB experts and 4.7 stars from consumers on KBB.

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Volkswagen Golf

A hatchback with two to four doors, the Golf has earned four- and five-star crash test safety ratings from the NHTSA since 2011. Year models from 2011 through 2018 have an average of 4.0 stars from KBB experts and 4.6 stars from consumers on KBB.

If you are interested in a Golf TDI, the diesel emissions scandal shouldn’t affect you too much — the Environmental Protection Agency approved a fix for vehicles caught with one of the devices designed to cheat emissions tests. If the car already had the EPA recall performed on it, you can expect only a small decrease in fuel economy, acceleration and power.

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How to find the value of a used car

How do you figure out how much you should pay for a car? Year, make, model, trim, condition, location, mileage and more play into how much a vehicle is worth. One of the best ways to find out how much a car is worth is to use a free online industry guide like KBB or Edmunds, which lenders and dealers use for car valuations.

Ways to finance the best used cars

Once you picked out the best used car for you and know what you should pay for it, shop around for a car loan, if you need one. Potential lenders include a credit union, bank or online lender. Apply to a few in order to compare offers and see which one is best for you, especially if you get the car from a dealership. Dealers are often able to raise your APR and make profit off your loan, not just your car. The best way to avoid this is to go in with a preapproved auto loan in hand, so you know what APR you deserve and you can ask the dealership to beat that rate.

If you are not going to apply for financing through a dealership – either you don’t want to or you are getting a car in a private sale – you can still get multiple auto loan offers from lenders in order to shop around for a rate. You can also talk to loan officers and ask them if they can beat or match a lower rate you received from another lender.

On LendingTree, you could fill out an online form and receive up to five potential auto loan offers from lenders at once, instead of filling out five different lender applications.

Methodology

The vehicle model could not have a rating lower than 3 out of 5 stars on KBB consumer or expert scores for all model years. The model has to be currently in production. The model had to have been in continuous production since 2005 or earlier.

 

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