Finding a reliable car for a reasonable price may seem difficult, but consumers willing to consider buying a used car may be in luck. Consumer Reports’ latest survey results reveal that there are hundreds of used-car models that provide good reliability. Many can also be safe, fuel-efficient and affordable.
The report, featured in the April 2008 Annual Auto Issue, identifies the best and worst used vehicles for the past 10 model years, 1998 through 2007. Vehicles featured in the “Good Choices” and “Used Cars to Avoid” lists include all models that showed above- or below-average reliability, respectively, in Consumer Report’s 2007 Annual Car Reliability Survey, which drew responses on about 1.3 million vehicles. The survey found that improved reliability has made used cars more appealing.
Another added bonus when buying a used vehicle is that the impact of depreciation, the biggest expense associated with buying a new car, is reduced. Insurance rates also tend to be less expensive.
This list is categorized by price and features a variety of used vehicles from various manufacturers that cost anywhere from $4,000 to $30,000 and up. For consumers on a budget, CR found 30 cars that can be purchased for less than $4,000, including the 1998 Acura CL and the 1999 Buick LeSabre.
CR’s “Best of the Best” vehicles list, which is derived from the “Good Choice” list, includes vehicles that had performed well in our road tests and have had several years of better-than-average reliability, according to survey respondents. Models from Acura, BMW, Buick, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Nissan, Pontiac, Porsche, Scion, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo appear on the “Best of the Best” list.
WORST OF THE WORST
Vehicles that have had multiple years of much worse-than-average reliability earned a spot on this list. Models from Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, GMC, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Volkswagen consistently had more problems than other models overall.
Other findings include:
* Best used cars. Models that scored well in our tests, were recommended when new, and have had multiple model years of better-than-average reliability include Toyota Prius, Lexus LS, Toyota Highlander, Lexus IS, Toyota RAV4 (four cylinder), Honda Civic, Honda Accord (four cylinder), Toyota Corolla, Mazda MX-5 Miata and Honda CR-V.
* Worst used cars. CR suggests steering clear of these models, which have had several years of much worse-than-average reliability: Buick Terraza, Chevrolet Uplander, Saturn Relay, Land Rover Discovery and LR3, Volkswagen Touareg, Pontiac Aztek, Nissan Armada (four-wheel drive), Chevrolet S-10 (four-wheel drive), GMC S-15 (four-wheel drive), Chevrolet Blazer, Volkswagen Cabrio and Buick Rendezvous (all-wheel drive).
* Best fuel economy (overall mpg, based on our real-world fuel-economy tests). Small cars that got the most miles per gallon were Toyota Prius (44) and Honda Civic Hybrid (37). Midsized and Large Sedans include Toyota Camry Hybrid (34), Nissan Altima Hybrid (32) and Mercedes-Benz E320 BlueTec (29). Top SUVs were the Toyota Highlander Hybrid (24), Lexus RX 400h (hybrid) (23) and Toyota RAV4 (four cylinder) (23).
* Worst fuel economy. Cars that got the fewest miles per gallon include the Honda Civic EX (manual) (31), Dodge Caliber R/T (all-wheel drive) (22) and Suzuki SX4 Sport (22). In the Midsized and Large Sedans category, the Mercury Grand Marquis LSE got only 16 miles to the gallon, and the Audi A8 L, Buick Lucerne CXS (V8), Cadillac DTS Luxury II and Dodge Charger R/T got 17. CR identified seven SUVs that got 13 miles per gallon: Dodge Durango Limited, Cadillac Escalade, Jeep Commander Limited 5.7, Land Rover LR3 SE, Nissan Armada LE, Ford Expedition EL Eddie Bauer and Lincoln Navigator Ultimate.
Visit the Consumer Reports Web site at www.consumerreports.org.