10 Used Cars That Are Great Values
Any car expert worthy of the label will tell you the best new cars make the best used cars. And the best used cars are durable, reliable, practical, fun-to-drive, and attractive, because no one wants to drive an ugly car. But some used cars are better than others, and some are great values. To help you narrow down your search, we’ve selected 10 of the best used cars that are great values — focusing on mainstream-brand sedans costing no more than $20,000.
When shopping for a used car, it’s also important to remember that the condition of the vehicle is critical. In fact, it’s the most important thing. Buy the very best condition example you can find. Read its vehicle history report carefully. Make sure it’s been serviced according to the manufacturer’s guidelines and schedule. Look for evidence of accidents or other severe damage or repairs. And always, ALWAYS, take a test drive.
Mazda has never come close to selling as many cars as Toyota, Honda, or Nissan, and the reasons why are a mystery. The brand’s products are stylish, well made, and usually more fun to drive than their competition. The Mazda6 is Mazda’s mid-size sedan and it usually flies under the radar in a class dominated by the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
Mazda gave the model a mild interior and exterior facelift in 2018, and we found some low mileage examples available from that year within our price range. Meanwhile, models built in 2016 and 2017 can be found in excellent condition for less than $15,000. That’s a heck of a value when you consider the Mazda6’s spacious cabin, strong performance, and solid reputation for reliability.
2016 Kia K900
Kia’s largest sedan is also its most expensive and most powerful. The K900 is about the size of Mercedes S-Class, and it’s nearly as luxurious. It’s a fantastic full-size luxury sedan, one that offers all the features, build quality and space you would expect from a car that costs over $50,000 new. Many are even V8-powered, so they pack plenty of performance as well, and even the V6 models aren’t exactly slow. But few people know the K900 exists, and that lack of awareness makes them incredible used car values.
Kia has sold the K900 since 2015, and early models can be found for around $20,000. 2017 models cost a bit more because blind-spot monitoring, a rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-change assistance became standard that year. In 2019, Kia redesigned the sedan, making it even larger. Newer K900s remain a great used car value, but they cost well beyond our $20,000 budget.
2017 Volkswagen Passat
If you’re looking for an attractive, luxurious, and fun-to-drive mid-size sedan with a huge backseat, you should be shopping for a good clean Volkswagen Passat. Like the Mazda6, the Passat isn’t as popular as some other mid-size sedans, which keeps its prices low. But these are well-built cars, and in 2012 it was redesigned to great success, growing one of the largest interiors in its class and being named the 2012 Motor Trend Car of the Year.
Models built as recently as 2019 slip under our $20,000 budget, but the real buys are a bit older. Low-mileage examples from 2017 cost less than $15,000. These cars were also diesel engines, which is unique in this class. But before you purchase one with a diesel, Google “VW Diesel Scandal” and make sure you know what you’re getting into.
2017 Subaru Legacy
We’ve included the Subaru Legacy on this list for three reasons. One: Legacys are known for their durability and reliability. Two: They are comfortable and are often packed with features. Three: This is the only mid-size sedan with all-wheel drive as standard equipment. And if you live where it snows, you know that’s important. During our research, we found Legacys as new as 2018 with about 11,000 miles for less than $20,000.
Most have Subaru’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which is reliable but not very powerful. However, for the same money, we also found a few 2016 and 2017 examples with the optional 3.6-liter six-cylinder, which is far quicker. Because these cars are all-wheel drive, many are driven on dirt or unmaintained roads in rural areas. So always check underneath for damage or signs of hard use.
Mazda redesigned the compact Mazda3 last year. The new version looks great, and it has a sharp interior, but it doesn’t drive as well as its predecessor. This is because Mazda has given the new version a less sophisticated rear suspension and its ride quality has suffered, along with its legendary handling. The best Mazda3s were built from 2014 to 2018. And now they are great used car values.
You can buy an extremely clean 2018 Mazda3, either sedan or hatchback, for about $15,000. We even found one with the base Sport trim level for that price with just 5,300 miles on it. These aren’t very big cars, but they fit four comfortably (five in a pinch), they’re fuel-efficient, and they’re a blast to drive. It won’t take you long to notice that the hatchbacks demand a bit of a premium over the sedans, which are more common, but the price difference isn’t extreme.
2016 Scion iA
Remember Scion? It was sort of Toyota’s youth brand. It doesn’t exist anymore, but don’t let that scare you off. Since Scion was part of Toyota, any Toyota dealer will still service a Scion. The last year of Scion was 2016, the year it introduced a wonderful small sedan called the iA.
It was cute, comfortable, spacious for its size, and extremely fuel-efficient. It was also designed and built by Mazda for Scion and sold in other markets around the world as the Mazda2. Because of this, it’s really fun to drive like other Mazdas and it has a great, well-finished interior, while other Scions can feel a bit cheap inside. It’s such a great little package it’s still sold today as the Toyota Yaris, but the one-year-only Scion-badged version remains way off the radar. Few people even know they exist. That keeps them cheap. About $10,000 buys the best one on Earth.
2017 Toyota Camry
The Toyota Camry has been one of the best-selling cars in America for decades, so there are millions and millions of them out there. Camrys are one of the country’s best used-car values because they are comfortable and roomy, and no car has a better reputation for reliability. Used examples in good condition can also be very affordable, but Camrys do hold their value, so the best examples usually cost more than the other mid-size sedans we’ve covered.
The sweet spot in the Camry market seems to be 2017 models. Toyota redesigned the sedan the following year, and 2018 and 2019 models are still costly. But the price for clean 2017 models is well below $20,000. Most have a four-cylinder engine, which is adequate, but the V6 models are out there and they’re far more fun to drive.
2017 Honda Accord
Like the Toyota Camry, its main rival, the Honda Accord has been one of America’s best-selling cars for decades. But the similarities don’t end there. The Accord is also family-friendly, spacious, and reliable. And it gets good fuel economy. But the Accord is more fun to drive than a Camry and, unlike the Toyota, it was offered both as a mid-size sedan or as a stylish two-door coupe. The Accord’s last redesign was also in 2018, so models built before then offer the best value.
Clean, well-maintained 2017 Accords with less than 25,000 miles are easily found online for less than $17,000, and cars with about 50,000 miles are an excellent value with asking prices right around $15,000. Coupes are even more affordable, and 2015 models with about 60,000 miles are huge value at around $12,500. Like the Camry, every Honda Accord is front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive was not available. Honda, however, did offer the Accord with a manual transmission, which is unusual in this class. And a V6-powered Accord with a six-speed manual is a blast to drive. They’re seriously quick.
2016 Infiniti Q50
While we’ve focused our attention on mainstream-brand vehicles, we couldn’t resist the Infiniti Q50. During our research, we came across a gaggle of cheap 2016 and 2017 models for about $20,000. Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury brand and the Q50 is its entry-level sedan that competes with the BMW 3 Series.
It’s a luxury sports sedan with a beautifully finished interior, spacious backseat, and strong performance. The Q50 features soft leather upholstery, a sunroof, navigation, heated seats, and other luxuries expected in a car in this class. Most are rear-wheel drive, although all-wheel-drive was available, and the bulk of them are powered by a 3.0-liter V6 with about 300 hp. They’re quick and they handle well — and they look great inside and out, thanks to sleek lines and a feature-filled interior with two infotainment screens.
2017 Hyundai Azera
The front-wheel drive Hyundai Azera is considered a full-size sedan, larger than the more popular Sonata and aligned against cars like the Toyota Avalon and Chevy Impala. Although the Azera is attractive, luxurious and spacious, it has never sold in very big numbers. Despite its unusual name, large back seat, powerful V6 engine, and respectable fuel economy, it never pinged the radar of most buyers.
Because of this, the Azera is no longer on sale in the U.S. Its most recent version was sold from 2012 to 2017, and the model's anonymity makes Azeras incredibly strong values for used car shoppers looking for a comfortable sedan with plenty of features on a tight budget. Low-mileage 2017 models cost under $20,000 and older examples are even more affordable. High-mileage examples cost less than $10,000.