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Best Used Cars 2011

Bargains in used cars are increasingly harder to find. Fewer new-car sales over the past couple of years meant fewer trade-ins and vehicles coming off lease.

Plus, in the wake of the recession, buyers turned to used cars in a big way, tightening supply even more.

We picked ten vehicles -- seven sedans, two SUVs and one convertible -- that received top scores in Kiplinger's rankings for performance, value and safety, get high marks for reliability, and won’t drain your wallet at the gas pump.

Dealer and private-party prices are based on actual transactions reported by Edmunds.com for previously owned vehicles considered to be in "clean" condition and driven an average of 12,000 miles a year. We also include the certified used price of each vehicle, based on actual sales. Certified vehicles pass a rigorous inspection and include a warranty that goes beyond the car's original warranty.


Best Used Cars 2011

2008 Honda CR-V LX

Price when new: $21,370
Dealer used price: $16,438
Private-party price: $15,359
Certified used price: $17,556
MPG (city/hwy): 20/27

Known for reliability, Honda's CR-V has always scored well on the Kiplinger value scale. The 2008 model won Best in Class Small Crossover for its spacious interior, loads of cargo room and great fuel economy. A 2008 LX now costs $4,900 less, on average, at dealers than the original sticker price.


2009 Ford Fusion SE

2009 Ford Fusion SE

Price when new: $21,775
Dealer used price: $16,055
Private-party price: $14,352
Certified used price: $16,843
MPG (city/hwy): 20/28

Redesigned for 2009, the Fusion earned a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when equipped with optional stability control. The family-friendly sedan has six airbags, plenty of legroom and a spacious trunk for road trips. It also handles well around town.


2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Price when new
: $33,135 (base model)

Dealer used price: $20,553
Private-party price: $19,059
Certified used price: $22,371
MPG (city/hwy): 28/25

Introduced for the 2006 model year, the Highlander Hybrid hit its stride for reliability a year later. With the optional third row of seats, it accommodates seven. It boasts top-notch safety with standard stability and traction control, plus it gets nearly 65% better city mileage than the gas-engine Highlander V6.


2007 Volvo S60 2.5T

2007 Volvo S60 2.5T

Price when new: $31,580
Dealer used price: $15,051
Private-party price: $13,550
Certified used price: $17,243
MPG (city/hwy): 19/28

With a 2.5-liter, turbocharged engine, the S60 puts out 208 horsepower but still gets nearly 30 miles to the gallon on the highway. Even better, the 2007 model has stellar reliability ratings, the safety that's synonymous with Volvo -- and a steep markdown from the original sticker price.


2008 Hyundai Elantra SE

2008 Hyundai Elantra SE

Price when new: $17,845
Dealer used price: $12,026
Private-party price: $10,969
Certified used price: $13,317
MPG (city/hwy): 25/33

Up-sized in its 2007 redesign, the compact Elantra offers more interior room than pricier rivals Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, and it has six standard airbags (optional on the Corolla). Hyundai's five-year/60,000-mile warranty will still be in effect, too (but the 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't transfer to new owners).

2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

Price when new: $22,260
Dealer used price: $16,259
Private-party price: $14,791
Certified used price: $17,316
MPG (city/hwy): 23/31

Rocketing from zero to 60 miles per hour in about seven seconds, the Altima gets the jump on its competition in the sporty driving category. It also gets our vote as a family sedan with six airbags, good crash-test ratings and 31 mpg on the highway.


2008 Honda Fit

2008 Honda Fit

Price when new: $14,620 (base model)
Dealer used price: $11,051
Private-party price: $10,276
Certified used price: $11,667
MPG (city/hwy): 28/34

The Fit might look small from the outside, but inside it has plenty of legroom and cargo space -- its 21 cubic feet matches that in the Ford Taurus. J.D. Power rated the 2008 tops for reliability in the subcompact segment. Its stellar fuel economy makes it popular as gas prices soar.

2008 Toyota Prius

2008 Toyota Prius

Price when new
: $21,610 (standard model)
Dealer used price: $15,231
Private-party price: $14,257
Certified used price: $16,677
MPG (city/hwy): 48/45

America's best-selling hybrid will always be in demand when gas prices rise. But saving $6,400 over the original price should give you some peace of mind upfront, never mind your savings at the pump. The Prius offers best-in-class legroom and plenty of cargo space, too.

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport

2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport

Price when new: $23,500 (manual, soft top)
Dealer used price: $18,501
Private-party price: $16,967
Certified used price: $20,197
MPG (city/hwy): 22/28

The third-generation Miata roadster is available with a soft top or a retractable hard top. Its four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission, puts out 167 horses, and it gets 28 mpg on the highway. Plus, zoom-zoom driving dynamics are baked in.

2009 Mercedes-Benz E350

2009 Mercedes-Benz E350

Price when new: $54,075
Dealer used price: $34,155
Private-party price: $32,710
Certified used price: $36,437
MPG (city/hwy): 17/24

Mercedes' most popular sedan is sleek, boasts lap-of-luxury appointments inside and has a used price that's nearly $20,000 less than its new-car price. Plus, you get a full complement of safety features, including Mercedes' Pre-Safe, which anticipates an impending crash and cinches seatbelts and closes windows.