Best used cars for under $15,000
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Consider this a quick cheat sheet, highlighting some standout models. For a deeper look at your options, tour the used-car section of ConsumerReports.org, where you'll find reliability data, road tests, pricing, and much more. That said, we've selected these models as great choices.
Each performed well in our testing when new and had above-average reliability for the model years shown, based on our Annual Auto Survey. All of the models came standard with electronic stability control (ESC), a proven lifesaver, during the years indicated.
Less than $10,000
Sedans: Hyundai Sonata (4cyl.) 2008 and Acura TSX 2004
The economical and efficient Sonata has a decent ride, secure handling, and a responsive four-cylinder engine that returned 23 mpg overall. The Acura TSX is a more upscale and sportier alternative. (Get detailed pricing.)
SUVs: Toyota RAV4 (4-cyl.) 2004
The RAV4 was redesigned in 2001, but it wasn't until 2004 that it got standard antilock brakes and ESC. It has nimble handling, good brakes, easy cabin access, and a particularly strong engine. Fuel economy of 21 mpg is decent for an all-wheel-drive SUV. (Get detailed pricing.)
Small cars: 2011 Honda Fit and 2011 Mazda3
The Fit is an excellent choice among hatchbacks. It has amazing space utilization; responsive, agile handling; and a super-efficient four-cylinder engine that returns 30 mpg overall with an automatic transmission. For a bit more refinement, look for a Mazda3 hatchback or sedan. (Get detailed pricing.)