Consumers searching for wallet-friendly wheels don't need to sacrifice safety, reliability and cabin comfort, according to Cars.com. The site recently announced its list of the best late-model used cars shoppers can buy on a budget of $10,000. Consumers looking for used cars to purchase often turn to the Internet for information to help them make their purchase. In fact, SEMA research has shown that, after personal experience and magazines, consumers say that the Internet influences which vehicles they purchase. With that said, paying attention to which vehicles some websites are recommending could help to gauge the vehicles consumers will be buying.
Cars.com says that a lot of people don't want to commit to five years of monthly payments for a brand-new car. With that in mind, Cars.com crunched retail values for late-model used cars and factored in reliability ratings, safety equipment and crash-test scores. What began as a list of 215 contenders from 2002 models onward shrank to 40 finalists. To pare things further, criteria such as gas mileage, cabin comfort and driving refinement were also taken into account. Finally, the team took a hard look at how many of these used cars had key safety features such as side-impact airbags and antilock brakes installed.
These 10 cars top Cars.com's list of best used cars for $10,000 along with a brief description of why they chose that particular vehicle.
2005 Ford Focus: The restyled 2005 Focus offers nimble handling with few of the equipment recalls that beset the early-2000s original. With a manual transmission, the Focus returns highway gas mileage in the 30s.
2003 Ford Taurus: The Taurus is a sound used-car choice for families and sensible for young drivers, Cars.com comments. Both the wagon and sedan offer generous cabin and luggage space, not to mention top reliability and crash-test scores.
2003 Mazda Protégé: It's a fun little car, remarks Cars.com editors, with Mazda's trademark steering precision and affable styling that has yet to grow old. The 2.0L four-cylinder is quicker than consumers may think, and highway gas mileage rates in the high 20s.
2003 Mercury Sable: The Taurus' upscale twin offers slightly better reliability ratings and the same stalwart crash-test scores. Factor in standard antilock brakes and available side airbags—they were installed on nearly one-fifth of all 2003 Sables—making it a solid commuter car.
2002 Buick LeSabre: Cars.com states that the LeSabre is a comfortable car for drivers young and old, and the 2002 model came chock full of safety features: antilock brakes, side airbags and active head restraints were standard, and an optional electronic stability system—a rare safety feature five years ago.
2002 Chevrolet Impala: Chevy's 2000–05 iteration of the Impala arguably boasted sharper styling than its anonymous successor. Either of the two V6s provides adequate grunt, Cars.com says.
2002 Ford Windstar: Minivan lovers can fill the Windstar with up to seven people, and there are plenty of bells and whistles for those who want them—from power-sliding doors and rear parking sensors to power front seats and heated leather upholstery.
2002 Honda Accord: The sixth generation, built from 1998–2002, delivered excellent reliability and respectable crash-test ratings. High-ticket safety options were widely incorporated: side airbags came on 46% of 2002 Accords, and ABS made its way into nearly 60%. Combine the stick shift and four-cylinder for highway gas mileage in the high 20s; it drops to the mid-20s with the V6 and automatic.
2002 Honda Civic: The Civic combines thriftiness and refinement in a way few others can, making it an excellent choice for those who often drive solo, Cars.com notes. The four-cylinder won't impress anyone with its performance, but it turns out highway gas mileage in the mid-30s.
2002 Oldsmobile Aurora: Cars.com comments that the Aurora is proof you can buy a used luxury car for around $10,000. The restyled early-2000s model earns high marks for reliability and crashworthiness. It says that most examples should have all the luxury consumers need; leather upholstery, a power driver's seat and automatic climate control came on all models, as did antilock brakes and side airbags.
Source: Cars.com. (August 6, 2007). "Cars.com Announces Wallet-Friendly Wheels." Cars.com press release courtesy of PR Newswire.com.