With gas prices soaring and money tighter than skinny jeans on a Sumo wrestler, finding a great deal on a certified ride is more important than ever for car shoppers. And guess what: You can actually get a quality vehicle for about $10,000, or even less.
In their search for the ultimate used-car values, editors at Cars.com closely examined vehicles ranging from the 2005 model year on up with typical mileage for their age and a sticker price hovering around $10,000. Here’s what they came up with.
2009-10 Nissan Versa
The hatchback version of this entry-level Nissan costs a smidge more than the sedan, but either is an outstanding package, especially given the Versa’s fine fuel efficiency — up to 34 mpg highway and 27 city. The Versa is, well, quite versatile for a subcompact, with a roomy backseat and overall interior space that’s top of its segment.
2007 Kia Optima
This well-equipped sedan is a good example of why Kia’s stateside popularity has surged in recent years. Kia’s all about maximizing quality, while keeping its cars remarkably affordable. Packing one of the best CPO powertrain warranties in the game — 10 years/100,000 miles — the ’07 Optima is fitted with a 2.4-liter I-4 or 2.7-liter V-6, the latter rated at 185 horsepower.
2006 Ford Freestar
Singled out as a smart choice for growing families seeking value, the Freestar minivan offers space and versatility, perfect for hauling kids, sports equipment and camping gear — at the same time. The third-row seats fold for extra room and a power tailgate is available.
2006 Ford Fusion
Based on the sporty Mazda6 platform, the four-door Fusion sedan offers nimble handling, a roomy fold-down backseat and plenty of space for junk in its trunk. This Fusion packs an I-4 rated up to 32 mpg through a smooth six-speed automatic transmission, or a 3.1-liter 221-horsepower V-6.
2006 Hyundai Sonata
The four-door Sonata sedan broke barriers in its class with a well-designed exterior and roomy interior that comfortably seats a family of four. It heralded Hyundai’s remarkable turnaround, pioneering the concept of advanced standard safety features in an affordable package.
2006 Mitsubishi Galant
This attractive four-door sedan looks as young as ever — the 2006 model really isn’t much different from a new Galant, as the editors pointed out. The sporty Galant offers great value, has plenty of interior space and scored an excellent crash-test rating.
2005 Ford Five Hundred
Surprised? The Five Hundred never really took off — it was introduced in ’05 and lasted only three years, surpassed in popularity by its successor, the Taurus. But this spacious four-door sedan has a huge backseat, and the large trunk can haul plenty of luggage.
2005 Honda Accord Sedan
Old Reliable — with a bulletproof reputation and a side order of class. The midsize Accord is a longtime favorite, and for good reason; it’s a responsive, safe and highly efficient family car that gets more than 30 mpg highway through a 2.4-liter I-4 engine. An available 3-liter V-6 delivers 240 horsepower.
2005 Hyundai Tucson
The 2005 Tucson crossover introduced the concept of SUV fun and versatility in a tiny package. It was well-reviewed for its standard safety features and wealth of amenities for its class. The Tucson is outfitted with a 2.7-liter V-6 or 2-liter I-4 rated at 27 mpg highway.
2005-06 Toyota Corolla
The dependable and efficient Corolla has a well-deserved reputation for reliability that makes it one of the most ubiquitous rides on the road. With comfort and a good deal of interior room and cargo space, this era’s Corolla is rated up to 41 mpg.
—Bob Young, Brand Publishing Writer