In order to put together this list of our top choices in the used vehicle market, we prioritized the most important criteria: reliability, safety, value and availability. Eligibility is limited to vehicles from 2-7 years old for the following reasons: Older vehicles will probably have too many miles on them, and newer ones will not have fully taken the large depreciation hit that typically makes a 2- or 3-year-old car (with low miles) the best value. For these reasons, out 2013 list is limited to used cars with model years ranging from 2006-'11.
First, we looked at our consumer ratings as well as sources that report on reliability and longevity, and applied our own experience and judgment to determine a vehicle's reliability. Second, we considered the way these vehicles rated in various crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Third, we looked at value, taking into consideration Edmunds True Market Value and True Cost to Own . And fourth, we considered availability: The larger the spread of potential model years a buyer has to choose from, the better. This is why one (more abundant) car may have beaten out another (less available one) if the two were otherwise closely matched.
The following vehicles are our new selections for the best used cars of 2013.
This selection nearly encompasses the first two generations of the Fusion: 2006-'09 and 2010-'12. Either version of this competent sedan offers a spacious cabin, responsive driving dynamics, solid build quality and attractive styling. The Ford also offers something rather rare in this segment: a sporty driving personality to go along with its practicality. In addition to four- and six-cylinder gasoline engines, Ford offered a hybrid Fusion. It debuted for 2010, sporting a 39 mpg combined fuel economy rating.
Shoppers should be aware of some notable changes over the years. Front-seat side and full-length side curtain airbags became standard for the 2007 model year, so we highly recommend that you seek out a 2007 or newer Ford Fusion. All-wheel drive and a factory navigation system also became available in 2007. The 2009 model year brought optional stability control, a desirable safety feature. Apart from its refreshed front and rear styling, the second-generation Fusion looks similar to the first, but consumers should take note that this later version of the Ford Fusion has more powerful engines and more standard safety features.
Used Toyota Avalon
With its roomy cabin and upscale ambience, the Toyota Avalon is almost a bargain-priced large Lexus sedan. Other Avalon virtues include a smooth and very quiet ride, a powerful yet fuel-efficient V6, a massive backseat and top-notch build quality. Adding peace of mind is Toyota's reputation for reliability.
A used Toyota Avalon from any of these years should satisfy, as they are all similar and changes through the years were minimal. That said, buyers should note that 2009 brought standard stability control across the board, and for 2011, the Avalon saw a mild refresh with updated front and rear styling and a tweaked dashboard design.
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