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What Are the Best Used Cars for $15,000?

best-cars-under-15K.jpg 2016 Toyota Camry | Cars.com graphic by Paul Dolan

It’s no secret that used-car prices have gone through the roof. You have to work harder these days to find a good buy on a safe, reliable used car. But good cars still exist that can fit your budget. To help your search, we poured over Cars.com’s listings to find a selection of solid vehicles for a $15,000 budget, but tap the links below to see our picks if you’re on a $10,000 or $20,000 budget.

Related: What Are the Best Used Cars for $10,000?
Related: What Are the Best Used Cars for $20,000?

We included a variety of vehicles that can meet different needs and tastes — be it a car, truck, SUV or minivan — avoiding anything before the 2012 model year, as such examples are likely to have higher mileage and more mechanical problems. Some of our candidates offer sportier driving, more tech or a fancier interior, but all meet specific criteria to qualify for our list. First, Cars.com editors have judged them to be good vehicles for the years in question. They also all have respectable reliability scores in U.S. Vehicle Dependability studies by analytics company J.D. Power. And they all have no red flags for their day from crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Then comes the hard part, given that the federal government’s inflation report in June showed vehicle prices up 30% from the same period a year prior. Cars.com analyzed thousands of used-car listings as of June to identify vehicles that meet these criteria but also have a median price of about $15,000 — half of all used examples priced above the mark and half below — so you should be able to get one for about that much.

Unless noted otherwise, the listings below include all body styles and powertrains offered in those years. If you tap the link to each vehicle’s model years, details and reviews, you’ll see complete data on trim levels and features you might find while shopping.

Here are our safe and reliable choices for around $15,000, listed by type. Of note, our listed EPA mileage comes after revisions the agency issued in early 2016 that may affect stated mileage as far back as 2011. As such, figures on certain older cars below may not align with original window-sticker mileage.

Subcompact Car

2016-17 Kia Soul

kia-soul-2017-rear-three-quarter-oem 2017 Kia Soul | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat hatchback
  • Median price: About $14,000-$15,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 26-28 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (2016 with optional forward collision warning)

Note that this entry excludes the all-electric Soul EV, which has limited availability. Kia’s boxy, funky subcompact doesn’t offer all-wheel drive, but it remains a worthy, less expensive alternative to any subcompact SUV. It has surprising people and cargo space for its city-size footprint, and it can handle awkward cargo through the big liftgate. The Soul can ride a bit busy and choppy — not unexpected for a car with such a short wheelbase — but it’s comfortable overall.

USB and Bluetooth are standard, but otherwise, the base model is plain, underpowered and sparsely equipped; even a backup camera was optional. A better choice is the Soul’s mid-level Plus trim, which gets an engine upgrade and more features. The Soul’s top Exclaim trim level had more features and options, from navigation to ventilated front seats, a panoramic moonroof and keyless entry with push-button start. The 2017 Soul introduced a new 201-horsepower, turbocharged engine for the top trim that also had the highest mileage rating of the three available powertrains.

Research Kia Soul model years, details and reviews.

Compact Cars

2013-16 Acura ILX

acura-ilx-2013-exterior-side-profile-oem 2013 Acura ILX | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $16,000-$17,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 25-29 mpg (gas-only); 38 mpg (hybrid)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (2013); Top Safety Pick Plus (2016 with optional automatic emergency braking)

Acura is Honda’s luxury division, and if you want a premium alternative to the Civic, this is it. Based on the Civic’s bones, the ILX was an all-new entry model for Acura for the 2013 model year. But it’s not just a dressed-up Civic — it’s lower and heavier than its Honda sibling, with upgraded suspension bits and steering, too. The ILX is noticeably quieter than a Civic, and its interior is competitive with entry-premium sedans of its day. Ride quality is good, and handling is competent. The base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (through 2015) has a good balance of power and fuel efficiency. An upgraded 2.4-liter four-cylinder came only with a manual shifter for 2013-15. The 2016 ILX got modest styling changes and dropped the 2.0-liter, while the 2.4-liter became standard and paired with a new eight-speed automatic. More importantly, a well-rated automatic emergency braking became optional. It also got a new A-Spec option package with sportier exterior and interior trim. A hybrid version of the ILX was available for the earlier model years, but if that’s your inclination, it might pay to shop for the more efficient Civic Hybrid of its time.

Research Acura ILX model years, details and reviews.
Research Acura ILX Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

2014-15 Chevrolet Volt

chevrolet-volt-2015-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2015 Chevrolet Volt | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, four-seat plug-in hybrid hatchback
  • Median price: About $14,000-$16,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 98 mpg-equivalent, with 37 mpg as a hybrid after 38 miles of all-electric range on a full battery charge
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2014 with optional front crash prevention); Top Safety Pick (2015)

The main appeal of the Volt PHEV, which remains in its first generation for these model years, is a useful all-electric range for daily driving, plus good fuel economy (albeit on premium gas) running as a gas-electric hybrid for longer trips free of range anxiety. These model years still have a four-seat interior layout with a divided backseat. The Volt has quality interior materials, though its touch-sensitive center controls can be annoying. A backup camera remained optional, and it’s worth looking for given the Volt’s otherwise limited rear visibility. 

Research Chevrolet Volt model years, details and reviews.

2013-15 Honda Civic

honda-civic-2015-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2015 Honda Civic | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan or two-door, five-seat coupe
  • Median price: About $13,000-$15,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 25-34 mpg (gas-only); 44 mpg (hybrid); 31 mpg-e (natural gas)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (2015 sedan, 2014-15 coupe); Top Safety Pick Plus (2013-14 sedan with optional forward collision warning; 2013 coupe)

The 2013 Civic got an urgent makeover after its 2012 redesign opened to tepid reviews. In addition to a new look and improved interior materials, it also got a standard backup camera, USB port and Bluetooth connectivity. The suspension also was tweaked to offer better ride and handling — to the point of shaming the rival Toyota Corolla of its time. The Civic’s coupe body style got the makeover for the 2014 model year, and higher-trim Civics got the option of a new 7-inch touchscreen system (plagued with a maddening touch bar for volume). The Civic is more a line of cars than a single model. In addition to the mass-market sedan and coupe, this generation of Civic also offered a sportier Si version with more power (and only a stick shift) as well as hybrid and natural-gas versions. 

Research Honda Civic model years, details and reviews.
Research Honda Civic hybrid model years, details and reviews.

2014-17 Mazda3

mazda3-2017-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2017 Mazda3 | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan or hatchback
  • Median price: About $14,000-$17,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 28-33 mpg 
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2014-16 models with optional automatic emergency braking, starting with 2014s built after Mazda made changes in October 2013 to improve crashworthiness; 2017 models with optional automatic emergency braking and specific headlights)

The Mazda3 was redesigned for 2014 with a sleek new look and upgraded interior, but it retained core values in good handling and driving fun. It offered two powertrains, with the more powerful option getting increased fuel efficiency. But it continued to have a tighter rear seat, firmer ride and less cargo room than a lot of rivals, so compact-car shoppers who value practicality over driving fun should look elsewhere. The 2017 model year brought styling, interior and media updates, but the Mazda3 still didn’t offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, which had become widely available by then. A low-speed front collision system with automatic braking was available for these years. 

Research Mazda3 model years, details and reviews.

2017 Toyota Corolla

toyota-corolla-2017-rear-three-quarter-oem 2017 Toyota Corolla | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan or hatchback
  • Median price: About $17,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 30-34 mpg 
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (sedan)

Midway through its extant generation, the 2017 Corolla got a light update with a big new grille. More importantly, it also got an impressive infusion of standard safety and driver-assistance features including a backup camera, a forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane departure steering assist, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. The top XLE trim level has a media system with navigation and 7-inch touchscreen but still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. What hadn’t changed was the nameplate’s strong reliability, as well as its roomy but downscale interior, economy-car driving feel and noisy engine. The Corolla inherited a hatchback stablemate this year, dubbed the Corolla iM. It was previously sold as the Scion iM before Toyota retired the brand.

Research Toyota Corolla model years, details and reviews.
Research Toyota Corolla iM model years, details and reviews.

2014-15 Toyota Prius

toyota-prius-2015-exterior-side-profile-oem 2015 Toyota Prius | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat hybrid or plug-in-hybrid hatchback
  • Median price: About $13,000-$17,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 48 mpg (hybrid); 95 mpg-e with 50 mpg after 11 miles of all-electric range on a full charge (plug-in hybrid)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2014-15 with optional automatic emergency braking, starting with 2014s built after Toyota made changes in November 2013 to improve crashworthiness)

The Prius maintained its primary virtues — exceptional gas mileage and a roomy cabin — as well as its ongoing flaws: a busy, noisy ride and a dated cabin versus an expanding list of high-mileage rivals. But 2014 did bring the hatchback an optional forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking that earned top IIHS safety scores. And many examples in this vintage might still have some of the transferable battery warranty, which was eight years/100,000 miles or, in states that adopted California emissions standards, 10 years/150,000 miles.

Research Toyota Prius model years, details and reviews.
Research Toyota Prius Plug-In model years, details and reviews.

2016-17 Volkswagen Jetta

volkswagen-jetta-2016-exterior-front-oem 2016 Volkswagen Jetta | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $14,000-$16,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 27-33 mpg (gas-only); 44 mpg (hybrid) 
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2016 with optional automatic emergency braking; 2017 with optional automatic emergency braking and specific headlights)

This generation of Jetta lived in the shadow of the better-known Asian compact cars in part because of sedate styling and a dated interior design. But it distinguishes itself with confident handling, a quiet cabin, an adult-size rear seat and the trunk space of a larger, mid-size car. The 2016 model at last got a standard USB port, as well as available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also got a significantly more efficient base turbo 1.4-liter engine. Also offered in 2016 was a high-mileage Jetta Hybrid. For both years, VW also offered a separate, higher-price GLI version with upscale interior trim, its own chassis tuning and a 210-hp powertrain.

Research Volkswagen Jetta model years, details and reviews.
Research Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

Compact SUVs

2014-16 Chevrolet Equinox and 2014-15 GMC Terrain

chevrolet-equinox-2014-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2014 Chevrolet Equinox | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat SUV
  • Median price: About $13,500-$16,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 18-26 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2014 with optional forward collision warning); Top Safety Pick (2015 and 2016 with optional forward collision warning)

The first-generation small SUV twins from GM, the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, continue into these model years with a few updates but no major changes to their primary strengths. They’re essentially the same SUV with different styling, so the choice is one of taste. But both are about a half-size larger than rivals, which shows in cabin comfort, ride and noise refinement, which all suggest a bigger vehicle. Interior space is enhanced by a sliding and reclining rear bench for grown-up comfort. Bluetooth calling and a USB port are standard, but if Bluetooth audio streaming is a priority, you’ll need to get the upgraded media system and 8-inch touchscreen. An underwhelming four-cylinder or powerful V-6 were the SUVs’ engine offerings at the time, the latter with up to 3,500 pounds of towing capacity. The pair was aging yet still finished second and third overall in Cars.com’s 2015 comparison of eight compact SUVs

Research Chevrolet Equinox model years, details and reviews.
Research GMC Terrain model years, details and reviews.

2014-15 Mazda CX-5

mazda-cx-5-2014-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2014 Mazda CX-5 | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat compact SUV
  • Median price: $16,000-$16,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 26-29 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2014-15 with optional automatic emergency braking, starting with 2014s built after Mazda made changes in October 2013 to improve crashworthiness)

The CX-5 was an all-new Mazda SUV for the 2013 model year. The 2014 addressed a major criticism that the debut model was woefully underpowered with the option of a bigger 2.5-liter four-cylinder (the CX-5 otherwise gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder); it made a big difference with little loss of fuel mileage, and it’s the one to get. Beyond that, the CX-5 was stylish and a little smaller than some other compact SUVs of its day, with an adequate but smallish rear seat and cargo area in its well-appointed interior. As with other Mazdas, the CX-5 distinguishes itself with better handling — and a firmer ride — than most of the competition, not to mention a multimedia system that trails many rivals for overall usability. A low-speed automatic emergency braking system became an option as of 2014; it figures into the SUV’s IIHS safety ratings.

Research Mazda CX-5 model years, details and reviews.

2014-16 Nissan Rogue

nissan-rogue-2015-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2015 Nissan Rogue | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five- or seven-seat compact SUV
  • Median price: About $15,000-$17,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 24-28 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2014 with optional forward collision warning); Top Safety Pick (2015 and 2016 with optional forward collision warning)

Redesigned for 2014 and immediately popular, the new-generation Rogue held notable people and cargo space, with quality interior materials and a chassis tuned more for a comfortable and quiet ride. The continuously variable automatic transmission carried over and continued to contribute drivetrain noise in an otherwise quiet cabin; Nissan also sold a related Rogue Hybrid in small numbers. Newly optional on the Rogue was a small third row, but it’s sized only for kids. This generation got updated electronics and the option of a 360-degree camera system, and automatic emergency braking became optional for the 2016 model year. Note that we are talking here about the updated Rogue — not the Rogue Select, an older-generation Rogue sold briefly alongside the newer model.

Research Nissan Rogue model years, details and reviews.
Research Nissan Rogue Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

Mid-Size Cars

2013-14 Buick LaCrosse

buick-lacrosse-2014-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2014 Buick LaCrosse | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $13,500-$16,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 20-29 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (2013)

The LaCrosse, from GM’s near-premium Buick brand, is comfortable, quiet, smooth-riding and well built. Somewhere in between mid-size and full-size cars, it’s a little trimmer in exterior size, backseat and trunk space than larger cars of its time. Buick offered a base four-cylinder mild-hybrid powertrain with electric boost that provided class-leading mileage, though it made the car somewhat underpowered. The hybrid drivetrain’s battery cuts into trunk space further, too, so you might want to consider the V-6 model, whose smooth-revving V-6 kept more with the LaCrosse’s premium billing. All-wheel drive was an option with the V-6. Buick’s more modern IntelliLink touchscreen media system became standard for 2013, and the 2014 model year saw a freshening with styling tweaks and interior upgrades.

Research Buick LaCrosse model years, details and reviews.

2014-16 Buick Regal

buick-regal-2016-exterior-side-oem 2016 Buick Regal | Manufacturer image
  • Type: four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $12,500-$17,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 2228 mpg

Smaller than its LaCrosse sibling, the Regal got a lightly refreshed exterior and interior for 2014 that enhanced its appeal as a more premium mid-size choice, but it remained smaller outside and tighter inside (particularly in the backseat) than more family-oriented rivals. The redo also brought a new 259-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as standard equipment. A carryover mild-hybrid option remained available but was limited to fleet buyers in 2016. New options on 2014 models were a blind spot warning system, adaptive cruise control and a forward collision warning system with or without automatic emergency braking. The 2016 model added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

Research Buick Regal model years, details and reviews.

2014-16 Ford Fusion

ford-fusion-2016-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2016 Ford Fusion | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $12,500-$15,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 25-29 mpg (gas-only); 41 mpg (hybrid); 88 mpg-e with 38 mpg after 20 miles of all-electric range on a full charge (plug-in hybrid)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2014 with optional front crash prevention); Top Safety Pick (2015)

This generation of the Fusion, redesigned for 2013, offered four four-cylinder engines, three of them turbocharged, as well as an improved gas-electric Fusion Hybrid and plug-in-hybrid Fusion Energi. It also offered all-wheel drive on top trim levels. Among non-hybrid models, the mileage king was a new-for-2014 turbo 1.5-liter engine. Despite some hard-to-use controls, the Fusion was more fun to drive than most of the competition, and classier in terms of looks and interior design — as long as you avoid the base S model, which a Cars.com reviewer described at the time as “ridiculously cheap, with almost laughably bad seat fabric and acres of gray plastic.” 

Research Ford Fusion model years, details and reviews.
Research Ford Fusion Hybrid model years, details and reviews.
Research Ford Fusion Energi model years, details and reviews.

2013-15 Honda Accord

honda-accord-2015-exterior-rear-three-quarter-oem 2015 Honda Accord coupe | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan or two-door, five-seat coupe
  • Median price: About $15,000-$17,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 21-30 mpg (gas-only); 47 mpg (hybrid); 115 mpg-e with 46 mpg after 13 miles of all-electric range on a full charge (plug-in hybrid)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2013 and 2014 with optional forward collision warning); Top Safety Pick (2015)

Along with Toyota’s Camry, the Accord is one of the go-to choices in mid-size sedans for a pleasant, smooth and quiet family car. It was redesigned for the 2013 model year, with a sportier coupe sold alongside the sedan. The Accord offered four-cylinder, V-6 and hybrid powertrains (as well as a plug-in hybrid, briefly). But the four-cylinder is a good choice — adequate and efficient for the family car without the cost in trunk space of the hybrid’s batteries. The Accord Hybrid is a good hybrid, however, and at the right price could be a pick for commuter duty. The new generation got more refinement, particularly inside, with Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port for even the base media system.  

Research Honda Accord model years, details and reviews.
Research Honda Accord Hybrid model years, details and reviews.
Research Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

2014-16 Mazda6

mazda6-2015-exteiror-front-three-quarter-oem 2015 Mazda6 | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $14,000-$17,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 29-32 mpg 
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2014-16 with optional automatic emergency braking)

Sometimes overlooked among mid-size sedans, the Mazda6 is the fun-to-drive choice in these years — not to mention one of the more stylish ones with its 2014 redesign. The 2014 model year also brought Mazda’s SkyActiv powertrain technology with significantly improved fuel efficiency for the four-cylinder, while the prior generation’s V-6 option was dropped. In higher trim levels, the Mazda6’s interior has a more premium, driver-centric design than most in the class, though noise can intrude. Low-speed automatic emergency braking was available on higher trim levels and figures into the sedan’s IIHS safety ratings. The 2015 model carries over, but the 2016 Mazda6 got some mild styling tweaks, a revised dashboard, availability of higher-speed automatic braking and a new media system with center console controller.

Research Mazda6 model years, details and reviews.

2014-16 Toyota Camry

toyota-camry-2016-exterior-action-front-oem 2016 Toyota Camry | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $15,000-$17,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 25-28 mpg (gas only), 39-40 mpg (hybrid)  
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (2014s built after Toyota made changes in December 2013 to improve crashworthiness); IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2015-16 with optional automatic emergency braking)

The Camry is a safe, reliable mid-size family sedan that’s good at most things and thrilling at none. The 2014 model’s roots date to a redesign for the 2012 model year, while the 2015 model brought more aggressive exterior styling. But a ‘15 or ‘16 Camry feels and drives about the same as before; it’s also about the same on the inside, which is to say comfortable but a little low-rent, with media tech that’s a step behind others of its era. V-6 and hybrid versions are available, but the standard four-cylinder is the sweet spot for mileage and price.

Research Toyota Camry model years, details and reviews.
Research Toyota Camry Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

2016 Volkswagen Passat

volkswagen-passat-2016-exterior-side-profile-oem 2016 Volkswagen Passat | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $15,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 23-29 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2016 with optional automatic emergency braking) 

The Passat was Cars.com’s Best of 2012 model in that generation’s debut year, and it’s a roomy, near-full-size sedan with a quality interior, giant backseat, smooth ride and sporty handling. It got a freshening for 2016 that brought multimedia system updates, added safety features and better gas mileage. Formerly behind in multimedia, the 2016 model year brought a new system with a USB port, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility on all but the base trim level, called the S. The Passat also got a standard backup camera and low-speed automatic emergency braking system on SE trims and above.

Research Volkswagen Passat model years, details and reviews.

2012-15 Volvo S60

volvo-s60-2015-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2015 Volvo S60 | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $14,000-$17,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 21-29 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (2013-15); Top Safety Pick (2012)

Redesigned for 2011, the S60 is on the small side of mid-size but has a stylish premium look and upscale interior. The 2012-15 model years offered a buffet of choices in trim levels and options, as well as four-, five- or six-cylinder engines and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive; the link below will let you sort out what was offered by model year. Notable is that these cars are among the first to have standard low-speed automatic emergency braking.

Research Volvo S60 model years, details and reviews.

Mid-Size SUV 

2012-13 Toyota Venza

toyota-venza-2012-exterior-side-profile-oem 2012 Toyota Venza | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat SUV
  • Median price: About $15,000-$16,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 21-23 mpg
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (both years)

Essentially a high-riding revival of the former Camry wagon, the Venza is a comfortable, well-behaved SUV with a nicer interior than the Camry of its time (not exactly a high bar). With a more carlike design than that of most mid-size SUVs, the Venza may turn off shoppers who want traditional upright SUV styling. The Venza can be a little noisy on the highway, with a ride on the firm side without a lot of payoff in handling. All-wheel drive was an option, as was a workhorse V-6 that gets nearly the mileage of the base four-cylinder. 

Research Toyota Venza model years, details and reviews.

Three-Row SUV

2012 Toyota Highlander

toyota-highlander-2012-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2012 Toyota Highlander | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, seven-seat SUV
  • Median price: About $16,500
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 19-22 mpg (gas-only); 28 mpg (hybrid)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick

The popularity of SUVs and the Highlander’s reputation for reliability has kept used prices up even for older model years. But it’s a smooth-riding SUV with a family-friendly, if cheap-feeling, interior. The second row slides to allow passengers to compromise with those in the third row for legroom. The second-row bench seat in this generation also has a novel, removable middle section that converts the bench to captain’s chairs with a pass-through. A backup camera came on all but the base trim. Four-cylinder and V-6 gasoline engines were offered; a V-6 hybrid version was also available, but it could be harder to find.

Research Toyota Highlander model years, details and reviews.
Research Toyota Highlander Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

Full-Size Cars

2014-15 Kia Cadenza

kia-cadenza-2014-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2014 Kia Cadenza | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $15,500-$17,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 22 mpg 
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (2014)

The Cadenza made its debut in 2014, and it’s a classy sedan with a premium look and feel, plus a quiet interior, lots of room, V-6 power and a generous load of standard features even in the lower of its two trim levels. It looks and feels more expensive than you’d expect with its price and Kia badge. 

Research Kia Cadenza model years, details and reviews.

2013 Toyota Avalon

toyota-avalon-2013-exterior-front-three-quarter-oem 2013 Toyota Avalon | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat sedan
  • Median price: About $17,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 24-25 mpg (gas-only); 40 mpg (hybrid)
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick

Redesigned for 2013, the Avalon is a bigger, nicer V-6 Camry that’s a good family road-tripper — though it trades the prior generation’s boatlike softness for somewhat firmer suspension tuning. The backseat has adult-size comfort and the trunk is huge. Even the base trim has a lot of features, though it would be worth looking for one with the upgraded 7-inch navigation touchscreen.

Research Toyota Avalon model years, details and reviews.
Research Toyota Avalon Hybrid model years, details and reviews.

Minivan

2012-13 Honda Odyssey

honda-odyssey-2012-exterior-rear-three-quarter-oem 2012 Honda Odyssey | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, seven- or eight-seat minivan
  • Median price: About $14,000-$16,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 21-22 mpg 
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick (both years)

This prototypical family hauler was redesigned for the 2011 model year, and this generation has eight seats on all but the base LX trim level. The Odyssey includes an expandable second row that fits three child-safety seats, with a built-in trash bag holder and plenty of cupholders for cans, bottles and juice boxes. It also has comparable cargo space to rivals of its vintage. 

Research Honda Odyssey model years, details and reviews.

Pickup Truck

2012 Honda Ridgeline

honda-ridgeline-2012-exterior-side-profile-oem 2012 Honda Ridgeline | Manufacturer image
  • Type: Four-door, five-seat pickup
  • Median price: About $17,000
  • EPA combined fuel economy: 17 mpg 
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick

The Ridgeline from this era won’t win any beauty contests and it’s no heavy-duty brute, but it’s plenty of pickup for most buyers. Based on the Pilot SUV, the Ridgeline has a comfortable cabin and carlike manners, but with a 5-foot bed and 5,000-pound towing capacity. A signature feature is its large, lockable under-bed storage, which allows storing items out of sight in the equivalent space of a small hatchback’s trunk. 

Research Honda Ridgeline model years, details and reviews.

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