When it comes to car shopping, $20,000 can go a long way, especially if you’re considering a used car. Buying used means that someone else has taken the initial hit on depreciation, and while it’s not typically the case, USA Today reports that some used cars that were bought in May 2013 have actually appreciated in value, including the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu, Subaru Forester and 2009 Kia Sorento.
Our used car rankings show that there are a lot of options under $20,000, regardless of whether you want to buy a used car, truck or SUV. Here’s a quick look at some top-ranked used cars that have strong reliability ratings within their classes. Since these vehicles are all less than three years old, you also have the option of shopping for a certified pre-owned model, which typically undergo a thorough inspection and are often available with low-interest rate financing and an extended warranty that’s backed by the manufacturer.
Used Hybrid Car: 2012 Toyota Prius
Average Price Paid: $17,225 - $18,444
Reviewers said that the 2012 Prius offers impressive cargo space and a roomy back seat, and the Prius also delivers 51/48 mpg city/highway and a strong list of standard tech features, including Bluetooth and USB connectivity, push-button start and proximity key. If you’re shopping for a certified pre-owned model, the Prius is currently available with 1.9 percent financing for 60 months.
Used Small Car: 2012 Mazda3
Average Price Paid: $11,244 - $18,385
The 2012 Mazda3 is available in sedan or hatchback body styles, and was praised as one of the best-handling cars in its class when it was new. If you’re looking for great fuel economy, an available Skyactiv engine was introduced for 2012 on Mazda3 i Sport, Touring and Grand Touring models, which get up to 28/40 mpg city/highway.
Used Compact SUV: 2011 Honda CR-V
Average Price Paid: $14,806 - $20,064
The 2011 Honda CR-V won our Best Affordable Compact SUV for Families award when it was new, and its excellent reliability rating makes it a standout among used compact SUVs. The 2011 CR-V offers ample cargo space for the class, and won points with critics for its spacious front and rear seats.
Used Midsize Car: 2012 Ford Fusion
Average Price Paid: $12,758 - $19,024
When it was new, the 2012 Fusion pleased reviewers with a powerful V6 engine option, controlled handling and a spacious, high-quality interior. The Fusion also offers a roomy trunk, and is one of the few affordable midsize cars that’s available with all-wheel drive. This month, you can get a certified pre-owned Fusion with financing as low as 1.9 percent.
Used Compact Truck: 2011 Nissan Frontier
Average Price Paid: $13,622 - $22,809
The base 2011 Frontier is an extended cab model, which means you’ll have some extra interior space when shopped against the base 2011 Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma. Test drivers agreed that the Frontier offers controlled handling for a compact truck, and they were pleased with the ample power provided by its available V6 engine.