Best Used Cars, Sedans And SUVs To Buy In 2021-2022
Hanna Kielar8-Minute Read
December 12, 2022
Buying a used car is the best way to make the most out of your car buying budget. You’ll have a much wider variety of options compared to a new car in the same price range. With those options come decisions. Safety ratings could sway those considering a reliable family vehicle while extra features could suit those in search of a luxury ride. The good news is, with the ease of online car buying you don’t have to compromise based on your local inventory.
Several major factors were considered when creating this list, including safety, longevity, capability, comfort, quality, environmental impact and of course, the average cost and the vehicle's typical maintenance needs. We referenced industry-leading sources like IIHS Safety, NHTSA, U.S. News and World Report, Kelley Blue Book, and manufacturer sites to determine ratings and features that make each used car the best in its category.
Table Of Contents
All-Around Top-Rated Used Cars For 2021
The best used cars in 2021 were selected based on driver ratings, consumer reports, model popularity, availability and cost.
1. Hyundai Sonata
Best for: Small families
MPG: 27 city | 37 highway
The Hyundai Sonata is a classic midsize sedan with a sporty appearance that earns good consumer ratings for its drivability, reliability and fuel efficiency. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Sonata a five-star rating, likely for its automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane assist, making it a great choice for your next family vehicle.
2. Kia Sportage
Best for: Affordable SUVs
MPG: 23 city | 30 highway
The Kia Sportage is a small SUV that's typically available at a great price. With a spacious interior, smartphone integration system and high safety ratings, this vehicle is the best compact SUV for the price.
3. Honda Civic
Best for: Reliability
MPG: 33 city | 42 highway
Hondas are known for being reliable and easy to maintain. In 2020 and 2021, the Honda Civic included plenty of standard safety features, including lane departure warning and a backup camera. The Civic gets high consumer scores for drivability and comfort.
Best Value For Used Cars
Getting the best used car for the money you spend is important. These used cars offer the best value.
1. Jeep Wrangler
Best for: Active families
MPG: 20 city | 24 highway
“Affordable” and “fun” are two of the best words to describe the Jeep Wrangler. This SUV is great for off-roading, camping and summertime road trips and has lots of room for the whole family.
2. Kia Cadenza
Best for: Comfort
MPG: 20 city | 28 highway
The Kia Cadenza has all the features of a luxury sedan without the high price tag. The standard model comes with heated front seats, an eight-speaker stereo, four USB ports and a large touch screen infotainment system. Its 2020 and 2021 models include safety features like navigation-based cruise control and reverse automatic braking that enhance the driver experience.
3. Chevrolet Bolt EV
Best for: Affordable electric cars
Electric range: 259 miles
The Chevrolet Bolt is a fully electric car with a lower-than-expected price tag. It includes a sport mode, one-pedal driving technology and 259-mile electric range.
Best In Luxury
Best luxury vehicles feature powerful engines, fun entertainment systems and plenty of cargo space.
1. Jaguar F-Type
Best for: Making a statement
MPG: 18 city | 26 highway
The Jaguar F-Type is a sporty vehicle that drives well and looks even better. It features a V8 engine and packs 296 horsepower at 55,000 RPM. This two-seater vehicle might not be practical for a family, but it's a great way to make a statement.
2. Audi A8 L
Best for: Entertainment
MPG: 17 city | 26 highway
This six-figure large luxury sedan features plenty of interior space and a fully loaded dash that includes Audi's Infotainment system. A 12.3-inch touch screen Virtual Cockpit comes standard, with a wireless smartphone charging pad and twin screens to keep passengers entertained.
3. Cadillac XT5
Best for: Cargo space
MPG: 18 city | 26 highway
The Cadillac XT5 is a midsize luxury SUV that features seating for five. Its roomy interior is accompanied by an oversized trunk. Altogether, this vehicle features 30 cubic feet of cargo space. With a four-cylinder engine that boasts 237 horsepower, the XT5 is more powerful than it looks.
Best Used Hybrid Cars
Hybrid cars offer a great way to reduce your carbon footprint without sacrificing the conveniences of a gas-powered engine. For easy comparison to gas models, we’ve also included the miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (MPGe) for each recommendation. Often, hybrids are among the best-rated used cars.
1. Acura MDX Sport Hybrid
Best for: Affordable luxury
MPGe: 19 city | 26 highway
The Acura MDX is a three-row hybrid SUV that teeters on luxury. The vehicle travels about 24 miles with a full charge before the driver needs to switch to regular operation. The standard AcuraWatch semi-autonomous driving safety feature, luxury interior, and all-wheel drive lend the Acura MDX to a high resale value, making it a great investment.
2. Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
Best for: Affordability
MPGe: 57 city | 58 highway
The Hyundai Ioniq is an excellent vehicle for those on a budget. Drivers can expect to get their hands on a used Ioniq at a relatively affordable cost, and still benefit from its 10 year/100,000 miles battery warranty.
3. Honda CR-V Hybrid
Best for: Long trips
MPGe: 40 city | 35 highway
Honda's 2021 CR-V Hybrid gets great fuel economy and when charged, seamlessly transitions between gas and electric power to save money and reduce emissions. Happy owners report being able to go nearly 600 miles on a single tank of gas.
Best Used Electric Cars
Reducing gas emissions is critical and that's why we've rounded up this list of the best electric cars to buy used.
1. Hyundai Kona Electric
Best for: City driving
Electric range: 258 miles
The Hyundai Kona Electric can go more than 250 miles on a single charge, and with its sharp handling and plentiful built-in tech features, this crossover SUV makes a great choice for city driving.
2. Audi e-tron
Best for: Families
Electric range: 222 miles
The Audi e-tron is a fully electric SUV with a range of approximately 222 miles and a 0-80% battery charge in less than 30 minutes. Its roomy interior makes it great for families, while the sleek features and higher price tag may appeal most to fans of luxury SUVs.
3. Tesla Model X
Best for: Road trips
Electric range: 360 miles
The Model X by Tesla is a powerful electric car with a sporty appearance, plentiful automated features, and a range of up to 360.4 miles. This vehicle is among the highest-performing, automated electric cars on the market.
Best Used Compact Cars
Bigger isn't always better. Here are some of the best used compact cars.
1. Kia Soul
Best for: Interior space
MPG: 28 city | 33 highway
Consumer reviews of the Kia Soul tout it as a compact SUV with a roomy, comfortable interior. In fact, backseat passengers enjoy 24.2 cubic square feet to get comfortable. When the rear seats are down, that space expands to 61.3 cubic square feet.
2. Mazda Mazda3
Best for: Acceleration and handling
MPG: 26 city | 35 highway
The Mazda3 received high safety ratings from the IIHS and comes with features such as smart brake support and lane departure warnings. The 2021 model of this compact sedan features sharp handling and a turbocharged engine.
Best Used Sedans
Sedans generally offer a smooth ride and plenty of space for extra passengers. Here are the best used sedans.
1. Honda Accord
Best for: Reliability
MPG: 48 city | 48 highway
The 2021 Honda Accord receives high ratings across the board. This car is known for being reliable and low maintenance while ensuring a fun ride for drivers and passengers alike. The Accord has always prioritized newer technology in basic trim levels, with Apple CarPlay added as a standard feature in 2016.
2. Nissan Altima
Best for: Automation
MPG: 28 city | 39 highway
The Nissan Altima comes fully loaded with driver automation features, including Nissan's ProPilot Assist. Driver reviews often mention the ease of operation and reliability of this family sedan.
Best Used SUVs
The best used SUVs offer advanced technology, including safety and infotainment features. Here are a few top choices.
1. Audi Q8
Best for: Luxury tastes
MPG: 18 city | 23 highway
Audi's Q8 is a luxury midsize SUV that's packed full of standard features, including driver safety aids, a panoramic sunroof, and a touch-screen digital instrument panel. Drivers rate this SUV well for its ability to drive well through snow and comfortable luxury interior.
2. GMC Acadia
Best for: Carpools
MPG: 22 city | 29 highway
Large families and carpool parents appreciate the extra row of seating in the GMC Acadia. This third row folds down effortlessly, adding extra trunk space when it's needed.
3. Mercedes-Benz GLA
Best for: Advanced safety technology
MPG: 24 city | 43 highway
The Mercedes-Benz GLA features a high-end infotainment system that makes rides enjoyable for the whole family. It includes a voice assistant that responds best to “Hey Mercedes,” two 10.25-inch screens and an Emergency Stop Assist feature that automatically brakes when a collision is detected. The GLA includes the Mercedes Benz Emergency Call Service that you can manually activate with an SOS button and will automatically notify first responders after you’ve been in an accident.
Best All-Wheel-Drive Cars
All-wheel-drive vehicles have great traction, making them a safer way to get around in poor weather.
1. Genesis G80
Best for: Bold design
MPG: 18 city | 26 highway
The Genesis G80 with optional all-wheel drive is a luxury sedan with a sporty exterior that makes a statement. It features everything from automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and infotainment systems to a V6 turbocharged engine.
2. Lincoln Corsair
Best for: Comfortable rides
MPG: 22 city | 29 highway
The Lincoln Corsair's Grand Touring edition features on-demand, electric all-wheel drive and a four-cylinder dual electric engine.
3. Subaru Ascent
Best for: Camping trips
MPG: 20 city | 26 highway
A roomy interior and ample cargo space allow the Subaru Ascent to fit up to eight people, or to fold the rear seats down for car camping. This all-wheel-drive SUV handles well in all types of terrain, making it a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts.
The Bottom Line: Do Your Research
Before you start your search for a used car, make sure to do your research about the makes and models you're considering. When negotiating the price, it's important to know everything about the car, including its original retail price, upgrades and condition.
Choices and ratings were made based on U.S News and World Report, Car & Driver and IIHS Safety ratings.
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