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Best Used Cars, Sedans And SUVs To Buy In 2021-2022

Hanna Kielar8-Minute Read
UPDATED: 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

    Rating: 8.0

    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

    Rating: 8.7

    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

    Rating: 8.0

    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

    Rating: 8.0

    “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

    Rating: 7.8

    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

    Rating: 7.0

    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

    Rating: 8.9

    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

    Rating: 7.6

    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

    Rating: 7.2

    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

    Rating: 8.8

    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

    Rating: 7.6

    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

    Rating: 7.6

    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

    Rating: 8.0

    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

    Rating: 7.0

    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

    Rating: 7.5

    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

    Rating: 7.5

    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

    Rating: 7.4

    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

    Rating: 8.3

    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

    Rating: 7.6

    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

    Rating: 7.8

    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

    Rating: 7.6

    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

    Rating: 7.9

    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

    Rating: 9.0

    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

    Rating: 7.6

    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

    Rating: 7.3

    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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    Hanna Kielar

    Hanna Kielar is a Section Editor for Rocket Auto℠, RocketHQ℠, and Rocket Loans® with a focus on personal finance, automotive, and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.