Mazda3, Pontiac Vibe among best used cars for under 10K

Michael James

Consumer Reports has plenty to say about new cars and trucks, but it also has some practical advice for buyers seeking the best used cars on tight budgets.

It’s compiled a varied (and sometimes surprising) list of its top-10 best used cars for under $10,000.

The publication recommends several criteria while searching for a good used vehicle. The more important: good reliability, stability control, the newest used car you can afford, buy from a reputable seller and seek the car’s past history.


The 2008 Mazda 3 gets best used car status from Consumer Reports
The 2008 Mazda 3 gets best used car status from Consumer Reports

Here’s what Consumer Reports writes about two of its choices, followed its top-10 list of best used cars to buy for under $10,000.

2008 MAZDA 3

The excellent Mazda 3 is one of our favorite small cars to drive. It has precise, responsive handling and a firm, comfortable ride. Interior quality is very good, and some upscale features are available, though the cabin is noisy and the rear seat somewhat tight.

For 2012, Mazda added a new 2.0-liter Skyactiv engine and six-speed automatic transmission that boosted fuel economy to an impressive 32 mpg. We’d skip the sportier Mazdaspeed3 version, which has a harsh ride and too much torque steer.

2005-2008 PONTIAC VIBE

A twin to the Toyota Matrix, the Vibe is a practical, reliable, and efficient little wagon. Available all-wheel drive and a large, flat load floor in back make it a good substitute for a small SUV. Its 1.8-liter engine is stingier with fuel than most SUVs, though it can be a little slow and whiny. Access and cargo space are generous and the rear seat is roomy.

Drivers, however, may find the steering wheel an awkward reach away. Handling is fairly nimble, and the ride is compliant though a little jittery. Stability control became available in 2005, but it may be difficult to find.

Here’s the top-10 list:

Mazda3 (2008)
Pontiac Vibe (2005-2008)
Acura TL (2005)
Acura TSX (2005)
Toyota Avalon (2005)
Hyundai Sonata (2006-2008)
Kia Optima (2005-2008)
Honda CR-V (2005)
Mitsubishi Outlander (2007)
Honda Pilot (2005)

To read the complete story, visit: ConsumerReports/Best Used Cars

Article Last Updated: June 9, 2015.

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