ATLANTA – Finding yourself in the market for a new car during a pandemic might have you asking if now is even the right time to buy or how you can get a good deal on your next purchase. The all-new version of any given car will likely offer safety and technology improvements over the previous version, but if getting a “new to you” car at the lowest price is your goal, you might want to look at a lightly used car. To help car buyers find the best, highly-rated, value-oriented and well-equipped vehicles, the experts at Autotrader recently named the 10 Best Used Cars of 2020 that are great alternatives to a new car.
Our selections are highly-rated and spotlight some of the best vehicles for overall value, performance and popularity with Autotrader shoppers.
“Budget-friendly doesn’t have to be boring. Buying used can reduce your monthly car payment, while still getting the latest in safety, convenience and technology in a fun-to-drive model,” said Brian Moody, executive editor of Autotrader. “Our selections are highly-rated and spotlight some of the best vehicles for overall value, performance and popularity with Autotrader shoppers.”
Saving up to buy a car can be hard. The cost of new cars is rising — the estimated average transaction price for a light vehicle in the U.S. for May was $38,940 — and that has many drivers seeking more affordable used options. Check out the latest selections (unranked in alphabetical order) from the editors at Autotrader.
Autotrader's 10 Best Used Cars of 2020
New or used, this is one of the world’s most perfect SUVs. However, you have to get the right year to get the best version of the Q7. We recommend the 2017–2019 version. The previous Q7 is lacking the elegance of other Audi vehicles. Regarding the redone Q7, our editors said things like, "This is the definition of luxury,” "What a modern luxury SUV should be" and "Perfectly executed."
Forget everything you’ve known about past versions of the Chevrolet Malibu. The well-known sedan was totally updated for 2016 and our editors called it "surprisingly competitive" and "one of the best-looking cars in the class.” The Malibu also feels agile and light on its feet, and then there’s the fact that you can get a well-equipped new Malibu LT for a fairly reasonable $29,000 with shipping. That makes the used versions even more affordable. Our verdict: If you’re shopping for a used Camry, Accord, Fusion or Sonata, you need to try out the Malibu too. Look for a 2016 or newer model to get the best looking one and the most features for your money.
An all-new and very luxurious minivan for the 2017 model year, the Chrysler Pacifica turns a lot of heads. This van is nothing like the previous versions — the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. Our editors said, simply, it’s "the best minivan on the market." Also, there’s a plug-in hybrid version, if fuel-sipping is your thing. Look for a 2017 or newer Pacifica for the best deal.
Ford F-Series Pickup
It’s popular for a reason and an all-new version is about to show up at your local Ford dealer. The F-150 as well as the F-250 are consistently in the top three when it comes to the most researched vehicles on Autotrader. Also, these Ford pickups are typically the best-selling vehicles in the U.S. year after year. Sitting pretty at the intersection of popular and good is the Ford F-150 Raptor. It’s now been 10 years since the Raptor was introduced, and the competition has yet to catch up. Look for 2015–2017 models for the best deals.
Honda Accord Hybrid
Like the F-150, the Honda Accord is consistently what car shoppers search for on Autotrader. While the 2013 to 2017 models are the best in terms of value, features and style, we really like the 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid. The Accord Hybrid has a spotty availability record, as it was introduced, then dropped, then re-introduced. If you want a hybrid sedan that’s comfortable, quick, reliable and attractive, look for a 2015 or newer Accord Hybrid. New or used, the Accord Hybrid is simply the best hybrid sedan available.
Hyundai has been quietly building a stellar reputation, thanks to great cars like the Sonata and Elantra as well as the Santa Fe and Tucson SUVs. If you’re thinking a used Hyundai is going to be permanently in the bargain-bin, you might be surprised. Savvy shoppers are getting the idea that these cars are nicely equipped and reliable. Yes, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata is great. However, Autotrader just named Hyundai as the Best Certified Pre-Owned Program for non-luxury cars. If you're researching sedans, we think the 2018 or newer Sonata is worth a look.
The Nissan Rogue gets a major update for 2021, but the previous version is a perfectly good small SUV. It's similar in size to other compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V; however, find the right year and the Rogue is available with a third-row seat. And when you look around the Rogue’s interior, you get the sense that Nissan’s giving you a premium product at a regular price. There’s a lot of crossover goodness here for the money. Look for a 2015 or 2016 model for the best compromise of comfort and price.
When Porsche’s groundbreaking Cayenne first came out, there was much hand-wringing by enthusiasts who couldn’t bear the thought of an SUV wearing the Porsche crest. Fast-forward a decade or so, and it turns out that the Cayenne was ahead of its time. These days, sport-luxury crossovers are all the rage, and a Porsche Macan (Porsche's compact crossover slated beneath the Cayenne) would be a great used car choice. Best of all, the head-turning Macan will likely be the most affordable four-door Porsche you can find, making it an appealing alternative to a wide range of vehicles. We like the 2016-2018 Macans due to their appealing price and safety features.
Legendary Toyota reliability combined with a comfortable, three-row SUV — that's the Toyota Highlander in a nutshell. We recommend a 2015 or newer version for the most modern conveniences. Then, even the base Highlander LE came nicely equipped with a rear backup camera, 18-in alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, eight-passenger seating and Bluetooth. If you’re looking for a certified pre-owned car, Toyota has one of the better programs. Certified used Toyota customers get 12 months or 12,000 miles of limited bumper to bumper warranty which starts the day you buy your used Toyota. The program also extends the powertrain warranty to a total of seven years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The GTI has always been more about overall excellence than jaw-dropping acceleration, but thanks to a new engine under the hood for the 2015 model year, the Mk7 can build some serious speed. A used GTI offers one of the most space-efficient cabins in the business. Though it’s definitely a compact car, the GTI can easily accommodate a pair of 6-footers in its roomy back seat. It’s like having a compact SUV in your garage, except the GTI’s a whole lot sportier than one of those. One thing we like about the GTI over the Volkswagen Golf is the much larger 8-in touchscreen, which tilts toward the driver for ease of use.