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Slide Show | May 2012

10 Best Values in Used Cars, 2012

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Bargains in used cars are tougher to find. A dip in new-car sales and leases during the Great Recession means fewer three- and four-year-old used cars are entering the market. Plus, in the wake of the recession, buyers turned to used cars in a big way, tightening supply even more.

We picked ten vehicles -- five sedans, three crossovers, a wagon and a minivan -- that received top scores in Kiplinger's rankings for performance, value and safety, plus got high marks for reliability. We didn't pick super-fuel-efficient models, such as the Toyota Prius, because prices have soared to stratospheric levels. If you're in the market for a small car with high fuel-economy numbers, do the math and see whether a new model is a better value. For tips on finding bargains, check out our article on how to get the best deal on a used car.

Dealer and private-party prices are based on actual transactions reported by Edmunds.com for previously owned vehicles considered to be in "clean" condition and driven an average of 12,000 miles a year. We also include the certified used price of each vehicle, based on actual sales. Certified vehicles pass a rigorous inspection and include a warranty that goes beyond the car's original warranty.


10 Best Values in Used Cars, 2012

2008 Hyundai Sonata GLS

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Hyundai

Price when new: $19,545 (automatic)

Dealer used price: $9,902

Private-party price: $8,731

Certified used price: $11,480

MPG (city/hwy): 21/30

Hyundai's Sonata offers a thrifty 2.4-liter engine, standard stability control and six airbags. Plus, it keeps ownership costs low -- the brand's 5-year/60,000-miles new-car warranty and five-year no-charge roadside assistance transfer to new owners (they get the remainder of both). The famed 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, however, doesn't transfer.

2008 Hyundai Sonata GLS

2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5i sedan

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Subaru

Price when new: $18,190

Dealer used price: $12,191

Private-party price: $10,967

Certified used price: $12,859

MPG (city/hwy): 20/27

Engaging driving dynamics and Subaru's always-standard all-wheel drive are only part of the Impreza's appeal. It garnered a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS and has side and side-curtain airbags. If a collision causes the front airbags to deploy, smart technology protects the driver and front-seat passenger. Sensors measure the driver's proximity to the steering wheel, as well as the passenger's weight (to determine whether a child or an adult is occupying the seat), and adjust the airbags' force accordingly.

2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5i sedan

2009 Chevrolet Malibu 1LT

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Chevrolet

Price when new: $23,225

Dealer used price: $13,114

Private-party price: $11,937

Certified used price: $14,141

MPG (city/hwy): 22/33

With its 2008 redesign, the Malibu garnered a lot of accolades: Kiplinger's Best New Car and Best in Class awards were just a cherry topping to the industry's prestigious North American Car of the Year award. But to play it safe, we recommend buying a redesigned vehicle in the second year of production -- the first year's examples often have kinks to work out. For 2009, stability control became standard across the trim lineup, along with side and side-curtain airbags.

2009 Chevrolet Malibu 1LT

2009 Nissan Rogue S

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Nissan

Price when new: $21,020

Dealer used price: $14,971

Private-party price: $13,435

Certified used price: $16,123

MPG (city/hwy): 22/27

After a 2008 redesign, when we named it Best New Small Crossover, the Rogue ascended to Kiplinger's Best in Class award for 2009. Its stylish exterior complements the value it holds inside -- including a peppy 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, stability and traction control, and six airbags. Plus, it was rated a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.

2009 Nissan Rogue S

2008 Honda CR-V LX

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Honda

Price when new: $21,370

Dealer used price: $15,135

Private-party price: $14,089

Certified used price: $16,402

MPG (city/hwy): 20/27

A perennial Kiplinger's Best New and Best Used pick, the Honda CR-V keeps its value throughout its lifespan. It boasts fuel economy on par with a midsize sedan, but it has more than twice the cargo capacity (36 cubic feet behind the rear seats). Its standard stability control and six airbags helped win it a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.

2008 Honda CR-V LX

2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i

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Subaru

Price when new: $25,240 (automatic)

Dealer used price: $15,218

Private-party price: $14,068

Certified used price: $16,256

MPG (city/hwy): 20/26

The Outback offers the best of both worlds: car-like construction to aid in maneuverability and fuel economy, plus the utility of all-wheel drive, copious amounts of cargo room (34 cubic feet) and a higher stance that improves visibility. Six airbags are standard, and it was an IIHS Top Safety Pick, too.

2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i

2009 Ford Taurus Limited

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Ford

Price when new: $31,495

Dealer used price: $16,634

Private-party price: $15,271

Certified used price: $17,653

MPG (city/hwy): 18/28

Just a year after Ford revived the Taurus nameplate, it added standard stability control and earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Limited trim comes with Ford's voice-activated SYNC system, which allows you to connect music devices with USB and phones via Bluetooth, making them easier to use safely.

2009 Ford Taurus Limited

2008 Mazda CX-9 Sport

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Mazda

Price when new: $30,035

Dealer used price: $18,315

Private-party price: $16,689

Certified used price: $20,424

MPG (city/hwy): 16/22

It seats seven and has 17 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seats (48 cubic feet with the third row folded down), which helped the CX-9 win Kiplinger's Best in Class award for this model year. Safety bragging rights include an optional blind-spot monitoring system -- which will alert you if there’s something in your blind spot when you attempt to change lanes -- and standard stability control.

2008 Mazda CX-9 Sport

2009 Toyota Sienna LE

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Toyota

Price when new: $26,865 (7-passenger)

Dealer used price: $18,463

Private-party price: $16,692

Certified used price: $19,882

MPG (city/hwy): 17/23

Multiple seating configurations make this minivan family- and cargo-friendly. In the seven-passenger LE, the removable second row captain's chairs can be spaced out to give your brood elbow room, or arranged as a bench for easier access to the third row. The third row is split 60/40, and the sections fold over or completely flat. Even the front passenger seat folds down, should you have serious cargo needs.

2009 Toyota Sienna LE

2009 Infiniti G37x AWD

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Infiniti

Price when new: $36,615

Dealer used price: $23,889

Private-party price: $22,308

Certified used price: $26,174

MPG (city/hwy): 18/25

The Infiniti G gives German sedans like the BMW 3-series and Audi A4 a run for their money, but it costs thousands less. The 2009 model got a larger, 3.7-liter V6 engine that puts out 328 horsepower, as well as a seven-speed automatic transmission -- plus, it packs in essential safety features, such as head and side airbags and stability control.

2009 Infiniti G37x AWD

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