By on June 22, 2012

“Reliability, safety and availability” were the criteria Edmunds used to arrive at its 2012 used car best bets. They are taken from the pool of 2005 through 2010 cars, because two to seven year old cars usually are the better deals.

And the winners are:

Coupe: 2005-2010 BMW 3 Series

Midsize Sedan: 2005-2010 Nissan Altima

Convertible: 2005-2010 Mazda Miata

Compact SUV/Crossover: 2005-2010 Honda CR-V

Minivan/Van: 2005-2010 Honda Odyssey

Compact Truck: 2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma

Luxury: 2005-2010 Infiniti G35/G37

Hybrid: 2005-2010 Toyota Prius

Sport Compact: 2005-2010 Subaru Impreza WRX

Compact Sedan: 2005-2010 Hyundai Elantra

Large Sedan: 2006-2010 Hyundai Azera

Wagon: 2005-2010 Pontiac Vibe

Midsize SUV/Crossover: 2005-2010 Ford Explorer

Large SUV/Crossover: 2005-2010 Chevrolet Tahoe

Large Truck: 2005-2010 Ford F-150

Oh, and just in case some are missing a statistic that raised hackles and caused heckles at past lists: Four out of 15 cars on this list are not American. Bonus statistic: One of the four was a Japanese in drag.

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71 Comments on “In The Market For A Good Used Car? Here Are Your 15 Best Bets...”


  • avatar
    replica

    Whatever, the Vibe is pure American Muscle.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    And reliability was one of the main criteria for compiling this list?

    Reeeeeeeeally?

    Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally?

    At the older end of the range the Honda Odyssey’s transmission failures are the stuff of legend, and the extended 8-year 80K warranty is coming to an end.

    Exploding fuel pumps on 3-series of this era and having to do those fixes out of pocket?

    Solenoid failures in 2005 Altima transmissions are also the stuff of legend, they fail like clockwork between 80K to 100K miles and throw a CEL. Oh the part itself is very cheap – the replacing it is a different matter.

    A 2005 Chevy Tahoe? The electronic transfer cases are garbage, along with the front differentials. The GMT800 interior bits were garbage compared to the GMT900 upgrade in 2008.

    The Ford F-150 with the Triton 5.4L V8 is legendary for the spark plugs to become basically fused to the block and a nightmare to replace at massive cost.

    The Prius, Tacoma, MX-5, G35/G37 and the very vanilla Azera makes more sense to me.

    But how someone could recommend a 2005 Honda Odyssey over say a 2005 Toyota Sienna with a straight face is beyond me.

    Although the Vibe is a Corolla in drag, the Vibe was built at NUMMI in Freemont, its Matrix cousin was and is built in Canada. They never rolled off the same assembly lines despite the repeated myth that they did. NUMMI didn’t have capacity for right hand drive configuration, and the Matrix is built for export also.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      For BMW, only the 335i was afflicted with the fuel pump issues, the 328i was immune. And the overwheming majority of the fuel pumps were replaced under warranty (sadly numerous times in some cases), and those that weren’t were replaced under recall. The lastest iteration seems to be doing OK.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      From experience I can say you nailed the Odyssey. Don’t expect more than 100K from its paper mache tranny no matter how often you change the fluid.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      +1.

      They didn’t ask me about my lemon 05 Odyssey. I took the settlement check and traded the car before anything else went wrong, but it was too young to have any tranny problems.

      A friend’s F-150 5.4 Triton ate its spark plugs, requiring an engine rebuild.

      However, I would recommend my 05 xB1, which has been quite reliable and cheap to run.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      The 328 coupe is very reliable. The only major issues are with some 335 models with N54 engines and faulty fuel pumps but that has been fixed.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        I’m not so sure that the new fuel pump has fixed the issue. I haven’t been able to confirm that the recall has fixed it permanently and we may not know until more cars have the fix installed and get more miles on them.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I said it below but I’ll repeat it here.

        They still require a masive cooling-system overhaul every 100k that every 3 since the E36 has.

        I know it’s not technically “reliability” when it’s expected routine maintenance, but seriously. I’ve seen just about any other type of car make to to 2-300k on the initial cooling system unless the car crashes into something or the hoses start to rot. Why can’t the wizards of bavaria figure out this stuff (radiator, water pump) needs to be made of aluminum and not bio-degradable plastic?

      • 0 avatar
        dave504

        This is false. BMW extended the warranty on all N54 fuel pumps but they have not solved the issue. The N55 engines are experiencing the same problems.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Even if the 328 is more reliable the suspension, especially front suspension bits are pretty much garbage once they get to about five years old. They slowly wither away, like the legendary (and mythical) frog in a pot. Oh it still feels right but its as loose and sloppy as a street walker. Front LCAs sure aren’t cheap on a BMW. As others have noted the cooling system has basically eaten itself alive at 100K.

        A 2005 driven 15K miles a year would have 105K miles on the clock.

        You don’t buy European cars for their “quality” but I will be the first one to say, the quality gap is narrow. If it was me, you couldn’t give me a 3 or 5 series that was 5+ years old or with more than 80K miles on the odo.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt in VA

      My wife’s 2003 Odyssey has 185k on it and is still running strong. Never had any major issues. I have heard that newer models are less reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Brother’s Oddy died of a trans failure at 145K, which was not the best showing, especially for a vehicle that CR called a “highly reliable Japanese make”…the power sliders died numerous times as well. Those aside, the van was actually really good.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        My understanding is the power slider technology for all minivans so equipped comes from GM, except for Chrysler (for obvious reasons). Now I don’t know if that means the actual hardware or this is patent licensing (GM was first). I did look at a neighbors Sienna and noticed the latches and connections looked basically identical to the GM vans.

        Not surprised by multiple power sliding door failures. They’re complex beasts and easily knocked out of alignment.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Been happy with my used Tacoma thus far. You may want to update the picture of the 2005-2010 Subaru Impreza WRX to an actual WRX, that’s a standard Impreza in the picture, which I also happen to own… an ’06.

    Hopefully you (Vertical Scope) are selling this priceless user information to somebody worthwhile.

    • 0 avatar

      Also… I am not so sure about the WRX being a good used car because it is incredibly hard to find one that hasn’t been heavily modified by someone with dubious mechanical credentials.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        True. Kind of like trying to find a ’95 Civic that hasn’t had a failed attempt to convert it to the Fast & the Furious.

        Ridiculously huge wing on the rear to create more down force to lift the front wheels off the ground? Check.

        Aero kit attached by bondo and 3M tape, in primer gray with the front clip chewed to Hell from hitting curbs? Check.

        Bouncing suspension on cut springs resulting in cracks in the subframe? Check.

        3,000 watts of stereo being powered by the stock alternator and battery with wires running all through the car and a head unit precariously propped into a gaping hole in the center stack? Check.

        Folgers coffee can spray painted silver packed with brillo pads and duct taped to a straight pipe exhaust? Check.

        Five gauges screwed to the a-pillar and none of they really give any critical information? Check.

        NOS sticker? Check.

        V-TEC sticker? Check.

        G-Reddy stickers? Check.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      The 2008 WRX was a dog – it was the Camryfied version of the WRX with really floaty suspension, no increase in power to offset weight increase and bad brakes. If you are getting that generation get the 2009 and don’t even consider the 2008.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    This Edmunds list is about as stupid as the “what should I buy my spoiled kid” list. Is the list compiled by Edmunds staff or an online poll?

    I’m far from a Detroit cheerleader but when it comes to used cars, well um, they just are cheaper. Safety and reliability are par, or close enough to not worry anyone. Heck, if I were forced into looking used I’d stay high and clear of Honda and Toyota across the board due to almost insane used car prices. Nissan and others aren’t far behind. But you can still find boring and unloved late model vehicles like the Impala and Caravan for cheap cheap cheap!

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      That’s true. An Epsilon platform vehicle (Pontiac G6, Saturn Aura, the ugly boxy Malibu as well as the 2008-2012 Malibu) can be found in the $8-13k range with decent mileage and features. I owned an 07′ Pontiac G6, and it was a great car. Only thing it could’ve used was a better stock radio and stability control (although to be fair, back then not many cars offer stability control without spending a ton on it, and this was right around when MP3 CD took off).

    • 0 avatar
      Synchromesh

      If the only thing you care about in a car is its initial purchase price then by all means buy your Cavalier/Neon/Focus. As for me I wouldn’t touch any American car less than Corvette with a ten foot pole. That would be because they’re junk junk junk and hence are cheap cheap cheap.

      My supervisor’s PT Cruiser started falling apart before 40K miles. When it was time to trade one car in he kept the Altima with 120K miles on it and traded in the PT Cruiser with 40K. That should tell you something.

      • 0 avatar
        C P

        Doesn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. The amazing thing to me is how did the P(art) T(ime) cruiser stay in production so long…?

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        @Synchromesh

        I could probably write a book on your ignorance (my 2012 Focus is doing just fine, thanks. Probably because it has nothing to do with either of the previous gen Focii), but then I saw at the end the thing about the PT Cruiser.

        If you are basing the entirety of your opinion on domestic cars as a whole on a Chrysler PT Cruiser, I don’t blame you. Gross car. Poor guy.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        “When it was time to trade one car in he kept the Altima with 120K miles on it and traded in the PT Cruiser with 40K.”

        That’s par for the course with a Chrysler product.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      +1

      Say what you want about the GM W-bodies but when the Gen III 3.8L V6 engine came out in 2004 they were about as reliable as the sunrise. If I was buying used I would look for one that has had the intermediate steering shaft replaced – but at the end of the day its a nuisance with the clunk not a safety issue. If you drive like a Claymore is attached to the gas pedal you can get 20/30 MPG. Very little that can’t be fixed with a hammer, duct tape and bailing wire.

      Mediocre? Yup. Not all that stylish. Yup. Cheap and plentiful? Absolutely. Reliable. Absolutely. Cheap to insure, feed and fix? Yes.

      At least a Dodge Caravan / Chrysler Town & Country from ’05 to ’10 isn’t going to eat its transmission as surely as the Odyssey will. However, they aren’t exactly the portraits of reliability themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      thesparrow

      The REASON that Hondas and Toyotas are more expensive used is BECAUSE they are much more reliable and last longer in general – that “secret” has been out for years…

      Maybe Chevys and Ford are cheaper to fix when you compare part for part, but I don’t have time to be schlepping down to the mechanic every few weeks – and time is money too!

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I would like to see a study of this in terms of full cost of ownership….does the cheaper buy-in and cheaper cost to repair offset the higher price and a few less repairs? If you trade frequently, the higher resale of say, Toyota might make the higher price well worth it. But for long term keepers, I don’t think that would be true. And stating that the American car can’t last, well my old domestics have lasted just as long as any Japanese make we have owned, maybe more…

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Disagree, Toyonda is no more immune to mechanical failure than any other automobile, if it uses gas and has four wheels, it can break. There is a perception of “greater reliability” which translates into higher resale which is mostly based on past brand loyalty and goodwill… heck GM had this at one time too. Now if you make the argument Camcord model A has better [insert technical feature] than Impala/Taurus/Fusion/300/200/Passat you may in fact be correct, but this does not automatically translate into “greater reliability”, especially by brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Loser

        +1 for what 28-cars-later said.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Not to mention Panthers.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    So…

    Reliability, safety and availability

    and

    Coupe: 2005-2010 BMW 3 Series

    I don’t see where that adds up in the first criteria. Those still have the disintegrating cooling system/water pump/radiator that won’t make it to 100k. How many times have the HPFPs been revised and still have a tendency to go boom?

    I won’t doubt the safety and availability part, but I doubt the reliability at higher mileage, especially with significant portions of the system that makes the car go being questionable.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Duffman13 – go over to truedelta.com and you’ll find that the E92 328 is a very reliable car. The N54 based 335 have been fixed – I have done 50K since the HPFP fix on my 335 and there have been zero problems.

      There is definitely a perception that somehow all European cars are unreliable but you’ll find that they are just like all other cars: some models do well other don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        If the story said, “328” I would give you that. It says 3-series. The “328” is a narrow segment within the series. The 99.99% who read this will go, hooray, that 335i I was looking at is cheap and reliable.

        Oh will they be surprised…

  • avatar
    jeano

    Doesn’t it just explode your head when your biases are not confirmed by facts or evidence? Bummer.

  • avatar
    all_caddy

    Large Sedan: Ford Crown Victoria / Mercury Grand Marquis
    Luxury: Lincoln Town Car

    Azera? Really?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Is the Azera really available? I can’t recall ever seeing one.

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    This isn’t a good list because most of these vehicles command pretty high prices on the used market. A good used car is one that has heavily depreciated since new and is therefore cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Tend to disagree with this. I can get an Aveo really, really cheap. Does it mean that it’s a good used car? Hardly. If you measure a good car on price, then I suppose one gets what one pays for…

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      Cars that depreciate the most are typically not ones that are desirable as used cars. For example, the 2005-2006 Mercedes S-Class have depreciated around 80% by now, but they never really come up on recommended used car lists, since the cost of ownership (Depreciation aside) can be intimidating.

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    Woohoo, another metric-free list of cars. Wow, look, Edmunds named 15 cars that have been on the market recently! Good for them! Automotive journalism at its finest, truly.

    The thing that strikes me is that for most of the list, the years 2005-2010 cross multiple generations of vehicles, some of them with wildly different engineering bases. But, hey, I guess they’re all “reliable” in the universe that considers any 15 cars the “best.”

    They’ll get some ad revenue-generating clicks when Yahoo!’s front page invariable links to the story.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      +1 I can’t stand Edmunds and their Inside Line staff are the biggest bunch of spoiled, spoon feed, whiners on the internet. I grew tired of hearing them whine about the performance of seat heaters on “cold” 50 degree mornings. Pathetic.

    • 0 avatar
      thesparrow

      What is the point of just making a blanket inclusion of every model within the same 2005-2010 timeframe? Many of these vehicles were completely redesigned within that time and either improved or became significantly worse. This list just panders to the lowest common denominator. I could see this crap coming from Yahoo cars or something… Edmunds should be embarrassed.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    How funny. There isn’t a car on this list that I would ever consider owning new or used.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      If you can fit and can deal with the tight cabin, a Miata is a hell of a buy. Pish-posh on the “girly car” rabble; women want to drive them; bonus points when its your Miata.
      The current Tacoma is really a mid-size truck. It needs to fit XXL Americans. A 2wd 4cyl 4 speed 4 tires Tacoma would be an excellent truck for the new driver. I don’t know, and apologize ahead of time, if the much beloved Taco has a 5 speed.
      If a guy who goes by “Hoss” loves his Subaru, you might take a look at one.

  • avatar
    Botswana

    What, no V6 Mustang?

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

  • avatar
    George B

    I like Edmunds, but their list contains too many cars with known expensive repair problems. A car professional with access to many cars might be able to cherry pick good already repaired examples, but an average retail car buyer with limited time and the asymmetrical information problem would do better sorting through the reasonably reliable but unloved models. Sort of like picking the slightly chunky plain girl with a stable career over the bipolar frequently unemployed hottie.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “Sort of like picking the slightly chunky plain girl with a stable career over the bipolar frequently unemployed hottie.”

      Lots of truth to that, hence Jimmy Soul’s lyrics:

      “If you wanna be happy
      For the rest of your life,
      Never make a pretty woman your wife,
      So from my personal point of view,
      Get an ugly girl to marry you.”

      “ugly” is a bit strong, though.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      I like Edmunds as well, but I’m very surprised to see the 3-series on there, and no mention of the potential transmission issues in the Odyssey. Everything else seems like an obvious choice to a car person, but as far as people who don’t know anything about cars and are doing their research online, it’s a good place to start.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Until the hottie, bipolar decides it’s time to go into the garage, start her car, and take you with her.
      This happened to friend of mine. Forturnately, he awoke with a splitting headache and managed to get out of the house.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        No bueno, I’m glad your friend is OK.

        A lesson to be learned, CO alarms are inexpensive, easy to install and should be in every home. One in the garage (if so equipped) and one around any area that uses combustion of fuel within the home (kitchen, laundry room if there is a gas dryer, in proximity to the heater and/or hot water tank unless they are electric).

        Follow the directions, CO is heavier than air so it sinks – generally instructions recommend a lower placement than a traditional smoke alarm and a minimum distance away from pilots and other sources so you don’t get a bunch of false alarms.

        Even if you don’t have anything in your garage as a combustion source, or a psycho partner, people get busy, do things in a rush like leave cars running in a garage and forget.

        A $10 alarm could just save your life.

      • 0 avatar
        MadHungarian

        @APaGttH: Not too long ago, someone gave me a CO alarm to put in my garage (now, nothing says I love you like that doesn’t it?). I opened up the box and the literature inside said NOT to put it in the garage, the kitchen, or a couple of other places — pretty much anywhere there might actually be something generating CO! I guess I don’t want it in the garage if it is going to sound a false alarm every time I start a car (especially my un-emission-controlled Corvair). It’s still sitting in a drawer somewhere with no batteries in it.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The Beemer does not belong on that list and the Sienna, not the Odyssey should be there, no Accord, Civic, Corolla or Camry? this is BS, even Fusion should be there.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The Accord has its own set of special problems during this period. The Camry from 2008 was rated below average even by Consumer Reports and just average in 2009 (and recalls don’t count in the survey).

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        What were the Accord’s problems during the period? I know of one A/C problem with a slightly earlier model out of a pool of dozens. The Camry was absolutely impacted by the NHTSA’s hatchet attack. Buy a competitor and pay the price of being a sheep.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        The 2008 Camry’s woes were before the NHTSA even had a glint in its eye. Consumer Reports was embarrassed because they gave the ’08 redesigned Camry an automatic “recommended” without even testing it or evaluation (along with the 2008 Tundra) and both came in below average on quality. The recommends were plucked and Consumer Reports said no more recommends for any vehicle without driving them first.

        http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-10-17/business/0710160602_1_mike-michels-reliability-rankings-toyota

        As you can see, the problem was written about in 2007 — well before the NHTSA was even looking at floor mats jammed in pedals.

        Sorry – given the range of ’05 to ’10 the Camry doesn’t deserve a blanket rubber stamp.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        “they gave the ’08 redesigned Camry an automatic “recommended” without even testing it or evaluation (along with the 2008 Tundra) and both came in below average on quality.”

        Funny how the facts never seem to come up when people do best cars to buy lists or even talk about Camcords.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    You can get some good deals on a Vibe, at least up here in the GWN. An excellent used car choice, if you ask me.

  • avatar
    DisTurbo

    Gosh, that Tacoma is hideously ugly. I’ve seen cysts that had more endearing looks.

  • avatar
    jonnyguitar

    Can some of you guys more knowledgeable than I shed some light on a 2008 E90 M3?

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    reliability safety and availability. I guess this list is supposed to be used cars that are easy to get.

    Why isn’t price a factor? I would think that should also be a factor when you are doing a list like this.

    Doesn’t take too much trouble to look up average prices for these vehicles. With that added as a criteria wouldn’t the list change?

  • avatar
    michaelfrankie

    As a self proclaimed professional automotive cheapskate, I take pride in driving vehicles that get the lowest total cost per mile of ownership. Examples that have excelled for me: P71 Crown Vic, 85′ 300SD, 94 Dodge Ram Cummins, and 94 Subaru Legacy .

    Can’t say I would consider any of the Edmund’s vehicles with the possible exception of the Tacoma and Miata.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I vote for the first gen Scion xB . So far my 2006 has been the best car I’ve owned and seems to be running great at 127k miles . It is the perfect combination of utility and economy , great delivery vehicle too .

  • avatar
    AJ

    A Prius? Prius owners actually get tired of their Earth saving ride? How dare they…

  • avatar
    05lgt

    This list has issues. But I will add the Vibe as something to look at if my ride needs replacement.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    I dont like that they created a ‘sport compact’ catagory just so they could include the Subaru. Where is sport mid-size? Sport large car? Sport sub=compact?

    The BMW 3 series is not a true ‘coupe’, since it is the same body as the 4 door sedan. It’s really a 2 door sedan. Coupe is Mustang, Z, Camaro, Audi TT, others with unique coupe bodies, no 4 door sedan versions. Not talking about platforms, but body styles.

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