Best deals on used vehicles under $10,000

Consumer Reports News: January 27, 2012 09:38 AM

With a tight economy, every penny counts when you're looking to buy a car. To get the most for your money, consider buying used. Even though it may not be factory fresh, you can get a pre-owned model that is efficient, safe, and likely reliable. To make it easier to find what you're looking for, we have identified some of the best used deals under $10,000.

Typically the winter months are a slow time for car buying and that's why it's a perfect time to get a good deal on a used car. The key to savings with buying used is that the original owner takes the initial depreciation hit, as new cars lose much more value in the first and second years than those that follow. If you can focus on models made in the last few years, you'll find that many have the latest safety equipment (such as curtain air bags and stability control) and are still affordable.

When shopping, look for cars that scored well in Consumer Reports' tests when new, have proven reliability, and perform well in government and insurance industry crash tests. Before handing over the cash, have the vehicle inspected by a trained and trusted mechanic to make sure there are no hidden problems—this is a particular concern these days, as many car owners admit to scrimping on maintenance and repairs.

Check out our top deals on recommended vehicles from the 2006 model year. All models have 75,000 miles and we ranked the vehicles in order of the price you might be able to get when buying from the dealer. The models listed below are between 30- and 55-percent less than the retail price when the vehicle was new. Plus, all of the models have at least average reliability according to our latest subscriber survey.

As the chart illustrates, the difference between trade-in value and buying the used-car from a dealership is the potential negotiation range. The last two columns show the potential savings as a percentage when comparing buying from a private owner versus a dealership. Your local pricing may vary, due to availability and quality, but these figures demonstrate the possible savings and can inform your negotiation.

See our complete list of used-car deals across a variety of vehicle categories.

Make & model MSRP (new) Selling to dealer (avg price) Buying from dealer (avg price) Drop in private sale vs. MSRP Drop in retail value vs. MSRP
2006 Ford Fusion $17,145 $6,825 $8,625 60% 50%
2006 Mitsubishi Outlander 20,099 7,230 9,000 64% 55%
2006 Pontiac Vibe 16,430 7,135 9,050 57% 45%
2006 Toyota Corolla 14,905 7,180 9,100 52% 39%
2006 Hyundai Tucson 18,745 7,645 9,325 59% 50%
2006 Honda Civic
15,360 7,380 9,325 52% 39%
2006 Kia Sportage 18,395 7,625 9,475 59% 48%
2006 Mazda3 13,710 7,645 9,550 44% 30%
2006 Mercury Milan
18,345 7,675 9,600 58% 48%
2006 Scion xB 14,830 7,895 9,800 47% 34%
2006 Nissan Altima 17,750 7,970 9,900 55% 44%
2006 Toyota Matrix 16,060 7,880 9,900 51% 38%

Liza Barth

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