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Best deals on used small cars

Consumer Reports News: March 29, 2012 10:08 AM

If you're looking for a gas sipper to help save money at the pump, there are many used cars that make excellent choices. And if you do your research, you can buy one that is not only efficient, but safe and reliable, as well. To make it easier to find what you're looking for, we have identified some of the best used deals on fuel-efficient small cars.

Buying a used car has many benefits. Most importantly 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. Also, some used models may 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 to be reliable, and performed well in government and insurance industry crash tests. Before handing over the cash, have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic to make sure there are no hidden problems.

Check out our top deals for recommended vehicles from the 2007-2008 model years. We placed the vehicles in order of the cheapest price you might be able to get when buying from the dealer. The models listed below are available for 13- and 40-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.

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
2008 Suzuki SX4 $15,870 $8,175 $10,025 48% 37%
2007 Toyota Corolla LE 16,315 8,960 11,075 45% 32%
2007 Honda Fit Sport 15,970 9,330 11,350 42% 29%
2007 Volkswagen Rabbit 16,065 9,500 11,600 41% 28%
2008 Toyota Corolla LE
16,415 9,810 12,025 40% 27%
2007 Mazda3 i 14,795 10,010 12,100 32% 18%
2008 Honda Fit Sport 16,070 10,875 13,075 32% 19%
2007 Honda Civic EX
19,510 11,330 13,675 42% 30%
2008 Scion xD 17,349 11,950 14,150 31% 18%
2008 Volkswagen Rabbit 18,650 11,960 14,300 36% 23%
2008 Scion xB 16,600 12,185 14,400 27% 13%
2007 Toyota Prius 22,175 13,220 15,475 40% 30%
2008 Mazdaspeed3 22,440 14,800 17,175 34% 23%
2008 Toyota Prius 22,475 15,175 17,450 32% 22%
2008 Honda Civic Si 29,500 15,150 17,700 49% 40%
2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 33,495 22,070 25,225 34% 25%

Full used car pricing information is available to Cars Best Deals Plus subscribers on the model overview pages. Consumer Reports also offers individual Used Car Price Reports on vehicles from the 2002 - 2011 model years. Pricing information can be adjusted for vehicle condition, mileage and optional equipment.

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

Liza Barth

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