In its 2015 automotive issue, Consumer Reports recommends the 2008 Mazda 3, the 2005 Acura TL and 2005 Honda Pilot as three cheap used cars with strong reviews available at under $10,000. Some well-reviewed cars priced under $15,000 include the 2012 Kia Soul, 2007 Infiniti G35 and 2007 Toyota Highlander.
When shopping for used cars, saving money over the $12,000 price of a barebones new car requires either going back a few model years with slightly higher mileage or buying a more recent car that was less expensive to begin with. Consumer Reports looks at reliability, fuel efficiency and critical reviews in compiling its list of best used cars.
For used cars under $10,000, the Mazda 3 line offers more driving thrills than a Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, but it remains more affordable than those cars due to a lower resale value. The Acura TL midsize luxury sedan at this price point is a decade old, but Acura's engines tend to hold up over time. Another older model that could have plenty of life left, the Honda Pilot, offers seven-passenger seating and enough towing capacity for small boats and trailers.
As for good options under $15,000, the Kia Soul hatchback has a lot of cargo space and can be found with lower mileage for the price. The Infiniti G35 packs a strong 3.5-liter V-6 engine and sport sedan handling, while the Toyota Highlander matches the Pilot's seating capacity with stronger overall reliability.