Generally speaking, car enthusiasts and consumers in general are divided into two camps. One side only buys new cars and doesn’t even want to hear about the existence of the second-hand market. The other side only ever looks at the CPO or the used market in general, and always comes up with a variety of reasons why it’s not a good idea to buy a new car. We’ll leave that up for debate, but it’s true that both have their strengths and weaknesses. One of the advantages of second-hand, for example, is that used cars are usually subject to depreciation.
If you have decided to buy something used, the choice is quite large. Sure, there’s the slight issue of crazy inflation, profit margins, and increases in value, but the choice is still vast. However, there is quite a variety of Used vehiclescovering just about every segment, which no one even thinks to consider…but they should.
ten Toyota Matrix XRS
Instead of offering an old Corolla hatchback like they do these days, and like they did in Europe back then, Toyota decided to go a different route with their five-door hatchback model back in the 2000. The Matrix was based on the same architecture as the Pontiac Vibe, and for the most part it was a typical Toyota sedan.
But not the XRS. The XRS was the hot hatch version of the Matrix, and it was downright hilarious. Under the hood was essentially the same four-cylinder engine as the Lotus Elise, mated exclusively to a manual transmission. With high-rpm antics and a smile-per-mile driving experience, combined with rock-solid reliability, it’s a shame the Matrix is so underrated.
9 Ford S-Max 2.5 Turbo
Living in Europe? Need a minibus? It is one of your best options. While North America is used to the idea of minivans with big engines and powers over 200 hp, this was completely unheard of in Europe. But that doesn’t mean some automakers haven’t experimented with the idea. The Ford S-Max 2.5 Turbo is one such experience.
Ford of Europe’s idea behind the S-Max is that it’s a people carrier (MPV) that’s really fun to drive. The S-Max has achieved this, while being as practical as its competitors, and more aesthetic as well. To add credence to its prowess, from 2007 to 2010 Ford offered the S-Max with a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder from Volvo, makers of the P1800 masterstroke. Not recommended if your children often get motion sickness.
8 BMW 335i Sedan
Everyone loves to talk about BMW’s 335i coupe, especially the fact that its engine was the European 2JZ of its day. But, if you need the rear doors and the added practicality, it’s important to remember that BMW also offered the E90 sedan with the exact same powertrain.
Unfortunately, North America didn’t get the Touring model, but the sedan isn’t bad either. The 335i’s turbocharged I6 can be tuned for plenty of power, and if properly supported, it’s also very reliable. It helps that the E90 is quite a practical sedan and easily one of the nicest generations of the 3-Series. If you find one with a manual transmission, even better.
7 chevrolet ss
The SS was the final nail in the coffin of GM’s attempts to bring Australian-market cars to North America. Under the skin, the SS was based on the Holden Commodore, and it followed the exact same formula. A full-size traditional rear-drive sedan with a V8 engine and available manual transmission, and a huge catalog of awesome mods available.
On paper, the SS is a dream. But, Chevy made this one dirty. They took it out and sold it around the time the sedan market was in decline, and their lack of marketing didn’t help either. In the end, only a handful of SS models ended up in (mostly) enthusiast hands before they were canned. However, they can still be found at good prices on the used market.
6 Lexus LS600h L
For more than three decades now, Lexus has always done its best to beat the Germans at their own game. The original LS showed the world that luxury sedans can be reliable and predictable, and the IS F and the very expensive LFA showed that Lexus knows how to put together a performance car.
During the 2000s, large luxury sedans with extended wheelbases and massive engines were all the rage in Europe. Lexus’ answer to this craze was the LS600h L, a long-wheelbase version of their venerable LS, powered by a 444 hp hybrid V8. This did not convince those who were loyal to the 760Li and S600L, which led to a rather significant depreciation of the LS600h L.
5 Red line Saturn Vue
Let’s say you want a used market SUV. This one is about as left field as it gets, but it’s definitely worth a look. Through a partnership with Honda, the Saturn Vue Red Line used a modified version of Honda’s J-Series 3.5-liter V6.
The Vue Red Line was a true performance SUV before it was really a thing. It had all-wheel drive, decent trim levels, and it was surprisingly fast. Plus, it’s a 2000s GM car that’s actually reliable, thanks to Honda drivetrain components. Certainly more than when GM bought the lackluster Opel Antara for the second-generation Vue.
4 Volvo C30 T5 R-Design
More underrated hot hatch goodness. The Volvo C30 was Volvo’s answer to the booming hatchback market in the 2000s, sharing a platform with the European Ford Focus of the time. Even though it was only a three-door, it remains one of the most beautiful compact cars of its time, and even today.
Volvo also offered a flagship version of the C30, the T5 R-Design. With a turbocharged I5 under the hood, a six-speed manual transmission and a solid chassis, this C30 was a left-over hot hatch with a more grown-up ride, but it was still great fun. The news is getting better; it’s the only powertrain you could have in a C30 in North America.
3 Renault Vel Satis
Let’s say you’re based in Europe and absolutely don’t want to be a slave to convention when it comes to your next used luxury car. If you really want your luxury car to stand out, it’s hard to beat the Renault Vel Satis.
The Vel Satis isn’t classically pretty, but in practice it’s the best of both worlds; sedan legroom and sedan/van headroom. You’ll need to budget for maintenance, but the Vel Satis is an interesting, solid, used luxury car choice. Especially if you can find one of the V6 models. Yes, it’s the same V6 found in the Nissan 350Z.
2 Mazda 6 V6
The first generation Mazda 6 is quite an underrated sedan. Although not the most beautiful car, we admit, the original 6 was well equipped, fun to drive and reliable. Additionally, the original car was available with a V6 engine.
As Mazda was owned by Ford, the 6 was available with a 3.0-liter Duratec V6 in North America. It had almost as much power as the Mazdaspeed6, even though it was only FWD. The 6 was already quite a fun car to drive, and the V6 gave it that extra power, along with a fantastic exhaust note.
1 Acura TSX / Honda Accord
For the most part, Acura’s lineup in the 2000s was entirely forgettable. But, among all the mediocrities, there was one bright, shining star; the Toronto Stock Exchange. Honda decided to bring the European/JDM Accord (CL7) and sell it as Acura in the US.
That gamble paid off for the Japanese automaker, as the TSX is widely considered Acura’s best car of the 2000s. It looks great, it rides incredibly well, and it’s even highly adjustable if you like that. The second generation was fantastic too, and this one even came as a station wagon.
These affordable used cars are reliable and inexpensive to repair
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