Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lots of choices for best used cars under $10,000

Cash-strapped buyers used to have a couple choices in new cars for $10,000. No longer. Cheap cars are no longer as cheap. So what are the best used-car values for the money? waded into the statistics and looked at models based on crash tests, safety, reliability, practicality and drivability.

Two aspects that apparently weren't considered were looks and excitement, because you'd be hard-pressed to find a duller bunch of cars. One exception: the original Scion xB, which remains as much fun today as did in the day.

From a list of 60 vehicles, here's what came up with, in alphabetical order:

•2009 Ford Focus: Its nimble handling and smooth-revving four-cylinder are still appealing. The 2009 Focus is also offered as both a sedan and coupe.

•2008 Ford Fusion: The first-generation Fusion sedan still hits a sweet spot between ride quality and handling, and family shoppers will appreciate its roomy trunk.

•2008 Ford Taurus: In many ways it's a better car than today's Taurus, thanks to its mammoth backseat and trunk, and spot-on ride/handling balance.

•2007 Honda Civic: It set the standard for commuter compacts in the late 2000s. Nimble handling, impressive cabin materials and good fuel efficiency make this Honda an excellent choice for compact-car shoppers.

•2009 Hyundai Sonata: With a host of cabin and drivetrain updates for 2009, it remains a sound choice for first-time drivers and family-car shoppers alike thanks to its roomy cabin and long list of standard safety features.

•2008 Kia Sportage: A small crossover whose new-car pricing translates to used-car affordability. The Sportage delivers better highway composure than its small size suggests.

•2008 Mazda6: The first-gen Mazda6 remains a compelling choice for family-sedan shoppers who can sacrifice a little cabin room for sportiness. Sharp steering and handling distinguish the car among other sedans.

•2007 Nissan Altima: Lead-footed sedan shoppers have their ! chariot in the Altima. Nissan even matched strong power with unexpected fuel efficiency in this model.

•2008 Scion xB: There's a lot to love about Scion's boxy xB, whose current generation dates all the way back to '08. Safety features included six airbags and an electronic stability system, which makes the xB a natural choice for first-time drivers.

•2007 Toyota Prius: Even by today's standards, Toyota's iconic second-gen Prius still gets excellent mileage (46 mpg) and given its efficiency, its drivability is impressive.

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