The 10 Best Used Cars to Own
The sheen of the Infiniti G35 is somewhat dulled now that the company has updated it to the current 330-horsepower G37, but when compared with its used-car competition, the G35 still shines brightly. A 2006, 6-speed manual G35 Coupe has a 298-horsepower V6 powerhouse under the hood and the driving manners of a BMW 3-Series. But calculate the estimated cost of ownership over five years on a BMW 330Ci versus an Infiniti G35, and you get almost $54,000 for the former and only $47,000 for the latter.
The Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series may have the edge over Cadillac these days when it comes to prestige, but when it comes to long-term reliability, those cars can't touch the humble Cadillac DTS. In fact, for the past three years, Cadillac's sedans have ranked at or near the top in J.D. Power dependability surveys. Plus, a fully loaded 2006 Cadillac DTS can be had for the bargain price of $22,000, with a cost of ownership that is dwarfed by its Teutonic counterparts over the life span of the vehicle. Besides, what kind of prestige is there in driving a used luxury car anyway? Get one that's comfortable and that works.
Midsize: Toyota Tacoma
The Tacoma is tops for both reliability and resale value. Like many pickups, the Tacoma boasts a variety of body styles, with regular and Xtracab (extended cab) versions dating back to the 1990s and Double Cab (crew cab) from 2001. The current Tacoma starts at $15,345, but anything from 2006 or earlier can probably be bought for less than $10K.
Large: Ford F-150
Among truck lovers, nothing has the reputation of the Ford F-150. This tough work truck has been going strong in one form or another since the 1940s. Ford F-Series trucks score high for dependability and have unbeatable resale value for their segment. The latest-generation F-150 was just launched in 2009, so anyone looking for one of these haulers used is probably looking to shop one of the past two generations. The best pickings, qualitywise, are the years 2004 to 2008, where the rounded styling and cheap plastics of the previous generation were recast into a brawnier, yet more refined, package. Since this has been America's best-selling vehicle for the past 33 years, there's plenty of selection, so shop around and you're bound to find exactly what you want.
For the merely affluent, buying a new Porsche 911 can be a humbling experience. The price for the base-model rear-wheel-drive Carrera starts at $77,800. "Wow! That's a lot of money," you think. "But I've worked hard (or at least inherited wisely), I've saved up and I deserve it." Now add some metallic paint ($710), fancy wheels ($1,490), leather seats and leather interior ($5,205), dynamic cornering lights ($690), park assist ($530), a rear wiper ($360), heated seats ($510) and a 6-disc CD changer ($650) — and suddenly you're up to a $90,000-plus vehicle (and those, by the way, are modest options). It's enough to make one reconsider one's qualifications for the upper class. But just because you can't gather that kind of scratch doesn't mean you don't deserve this amazing driving machine. Dial back your expectations to a 2005 model Carrera and you're talking about a vehicle with a starting price of less than $40,000. And Porsche vehicles always get high marks for long-term reliability; the brand takes top marks for both customer satisfaction and long-term reliability from J.D. Power and Associates.
Sam Foley is a Connecticut-based automotive journalist who has written for GQ, Forbes, USA Today, the New York Post and various other publications.
- Become a fan of MSN Autos on Facebook.
- Visit MSN Autos' "Exhaust Notes" blog to keep up on all things automotive.
- In the market for a new car? MSN Autos is pleased to provide you with information and services designed to save you time, money and hassle. Click to research prices and specifications on any new car on the market or get a free price quote through MSN Autos' New-Car Buying Service.
Must-See on MSN
Gabriel hit the nail on the head about maintenance. Pretty much any make/model these days should go over 200K w/o a drivetrain repair with routine maintenance and no abuse. I used to take my car to a shop for all maintenance, but decided a few years ago to start doing it all myself. I am AMAZED how easy (and actually kind of fun) it is to do your own service and regret not taking it into my own hands sooner.
Oil changes, transmission fluid, brake pads, air filter, coolant flush, drive belt, etc. If you invest your time and money into getting the proper tools (jack stands, torque wrench, etc.) and the service manual for your vehicle, it is worth your while to save some money and know that the job is being done correctly.
Anecdotal evidence means nothing. Just because you have a vehicle that lasts over 300K miles with the original trans and motor means very little. There are equal numbers of people with supposedly good/bad cars that experience both extremes.
Trust numbers not neighbors.