Japanese Cars Dominate Consumer Reports’ 2013 Best Used Cars Guide

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, March 14th, 2013

We’ve about covered the now-old-news 2013 Geneva Motor Show to death. While there were several Japanese cars we didn’t get a chance to talk about, we hit on all the really important ones. Today, we’re moving on to something a little more applicable – Consumer Reports’ Best & Worst Used Cars, published earlier this week.

As you might expect, this comprehensive guide from Consumer Reports (they’re good at those) offers buyers their best options at several different price points. CR has the best and worst used cars for a budget under $10k, and then every $5K up to $25K. Each section offers options for different classes of buyer, so whether you’re looking for a small car, sedan or SUV, there’s something for you.

For the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on the “Best Cars” half of the guide. Unsurprisingly, it’s dominated by Japanese cars, primarily from Toyota and Honda. As you continue reading, we’re going to go through each budget’s section and touch on the Japanese cars that made it onto Consumer Reports’ Best Used Cars list.

Under $10k

In the most price-restrictive segment, both the Acura TSX 2004 (sedan) and the Toyota RAV4 2004 (SUV) made the list. The Acura TSX is listed as a sporty budget vehicle with a responsive engine and nice interior. The 2004 RAV4 is listed because it’s the first year the SUV was manufactured with antilock brakes, although CR also notes a very powerful engine.

From $10k to $15k

This section is the most common price point for used car buyers, and as such it has the most options listed. Every single one of them is Japanese. Here’s an overview of which cars made the cut:

* Honda Fit 2011
* Mazda3 2011
* Honda Accord 2006-07
* Acura TL 2005-06
* Toyota RAV4 2006-08
* Honda CR-V 2005-07
* Toyota Highlander 2004-07
* Infiniti FX 2003-04

Lots of options here. They were particularly happy with the 2011 Honda Fit and 2006-07 Honda Accord, both with excellent driving and more-than-adequate interiors.

From $15k to $20k

Japanese brands almost took every single spot at this price point, too – the only non-Japanese car listed was the Hyundai Elantra.

This is where you start getting into the really nice Toyotas that we were all waiting for… The 2010-11 Prius and the 2011-12 Camry are both listed here. The Infiniti M 2006-07 is listed as an alternative to the Camry for those desiring a more luscious interior. The Mazda CX-9 is listed as a highly-recommended SUV for its agility and very spacious back-seating – excellent for a family.

From $20k to $25k

Last but not least, this is typically the price point for buyers who have a budget suitable for a new car, but who want to get the most bang for their buck. These are buyers willing to sacrifice new-ness for a nicer, more luxurious car and marquee. So, the 2007-08 Acura MDX and 2008 Lexus RX both make the cut, along with the 2009 Infiniti G and 2010 Toyota Avalon.

As you can see, Japanese car makers continue to uphold their reputation for excellence. Meanwhile, American brands dominate the “Worst Cars” section of Consumer Reports’ Used Car guide. The only Japanese car in the entire “Worst” list is the Nissan Armada.

So, the too-long-didn’t-read lesson here is this: if you’re buying a used car in 2013, buy a Japanese car. Specifically, buy a used Japanese car like a Toyota or a Honda. Can’t go wrong with either.

Source: Consumer Reports

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