These are the best used cars to buy in 2021, study says

A lot of thought goes into buying a used car.

Important factors include reliability, safety and value retention.

That’s especially true if you are shopping for the best used cars to buy in 2021 with hundreds of models and thousands of vehicles from which to choose.

But shoppers don’t have to go it alone, according to shopping website, which narrowed the scope to 23 category winners and another 20 runners-up in its latest study.

Honda CR-V
Photo Credit: Honda via Newspress USA.
The Honda CR-V was a category winner as the best used compact SUV.

“To help navigate the used car buying process – and help consumers find the right car at the right price – we’ve done the legwork … analyzing more than 20 million cars, and narrowed down the best used cars across all vehicle types,” the company said in touting its latest research. That included using safety ratings from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

There’s a vehicle for just about everyone on the list of the 23 best used cars to buy and 20 runners-up. The list includes nine SUV categories, nine car categories, two truck winners and best minivan, along with the best car under $5,000 and best car under $10,000.

Here are the winners and runners-up in all 23 categories along with their overall score in this study:

Best Sport Utility Vehicles says: The popularity of SUVs and crossovers continues to rise, and the number of SUV models hitting the marketplace grows each year.

Compact SUV
– Winner: Honda CR-V (8.7)
– Runner-up: Subaru Outback (8.1)

Luxury compact SUV
– Winner: Acura RDX (7.6)
– Runner-up: none

Midsize SUV
– Winner: Toyota Highlander (8.9)
– Runner-up: Toyota 4Runner (8.6)

Luxury midsize SUV
– Winner: Acura MDX (8.8)
– Runner-up: Lexus RX 350 (8.4)

Full-size SUV
– Winner: Chevrolet Tahoe (7.9)
– Runner-up: Ford Expedition (7.8)

Luxury full-size SUV
– Winner: Lincoln Navigator (8.3)
– Runner-up: Cadillac Escalade (8.3)

Third-row SUV
– Winner: Toyota Highlander (8.9)
– Runner-up: Honda Pilot (8.4)

Luxury third-row SUV
– Winner: Acura MDX (8.8)
– Runner-up: Lincoln Navigator (8.3)

Best passenger cars says: Cars such as sedans, coupes, and hatchbacks appeal to drivers who want a more efficient vehicle and don’t require the cargo space of SUVs. For many, sports cars are often dream cars for their owners, whether they are used as daily drivers or reserved for weekend drives in nice weather.

Compact car
– Winner: Honda Civic (9.0)
– Runner-up: Toyota Corolla (8.8)

Luxury compact car
– Winner: Lexus IS 250/350 (9.0/8.8)
– Runner-up: BMW 3 Series (8.3)

Midsize sedan
– Winner: Honda Accord (9.1)
– Runner-up: Toyota Camry (9.1)

Luxury midsize sedan
– Winner: Lexus ES 350 (8.4)
– Runner-up: Cadillac CTS (8.1)

Large sedan
– Winner: Toyota Avalon (8.5)
– Runner-up: Chevrolet Impala (8.3)

Luxury large sedan
– Winner: Buick LaCrosse (8.6)
– Runner-up: Cadillac XTS (NA)

Sports car
– Winner: Ford Mustang (8.8)
– Runner-up: Chevrolet Camaro (8.7)

Car under $5,000
– Winner: Mazda MAZDA3 (8.5)
– Runner-up: Buick Regal (8.1)

Car under $10,000
– Winner: Toyota Yaris (8.0)
– Runner-up: Ford Focus (7.6)

Best trucks and minivans says: Whether they are driving for business or pleasure, pickup truck drivers want a rugged and capable hauler. Beyond performance, the best used pickup trucks are proven to last long and retain their value so drivers can save money for their next pickup truck purchase. Minivans are beloved by families who require extra passenger and cargo room in a vehicle that’s easy to transport children.

Midsize truck
– Winner: Toyota Tacoma (8.2)
– Runner-up: none

Full-size truck
– Winner: Toyota Tundra (8.2)
– Runner-up: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (7.9)

– Winner: Honda Odyssey (9.0)
– Runner-up: Toyota Sienna (8.9)

Best EVs and hybrids says: For drivers who want a low- or zero-emission vehicle, EVs suit their needs.

Electric car
– Winner: Tesla Model S (9.6)
– Runner-up: Tesla Model 3 (8.2)

Hybrid car
– Winner: Toyota Prius (8.9)
– Runner-up: Toyota Camry Hybrid (8.9)

Hybrid SUV
– Winner: Toyota Highlander Hybrid (9.1)
– Runner-up: none

There’s a lot more to say about these vehicles at for those who are interested, including descriptions and other details such as NHTSA safety ratings.

“If you’re in the market for a used car, these cars are proven to be reliable and safe while maintaining their value for their owners,” concluded.

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