If You’re Tightening Your Budget, These Are The 10 Best Used Car Buys Under $15,000

If you're looking to save some money, sedans are where to do it

2016 mazda6
[Photo: Mazda]

We’re heading into a tough economic time — one in which most of us are tightening our belts to make it through the coming weeks and months. Amid the recent effects of the coronavirus pandemic, dealers are in a bind as they push new, admittedly generous incentives to boost new car sales. If you are in the market for a car and looking around for the best deals, it is worth noting the manufacturers offering zero-percent loans and payment deferrals. In some cases, manufacturers will even make the first few payments if you go for a brand new car.

But for some (including me), the thought of getting stuck into a 72 or even 84-month loan period is pure madness. I’m into my current daily driver, a 2016 Mazda CX-5, on a five-year loan, and even that feels like an eternity. While this isn’t meant to discourage people from buying new cars if that’s what they really want — there is some piece of mind to doing so — trekking into the used market is still a solid way to save some money. iSeeCars.com published a new study analyzing over 6.1 million cars from 2011 onward, picking out the safest and most reliable options for used buyers.

For those who don’t want to spend a heap of money on a brand new car, particularly right now, here are the 10 best used cars out there for under $15,000, according to their data.

ModelAverage Used Price
102015 Toyota Camry$14,221
92017 Toyota Corolla$14,186
82015 Kia Sedona$13,966
72016 Dodge Grand Caravan$13,859
62014 Toyota Camry Hybrid$13,849
52015 Honda Civic Coupe$13,759
42014 Honda Accord$13,484
32015 Honda Civic Sedan$13,432
22014 Nissan Maxima$13,190
12015 Mazda6$12,969

Some standouts to consider

The iSeeCars study throws up one important theme: If you want to save money, look at sedans. They main players still in the space, namely Toyota and Honda, have been building the cars like the Camry, Corolla, Civic and Accord for decades. The crossover craze has also taken a sizeable chunk out of demand, which does affect second-hand values. Still, there are plenty of these cars still on the road. Not only can you save some money on the purchase, but these cars should also be cheaper to run as they’re more fuel efficient and less expensive to repair.

Speaking of fuel efficiency, the Toyota Camry Hybrid offers a considerable package for the money. They’re comfortable, efficient cars to live with, even if they’re not the most exciting to drive. I’d say the same for the Honda Accord, and if you’re in the market for a reliable car, which one to choose really comes down to what sort of deals you manage to find and your personal preferences.

2013 nissan maxima sv sports car
This generation Nissan Maxima has more subdued styling than the current generation, but still has a relatively potent V6 engine under the hood. [Photo: TFLcar]

The Nissan Maxima is a big car, and offers up a good amount of space for the money. It does come with a CVT, which is a mark against it for some, but you do still get a 291 horsepower V6 engine if you opt for the 2014 model. 2015 and later versions are more expensive, but also get you more aggressive styling and 300 horsepower.

The car at the top of the value pack, however, deserves serious consideration. The latest-generation Mazda6 is a fantastic driver’s car, and easily the most exciting option on the list. It’s one of the best-looking and sharpest handling, while also being reasonably fuel efficient thanks to its 2.5-liter direct-injected engine. One area Mazda doesn’t excel is resale value. That’s great news in a buyer’s market, as you can pick up a 2015 model — which doesn’t look drastically different from the brand new car — for under $13,000 on average.