Looking For The Best Used Sedan? Here Are Our Top Three Choices
Oh, the benefits of driving a sedan. As America continues its single-minded obsession with SUVs and crossovers, a small contingent remains true to the low-slung lines only found on the four-door sedan body style. Searching used car dealers near you for a used sedan? You’re in luck because today’s options are faster, more fuel-efficient, and sleeker than ever before, and you can find many of them here at Colonial Toyota.
The focus on SUVs has reduced sedans to a mere footnote in some manufacturers’ lineups, but a select few have doubled down, infusing R&D dollars and advanced engineering into their sedan nameplates. No matter how much market share SUVs and crossovers gobble up, millions are still opting in on vehicles with less bulk and more driving enjoyment.
In 2019, nearly 2 million sedans were sold, but alongside that sales volume, brands previously known for building performance sedans and coupes were entering the SUV market in record numbers, leaving sedan lovers to wonder whether the body style might end up extinct. Luckily, sedans are alive and well, and still among the most aspirational used vehicles on the road. Here’s our list of the sedans that represent the best used value.
Best Used Compact Sedan: The Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla
Buyers in the compact sedan segment place an equal amount of importance on value and style. While they may not have pocketfuls of cash, these buyers want to make every dollar count. They won’t settle for a cookie-cutter sedan stripped of any luxury features. Instead, they’re looking for the sweet spot of quality and affordability. Two category juggernauts, the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla, offer buyers a unique win-win opportunity.
The Honda Civic, now in its eleventh generation, is a perennial customer favorite for its exceptional quality and range of available trims. Over the years, Honda has offered the Civic in both hatchback and sedan body styles, but the overarching favorite is its simple and straightforward entry priced sedan version. As a bonus, it offers plenty of trunk space, so choosing it over the hatchback isn’t a space compromise.
The Civic fights hard for market share against the wildly popular Corolla, and truly these vehicles are neck-and-neck in just about every standard of measure. Choosing boils down to personal preference, so it’s a good idea to test drive both before you decide. Both the Civic and the Corolla are known for longevity and reliability, so they make great used vehicles. Also, because they’re both bestsellers, inventory levels are always high, giving buyers a nice range of prices and trims to pick from. Overall, the biggest benefit to compact sedan owners is the low cost of ownership. They’re fuel efficient and, in the case of the Civic and the Corolla, extremely reliable.
In a 2018 review, the experts at Car and Driver had some fun listing 10 reasons why buyers should opt for a Honda Civic. They cite variety as one of the main reasons, and we concur. Over its many model years, the Civic has been offered in multiple trims and special edition versions, including a 205-horsepower Si sedan. Many model years still offer a manual transmission, too.
Best Used Mid-Size Sedan: The Toyota Camry
Why is the Toyota Camry America’s best-selling sedan with nearly 400,000 sold every year in the U.S. alone? In a word, consistency. Since 1983, Toyota has manufactured the Camry with such high-quality standards that owners report some of the lowest ownership costs of any other vehicle on the road. Mid-size sedan buyers lean toward practical considerations, and no one can argue the practicality of a Camry.
At its inception in 1983, SUVs were nonexistent, which meant families had to choose between sedans or pickup trucks. The Camry sought to occupy a space that appealed to growing families. In addition to offering a great value, the Camry was built with comfort in mind, and it offered one of the most powerful engines in the category. With room for the kids in the back and agreeable exterior styling, the Camry quickly gained popularity.
Now in its eighth generation, the newest Camry models infuse technology throughout, from advanced driver-assist safety systems to intelligent infotainment interfaces. Performance is also a highlight, with 2012 and newer Camrys available with a powerful V6 engine. Lucky pre-owned Camry buyers will appreciate its unmatched reliability, but also the large variety of trims and powertrain configurations.
Buyers seeking a more recent model year should check out the seventh generation (2012 – 2017). Thanks to a mid-cycle refresh, the 2015 Camry received a wireless charger and a handful of driver-assist safety systems, including adaptive cruise control. Although they’ll likely be past the factory warranty, low mileage Camrys will likely qualify for certified pre-owned (CPO) status.
Best Used Full-Size Sedan: The Toyota Avalon
The plush Toyota Avalon is a full-size sedan with an array of trims designed for every buyer, whether they’re seeking affordability or ultra high-end luxury. Designing a sedan with universal appeal is tricky, especially when the price overlaps with entry-level prestige European imports. The challenge of balancing value with luxury is something Toyota does well, as evidenced by the Avalon.
The Limited, the Avalon’s flagship trim, is a study in near-luxury affordability, with wood-like accenting and plush leather seating highlighting a long list of standard comfort and convenience features. The cabin is whisper-quiet, and the standard V6 engine delivers confident acceleration to highway speeds. There’s plenty of legroom for rear-seat passengers, making the Avalon an excellent choice for SUV-averse families.
Most recent Avalon model years include a hybrid powertrain option. With an average combined fuel economy rating of 40 MPG, the hybrid Avalon is a fuel sipper and a practical way to get all the size benefits of a full-size sedan without the drop in efficiency. While the Avalon has declined somewhat in popularity since its launch in 2005, Toyota still sells tens of thousands every year.
Currently in its fifth generation, the Avalon is available in all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive configurations. It enjoys an over 25-year history of dominating the full-size sedan segment, and thanks to its legendary Toyota quality, the Avalon makes a reliable used addition to any family fleet. If you commute, consider a hybrid Avalon for its class-leading fuel efficiency.
The Sedan Will Survive SUV Mania
Many automotive insiders have pondered the fate of the sedan. There’s no shortage of doom-and-gloom commentary online, with many citing the explosion of the SUV category as evidence that Americans have had enough of the low profile car body style. It makes us wonder why large manufacturers like Toyota and Honda still invest heavily in their sedan lineups.
It’s true that SUVs and crossovers are dominating vehicle sales and have been since around 2010, but no one can predict the fickle and ever-changing tastes of American drivers. For example, if you follow the industry, you might think – based on the sheer volume of chatter – that we’re in the midst of an electric vehicle revolution that’s on pace to overtake traditional gas-powered alternatives. We’re not.
In the first four months of 2021, just 2.3% of all vehicles sold were EVs. Prior to 2021, that number hovered at well under 2%. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that 71% of the 2021 EVs sold were Teslas, proving further that the EV category is still mostly popular with fans of new technology. Also, most of those sales occurred in the trend-friendly state of California.
The lesson here is, don’t let the headlines fool you. Many automakers remain committed to the sedan category, and some have even expanded their lineups to include performance-oriented models. As the saying goes, nothing is for sure besides death and taxes, but we wouldn’t bet against the sedan’s longevity.
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