The Best Used-Car Deals of March 2022
In a market where used cars can cost nearly as much as new ones, you can still find bargains.
Three years ago, a new well-equipped Toyota Camry or Honda CR-V would have set you back about $35,500, and an entry-level Ford F-150, about $30,000. Now, after a pandemic and a semiconductor shortage wreaked havoc on supply chains and left automakers scrambling to produce new vehicles, would-be new-car buyers had to turn to the used market. As a result, year over year, the average used-car price was up by 40.5 percent in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Were you to buy that Camry, CR-V, or F-150 second hand today, with 30,000 miles on the odometer, the original owner would make back most of their investment. In a market such as this, what used cars are worth buying? The following three vehicles offer some of the best used car deals in March 2022, during a time when few vehicles do.
Best Family Sedan Under $25,000: 2016-2019 Mazda6 ($15,000 to $24,500)
For well over a decade, the Mazda6 offered excellent long-term reliability, yet it remained largely unnoticed by the public, who flocked to the better-marketed Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Mazda stopped selling this midsize sedan last year, which is a shame because the 6 was a true driver’s car, with great handling and a premium interior that its better-selling competition couldn’t quite match. On the plus side, its discontinuation means you can expect to find a steeper discount on used examples of the 6 than other family cars.
According to the Manheim Market Report, which tracks value trends in the wholesale market, an entry-level 2017 Mazda6 with 63,000 miles sells for between $1500 and $2000 less than the comparable Accord or Camry.
The Mazda also achieves outstanding crash-test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and good fuel economy, with nonturbo models seeing up to 35 mpg on the highway. And unlike some other engines in this class, that naturally aspirated four-cylinder has enough response to make commuting fun.
Best Three-Row SUV Under $25,000: 2017-2019 Mitsubishi Outlander ($18,000 to $25,000)
If reliability is high on your shopping list, it’s hard to go wrong with a Honda or Toyota SUV, but you’re going to pay a premium for those models. According to the Long-Term Quality Index, the Mitsubishi Outlander also offers above-average reliability along with two features coveted in family crossovers: a third row of seats and optional all-wheel drive. This is a big factor in a segment where used-vehicle prices are so high right now—particularly for perennial favorites like the Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer—that it often makes sense to buy new. The Outlander, though, doesn’t have the same name recognition as the Highlander or Explorer, and shoppers don’t think to search for it.
Another plus is that the Outlander comes with an above-average and fully transferable new-vehicle warranty, lasting five years or 60,000 miles (versus the typical span of three years or 36,000 miles).
Shoppers can find an entry-level Outlander ES for well under $20,000 and still get many of the things that most families value for everyday driving, including a solid safety rating, Bluetooth, a 6.1-inch infotainment touchscreen, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Best Luxury Vehicle Under $60,000: 2015-2017 Tesla Model S ($40,000 to $60,000)
If you’re looking for a keeper that can improve over time with regular over-the-air updates, the Tesla Model S is a great choice. Teslas hold their value better than other luxury cars. That means you might pay more upfront, but you should recoup that premium when you sell the vehicle. Even 10-year-old examples with nearly 140,000 miles on them still sell for more than $20,000.
While that mileage might seem high, remember that this is an electric vehicle, with a battery-operated powertrain that has far fewer moving parts than an internal-combustion engine. That gives it an edge, according to Tesla, which says its batteries should last between 300,000 and 500,000 miles (even though its warranty only covers up to 150,000 miles).
You can find a 2017 Tesla Model S 75D with less than 50,000 miles quite easily for under $60,000. Keep in mind that this model offers 103 MPGe on the EPA’s combined scale, whereas other luxury sedans of that vintage simply guzzle fuel, with many boasting combined fuel-economy ratings below 25 mpg.