8 Best Japanese Used Cars to Buy in 2021

8 Best Japanese Used Cars to Buy in 2021

Japanese cars often look sporty, luxurious, or a combination of both. Known for their reliability, they offer a powerful yet smooth performance that matches their aesthetic.

Many Japanese car brands offer several lower-trim level vehicles, making them all the more affordable. But with so many options to choose from, the hunt for the perfect make and model can become tiresome, if not downright overwhelming. Fret not and read on for the lowdown on eight of the best Japanese cars to buy used in 2021.

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Toyota Avalon

Toyota Avalon

The Toyota Avalon is a full-sized sedan with a 3.5-liter V6 engine. It makes for a good family car because it's spacious and loaded with driver-assistive, safety, and entertainment features. The Avalon is surprisingly luxurious and sophisticated, with just the right amount of sportiness.

With a fuel efficiency of 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, it's excellent for long drives. You'll also find heated front seats in every model and a choice between three driving modes: eco, normal, and sport. While the sticker price of a new model falls somewhere between reasonable and a bit out of reach, you can find used Avalons listed for nearly half the price at $17,500.

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Toyota Avalon

The Toyota Avalon is a full-sized sedan with a 3.5-liter V6 engine. It makes for a good family car because it's spacious and loaded with driver-assistive, safety, and entertainment features. The Avalon is surprisingly luxurious and sophisticated, with just the right amount of sportiness.

With a fuel efficiency of 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, it's excellent for long drives. You'll also find heated front seats in every model and a choice between three driving modes: eco, normal, and sport. While the sticker price of a new model falls somewhere between reasonable and a bit out of reach, you can find used Avalons listed for nearly half the price at $17,500.

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Lexus ES

Lexus ES

While it's technically a midsize sedan, the Lexus ES has plenty of legroom and knows how to have fun. With its 3.5-liter V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, this car performs superbly. And thanks to its low, wide stance, it's also easy on the eye both inside and out.

The ES has a fuel efficiency of 22 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway. Even the lower trim levels come loaded with features, but if you decide to opt for a fully-loaded version at a more affordable price, used ES models go for as little as $28,650.

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Lexus ES

While it's technically a midsize sedan, the Lexus ES has plenty of legroom and knows how to have fun. With its 3.5-liter V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, this car performs superbly. And thanks to its low, wide stance, it's also easy on the eye both inside and out.

The ES has a fuel efficiency of 22 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway. Even the lower trim levels come loaded with features, but if you decide to opt for a fully-loaded version at a more affordable price, used ES models go for as little as $28,650.

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Nissan Altima

Nissan Altima

The Nissan Altima is a midsize sedan that's fully loaded with driver-assistive tech and designed to focus on driver comfort. While it's not as sporty as some of Nissan's other cars, it's undoubtedly luxurious. With features like an eight-way power-adjustable seat, the Altima ensures you'll feel as comfortable as possible during your daily commute or road trips. 

You'll also be happy knowing you won't need to stop at the gas station often as you would with other cars in the Altima's class. With a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, it has a fuel efficiency of 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. Buying a used Altima is a smart move, with prices as low as $10,850.

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Nissan Altima

The Nissan Altima is a midsize sedan that's fully loaded with driver-assistive tech and designed to focus on driver comfort. While it's not as sporty as some of Nissan's other cars, it's undoubtedly luxurious. With features like an eight-way power-adjustable seat, the Altima ensures you'll feel as comfortable as possible during your daily commute or road trips. 

You'll also be happy knowing you won't need to stop at the gas station often as you would with other cars in the Altima's class. With a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, it has a fuel efficiency of 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. Buying a used Altima is a smart move, with prices as low as $10,850.

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Mazda Mazda3

Mazda Mazda3

Here's a car that turns heads. Even the hatchback sports sophistication and style that blends well into the cityscape, but you'll want to take the Mazda3 everywhere. This compact car is extremely driver-focused and designed to keep you comfortable and focused on the road ahead. 

With a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, the Mazda3 has a fuel efficiency of 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. While it is one of the lower-priced cars listed here, you're likely to find one you like that's loaded with features for less when buying a used Mazda3. Some listings start at just $7,800.

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Mazda Mazda3

Here's a car that turns heads. Even the hatchback sports sophistication and style that blends well into the cityscape, but you'll want to take the Mazda3 everywhere. This compact car is extremely driver-focused and designed to keep you comfortable and focused on the road ahead. 

With a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, the Mazda3 has a fuel efficiency of 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. While it is one of the lower-priced cars listed here, you're likely to find one you like that's loaded with features for less when buying a used Mazda3. Some listings start at just $7,800.

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Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Albeit another Mazda, this one is much different than the Mazda3. Though smaller, the sporty  Mazda MX-5 Miata is still a head-turner that’s also a blast to drive. This small yet powerful Japanese two-seater is attractive enough for a night on the town and sporty enough for a day at the track. Driving it is nothing short of a thrilling experience, with a retractable top and a stereo system that sounds superb even through the wind noise.

The MX-5 has a two-liter, four-cylinder engine and fuel efficiency of 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. If you dream of owning a sports car, this one isn't out of reach. You'll save big and bag more features when buying used, with some models starting at $12,950.

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Mazda MX-5 Miata

Albeit another Mazda, this one is much different than the Mazda3. Though smaller, the sporty  Mazda MX-5 Miata is still a head-turner that’s also a blast to drive. This small yet powerful Japanese two-seater is attractive enough for a night on the town and sporty enough for a day at the track. Driving it is nothing short of a thrilling experience, with a retractable top and a stereo system that sounds superb even through the wind noise.

The MX-5 has a two-liter, four-cylinder engine and fuel efficiency of 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. If you dream of owning a sports car, this one isn't out of reach. You'll save big and bag more features when buying used, with some models starting at $12,950.

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Subaru Impreza

Subaru Impreza

The Subaru Impreza looks like a toned-down version of the Subaru WRX, a compact sports sedan featured in popular racing video games. So while you'll have the essence of the WRX's sporty look, the reliable Impreza is paired with better fuel efficiency thanks to its lean 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and fuel efficiency of 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. 

With an MSRP that's just shy of $18,000, new base models aren't too costly. But you can opt for a loaded upper-trim level used Impreza, some of which start at $15,200, and still save plenty.

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Subaru Impreza

The Subaru Impreza looks like a toned-down version of the Subaru WRX, a compact sports sedan featured in popular racing video games. So while you'll have the essence of the WRX's sporty look, the reliable Impreza is paired with better fuel efficiency thanks to its lean 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and fuel efficiency of 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. 

With an MSRP that's just shy of $18,000, new base models aren't too costly. But you can opt for a loaded upper-trim level used Impreza, some of which start at $15,200, and still save plenty.

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Honda Civic

Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is one of the best-selling Japanese cars of all time. It's come a long way since Honda started producing the little car in 1972, having made its way up the size chart from subcompact to compact. 

Known and loved by car club enthusiasts for decades, the Civic is just as impressive, zooming around corners in the city as it is out on open roads. With a two-liter, four-cylinder engine, the Civic has a fuel efficiency of 29 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, which makes it suitable for your daily commute or weekend road trip. Technically, you could buy two for the price of one with used models listed at $9,950, but you won't need to because the Civic is built to last.

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Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is one of the best-selling Japanese cars of all time. It's come a long way since Honda started producing the little car in 1972, having made its way up the size chart from subcompact to compact. 

Known and loved by car club enthusiasts for decades, the Civic is just as impressive, zooming around corners in the city as it is out on open roads. With a two-liter, four-cylinder engine, the Civic has a fuel efficiency of 29 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, which makes it suitable for your daily commute or weekend road trip. Technically, you could buy two for the price of one with used models listed at $9,950, but you won't need to because the Civic is built to last.

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Honda Accord

Honda Accord

The Honda Accord is where luxury meets efficiency. With a wide variety of models and trim levels that are both gas-powered and hybrid, there's likely an Accord for anyone. This midsize sedan has been one of Honda's premium cars since 1976 and has kept a sleek look over the years as it's grown from a two-door hatchback to a midsize sedan.

With a lean 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, the Accord has a spectacular fuel efficiency of 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. If you go with the hybrid Accord, the fuel efficiency jumps to 48 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway. There's likely to be an Accord for every budget as well, with used models starting at $10,800.

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Honda Accord

The Honda Accord is where luxury meets efficiency. With a wide variety of models and trim levels that are both gas-powered and hybrid, there's likely an Accord for anyone. This midsize sedan has been one of Honda's premium cars since 1976 and has kept a sleek look over the years as it's grown from a two-door hatchback to a midsize sedan.

With a lean 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, the Accord has a spectacular fuel efficiency of 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. If you go with the hybrid Accord, the fuel efficiency jumps to 48 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway. There's likely to be an Accord for every budget as well, with used models starting at $10,800.

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Which will you choose?

When it comes to the best Japanese cars you can buy used in 2021, there’s no shortage of options. The good news is they all share reliability, sleek and sporty designs, and accessible pricing that puts you closer to your dream vehicle.

While there's no shortage of great Japanese sedans and coupes, be sure to check out the equally impressive SUVs to come from Japan, too, such as the Toyota 4Runner and the Subaru Forester. These are especially ideal if you happen to be looking for something with a little more space. 

Remember, Japanese cars are incredibly reliable, so you're likely to find some used older models as you shop around. But fear not, Shift's certified mechanics perform extensive 150-point inspections on every car in its inventory and have complete vehicle history reports, too. So you can rest assured knowing not only will your used car feel as good as new, you can be sure that it will last, too.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team