The Best Sedans To Buy Used in 2021

The Best Sedans To Buy Used in 2021

If you're in the market for the best used sedan, you’re in luck. It’s one of the most popular body styles to run the road and optimal late-model options abound, be it subcompact, compact, midsize or luxury.

Which are the best used sedans?

Some of the best used sedans to top the list in general are the Toyota Camry, the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla, namely for their reliability and value. 

Revamped for a sportier look and feel in 2018, the eighth-generation Camry comes in both 4- and 6-cylinder engines as well as a hybrid option. The Civic earns a mention here thanks to its punchy performance and gas efficiency. The Corolla, now in its 12th generation, boasts a fuel economy of 40 mpg and, as is standard to all model years, an attractive resale value.

Shift’s roster of certified-used sedans has more than 1,000 models from two dozen different manufacturers, so finding the one that’s right for you in terms of price and performance is essentially just a matter of time.

2018 Toyota Camry LE (from $21,350)

2018 Toyota Camry LE (from $21,350)
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2018 Toyota Camry LE (from $21,350)
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Which are the best midsize sedans?

The forerunner of the following lineup for best midsize sedan probably won't come as much of a surprise, given that over time it's become nothing short of one of the cornerstones of the auto industry around the world. The Honda Accord was one of the first Japanese cars to make it big in the North American market in 1976. Now in its 10th generation and 45th year of production, the Accord continues to rank as one of the top midsize sedan options thanks to its price ($24,970 standard base price), gas mileage (30/38 mpg), a hybrid option, a roomy interior and an overall enjoyable driving experience.

Other solid midsize sedan options comparable to the Accord include the Hyundai Sonata ($10,500-$19,100, which also has a hybrid option, and the Kia Optima ($10,300-$18,650).

2012 Honda Accord EX (from $14,200)

2012 Honda Accord EX (from $14,200)
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2012 Honda Accord EX (from $14,200)
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Which are the best sedans that cost less than $20,000?

The base prices of a new Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Sentra and Volkswagen Jetta all start at just shy of $20,000, but used Hyundai Elantras average $9,000-$17,500, Nissan Sentras $7,500-$14,500 and Volkswagen Jettas $8,450-$18,000.

Having been in production for more than 30 years now, the Elantra – now in its seventh generation, the first to include a hybrid option – has never looked better. With sleek, sporty lines, a roomy interior and a longer wheelbase than its prerunners, Hyundai has obviously upped its attention to detail while maintaining an accessible retail cost of $19,650-$25,450. Other perks include a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display, an upgraded voice command system and a digital key feature for Android users.

The Sentra, whose upcoming 2022 edition will mark the car's 40th year on the market, has also undergone its fair share of refinement at the would-be academy of cool, in an attempt to shake off its reputation as being a mere gas-efficient mainstay of rental car lots. The S model goes for the base price of $19,410, but you'll have to step slightly into the low-$20,000s to bag add-ons like 18-inch alloy wheels, black leatherette upholstery with orange stitching, heated steering wheel and 360-degree camera, all of which make the new Sentra a true feat for Nissan.

When it comes to compact sedans, the Jetta, now with four decades officially under its timing belt, is simply a classic that continues to keep up with the times. As usual, what comes standard on the Volkswagen – in addition to strong crash safety ratings and good gas mileage – is the typical German adherence to form that aims to be equally balanced with function. The seventh-generation model includes seven different options; the S trim with manual transmission sets the starting point for pricing at just under $19,000 and fetches a fuel efficiency of 30/40 mpg.

2017 Hyundai Elantra SE (from $12,750)

2017 Hyundai Elantra SE (from $12,750)
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2017 Hyundai Elantra SE (from $12,750)
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Which sedans have the best gas mileage?

The most economical non-hybrid sedans in terms of gas mileage are usually those that fall in the subcompact category, like the Hyundai Accent, the Mitsubishi Mirage and the Nissan Versa.

Of those three, the Mirage leads the pack as far as fuel efficiency goes, milking 36 miles out of a gallon of fuel on city streets and an impressive 43 miles per gallon on the freeway. The Accent and Versa, while slightly bulkier than the Mirage, have MPGs that stretch into the upper 20s and mid-to-upper 30s. Pricing for new editions of all three is similar, falling in the $15,000-$18,000 range, while used Accents average $9,000-$13,000, Mirages $6,000-$8,000 and Versas $6,500-$11,000.

Compact hybrids like the Honda Insight allow for a bit more room in the cabin as well as upped fuel efficiency – 55 city and 49 highway – and they make for a more playful driving experience, too. Not surprisingly, the tradeoff is that hybrids typically translate to a steeper sticker price. The Insight goes for $23,000-$29,000 new, which is significantly more than its combustion-engine subcompact counterparts; used models fall between $9,000 and $25,500. The difference in sticker price makes up for itself by way of savings at the gas pump.

2017 Nissan Versa SV (from $9,400)

 2017 Nissan Versa SV (from $9,400)
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 2017 Nissan Versa SV (from $9,400)
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Which are the best AWD sedans?

Three solid all-wheel-drive sedans on the market these days are the Subaru Legacy ($23,820 new, $9,500-$22,500 used), the Volvo S60 ($39,995 new, $9,000-$30,000 used) and the Audi A3 ($33,300 new, $12,000-$24,500 used).

The Legacy's name couldn't be more appropriate, as when it comes to (safely) veering off the beaten path without compromising its stellar safety standards, Subaru as a brand is in itself just that: a legacy.

Volvo is also known for manufacturing some of the most solid cars on the road, and the S60 holds up to that tradition while simultaneously delivering a full smorgasbord of Scandinavian style.

Volkswagen-backed luxury brand Audi’s A3 model – known as the most advantageous Audi all around for your buck – ranks high on the list of best sedans, thanks to its smart gas efficiency (22/30 mpg) and its AWD Quattro option.

2018 Subaru Legacy Limited (from $22,350)

2018 Subaru Legacy Limited (from $22,350)
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2018 Subaru Legacy Limited (from $22,350)
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Which are the best-looking sedans?

Of course, it goes without saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but a few jaw-dropping contenders for your consideration include the Acura TLX, the Alfa Romeo Giulia and the Porsche Panamera.

The Acura TLX first debuted in 2014, and when restyling it for 2021, Acura slightly stretched both the body's width and length and dropped it a bit closer to the street surface, too, making it all the more enticing to the eye and giving it more of a street racer feel on the road. With a sleek, modern and tech-savvy interior that takes inspiration from a cockpit, buyer's choice of turbocharged engines under the hood and a menu of cool color options from which to pick, the base prices of $37,500 and $18,000-$30,500 for used models seem like a steal.

Italian cars that make it into the U.S. market often wind up being either the two-door, supercar variety – Ferraris, Lamborghinis – or pint-sized Fiat 500s. That's why Alfa Romeo executive sport sedan Giulia is a fresh breath of Roman air, one that just so happens to be quite breaktaking in itself. The 2021 edition, which starts at $39,500, is the car's fifth year in production and comes with a surprisingly rowdy 4-cylinder, turbo 2.0-liter engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission with manual mode, 18-inch alloy wheels and an interior that's tailored and polished as if it were headed down the runway in Milan. Sharp used models can be found at significantly lower prices, usually around $28,000, specifically. 

In 2010, Porsche entered the realm of luxury sedans with the Panamera, the company's first official effort to broaden its portfolio without sacrificing its legendary Carrera racing vibe. And for a name like Porsche, whose reputation unarguably precedes itself thanks to cars like the ever-iconic 911 and Cayman, it was undoubtedly a risky move. Thankfully for Porsche, with the Panamera, it was one that paid off. With a 3-liter V-6 base engine that packs a horsepower of 330, the Panamera can zip from 0 to 60 in 5.4 seconds. New base models retail for $88,000, while used Panameras can go for as little as $37,000. With exterior styling by German designer Michael Mauer, who's also penned several bodies for Saab and Mercedes-Benz, the aesthetic is modern, sleek and stunning, all the while remaining true to Porsche's classic rally-racing essence.

2019 Acura TLX (from $25,950)

2019 Acura TLX (from $25,950)
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2019 Acura TLX (from $25,950)
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Which are the best sedans in snow?

For the safest driving on icy, snowy roads, sedans fitted with all-wheel-drive rather than the standard front-wheel-drive are best. It's important to know that AWD won't do much when it comes time to hit the brakes, but the system does allow for the car to deliver a more reliable, regulated performance when operating in less certain driving conditions like snow and ice.

Author
Shift Editorial Team