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Honda Fit4.5 Star Rating: Recommended

2007-2008 Honda Fit

If you are OK with a firm noisy ride, Honda Fit is an excellent choice for a practical fun-to-drive subcompact. Nothing can beat the Fit on space efficiency. What is interesting about this car is that the rear seat cushions flip up allowing you to fit even a flat-screen TV between the front and rear seats. The Fit is reliable and good on gas. The 2007 Honda Fit is rated at 27/35 mpg city/highway (8.7/6.7 L/100 km). Full review »

Toyota Yaris4.5 Star Rating: Recommended

2006-2010 Toyota Yaris

Another fuel-efficient subcompact, the Yaris is available as a three- or five-door hatchback or four-door sedan. It rides comfortably and is surprisingly roomy, although you won't be impressed with the interior quality. The 2009 Yaris with an automatic transmission is rated at 29/35 mpg (8.1/6.7 L/100 km). It is very maneuverable and easy to park. Toyota Yaris is rated above average for reliability and with proper care, it shouldn't give you too many problems. Maintenance costs are pretty low too.

Toyota Corolla4 Star Rating: Recommended

1998-2002 Toyota Corolla

Despite its age, this model is still popular as a low-priced fuel-efficient commuter. It's a very simple and reliable car that is easy to maintain. The Corolla rides softly and has a comfortable interior. The EPA rates the 2001 Corolla with a 4-speed automatic transmission at 26/36 mpg or 9.0/6.5 liters per hundred kilometers. Full review »

Honda Civic4 Star Rating: Recommended

2001-2005 Honda Civic

The seventh-generation Honda Civic is another good choice for a simple inexpensive starter car. It's good on gas and has a comfortable interior. The ride is firm, but not punishing. The Civic has a very good engine and is very reliable. It also scored well in the government crash tests. The EPA rates the 2003 automatic Honda Civic at 26/34 mpg or 9.0/6.9 L/100 km. Read more »

Volkswagen Jetta3 Star Rating

1999-2005 Volkswagen Jetta

The Jetta handles well and rides comfortably. It looks classy inside, although at this age, many plastic panels inside will look worn out. The Jetta comes with a standard ABS and scored well in crash tests. A number of engine choices are available: a base 2.0L, 1.8L-turbo, 2.8L VR6 and a very fuel-efficient 1.9L TDI diesel. The reliability is below average and this car could be expensive to keep. Read full review »

Chevrolet Cobalt3.5 Star Rating

2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt

Chevrolet Cobalt is not very comfortable inside, but it handles well and rides comfortably. The Cobalt is available as a sedan or coupe. A used Chevrolet Cobalt is not very expensive and the Cobalt coupe is probably the cheapest sporty-looking car you can get. The base 2.2L engine is adequately powered. The EPA rates the 2009 2.2L automatic Cobalt at 24/33 mpg city/highway (9.8/7.1 L/100 km). Reliability is not great, but the engine and transmission are OK. Read full review »

Ford Focus4 Star Rating

2000-2011 Ford Focus

The Focus is a fun-to-drive front-wheel drive compact car. It's available as a sedan, hatchback or a wagon. Thanks to its tall roof line, the Focus offers a fairly roomy interior with the upright driving position and easy access. Fuel economy is pretty good. Earlier models were troublesome, but the 2005-2011 Focus is worth checking out if you are in the market for a compact car. Read full review »

Toyota Corolla4.5 Star Rating: Recommended

2003-2008 Toyota Corolla

The Corolla is one of the best-selling cars of all time. It's a simple and reliable sedan with a comfortable interior and soft ride. This generation Corolla is powered by a 1.8L engine and comes with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. This car is not sporty by any means and is not very exciting inside, but it gets the job done. It is very fuel efficient and can last long with good maintenance. The 2008 Corolla is rated at 26/35 or 9.0/6.7 L/100 km. Read full review »

Toyota Matrix5 Star Rating: Recommended

2003-2008 Toyota Matrix

Based on the Corolla, Toyota Matrix is one of the most fuel efficient wagons on the market. The Matrix handles well, better than the Corolla. The 1.8L engine is moderately powered, which is OK for daily driving, but with a full load, this engine will struggle. What is unique about the Matrix is that with the rear seats folded, it offers a large flat cargo space covered with a durable plastic. The 2008 Matrix with an automatic transmission is rated at 25/31 mpg or 9.4/7.6 L/100 km. Read full review »

2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser5 Star Rating: Recommended

2001-2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser

The retro-styled PT Cruiser offers a practical interior with easy access and plenty of cargo space. It is available as a two-door convertible or five-door wagon. It handles OK, but feels a bit heavy and underpowered in a non-turbo version. The fuel economy is a major drawback. The EPA rates the 2.4L 4-cylinder 2009 PT Cruiser auto at 19/24 mpg. On top of that, the PT Cruiser is rated poorly for reliability by Consumer Reports. Consider Chevy HHR as an alternative. Chrysler PT Cruiser review »

Pontiac Vibe4.5 Star Rating: Recommended

2003-2008 Pontiac Vibe

Pontiac Vibe is essentially Toyota Matrix with some GM components and a Pontiac badge. The Vibe is very economical, practical and easy to maintain small car with available all-wheel drive and spacious flat cargo area covered by the easy-to-clean plastic. The 2006 Pontiac Vibe with an automatic transmission is rated at 25/31 mpg or 9.4/7.6 L/100 km by the EPA. Overall, it's a very reliable car, but there are some things to watch out for. Read full review »

Volkswagen Jetta4 Star Rating: Recommended

2005.5-2010 Volkswagen Jetta

The Jetta is one of the few small cars that offer an upscale interior and a pleasurable driving experience. It is the only compact sedan available with a fuel-efficient diesel. The Jetta TDI diesel is one of the best cars for long commutes. The EPA rates the 2010 Jetta TDI diesel with a 6-speed automatic at 30/42 mpg or 7.8/5.6 L/100 km. The 2010 2.5L automatic Jetta gets 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway (10.2/7.8 L/100 km). Read full review »

Mazda 34.5 Star Rating: Recommended

2004-2009 Mazda3

Mazda 3 is a fun-to-drive small car with excellent sporty handling and firm comfortable ride. It is available as a sedan or hatchback, with a 2.0L or 2.3L 4-cylinder engine and an automatic or manual transmission. The interior is comfortable and sporty. The 2.3L Mazda 3 with a manual transmission is a great choice for stick-shift enthusiasts. Overall, it's a very reliable car and other than a few minor issues, it should last long with good maintenance. Read full review »

Honda Civic4.5 Star Rating: Recommended

2006-2011 Honda Civic

Honda Civic is one of the top choices for a small fuel-efficient commuter. The Civic comes as a sedan or coupe, with a 1.8L engine and an automatic or manual transmission. The 197-hp Civic Si is only available with the stick shift. Honda Civic handles well, but not as sporty as Mazda 3. The ride is firm, but comfortable. The Civic has a unique split dashboard with the digital speedometer placed high closer to the view of the road. The 1.8L Civic is very good on gas. The 2010 Civic auto gets 36 mpg on the highway (6.5 L/100 km). Read full review »

Mitsubishi Lancer4.5 Star Rating: Recommended

2008-2012 Mitsubishi Lancer

The Lancer is one of the sharpest looking small cars. It comes with a manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The handling is OK; the ride is on the firm side. The base 2.0L is adequate, but noisy. The interior materials are not of the highest quality. Fuel economy is about average. The 2009 2.0L Lancer with CVT is rated at 22/28 mpg city/hwy (10.7/8.4 L/100 km). Overall, it's a good car, but other than sporty styling, it doesn't stand out in any way. Read more »

Mazda 35 Star Rating: Recommended

2010-2013 Mazda 3

The 3 is sporty and nimble, it has a nicely finished interior and comes as a sedan or hatchback. Mazda 3 is available with the 2.0L or 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. The base 2.0L motor is solid and reliable, but the fuel economy is just about average. The 2.5L engine is fast, but thirsty. Starting from 2012, the very fuel-efficient Skyactiv-G 2.0L direct-injected motor is also available. The 2012 Mazda 3 sedan with the 2.0L Skyactiv engine is rated at 28/40 mpg city/hwy (8.4/5.9 L/100 km). Maintenance costs are low and the reliability is above average. More »

Toyota Corolla5 Star Rating: Recommended

2009-2013 Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla is one of the most reliable cars on the road. It's a comfortable compact sedan with a practical roomy interior and a soft smooth ride. The 1.8L Corolla is not fast or sporty, but is easy to drive and you know it will start every morning and get you where you need to be. The Corolla holds its value well and is easy to maintain. Fuel economy is not bad too. The 2012 Corolla 1.8L auto is rated at 26/34 mpg or 9.0/6.9 L/100 km. Read full review »

Toyota Matrix5 Star Rating: Recommended

2009-2012 Toyota Matrix

The Matrix is a practical wagon with a roomy interior and good handling. With good headroom in the front and back, It is a great car for tall people. It also offers plenty of cargo space and the rear seats fold flat. The cargo floor is plastic, which is easy to clean. Fuel economy is good for a wagon. The 2012 Matrix auto is rated at 25/32 mpg or 9.4/7.4 L/100 km The base 1.8L engine is not very strong, but adequate for daily driving.

Subaru Impreza 5 Star Rating: Recommended

2008-2011 Subaru Impreza

The Impreza comes with standard all-wheel drive and is one of the best small cars for winter. The Impreza feels more confident on icy roads than some of the 4X4 SUVs. It is available as a sedan or hatchback. The most common engine is the 2.5L 'boxer'. The Impreza is solidly built and very reliable. The fuel economy is modest though. The EPA rates the 2009 2.5L Impreza sedan auto at 20/26 US mpg or 11.8/9.0 L/100 km city/highway.

Volkswagen Jetta 4.5 Star Rating: Recommended

2011-2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

The Jetta TDI diesel is one of the best cars for a long commute. It offers a competent handling and firm, comfortable ride. The interior is surprisingly spacious, especially in the back. The 2.0L turbodiesel engine is very fuel-efficient. The 2012 Jetta TDI automatic is rated at 30/42 mpg or 7.8/5.6 L/100 km city/highway; only electric and hybrid cars offer better highway mileage. Read full review »

Nissan Maxima3.5 Star Rating

2000-2003 Nissan Maxima

The Maxima is an upscale sporty V6 sedan with a firm ride. It is available with a manual or automatic. Overall, it's a nice car, but at this age, it can be costly to keep it running. Gas mileage isn't great too; the 2003 Maxima automatic is rated at 17/24 mpg (13.8/9.8 L/100 km). Unless you are ready to deal with expensive repairs, opt for a more reliable car like Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Acura TL is another sensible choice if you really want a strong V6. Read more »

Honda Accord4.5 Star Rating: Recommended

2003-2007 Honda Accord

Honda Accord is one of the best family cars. It is available as a sedan or coupe, with a 4-cylinder or V6. The ride is firm, but comfortable. The interior is roomy and well designed. Other than automatic transmission issues in 2003, 2004 models, it's a very reliable car. Good crash test ratings and excellent highway fuel economy for a 4-cylinder model are a big plus. The 2007 4-cylinder Accord auto is rated at 21/31 mpg or 11.2/7.6 L/100 km. Read full review »

Toyota Camry5 Star Rating: Recommended

2002-2006 Toyota Camry

One of the top choices for a family car, the Camry has a very roomy comfortable interior and soft, smooth and quiet ride. It comes with a 4-cylinder or V6 engine. The 4-cylinder Camry has one of the best fuel economy ratings in the class; the 2006 4-cylinder Camry is rated at 21/31 mpg (11.2/7.6 L/100 km). The Camry is very reliable and will last long with proper care. Read full review »

Nissan Altima 20023.5 Star Rating

2002-2006 Altima

Redesigned for 2002, this sporty mid-size sedan became one of the sales leader and won many awards, but the reliability slipped. Earlier models had plenty of problems, only the 2006 Altima was rated above average for reliability. The Altima has front-wheel drive and comes with a 4-cylinder or V6 engine. The 2006 4-cylinder automatic Altima is rated at 21/27 mpg (11.2/8.7 L/100 km) city/highway.

Nissan Maxima 20043.5 Star Rating

2004-2008 Nissan Maxima

The Maxima is a sporty firm-riding sedan with good handling and a powerful V6. Rare for a V6 car, the Maxima is also available with a stick shift. With the 2004 redesign though, the reliability dropped; automatic transmission problems in the 2004-2006 Maxima are fairly common. For 2007, the CVT became the only transmission option. Overall, it's a fast sporty car, but repairs are expensive. Opt for the 2007 or newer model. The 2007 Maxima is rated at 19/25 mpg or 12.4/9.4 L/100 km.

Chevrolet Malibu3 Star Rating

2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu

Chevrolet Malibu is a simple and not very expensive mid-size car. It comes as a sedan or hatchback (Malibu Maxx), with a 4-cylinder or V6 engine. The 4-cylinder Malibu has one of the best highway fuel economy ratings in the class; the 2005 4-cylinder automatic Malibu gets 32 mpg (7.4 L/100 km) on the highway. The reliability is not better than average, but a used Chevrolet Malibu is priced much lower than the Camry or Accord.

Ford Taurus 3 Star Rating

2000-2006 Ford Taurus

Available as a sedan or wagon, the Taurus has a very comfortable interior and quiet ride. It comes with two different 3.0L V6 engines. When it was newer, it was a nice, very comfortable moderately-priced family car. However, at this age, it's not really a good choice. The reliability is not better than average. Transmission problems and electrical issues are reported often. The fuel economy isn't great too. The 2005 Taurus is rated at 18/25 mpg or 13.1/9.4 L/100 km.

Mazda6 4 Star Rating: Recommended

2003-2008 Mazda 6

Mazda 6 is a stylish, sporty-looking family car with excellent handling and comfortable ride. For this generation, Mazda 6 was available as a sedan, hatchback or a wagon, with a 4-cylinder or V6 engine. A used Mazda 6 is not very expensive. The reliability is about average. Opt for a 4-cylinder engine, as the V6 is thirsty. The EPA rates the 2007 4-cylinder Mazda 6 sedan at 21/28 mpg or 11.2/8.4 L/100 km city/highway. More »

Mazda RX83 Star Rating

2004-2012 Mazda RX8

Mazda RX8 has a rotary engine that readlines at 9000 rpms. The RX8 handles very good, but to get to the power, you have to rev the engine very high. Overall it's a nice, very unique car, however, it's not a very good choice to buy used, especially with high mileage. The rotary engine is not very durable and is picky to the maintenance and oil quality. Fuel economy is a big minus too. The 2009 Mazda RX8 manual is rated at 16/22 mpg or 14.7/10.7 L/100 km city/highway.

Chevrolet Malibu4 Star Rating

2008-2012 Chevrolet Malibu

The 2008-2012 Malibu handles very well and has a comfortable ride. The interior is refined too. The Malibu comes with a 4-cylinder or V6 power. Fuel economy for the 4-cylinder model is among the best in its class. The EPA rates the 2009 4-cylinder Malibu with a 6-speed auto at 22/33 mpg. Crash-test scores are also among the best too. The reliability is not bad, but not up to par with Honda or Toyota. Drawbacks include wide turning radius, rear visibility and a small trunk opening.

Toyota Camry5 Star Rating: Recommended

2007-2011 Toyota Camry

Toyota Camry has been the best selling car in US for many years. The reasons for its popularity are the soft and smooth ride, quiet comfortable and very roomy interior, refined powertrain and Toyota reliability. The Camry comes with a 4-cylinder or V6. It's also available as a hybrid. The 2007-2010 Camry scored well in government crash tests. The EPA has rated the 2008 Camry automatic at 21/31 mpg (11.2/7.6 L/100 km). Overall, the Camry is a safe choice for a family car, but there are a few things to be aware of. Read full review »

Honda Accord5 Star Rating: Recommended

2008-2012 Honda Accord

Another top choice in the Family Sedan category, Honda Accord is roomy, safe and reliable. Unlike its archrival Toyota Camry, the Accord offers modern sharp styling and firm ride with good road feel. The 2010 4-cylinder Honda Accord with an automatic transmission is rated at 21/31 mpg or 11.2/7.6 L/100 km city/highway. Honda Accord holds its value well and is not very expensive to maintain. However, there are a few common issues that used car buyers should keep in mind. Read more »

Toyota Camry5 Star Rating: Recommended

2012-2014 Toyota Camry

The 2012-2014 Camry offers a roomy upscale interior and very comfortable ride. You can choose between the 2.5L 4-cylinder and 3.5L V6 engine; either one is very fuel efficient. The 2012-2014 4-cylinder Camry gets 25 mpg city, 35 mpg highway. The Camry hybrid is rated at 43/39 mpg in LE trim level. The Camry is very reliable and holds its value well. Overall, it's one of the best family cars out there. Read full review »

Nissan Altima4 Star Rating

2007-2012 Nissan Altima

Nissan Altima is a popular family car with bold styling, sporty handling and firm ride. The Altima is available as a sedan or coupe, with a 2.5L 4-cylinder or 3.5L V6. One major difference from most of its competitors, is that the Altima uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in all automatic models. Overall, it's a good all-around car. The reliability is above average. The 4-cylinder Altima has one of the best highway fuel economy ratings in its class. Full review »

Mazda 64.5 Star Rating: Recommended

2009-2013 Mazda 6

Nothing in the family sedan class handles as well as Mazda 6, but for some strange reason, this car was largely ignored and didn't sell very well. Mazda 6 comes with a solid 2.5L 4-cylinder or extremely powerful but thirsty 3.7L V6. Overall, it's a nice reliable car, but the 4-cylinder engine fuel economy is only average. The 2009 2.5L Mazda 6 gets 21 mpg city and 30 mpg on the highway (11.2/7.8 L/100 km). Still, it is a worthy choice for a family sedan, especially the 4-cylinder model. Read full review »

Subaru Outback4.5 Star Rating: Recommended

2005-2009 Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback is a tall wagon with added ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive. Already an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts, the Outback is even more appealing if snowy roads are common in winter. The Outback has a well equipped, upscale interior, good crash test scores and is very maneuverable. The Outback comes with a 'boxer' 2.5 4-cylinder engine or 3.0L H6. The 2009 2.5L automatic Outback is rated at 20/26 mpg (11.8/9.0 L/100 km). Read full review »

BMW 3-series4 Star Rating

2006-2011 BMW 3-series

With classic front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, the luxury 3-series handles better than most of the competitors. The 3-series comes as a coupe, sedan, wagon or convertible, with rear- or all-wheel drive. Most common engine is the Inline-6. Inside, the 3-series feels classy, but pretty tight. The reliability is about average, but it's a good idea to opt for a 2007+ non-turbo model. The 3-series will be expensive to keep: repairs are not cheap and it needs premium gasoline and synthetic oil.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class3.5 Star Rating

1996-2002 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The E-Class is a very nice car to drive. It has a luxury roomy interior and comfortable soft and quiet ride. The E-class is a well-built, solid vehicle, but it's filled with a lot of complex electronics and because of this, it will be expensive to keep. It requires premium gasoline and some parts are expensive too. Still, if you know what to look for and are ready to deal with its shortcomings, you will certainly enjoy driving this German luxury machine. Full review »

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