Whether you’re shopping for your next auto or the first car for your teen, finding an affordable daily driver for reliable, day-to-day use is much more important than finding an especially stylish or powerful pony car. Though these aren’t usually the flashiest or most sought-after used cars has ever seen, these are the daily drivers that can hold their value and continue to deliver great performance even after a decade or more of regular use.
Let’s face it – it’s a little silly to splurge on the premium amenities and high-powered engines for the car you’ll be driving to work each day; instead, it’s a better idea to seek out a car that can take a lot of miles over a long time with little regular maintenance. That way, you know you’ll be saving money in the long run on both gas and repairs, while avoiding paying a high sticker price for a new or more sporty model.
Here are the best daily drivers we’ve seen in the past few years, many of which never really got their time to shine despite excellent performance and enviable fuel economy – all at relatively affordable prices for quality used vehicles.
2013 Ford Flex – around $15,000
Designed as a compact 7-passenger family vehicle for the new decade, the Ford Flex maintains a unique place as a model that critics loved but consumers never really took to. For whatever reason, Flex sales hit less than half of what Ford expected on a yearly basis – leaving plenty out there and available for purchase still today.
Boasting up to 25 miles per hour highway and a towing capacity up to 2,000 lbs, the Flex offers an efficient and reliable ride for around $15,000, according to Kelley Blue Book – a more than fair price for such an impressive, unsung hero.
2012 Mazda Miata – around $12,000
As far as affordable sports cars go, few have the reputation of the Miata.
This sporty roadster – now on its fourth generation – has impressed drivers since the late 1980s with its sporty handling, efficient engines and reliable performance for a car of its stature. From its powerful engine to low, compact design, the Miata offers a natural evolution from the muscle car style of the late 1960s with the fuel economy and
Not surprisingly, Mazda has produced nearly a billion Miatas since the line’s inital release in 1989, which has inspired the Guinness Book of World Records to name the Miata the “best-selling two-seat sports car in history.” That means plenty of used Miatas are still available – and easy to find – today, including the impressive 2012 model. Boasting a 2.0L 4-cylinder capable of up to 167 horsepower at an impressive 28 miles per gallon highway, the 201 Miata is an exceptionally capable and desirable model – and priced at around $12,000 for one in good condition, we’d say it’s well within the budget of most consumers.
2010 Subaru Outback – around $10,000
As far as reliable, long-lasting, road-conquering SUVs go, few compare to the Subaru Outback. Known worldwide for its rugged and unmatched longevity on the road, the Outback seems to come standard with the promise of several hundred thousand miles with little to no problem. With regular maintenance, there is no reason your outback can’t keep chugging along for the better part of two decades.
But being able to make the long drive isn’t the only important factor; it also matter how efficiently a vehicle can do it. That’s where the true impressive nature of the Outback steps in – a powerful beast, capable of towing up to 3,000 lbs thanks to its 2.5L 4-cylinder engine capable of pushing out an astounding 29 miles per gallon highway. With these kinds of numbers, it’s no surprise thousands of drivers have chosen the Outback as their daily driver for the last twenty years. And, valued by kbb.com at around $10,000 for a used model in excellent condition, this amazing vehicle continues to be surprisingly affordable for all of the great performance it offers.
2010 Chevy Impala – around $9,000
If there’s a brand known far and wide as a classic, reliable, long-lasting American car, it has to be the amazing Chevy Malibu. Designed from the start as an ultra-popular performance model for the average consumer. the Impala manages to strike a delicate balance between raw engine power and refined style that gives this classic Chevy such enviable class.
Boasting a spacious, premium interior and a powerful 230 horsepower 3.5L V6 engine capable of reaching 29 miles per gallon highway, the 2010 Impala is an excellent option for Chevy or sedan lovers looking to make this classic model a part of your daily commute. And, with a smooth ride that has held together well since its release, the Impala is an excellent choice for your next used vehicle.
2012 Mazda MAZDA3 – around $8,000
While Mazda is well-respected for its excellent sporty sedans, the Mazda3 compact model offered something a little different from its stylish, high-powered relatives: unbeatable efficiency.
This is thanks to notable improvements in fuel efficiency technology alongside notable architecture upgrades to reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel economy. By the time the 2012 Mazda 3 saw its debut, Mazda had finally included its impressive 2.0L SkyActive engine and powertrain with a six-speed manual transmission. Combine this with a more aerodynamic design and you’ve got an impressive little compact capable of reaching 40 miles per gallon highway – absolutely smoking its competitors out of the water.
And that’s not to say the Mazda3 has lost even an ounce of power, as evidenced by its 184 horsepower. Available in both sedan and coupe trims, the 2012 Mazda3 can be just yours for around $8,000 in excellent condition.
2011 Honda Civic – around $7,500
Known for over thirty years as an excellent, affordable alternative to some other mid-sized sedans, the Honda Civic has offered an excellent option to consumers looking for a reliable, efficient vehicle on a budget that won’t break down as soon as the warranty expires.
With decades of testing and thousands of positive reviews and endorsements, the Honda Civic is internationally recognized as a powerhouse among mid-size consumer cars. Long a top seller in the Unites States, the Civic has sold over seven million units to this country alone, and another nine million across the world – making it one of the most affordable, and easy to find, vehicles on the market today.
For the 2011 model, Honda gave the Civic a noticeable redesign, including a facelift to the front fascia and a new, sleek aerodynamic body structure to help increase efficiency and decrease drag on the road. This ninth-generation model was also the first gasoline-powered vehicle to feature Honda’s EcoAssist technology, which helps the driver develop a more fuel-efficient driving style over time. This being said, the 2011 Civic can reach an amazing 197 horsepower at an impressive 34 miles per gallon highway – nd with a record of taking on well over 100,000 miles with ease, the Civic might be just the model you’ve been looking for to spice up your daily commute – and all for around $7,500.
Whatever you reason may be, finding yourself an efficient used vehicle to use as your daily driver is not only a smart way to save money at purchase time but also in the long run, when repair bills and gas can add up over time to cost a whole lot more. By taking the time to invest in one of these great daily drivers now, you save yourself the frustration of dealing with a daily driver that just doesn’t want to start – and give yourself the treat of driving one of these excellent used models.