A used car lot is shown at a used car dealership.

These Brands are Excellent Values

While the lure of a new car is enticing, new cars lose about 20% of their value in the first 12 months. The key to saving money is to buy a reliable used car, and three of the most reliable used car brands are Chevy, Toyota, and Subaru. A reputable used car lot will have lots of inventory from these brands and other notable mentions that can give you extraordinary value with huge cost savings. Let’s review these brands and other vehicles to look for when shopping for a reliable used car.

These Brands Hold Their Value

When researching great used car values based on brand quality and reliability, you’ll find almost every brand listed on someone’s “expert” list somewhere. But if a brand and its vehicles consistently appear on multiple “expert” lists, there must be something to the truth here.

Based on our review, three brands appeared most frequently and consistently on reliable lists. These are Chevy, Toyota, and Subaru. While big names like Chevy and Toyota are no surprise, unless you live in snowy New England where all-wheel drive is a must, you might not have considered a used Subaru for your next car. But let’s take a closer look at these three brands and see what each one brings to the table.


Chevrolet has a track record of dependable used cars. Notable models that apply to this record include the Malibu, Equinox, Suburban, and Silverado. The Corvette was also listed as a sports car that holds its value well too. It is not just one type of model, but there is diversity in their quality and dependability in the used car market. You’ll find Chevy used car reliability in their SUVs, trucks, hybrids, sports cars, and compact cars.

In terms of a few examples, the Chevy Camaro is a great sports car. It retains a lot of its value over the years and is often sought after in the used car market due to its popularity. Another example is a Chevy Tahoe; this three-row SUV is not only roomy but reliable and can likely be found used for under $15,000. A midsize truck like the Chevy Colorado is a great used car find for under $15,000 as well, especially if you see one with the available V6 engine.

A person is holding out a set of car keys through a passenger window.


Toyota as a brand has high-quality ratings. It is known for dependability and a highly reputable certified pre-owned program. The brand not only has sedans (Corolla and Camry) as touted used cars but also has multiple trucks and SUVs on expert lists of dependable and valued used cars.

The Toyota Corolla is probably the most reliable car in the used car market based on durability and reliability. It retains its value well, and for good reason. This car requires very little maintenance, is easy to drive, and is quite dependable. The Corolla’s big sibling, the Camry, is also rated highly in the used car market. It’s been around for over 40 years and constantly evolves and modernizes over time.

In terms of examples, the 2012 Camry is a top buy for under $10,000. This is because of its durability and low maintenance, but it is also a comfortable and practical vehicle. An SUV from 2012 is the Toyota RAV4, which was sold with optional third-row seating and even offered a powerful V6 engine. Pick up one of those options, and a used RAV4 is an even greater value. Let’s not forget the Prius too. If you care about the environment and fuel economy, a 2018 Prius is a great find for under $20,000. It can get 56 MPG and that model year is quite stylish too.


Subaru is a great brand and a great company. Its “Share the Love” program is a way of connecting the company and its dealer network to the communities. Subaru and its dealers donate time and money to various causes ranging from the environment and pets to health and hunger. So buying a Subaru helps in doing something good for humanity too.

Subaru cars and SUVs are well known for their superb standard safety features. Yet they also have steady performance, comfortable cabins, and stylish exteriors. It is not a surprise that Subaru was listed highly by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for having many models with amazing crash test scores. These models include the Forester, Outback, Legacy, Crosstrek, and Impreza. As used vehicles, these models are reliable due to their safety, performance, and dependability.

Many “expert” lists also noted Subaru models for their 5-Star Safety ratings and multiple quality awards. Again, this brand has excellent used vehicles across their line-up as opposed to just one particular model or year.

Notable Additions

In addition to Chevy, Toyota, and Subaru, there are several other reputable brands that offer significant value in their used cars. Here are some “honorable mentions” that you might find on a local used car lot. After all, it’s always good to have choices.


Honda is a frequent flier in many lists of reliable used cars. This applies across its model lineup, where you’ll find sedans like the Accord and Civic as dependable cars that’ll last for years. You’ll also see the CR-V and Pilot SUVs as noteworthy used cars for their reliability and low cost of maintenance. Even the Ridgeline pickup truck has high quality and tremendous value as a used purchase.

Ford F-Series

The F-series is highly popular, incredibly dependable, and ranks high in quality ratings. It is no wonder that the F-150 is a frequent guest on lists of great used trucks. The F-150 is well known for innovation, technology, performance, and towing and trailering. As a used vehicle, owners will reap these rewards and enjoy a heavy discount because they didn’t buy it new. But even used, an F-Series truck will have a lot of life left in it.

A salesman is shaking hands with a car buyer at a used car lot.

Hyundai and Kia

Hyundai and Kia are separate brands, but Hyundai owns Kia, and the two share many parts and platforms. These cars are affordable as new cars. As used cars, they are even more special. What makes these unique are their long-lasting warranty programs. For example, if you have Hyundai and Kia’s 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty on a five-year-old used car, you will enjoy effectively the same warranty coverage that other brands offer on their brand-new models.

Further, just because Hyundai and Kia are inexpensive doesn’t mean they break down often. Older vehicles from these two brands didn’t have a great reputation, but for the past decade, they have been putting out high-quality cars and moving steadily upmarket. In fact, the Kia Telluride has even been outselling SUVs from brands like BMW and Mercedes.

Finally, Deal with a Dealer

If you are convinced that a used car is the right decision for you, buy one from a reputable dealer. A trustworthy used car lot will have a selective inventory of high-value cars with a clean history. Always be sure to check the CARFAX report, inspect the car thoroughly, and let the dealer handle the paperwork. If you find the right brand and model from a reputable dealer, you’ll have years of value at an affordable price.