Cars and Drivers

10 Underrated Used Car Models To Try

acilo / E+ via Getty Images

When it comes to purchasing used cars, there are models that people swear by and models that capture the zeitgeist of the day. Other people are looking for imports that hold their value and promise long-term reliability. In a market analysis of used car sales, iSeeCars captured these trends in a list of the 20 top-selling cars of 2023. These are just trends, though; a list of the top 20 used cars sold does not necessarily indicate these automobiles’ value. So, to uncover some gems that may not have been included in this list, we here at 24/7 Wall St. have analyzed the popular J.D. Power reliability ratings lists over the last 20 years to uncover some models that show a penchant for reliability but were not among the most popular cars of the past year. 

Our methodology began with reviewing the last 20 years of J.D. Power’s reliability ratings. We chose the models mentioned most frequently within the last 10 years while also considering previous years to indicate a history of reliability. Models here include the sporty, the economical, the refined, the rugged, the powerful, and the luxurious. These were not among the 20 most popular vehicles, as determined by iSeeCars, but they cover the gamut of driving experiences. (Also read Cars With the Best Retention Value).

10. Mazda MX-5 Miata

Source: Heritage Images / Hulton Archive via Getty Images
Although the Miata’s heyday was in the early 2000s, the newer models have also shown some reliability.
  • Model years surveyed: 2001-2020
  • Price range: $10,658-$25,775
  • Years in J.D. Power ratings since 2003: 10
  • Appearances in last 10 years’ J.D. Power ratings: 2

Get a Little Sporty

Source: Tramino / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
The Mazda MX-5 Miata has a reputation as an affordable and sporty car.

The Mazda MX-5, known as the Miata in North America, had a reputation for reliability in the early 2000s. However, it still secured a couple of years in the J.D. Power ratings over the last 10 years. The sporty little car has retained some popularity, allowing it to remain in production today. Models can be found on the market for averages between $10,000 and $25,000, depending on the year. Take one for a test spin if you’re looking for fun on a budget.

9. Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius
Source: Angel Di Bilio / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
The Toyota Prius was a popular hybrid almost from the start.
  • Model years surveyed: 2001-2020
  • Price range: $4,163-$22,984
  • Years in J.D. Power ratings since 2003: 9
  • Appearances in last 10 years’ J.D. Power ratings: 3

Economy That’s Better for the Environment

Source: Tramino / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
If you are looking for a way to get great mileage comfortably, the Prius may be for you.

The most successful of the early hybrids, the Toyota Prius, began production in 2001. It was the first mass-produced hybrid available in the United States and has been popular since its release. The earliest models can be purchased for about $4,000, while prices for the 2020 model are around $23,000. During its production, the Toyota Prius has landed on the J.D. Power list nine times, including three in the past 10 years. This may be the car for you if you want to reduce your petroleum consumption.

8. Buick LaCrosse

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images
The Buick LaCrosse was a very reliable and comfortable car.
  • Model years surveyed: 2005-2019
  • Price range: $5,708-$23,203
  • Years in J.D. Power ratings since 2003: 6
  • Appearances in last 10 years’ J.D. Power ratings: 4

Affordable Luxury

Buick LaCrosse
Source: Dinkun Chen / CC BY-SA 4.0
If you are looking for a taste of class in an affordable package, the Buick LaCrosse may be the car for you.

Though no longer manufactured for purchase in the United States, the Buick LaCrosse has had a longstanding reputation for comfort and reliability. During its 14-year U.S. run, the LaCrosse has been listed in the Power’s reliability rankings six times. Older models are available for as little as $5,700, and 2019 models average about $23,000. Many cars are still available in the U.S. since over 600,000 models have been sold since 2004. This car may be the one to try if you’re looking for a taste of luxury at a reasonable cost.

7. Chevrolet Tahoe

Source: bluebeat76 / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
The Chevy Tahoe is a powerful, full-sized SUV.
  • Model years surveyed: 2001-2020
  • Price range: $5,765-$37,833
  • Years in J.D. Power ratings since 2003: 7
  • Appearances in last 10 years’ J.D. Power ratings: 4

A Rugged Full-Size SUV

Source: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images News via Getty Images
The Tahoe is a reliable SUV.

Though it wasn’t on the top 20 list of 2023, the Tahoe is one of the best-selling SUVs of all time. Formerly the Blazer, the vehicle was rebranded in 1995 and has grown in size over the years with the addition of four-door models. It has even found places in service as a police, EMS, and military vehicle. It is a reliable SUV, with seven J.D. Power appearances in the last 20 years and four in the last 10. The 2001 Tahoe can be found for under $6,000, while 2020 models will run approximately $38,000. Try the Tahoe if you are looking to carry passengers and cargo off-road.

6. Toyota Tundra 4WD

Source: Artistic Operations / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
The Toyota Tundra is a reliable and comfortable pickup truck.
  • Model years surveyed: 2001-2020
  • Price range: $8,496-$39,611
  • Years in J.D. Power ratings since 2003: 10
  • Appearances in last 10 years’ J.D. Power ratings: 4

A Million-Mile Truck

Source: Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images
One man drove his Tundra over a million miles in eight years.

The first Toyota Tundra rolled off the assembly line in 1999. Since then, the vehicle has achieved numerous milestones, including wins in NASCAR’s Craftsmen Truck Series and towing the Endeavor space shuttle. One owner drove his truck over a million miles in eight years, prompting Toyota to offer him a new 2016 model in exchange for his. The company then disassembled the one-million-mile vehicle for research, contributing to future models. 2001 models can be found for about $8,000. The 2020 models still sell for about $40,000 if you want something newer. Though there were some earlier recalls, the Tundra has appeared in J.D. Power reliability ratings 10 times, including four times in the last 10 years.

5. Chevrolet Camaro

Source: contrastaddict / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
The Chevy Camaro is a used car that can get your heart racing.
  • Model years surveyed: 2001-2002 and 2010-2020
  • Price range: $14,787-$30,456
  • Years in J.D. Power ratings since 2003: 6
  • Appearances in last 10 years’ J.D. Power ratings: 5

Take Power for a Spin

Source: Shelby Asistio from Los Angeles, United States / Wikimedia Commons
Police departments across the U.S. have adopted the Camaro as a pursuit vehicle.

In addition to being a reliable car, with six years on the J.D. Power reliability list since 2003, the Chevy Camaro is a fun car to drive. This car was first introduced in 1967 to compete with the sleek and powerful Ford Mustang. The Camaro has excelled in recent years, with five appearances on the list in the past 10 years. Production paused between 2002 and 2009 due to lowered demand, but Chevy retooled the car for a 2010 model release. After a successful run, the Camaro ceased production in 2023, but Chevrolet has implied that there may be new generations of the Camaro in the future.

4. Lexus GX

Source: DarthArt / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
The Lexus GX has been a stylishly reliable SUV since production began.
  • Model years surveyed: 2003-2020
  • Price range: $10,421-$41,744
  • Years in J.D. Power ratings since 2003: 10
  • Appearances in last 10 years’ J.D. Power ratings: 5

Take Luxury Off-Road

Lexus GX
Source: Dinkun Chen / Wikimedia Commons
The GX takes luxury off-road.

The Lexus GX is the mid/full-size SUV of the Toyota corporation’s luxury division. Introduced in 2003, it was not eligible for reliability ratings until 2006, which makes its J.D. Power ratings run all the more impressive. The GX has been a J.D. Power star, appearing on the reliability list in 10 of the past 17 years and five of the last 10. As a luxury SUV, even the 2003 models sell for an average of over $10,000, while 2020 models run just under $42,000. The GX is the perfect vehicle for “glamping.”

3. Lexus RX

Source: trangiap / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
The Lexus RX has been a mainstay in the J.D. Power reliability ratings.
  • Model years surveyed: 2001-2020
  • Price range: $5,328-$36,763
  • Years in J.D. Power ratings since 2003: 10
  • Appearances in last 10 years’ J.D. Power ratings: 5

Go Off-Road in Style and Comfort

Source: Neydtstock / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
The RX has off-road capabilities and a luxurious interior in a compact size.

The RX is a luxury crossover SUV meant to navigate the suburbs. It was the first such vehicle on the market and is another J.D. Power regular. Like the GX, it has appeared in the reliability list 10 times since 2003 and five times since 2013. You can find 2001 models for an average of just over $5,000, while models from 2020 run just under $37,000. If you would like to travel the wilds comfortably while still being able to parallel park in the city, this is the car for you.

2. Toyota Sienna

Source: DarthArt / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
The Toyota Sienna has been a reliable family van for years.
  • Model years surveyed: 2001-2020
  • Price range: $4,711-$32,503
  • Years in J.D. Power ratings since 2003: 10
  • Appearances in last 10 years’ J.D. Power ratings: 7

A Reliable Family Vehicle

Source: felixmizioznikov / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
The Sienna is a comfortable and reliable vehicle.

The only minivan on this list, the Sienna (named after the Italian city of Siena), is a popular family vehicle. It may not be easy to find one, though, as iSeeCars ranked it as the longest-held minivan on the market. Though it was already in production in 2001, the Sienna has shone in the past 10 years, with seven of its 10 J.D. Power rankings occurring since 2013. Earlier models can be found for about $4,500, while 2020 models sell for over $32,000. The Sienna is a reliable vehicle to consider when transporting your most precious cargo—your family.

1. Lexus ES

Source: trangiap / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
A leader in J.D. Power reliability ratings, the ES is also a class act.
  • Model years surveyed: 2001-2020
  • Price range: $4,941-$31,724
  • Years in J.D. Power ratings since 2003: 13
  • Appearances in last 10 years’ J.D. Power ratings: 8

Luxurious Reliability

 

Source: United States Department of Transportation / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
The Lexus ES is an affordable luxury option.

Finally, we come to a J.D. Power powerhouse. The J.D. Power reliability ratings listed three Lexus models over the years, so we selected the ES as representative of the reliable cars manufactured by Lexus. The Lexus ES, a luxury sedan, has been featured on the J.D. Power reliability list 13 of the past 20 years, with eight appearances in the last 10. Vehicles from 2021 can be found for almost $5,000, while the 2020 model sells for around $32,000. Test driving a well-kept model could be quite a luxurious experience.

The Lexus ES is an affordable luxury option.

Smart Investors Are Quietly Loading Up on These “Dividend Legends”

If you want your portfolio to pay you cash like clockwork, it’s time to stop blindly following conventional wisdom like relying on Dividend Aristocrats. There’s a better option, and we want to show you. We’re offering a brand-new report on 2 stocks we believe offer the rare combination of a high dividend yield and significant stock appreciation upside. If you’re tired of feeling one step behind in this market, this free report is a must-read for you.

Click here to download your FREE copy of “2 Dividend Legends to Hold Forever” and start improving your portfolio today.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.