Best used car deals under $20,000

When it's clear your car is on its last legs you could send it off for crushing. Or you could have some fun.

Acura TL Type-SAcura TL Type-S

MORE AT CONSUMERREPORTS.ORG

You don't need to spend a lot of money to get a good car. To stretch your budget, you'll get more for your money buying a safe, reliable used vehicle than a small, less-equipped new car. To make it easier to find what you're looking for, we have identified some of the best used deals on the market today.

Buying a used car has benefits. Most important is that the original owner takes the initial depreciation hit, as new cars lose much more value in the first and second years than those that follow. Also, many used models may have the latest safety equipment (such as curtain air bags and stability control) and are still affordable.

When shopping, look for cars that scored well in Consumer Reports' tests when new, have proven reliability, and perform well in government and insurance industry crash tests. Before handing over the cash, have the vehicle inspected by a trusted professional mechanic to make sure there are no hidden problems.

Check out our top deals for recommended used vehicles from the 2007 model year--cars old enough to have significantly depreciated, but still have more than half their life ahead. The list includes sporty cars, sedans, and SUVs all at a great price. We placed the vehicles in order of the cheapest price you might be able to get when buying from the dealer. The models listed below are between 37- and 52-percent less than the retail price when the vehicle was new. Plus, all of the models have at least average reliability according to our latest subscriber survey. Of course, buying from a private seller could yield greater savings.

Make & model MSRP (new) Buying from dealer avg price Drop in retail value vs. MSRP
2007 Suzuki SX4 $16,099 $10,025 38%
2007 Mitsubishi Outlander RWD $21,370 $10,875 49%
2007 Kia Sportage $18,895 $11,150 41%
2007 Ford Fusion FWD $21,085 $12,300 42%
2007 Mazda6 i sedan
$22,520 $12,375 45%
2007 Mazda6 s wagon $26,180 $12,575 52%
2007 Ford Fusion AWD $22,935 $12,725 45%
2007 Mitsubishi Outlander 4WD
$23,770 $13,150 45%
2007 Mercury Milan $25,225 $13,200 48%
2007 Honda Accord $25,300 $13,475 47%
2007 Mazda MX-5 Miata $23,390 $13,900 41%
2007 Toyota Avalon $26,875 $14,275 47%
2007 Kia Sportage $22,895 $14,475 37%
2007 Honda Pilot $27,095 $14,500 46%
2007 Toyota Camry Solara $26,905 $14,625 46%
2007 Toyota Tundra $27,440 $15,725 43%
2007 Honda Accord Hybrid $31,090 $16,225 48%
2007 Lincoln MKZ $31,175 $16,275 48%
2007 Toyota Camry $28,020 $16,625 41%
2007 Toyota Highlander $28,965 $17,075 41%
2007 Acura TSX $30,090 $17,075 43%
2007 Acura TL $36,125 $19,525 46%
Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.