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Center for Auto Safety ranks the best late model used cars

Toyota and Honda dominate the list

Photo (c) deepblue4you - Getty Images
The Center for Auto Safety, partnering with automotive expert Jack Gillis, has published multiple years of used car ratings in its car-buying guide, The Car Book.

In addition to in-depth ratings on the complete line-up of 2018 vehicles, the publication offers consumers over 1,000 used car ratings going back five years.

“While buying a used car used to mean buying someone else’s problems, thanks to improved quality, better reliability and millions of leased vehicles hitting the market every year, there are plenty of good choices — if you know what to look for,” Gillis said.

The secret, of course, is knowing the best make and model to purchase. And now, it's no longer a secret. Here are some of the top picks, with cars ranked for value, safety, and reliability.

Top picks

  • Audi A6 -- 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017

  • BMW 3 Series -- 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

  • Honda Civic -- 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

  • Honda CRV -- 2015, 2016, 2017

  • Lexus ES -- 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

  • Subaru Crosstrek -- 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

  • Toyota Avalon -- 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

  • Toyota Camry -- 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

  • Toyota Prius V -- 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Other picks include:

  • Acura MDX -- 2013

  • Cadillac XTS -- 2013, 2015, 2016

  • Subaru Outback -- 2015, 2016, 2017

  • Subaru Legacy -- 2014, 2015, 2016

  • Volvo S60 -- 2015, 2016, 2017

75 percent of consumers buy a used car

Gillis notes that new cars tend to get most of the attention when it comes to providing consumer information. However, 75 percent of consumers purchase used cars.

“For 38 years my goal with The Car Book has been to provide everything consumers need to make an informed, safe and reliable vehicle purchase,” said Gillis. “The good news, buying used is now a whole lot easier. There are plenty of safe, high quality, money saving used cars out there — if you know what to look for.”

To get the best deal, Gillis suggests consumers do plenty of research with resources like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds to determine the vehicle's value. Cars have a wholesale and a retail value; the range between the two is the bargaining range.

While many consumers are uncomfortable haggling over the price of a car, Gillis says it's not that unpleasant if you follow this formula: offer 20 percent below the price you're willing to pay.

The dealer will likely reject that and make a counter offer. At that point, split the difference.

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