It’s human nature to look backwards. We reminisce about what was, viewing the past with rose-colored glasses; we rewind past our mistakes again and again, scanning for details about how to prevent things from happening that way again. Thinking backwards is as much a part of us as wondering what’s next.
But looking in the rearview mirror, when it comes to car shopping, is a pretty good way to spot some bargains. (Not literally, of course; if looking in the rearview mirror of an actual car reveals anything than what’s directly behind the trunk, see your doctor.) The years between 2010 and 2019, being not so long ago, are still fresh enough for us to remember the fresh-faced vehicles we were excited to see and drive — yet are now far enough in the past that those rides have grown to fill used car lots across the land.
So now that we’re into the third decade of the 2000s, we thought it was worth taking a peek back at some of the cars that were on sale in the last decade that still make for good rides today. Don’t be afraid to check back every so often, either; we’ll likely add more vehicles as time goes by.
Acuras are well-known for their reliability, but the TSX brings an added dose of spriteliness that the carmaker’s current lineup can sometimes be lacking. A six-speed manual is available, albeit only with the 201-hp inline-four, but that engine suits the car better than the 280-hp V6 that only comes with a five-speed automatic. (If you find one of the rare Sport Wagon variants in good condition, snap it up as quick as you can.) Low-mileage ones are rare, but you can find good ones with 60K miles or less for $14,000 or below with ease.
It may not be the sexiest electric car, or the roomiest, or the one offering the most range — but a used Nissan Leaf is one of the best deals you can grab on an EV. First-gen models at four-digit prices (yes, less than $10,000) with less than 60K miles abound across America, making them an ideal second commuter car for folks who might not have considered adding an electric to their household before. Plus, the inherent simplicity of an EV powertrain — with just a handful of moving parts compared to the hundreds of an internal-combustion one — helps make the Leaf plenty reliable.
Toyota’s sterling reputation for reliability extends to their full-sized trucks just as much as it does their cars and SUVs, which means the Tundra ranks among the most reliable half-ton rigs on the road. Add in the fact that the truck on sale today is mechanically almost identical to the one sold in 2010, and there’s practically no reason to buy a new one instead of one of these. You can find tons out there with less than 50,000 miles for between $20K and $30K; or, if you want to go cheaper, there are plenty still under 100K that have prices in the teens.
The fourth-generation GS was one of the first vehicles to prove Lexus was serious about adding some dynamism to its traditionally-staid cars. With a well-balanced chassis and nimble handling, it was the sort of four-door that proved worth holding up alongside the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 as an entertaining option of its day. It’s also proven itself one of the most reliable luxury sedans you can buy. So long as you can live with the frustrating infotainment system, you’ll likely find it a great fit. You can find high-mileage ones (figure just over 100K) for around $16,000, but just a couple grand more will net you one with less than 60K miles on the clock.
Porsche Boxster / Cayman
Granted, no new Porsche is going to be outright cheap to buy or take care of, but the 981-generation model sold from 2012 to 2016 is about as good a deal as you’ll find. The last generation of Boxster/Cayman to be powered by flat-sixes across the board, the 981 is generally seen as reliable and fairly cheap to own by Porsche specialists — and you can find solid examples in the mid-$20K-to-low-$30K range all day long.
The car currently known as the Genesis G80 started off as the second-generation Hyundai Genesis half a decade ago — and it makes for an even better used car today than it did a new one then. A 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty means you should have plenty of coverage on your used car’s moving bits into the near future. It still rides smoothly and comfortably, and still looks like an Aston Martin at a glance. And they’re dirt cheap: V6 models with less than 50,000 miles can be yours for less than $20,000 all day long, while V8s with around 50K-80K can be yours for the same amount.
Not unlike its Tundra cousin, a 2010 4Runner is mechanically pretty much identical to a new one you can buy in a dealership today. As with the Tundra, that means used ones make for an excellent choice when seeking a car of Twenty-Teens provenance. Unlike the big pickup, though, the boom in overlanding has led 4Runners to hold their value quite well. Still, it’s cheaper than a new one — and better than most other four-wheel-drives you can buy. Good ones with less than 40,000 miles generally run in the mid-to-high-$20Ks; those looking to spend less can find plenty of ones with 75K-100K miles for prices around $20,000.
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