The Car Connection's Best Used Car Finds For September 7, 2012

September 7, 2012
2003 Ford Mustang V-6 Convertible used car listing

2003 Ford Mustang V-6 Convertible used car listing

With the weekend upon us, it's time to go car hunting. Many of you are in the market for a new car--and The Car Connection has you covered there, with new-car prices down to the options level.

But what about used cars? Craigslist is a total snore lately, so this week we've been shopping pre-owned in a better way--The Car Connection's new used-car listings. With more than 3 million entries and easy-to-use sliders, we think it's a better way to narrow down the list of potential test drives to the handful that make sense for you.

And now we're going even further, in our mission to show you just how easy it is. We're giving you some of the concierge service we appreciate ourselves when dealing with hotels, airlines, and the local gendarmerie. Our writers have scoured some local zip codes for bargain vehicles you might have missed. Each week, we'll search within a 200-mile radius by a zip code and by body style for the best vehicle we can find that's priced under $10,000.

The fun part? Those searches can be for you. If you want our free advice, you can contact us via Facebook or Twitter, and we'll include you in the fun. Just make sure you give us the zip code, the body style, and any details that might help us narrow down your choices. We'll publish the results here along with some of our personal favorites.

This week's used-car finds include three perennial favorites:

Convertibles: 2003 Ford Mustang V-6
Mileage not listed; $7,900
Marylhurst, OR -- 97036

My pick for the week is a 2003 Ford Mustang V6 Convertible, listed by a local dealer at $7,900. It’s been on the lot for 37 days, and the seller has already dropped the price from $9,890 to $7,900, which tells us there might be even more room to negotiate despite the dealer’s claim that it’s priced at $4,600 under Blue Book pricing. The good news is that the car comes in Premium trim, with amenities like leather seats, keyless entry and a premium audio system. The bad news is that it’s got Ford’s somewhat anemic 193-horsepower V-6, bolted to a four-speed automatic transmission.

For us, the deciding factor is that it was serviced by the same dealer offering it up for sale, which means that complete service records will likely be available. Besides, the V-6 is better on gas, and will likely do a better job of keeping your license in its currently intact and violation-free state.--Kurt Ernst. (See more used Ford Mustangs).

2002 Lexus RX 300 used car listing

2002 Lexus RX 300 used car listing

Crossovers: 2002 Lexus RX 300 AWD
126,235 miles; $8,975
47720--Evansville, IN

This 2002 Lexus RX300 is a really well-built, plush luxury crossover wagon. This is from the early years of the RX, and with only 220 hp it wasn't quick; but the quiet, comfortable interior may even feel just as refined as that of a new, mainstream crossover. Make sure the transmission is good and that it's been serviced faithfully; otherwise these are generally trouble-free vehicles into old age—probably one of the safer picks, too (electronic stability control is included)—and the RX and the Lexus badge itself one is an image-builder more than any other used crossover in this price range.--Bengt Halvorson. (See more used Lexus).

2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

2005 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

Sedans: 2005 Nissan Altima S
69,445 miles; $8,495
30306--Atlanta, GA

Talk about a workhorse. We've always reviewed the Nissan Altima highly, because of its overall reliability, utility, and performance--gas mileage and ride and handling included. This four-cylinder isn't as quick as the available V-6, but it comes with the basic features--curtain airbags, a CD player, and power windows, locks, and mirrors. Mileage is low for the model year, and this one promises to be in good condition, though the interior on this generation has lots of metallic paint--it'll bear a closer inspection inside than the photos can provide. The Altima never really had the rental-car stigma that some other contemporary sedans had, even if this one wears a rental-fleet paint color, so play karma roulette on some other sedan if you want. We'll take this Altima and use the change to swap in a head unit with XM, Bluetooth, and HD Radio.--Marty Padgett (See more used Nissan Altimas).

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