The Car Connection's Best Used Car Finds For September 21, 2012

September 21, 2012

It's the weekend again--and that means time to find your next car. You've studied new-car prices through The Car Connection's reviews and information tools, but used cars are more in your wheelhouse this time.

You're in luck with The Car Connection's new used-car listings. With more than 3 million entries and easy-to-use sliders, we think it's an easy way to find the right car, truck or crossover near your for this weekend's test drives.

Each week, we sift through the listings to find examples of great used cars you can find here at The Car Connection. Once again, our writers have scoured some random zip codes for solid used-car values you might have missed. This week? We look all around towns with "Junction" in the name, within a 200-mile radius, for the best vehicle we can find that's priced under $10,000.

We'll also do these searches for you, if you want. For free advice on used cars, you can contact us via Facebook or Twitter, and we'll include you in our weekly scans of the listings. 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 cover the gamut from best sellers to a couple of cult classics:

SUVs: 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee
50,979 miles; $9,996
Grand Junction, Colorado 81505

I found a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee with just 50,979 miles. It has a 4.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine, adaptive air ride suspension, navigation, leather interior, and rear-seat audio controls. At $9,996 it's a low-mileage deal on a well-equipped, capable SUV. For the more adventurous (or those with a healthy repair budget), this $9,995 2001 Land Rover Discovery is in great cosmetic shape and has just 59,742 miles on the clock--but when it breaks (and it will), be prepared to fork over the cash.--Nelson Ireson.  (See more Used Jeep Cherokees).

2003 Honda Pilot used car

2003 Honda Pilot used car

Crossovers: 2003 Honda Pilot
146,802 miles; $8,693
Yeehaw Junction, Florida  34743

Shopping for a budget-priced crossover within 50 miles of Yeehaw Junction, Florida (zip code 34743), The Car Connection’s used car listings came across this 2003 Honda Pilot. While some may view the 146,802 miles accumulated as high, we see that as “just about broken in” for Honda’s 3.5-liter V-6. The selling dealer claims the crossover has a clean Carfax report, which should mean that all the body panels are straight and likely original. Even the leather upholstery appears to be in better-than-average condition, telling us that this Honda Pilot was well cared for throughout its life. It’s been on the market for 36 days, a sign that the dealer is open to offers below its $8,693 listing price. As long as the Honda checked out in person and ran well, we’d have no trouble recommending this particular example.--Kurt Ernst.  (See more used Honda Pilots)

 

2005 Ford Ranger used truck

2005 Ford Ranger used truck

Pickup Trucks: 2005 Ford Ranger XLT Edge
82,188 miles; $9,995
Apache Junction, Arizona  85217

I confess: I once owned a Ranger, and I find it hard to ignore any used-car ad that drills away at my retinas with such a suave come-on: "ONE SWEET RANGER HERE!!" This one is pretty sweet, though: it's an Edge, which means extra features on a vehicle that's often more stripped-down than Homer Formby's place on moving day. It has power locks, mirrors, a CD player, and automatic and just over 82,000 miles. A workhorse? It comes with a diamond-plate tool box too, but Rangers are more like work ponies that will last for years doing light-duty chores around your suburb--while you sub out the mulch deliveries and serious towing to bigger vehicles as the need arises. This one's a 3.0-liter V-6 that's flex-fuel capable; it's a groaner, and we'd much rather have the later 4.0-liter versions, but it'll do. They've already come down $2,000, and it's for sale in one of the hardest-hit areas of the country in the recession, so maybe there's a truly sweet deal to be made here.--Marty Padgett  (See more used Ford Rangers).

2006 Scion tC used car

2006 Scion tC used car

Coupes: 2006 Scion tC
134,000 miles; $9,995
Junction City, Oregon  97448

The Scion tC, is a smart and enjoyable pick on the budget-conscious used coupe market, and it stands out today for many of the same reasons that it did when new.

This surprisingly affordable model is a sporty-looking, sport-driving car, but it's not a full-on sports car. You'll need to check if you have enough headroom, but with a small backseat plus the convenience of a hatchback (it looks like a trunk in profile), you have plenty of practicality for daily use. The interior was even appointed so nicely that it earned the 'baby Lexus' nickname around the time of its original launch, but beware that it's definitely not up to Lexus standards of cabin quietness.

Opt for the five-speed manual—as this car—and you'll be happiest with the tC's Euro-tuned suspension and strong 2.4-liter engine. But there are plenty of other pluses; you get Toyota reliability, good gas mileage, and perhaps best of all, a full line of off-the-shelf accessories available at the dealership.--Bengt Halvorson.  (See more used Scions).

2003 Pontiac Vibe used car

2003 Pontiac Vibe used car

Hatchbacks: 2003 Pontiac Vibe
25,500 miles; $9,491
White River Junction, Vermont  05001

Looking for a hatchback under $10,000 located in Vermont, we found three- to seven-year-old models with astounding mileage, in some cases as much as 130,000. We looked at a whole lot of well-used Subarus, some tired Toyotas, and in the end, settled on a pair of 2003 Pontiac Vibes.

The first-generation Pontiac Vibe is all Toyota Corolla underneath, but its Pontiac heritage meant it was always worth less than a comparable Toyota Matrix five-door hatchback. Now that Pontiac is dead, dealers may find moving used ones a tad more challenging--especially at nine years old.

Located at Accord Auto in Richmond, Maine, the more desirable GT model, in black with grey interior, and a fun-to-drive five-speed manual, was listed at $8,875 and had 69,000 miles on it. That price was almost $1,400 higher than the average, and it had been on the lot more than three weeks, so we'd be tempted to start our bargaining at $7,750 and see if the dealer wanted to make it go away.

But possibly the sleeper was a red 2003 Vibe with just 25,500 miles on it. Either this was a weekend-house car or Granny's runaround (it's an automatic), and it had only been on the lot at Balise Ford in Hyannis, Massachusetts, for five days. The list price was $9,491, but we have to think a cash offer somewhere between $8,500 and $9,000 would take it.

Either of these cars should be inspected by a mechanic, since once a car crosses the 10-year mark, things can start to fail with age as well as with mileage. And Hyannis is on Cape Cod--meaning salt air--so you want to know the signs of a beach car (rusty rain gutters are one).--John Voelcker. (See more used Pontiac Vibes).

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