Nissan Frontier, Mazda, Lincoln: Best Used Car Finds For October 19, 2012

October 19, 2012

You've read The Car Connection's new-car reviews, and shared our breaking news all over the Web from Facebook to Twitter--but maybe you're spending this weekend hunting down your next vehicle?

You're just in time, we say. With more than 3 million cars and easy to use controls, The Car Connection's used-car listings are a great way to find the right used car, used truck or used crossover near you before you head out to showrooms and dealer lots, looking for the best values and the most interesting set of new wheels.

Here's how we know. Each week, our editors sift through those listings by zip codes to find great used cars for readers and for ourselves--to stay in touch with what's available out there as much as to satisfy our own curiosity. 

Again this week, our writers have scoured some random zip codes for solid used-car values. And this week, we've come up with some more esoteric finds than usual, all for the college or recent grad in mind--down to the "college" in the town name. Each vehicle's within a 200-mile radius of one such towns, and each is priced under $10,000--with one exception this week, one that's going to rely on your negotiating power.

We're here to search on your behalf, too. For our free suggestions 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 finds include a pair of Mazdas, both rare birds, a pickup truck for the trailblazers among us, and a single-year special that's an all-American dependable classic underneath its glitzy grille:

Pickup Trucks: 2005 Nissan Frontier LE King Cab
129,239 miles; $8,995
College Station, Texas 77840

The Nissan Frontier's our top-rated mid-size pickup truck for many reasons, and as far back as we can remember, it's been that way. This extended-cab version has the big 4.0-liter V-6 engine, an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive, and with 129,000 miles on the odometer, promises lots of life ahead with a thousand bucks left under our limit for taxes, insurance, and a rainy-day fund. (See more used Nissans).

2002 Mazda Protege5 used car

2002 Mazda Protege5 used car

Hatchbacks: 2002 Mazda Protege5

77,209 miles; $6,995
College Station, Pennsylvania  16802

There was a day when no compact car rivaled Mazda's Protege for sharp handling, sweet steering, and the ride of a much more expensive car. The Protege5 packed all that, and even more cargo space. This version's a precious manual-transmission model, with lots of power options, a sunroof, and a CD player, and only 77,000 miles on the clock, for under $7,000. That's a bargain, even if you'll have to drive a hundred miles or more from our target zip code near Penn State. (See more used Mazdas).

2006 Lincoln Zephyr used car

2006 Lincoln Zephyr used car

Sedans: 2006 Lincoln Zephyr
85,519 miles; $9,995
College Park, Maryland 20742

If you're in the Washington, D.C., area and have time between ACC basketball games to hunt down a used sedan for your College Park collegian, this Lincoln Zephyr's a solid choice. Basically the same as the reliable, safe Ford Fusion of the same vintage, this Zephyr has the six-cylinder/automatic drivetrain, navigation, and a THX audio system, with 85,000 miles and a price of less than $10,000. Resale's lower since the Zephyr became the MKZ the following model year--but no one else has to know, right? (See more used Lincolns)

2006 Mazda 5 used car

2006 Mazda 5 used car

Minivans: 2006 Mazda 5
76,419 miles; $10,976
College - Glen, Sacramento, California 95826

Our last deal for today shows up near College - Glen, part of greater Sacramento. Another Mazda, this one's the first-gen Mazda 5 minivan--and a rare manual-transmission model. It's definitely for smaller and younger families, but the Mazda 5 has good interior room, good safety equipment, and very good fuel economy of up to 27 miles per gallon highway. It's priced above our limit, but we think the manual transmission gives any interested shopper significant leverage with the dealer, so play a little hardball. There can't be many minivan buyers who can actually drive it off the lot, can there be?

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