Best used cars in Canada for 2023
Our 10 expert picks on the best used cars when it comes to value for dollar—from compacts and crossovers to luxury cars, hybrids and pickups.
Our 10 expert picks on the best used cars when it comes to value for dollar—from compacts and crossovers to luxury cars, hybrids and pickups.
Looking for a used vehicle? Even when considering identical makes, models and model years, not all used cars are created equal. In this guide, I’ll share helpful tips and considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a second-hand car.
We scoured the market for used vehicles that offer buyers the best value per dollar. Here’s the list of top models to buy in 10 different categories, along with information to help you find a good one.
Whether you need a thrifty commuter, a family hauler or a work truck, we’ve narrowed down the field to the vehicles we believe offer the best overall value in their category, including:
Our top pick for best-value used car in Canada is the Honda Accord, which continues to hold up its reputation as a safe, reliable and spacious people mover.
Capitalizing on Honda’s reputation for solid reliability, excellent resale value and strong owner satisfaction and loyalty, the Accord has also been called an IIHS Top Safety Pick, the North American Car of the Year, and the Canadian Car of the Year. Car and Driver has included the Honda Accord amongst its annual 10 Best rankings some 36 times, too. Put simply, few cars have the history, reputation and clout of the Honda Accord when it comes to delivering years of fuss-free family service, and owners tend to buy an Accord again and again. It’s as safe a bet as there is in a modern family sedan today.
The 2022 Honda Accord was rated Canada’s Best Large Car by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) after extensive testing and scoring against a field of competitors. This win comes as part of the association’s Canadian Car of the Year program, a decades-long annual testing event in which the latest models are ranked and scored by a panel of road test experts and automotive writers who live and work in Canada.
Not only that, but the Accord offers spirited and enjoyable performance with the kind of styling that other rides in its price range sometimes lack. Look for a pair of turbocharged four-cylinder engines under the hood. The 1.5-litre turbo spins up 192 horsepower, while the 2-litre turbo generates 252 horsepower—effectively replacing the V6 engine option from earlier models. A fuel-sipping hybrid engine, launched in 2018, is available, too. (More on the Accord below, under “Best used car for families.”)
Before we dig into all 10 categories in this year’s list, let’s talk about money.
If you’re comparison-shopping used cars, remember that each is unique. Take two identical 2019 Ford Escapes, for instance. Even if they have the same mileage on their odometers, any differences in colour, features, condition, maintenance history and accident history can all affect their asking prices.
Though an apples-to-apples comparison of pricing is easy with brand-new vehicles, used cars are subject to a multitude of additional factors that can affect their price.
For detailed tips on shopping for a used car—including where to buy, costs to consider (fuel economy, auto insurance and more), inspecting the vehicle and negotiating a deal—see our tips below the list of best used cars, as well as MoneySense’s article on buying new vs. used. There, you’ll also find our methodology for choosing these 10 vehicles.
Since the Honda Accord first rolled off of Honda’s assembly lines in 1976, it’s earned a loyal following of shoppers around the globe. Over 18 million Accords have been sold—many to repeat owners who stick with the model primarily for its drama-free ownership experience. Solid upfront value comes from the Accord’s generous standard feature and safety offerings, while long-term value is bolstered by the machine’s high residual values and strong history of reliability and owner satisfaction.
The 10th-generation Accord ran from model years 2018 to 2022, offering standard turbocharged engines that deliver generous torque while working to minimize fuel use. A hybrid engine was introduced to this generation Accord from its launch for model year 2018, helping to reduce fuel consumption with no performance penalty. You can even find the 10th-generation Accord with a six-speed manual transmission, if you prefer to row your own gears.
This surefire bet is fuel-efficient, fun to drive, roomy, safe and confidence-inspiring. Shop for a 2021 or newer model to take advantage of some notable updates, including refreshed styling, upgraded tech and safety features, and improved performance from hybrid-powered models. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were added for the 2021 as well.
Read our review of the Honda Accord.
The Toyota Corolla is the best-selling vehicle of all time, with some 50 million units finding their way into customer garages and driveways since 1966. To put that number into perspective, the current population of Canada is about 40 million.
The Corolla has one of the industry’s highest safety scores, and recent models have a growing list of standard safety equipment. Shoppers after the lowest running costs and highest residual value can consider a Toyota Corolla Hybrid. It’s easier on fuel than standard Corolla models, and its partial-electric hybrid engine turns in a higher-performing drive, with acceleration and torque output superior to non-hybrid models.
Though it doesn’t offer much in the way of glamorous styling, edgy handling or neck-snapping acceleration, the Corolla excels in other metrics like reliability, efficiency and an impressive roster of optional equipment. You can find hatchback or sedan body styles, and manual or automatic CVT transmission options, depending on the model (though the Corolla Hybrid only comes with an automatic CVT).
Those who see cars as a means to an end will gravitate to the Corolla. It never asks anything of its owners other than gasoline and oil changes, and it comes with a well-founded reputation for long-term satisfaction. It’s a hard-working car, day in and day out, under a huge variety of conditions.
Read our review of the Toyota Corolla.
With the Escape Hybrid, Ford placed its latest hybrid engine technology right where most Canadians were looking for it: in the form of a compact crossover. The Escape Hybrid puts a compelling partial-electric powertrain into the heart of this highly popular segment while offering the all-wheel drive (AWD) traction that’s in demand with a growing number of Canadians. With a quality set of winter tires, an Escape Hybrid AWD makes for a winter-busting fuel-sipper with a commanding driving position and traction to spare.
The Escape Hybrid also offers a taller ride and more room than a hybrid car, so you can expect a thrifty and flexible machine that’s ready for a wide range of tasks. With a highly adaptable interior and wide range of cargo-carrying accessories and gear racks, the Escape is easy to reconfigure for changing lifestyles and growing families.
Read our review of the Ford Escape.
The Kia Soul has long been a favourite of Canadian drivers shopping for a compact SUV that looks like a box but refuses to be put in one. Since its introduction 15 years ago, the Soul has used stand-out styling as a key means of appealing to its target shopper. It shares the boxy profile of just about every other SUV, embracing its blockiness in a way that’s injected with alertness, cheer and attention to detail.
Dramatic exterior lighting elements help set the Soul apart, with tail lamps and headlights featuring LED accenting and dynamic integration within the vehicle body lines. On board, the interior is logical and organized, and the tall roof makes it a headroom champ that’s easily driven by even tall drivers. Kia’s slick and simple infotainment system links up with a driver computer display to keep you entertained and connected on the move.
Under the hood, look for both conventional and turbocharged engine options. While some earlier units suffered from engine and transmission problems, a recent used Kia Soul with plenty of remaining warranty coverage should see new drivers backed up with space, flexibility, expressive style and an appealing asking price for a well-equipped and versatile runabout. Shoppers after AWD traction will have to look elsewhere, however, as the Soul only comes with front-wheel drive.
Read our review of the Kia Soul.
The Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon are corporate twins, and amount to the largest SUV models on offer from General Motors. Each is built on a proven truck frame platform borrowed from the automaker’s bestselling pickup range, and the 2019 model year saw a clean-sheet redesign complete with an independent rear suspension engineered to improve ride comfort, handling and stability.
For large families with a big need for space and towing capacity, the Suburban and Yukon are tough to match—especially when it comes to outright sales volume. Few automakers bake as much truck and 4×4 experience into their largest SUV offerings as these two. Just make sure you’ll benefit from the capability. Powerful V8 engines and high towing capacity mean these SUVs tend to be thirstier than smaller crossover options—though the latest engineering helps the Tahoe and Yukon power plants respect your fuel dollars as much as possible.
With four-wheel drive and room for up to eight people on board (along with cargo, shopping and canines), a second-hand Yukon or Tahoe might just be the ultimate adventure vehicle for a large family with lots of outdoor toys.
Read our review of the Chevrolet Tahoe /GMC Yukon.
While some sports cars are extremely powerful and aggressive (as well as thirsty), the Mazda MX-5 has long taken a different approach. This two-seat drop-top model debuted in 1989, and four generations later, it’s still built with a similar recipe. Specifically, the use of an athletic but fuel-efficient engine—within a package painstakingly engineered for light weight—turns in one of the market’s all-time most fun-to-drive cars, but with fuel and maintenance costs that make it easy on the wallet long-term.
MX-5 owners laud the car for its driving dynamics, reliability and robustness. A joy to drive leisurely or spiritedly, the MX-5’s available manual transmission was designed after extensive studies of human ergonomics for the perfect feel.
With two seats and limited cargo capacity, the Mazda MX-5 is a special car for special occasions—and it can turn just about any drive into one, too. From model year 2020 and on, look for updated colours and badging, as well as a new array of safety equipment added via the Mazda i-Activsense suite of technologies.
Read our review of the Mazda MX-5.
There’s simply no people mover on the market today more popular than the Dodge Grand Caravan. With an unbeatable space-for-the-dollar quotient and flexibility unmatched by crossover and SUV models, this car-based minivan delivers appreciable handling and fuel economy in a package that can go from family mover to cargo van in a matter of seconds—thanks to flexible rear seating arrangements and the Stow ’n Go system.
The 3.6-litre V6 engine found in most used Grand Caravans is one of the most mass-produced engines of all time, as well as an award winner. Parts are generally easy to source and relatively affordable. However, shoppers after AWD should look elsewhere, since the Grand Caravan comes in front-drive only.
There’s no other minivan with the clout, reputation and success of the Grand Caravan. Heck, some contractors and business owners even seek out used ones as a handier and thriftier alternative to a work truck or cargo cube delivery van.
Read our review of the Dodge Grand Caravan.
Surging sales exceeding a million units a year see the F-150 topping the list of most popular vehicles in North America, year after year. As more shoppers gravitate towards pickup trucks for use as family haulers, mobile offices and luxurious cross-country touring machines, Ford’s answered their calls with new trim grades, equipment packages and powertrains. You’ll find no shortage of specialty models in the second-hand marketplace, including the luxurious King Ranch, the off-road ready Tremor and the racy F-150 Raptor.
Though rugged, capable, four-wheel-drive-equipped and packed with generous towing capacity, the F-150 is a lifestyle tool as much as it is a hard-working truck. Aluminum bodies reduce weight, while widely available EcoBoost engines use turbochargers to boost performance and torque while keeping fuel use in check. The latest models were available with the PowerBoost hybrid engine, the most powerful in a mainstream F-150 model. This fuel-saver uses a self-recharging battery to boost power output, cut fuel use and function as a built-in generator for the campsite or worksite.
Larger touchscreen interfaces, wider availability of safety equipment, and Max Recline seats help give owners a taste of the motoring high life. And the foot-tall vertical touchscreen even has a built-in sketch-pad app for taking notes or keeping the kids entertained.
Read our review of the Ford F-150.
Shoppers have loads of options to treat themselves when it comes to luxury cars. Among those, it’s very tough to beat a Lexus if you’re after a smart buy that’s packed with long-term value and a confidence-inspiring reputation.
Toyota’s luxury division launched its ES model back in 1989, impressing reviewers and customers alike with compelling pricing, styling, features and reliability. Today, some three million global sales later, a second-hand Lexus ES makes a smart buy. This luxury sedan is packed with modern must-haves like advanced safety technology, available AWD and available hybrid power. Highly ranked for dependability and reliability, the Lexus ES sees many repeat buyers.
In 2018, the ES received the latest version of the Lexus Safety System+, which provides new capabilities and expands the driving scenarios in which it can provide added protection. For model year 2020, the Lexus ES gained Android Auto functionality, while more safety features became standard across more of the model line. For 2021, Lexus introduced all-wheel drive to the lineup, making the ES a stronger contender for the dollars of Canadian luxury shoppers who frequently encounter inclement weather.
Read our review of the Lexus ES.
Genesis is rapidly proving that its luxury cars make some of the smartest second-hand buys on the road today. Genesis owners typically report the fewest problems with their vehicles as they age.
The G90 is the largest of the Genesis sedans, with first-generation models (2022 and earlier) offering six- or eight-cylinder power and an available twin-turbocharged V6, world-class ride comfort and a plethora of the most in-demand tech. With one of the most generous standard equipment lists of any comparable modern luxury car, the G90 came fully loaded at a price that barely opened the bidding for German competitors.
The HTRAC all-wheel drive system makes the G90 ready and willing to tackle Canadian winters with ease, but be sure to use a quality set of winter tires. Expect a quiet, tranquil ride that’s conducive to relaxing and socializing on the move, while the Lexicon stereo system breaks the silence on demand with 17 high-precision, high-performance speakers.
Thankfully, the same attention to detail that went into the G90’s aesthetics and equipment also made its way into the engineering; this car ages gracefully and with minimal issues to report. Owners tend to love the understated looks and excellent overall value.
Read our review of the Genesis G90.
A car is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make—meaning there’s a lot to think about. It all starts by assessing your needs and budget to determine whether you’re best served by a brand-new car or a used one. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons.
Buying a new car is appealing because you’re fully backed by the manufacturer’s warranty and roadside assistance coverage, plus you’ll have the latest technology and safety features. New cars are also free of the uncertainties that tend to come with second-hand models, boosting shopper confidence and the likelihood of a stress-free ownership experience.
The downside, however, is that current economic, market and supply chain conditions are seeing buyers waiting longer than ever to take their new car or truck home—with many models taking several months to arrive once ordered.
New cars are the pricier option, as well, and thanks to increased used car values in recent years, your trade-in has likely never been worth more than it is right now.
While buying a used car has some uncertainties, a little patience, research and expert guidance can go a long way. Below, you’ll find my top picks for quality, competitively priced second-hand cars, trucks and SUVs.
With a little research, you can find plenty of options for good-quality previously driven cars, trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUVs), priced competitively—and ready to drive off the lot.
To avoid buyer’s remorse, here’s what to look for when buying a used car, truck or SUV.
Should you buy a used vehicle from a private seller or a registered car dealer?
When buying a vehicle privately, you buy “as is”—and if the seller misleads you, intentionally or otherwise, about the car’s history or condition, or if anything goes wrong after the deal is done, you have a major headache and little recourse. Buying from a registered dealer gives you access to more protections and services.
The bottom line: Dealer prices might be a bit higher than those on classified advertising sites, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
While electric cars (EVs) may one day be the norm, hybrid cars will continue to grow in popularity to bridge the gap between our combustion-powered reality and our all-electric motoring future. By combining a gas engine with an electric motor and self-recharging battery, hybrid cars boost performance and fuel efficiency considerably versus non-hybrid models, giving shoppers exactly what they want: more power and a smaller fuel bill.
There are two good reasons to consider making your next used car a hybrid in 2023. First, the selection is better than it’s ever been, thanks to the increasing number of hybrid-powered options that have hit the market in recent years. Second, as fuel prices remain unstable and continue to climb, used-car shoppers will be increasingly seeking out hybrid-powered models to protect themselves from fuel costs.
Translation? Buying a used hybrid may cost you more up front, but you’ll save money on fuel, and you’ll likely be able to sell that used hybrid for more money than a comparable non-hybrid when it’s time to trade it in a few years down the line.
As fuel prices rise, so will the popularity of hybrid cars—and the second-hand prices they’ll fetch.
Once you’ve decided on a vehicle, shop around to get a feel for current prices. Then break out your calculator. There’s more to a vehicle’s cost than its sticker price. Add up the overall cost to own, including insurance, gas, maintenance, taxes and—if you’re getting a car loan—interest fees.
Before financing your purchase, compare the interest rates offered at the dealership and your bank. Most dealers offer financing on used vehicles, and they can help to arrange loans with prime or subprime lenders.
Be sure to consider the wheels and tires on the car or truck you’re buying, too. Larger wheels are all the rage these days, but larger wheels are wrapped in larger tires, which tend to be pricier—both for all-season and winter rubber. Those 22-inch wheels sure look great, but the 18-inch wheels could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars when it comes time for new tires.
Check the fuel your vehicle requires, too. Aside from specialty luxury and performance models, most engines today are built to run on regular-grade 87-octane gasoline. To confirm, check the owner’s manual of the car. If the car you’re after recommends premium fuel, you can typically still use lower-octane gas but with a slight reduction in performance. If premium fuel is required, you’ll be spending more on pricier gas every time you fill up.Another cost to consider: an add-on warranty package. Typically offered by used car dealers during negotiations or at the completion of the sale, an extra-cost warranty is a great way to boost peace of mind and confidence by fending off future repair bills. These packages typically range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the coverage you purchase. The most common extended warranty packages will run between $1,000 and $2,000, and some are available on a subscription basis, with pricing about $50 to $80 per month.
Before you buy the warranty package, though, consider whether you could get the same benefit by creating your own contingency fund for repairs. This way, you’ve got money set aside if something goes wrong—and you get to keep that money if nothing does.
As with any big-ticket item, you should be aware of the warning signs that a vehicle may not be worth buying.
Never rely solely on what anyone tells you about a used car’s history or condition. Again, ask for a Carfax report, and learn to look for simple signs of excessive wear.
When negotiating with a dealer or private seller, keep these things in mind:
Read more tips on preparing to negotiate.
When you bring your new-to-you car or truck home, you might be so excited that it’s easy to forget one final, important step: registering as the new owner of that vehicle. You’ll contact the automaker’s customer service department to do it over the phone, which takes just a few minutes.
Why register as the new owner? Because recalls. Recalls are issued by automakers to fix potential trouble with your car that may negatively affect its safety. Recall work is performed free of charge by dealerships, and many used cars have recalls in play. Registering as the new owner of a used vehicle makes sure that future recall notices are mailed to you in a timely fashion.
The vehicles on this list were chosen after extensive and ongoing research of the used car marketplace as well as owners’ communities, expert reliability and dependability data, industry accolades, and a network of automotive repair professionals.
The 10 vehicles in this list are the models I’d most likely recommend to friends and family, based on the vehicles’ overall value, efficiency and reliability for the dollar, as well as the likelihood of a positive ownership experience.
How does your credit card debt stack up against the average Canadian’s? Find out as we dive into how...
If your furnace or central AC needs replacing, consider installing a heat pump. Here’s how to choose your system...
I explore the impact of prioritizing spending on experiences over material things through my Bruce Springsteen concert experience. With...
Apple has launched a new iPhone series with several enticing features. Is it worth upgrading your phone to get...
U.S. inflation battle continues, Oracle lets down expectations, Dollarama mightier than Roots, and Equitable Bank reigns supreme.
What is car insurance, how much does it cost, and how can you find the best coverage for your...
BoC holds rates at 5%, Couche-Tard has a mixed quarter, China battles deflation and Danish pharma company grows by...
New for the 2023 tax year, you might be able to claim the Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit for...
Planner Julie Shipley-Strickland and editor and writer Bryan Borzykowski get personal about money—the good and the bad.