I've never been a fan of the J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Survey, because it never seems to offer enough time for drivers to get used to a car and figure out where it may be lacking. Their dependability surveys, however, are more interesting, especially for college students who may be considering saving their money by buying a pre-owned car.
This year's results covers the 2008 model year, and there are a few models that merit serious consideration Here are three, along with their Kelly Blue Book Values for 48,000 miles and in good condition:
1) Scion xB ($11,495)
You either love the styling of the Scion xB, or you don't, but for a compact car that can haul a lot of gear, the boxy frame is perfect. It helps that it's easy on fuel economy, relatively, and the price should pay for your first couple years of car insurance with ease compared to a new model. Look for cleaner models owned by older folks (it's popular with the over-40 set) to find those closest to mint condition.
2) Ford Fusion ($11,565)
The Ford Fusion may yet turn into the Chrysler Sebring, a good solid car that becomes a rental fleet standout. For now, it's one of the better new sedans out there, especially with the hybrid engine's great mileage ratings. It's also relatively inexpensive after a few years on the market, and is one of J.D. Power's reliability award winners.
3) Honda CR-V LX ($15,650)
It's a fact that many people like the upgrades in safety and capacity that SUVs provide. You probably don't need a massive Escalade, but a CR-V is a good compact bet that continues to review well because of its car-like handling and decent mileage given its size.
You can check out the full results of the survey for other options. But I want to know what you readers think about used cars. What is most important to you when you search for one?