Photo Gallery of the Top 10 Used 2008 Cars

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This Hatchback Handles All Life Throws At It - Including a Blizzard

The Kia Spectra5 a Used Car Value - But Don't Confuse It With the Sedan The Kia Spectra5 is a surprisingly good hatchback that maintains a high level of comfort that one doesn't expect from such a small vehicle. Photo © Kia

A Look at Used Cars and Trucks from 2008 You Can Use Every Day

In the market for a used car? Here is my list of the Top 10 Used Cars for 2008 based on reliability as determined by Consumer Reports.

Ford Mustang The redesign in 2005 was the best in 20 years until that point.

Chrysler 300 A beautiful sedan that was among the most pleasurable cars I have ever driven.

Hyundai Sonata The Rodney Dangerfield of midsize sedans. It gets no respect.

Mazda5 My co-favorite used car because I own a 2008 Touring edition with a 5-sp manual.

Dodge Neon We’ve owned one since 2002 with only a minor trunk latch problem.

Acura MDX My favorite luxury SUV, but I favor the MDX before its 2007 redesign.

Dodge Sprinter The Sprinter, great for families with four or more children, comfortably seats eight.

VW Phaeton Premium luxury sedans didn’t get any better than the Phaeton when it was introduced in 2004.

Saab 9-5 I’ve had a love affair with Saab going back to 1987.

Kia Spectra5 A huge blizzard sold me on this little hatchback.

Kia Spectra5 – A huge blizzard in March 2005 sold me on this little hatchback. I was stuck behind the wheel for five hours for a trip that normally took 90 minutes. I found the Spectra5 to be comfortable, even under those trying conditions, and its clutch engaged smoothly. Of course, by the end of the trip it looked like my left leg came from the Incredible Hulk.

Your best bet is going to be the 2006 Spectra5, which CR found perfect in every category.

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This Large Sedan Wears Its Age Well

The Chrysler 300 a Sporty Sedan That's Comfortable As Well The Chrysler 300 has maintained its good looks. It's a mid-size sedan that is going to comfortably fulfill its task and keep you happy. Photo © Chrysler

Chrysler 300 – Four years after this car was introduced it still turns my head. I think it’s a beautiful sedan that was among the most pleasurable cars I have driven in the last seven plus years. As with the Mustang, I’m going to steer you towards the V-6 model (the V-8 version is the Chrysler 300C) for reasons of fuel economy and price.

What sells me on the 300 is its roomy interior and big exterior. Others might extol the virtues of the Ford Crown Victoria, but give me the Chrysler 300 seven days a week for comfort. According to Consumer Reports, the best models to purchase are 2005 and 2006.

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A Mini-Minivan That Handles A Lot in its Mini Confines

The Mazda Mazda5 a Perfect Vehicle for a Family of Four (& It Seats Six!) Here's a used car I can recommend with a lot of confidence because I own one. The Mazda5 mini-minivan is a perfect fit for a family of four. Photo © Mazda

Mazda5 – This is my co-favorite used car on the list because I own a 2008 Touring edition with a five-speed manual transmission. For those of you not familiar with the Mazda5, well it’s made by Mazda, and it is a mini-minivan. It seats six and is ideal for a family of four. It has a lot of space when the third row is folded for things like strollers and groceries. I have a family of four that still needs a stroller and, of course, we hit the supermarket frequently. It also averages about 23-25 mpg and it’s easy to park.

The Mazda5 was first introduced as a 2006 model. Consumer Reports doesn’t look favorably upon that model in terms of the suspension, which it rates poor. The 2007 is rated fairly favorably, except for the suspension. Other areas, though, were vastly improved for the 2007 model year.

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A Full-Size Van That Makes Driving Enjoyable

The Dodge Sprinter Handles 9 and City Traffic Equally Well Forget those boring minivans. Opt for a full size van like the Dodge Sprinter. It comfortably seats nine and holds all of their luggage. Photo © Chrysler

Dodge Sprinter – I continue to sing the praises of the Dodge Sprinter, especially for people with four or more children. It comfortably seats eight and holds a lot of luggage for long trips. It’s also an amazingly agile vehicle to drive in spite of its size. The Sprinter is also surprisingly comfortable for its bulk.

Sorry, there is no Consumer Reports data on the Sprinter because it is mostly considered a commercial vehicle. I had it for 11 days back in 2007 and averaged about 14.5 miles per gallon in mixed driving situations, which was astounding considering it was packed to the gills with people and their cargo.

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Saab 9-5 a Quirky Little Sedan with Strong Sport DNA

Say a Silent Little Prayer That Saab Survives the GM Shakeout Who knows where Saab will be in 2009, but used Saabs are still an attractive sedan. Check out this quirky sedan and you'll be glad you did. Photo © GM

Saab 9-5 – I’ve had a love affair with Saab going back to 1987 because it was the first car I ever test drove. It was a delight to drive then and continues to be 21 years later. It makes me sad to hear the news Saab might be shuttered or sold because it means no more sedans like the 9-5. I think its roominess and handling can’t be beat.

UPDATE: I can no longer recommend the Saab brand since its demise.

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Rodney Dangerfield of Sedans Gets No Respect

2006 Hyundai Sonata a Great Value in Midsize Sedans Save yourself a couple thousand dollars and purchase a used Hyundai Sonata, instead of spending more on a used Honda or used Toyota. Photo © Hyundai

Hyundai Sonata – This is the Rodney Dangerfield of midsize sedans. It just gets no respect, but I enjoyed my time with the Hyundai Sonata when it was first redesigned in 2006. My only quibble with it then was a lack of thigh support on a long trip. Otherwise, I drove it over hill and dale and found it simply delightful. Plus, it comes with a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty. (Check the details closely on what gets transferred to a new owner when you purchase the car – the good news is reliability scores are so high on the Sonata you may never need the warranty).

The folks at Consumer Reports have little quibble with the 2006 model. It should work to your advantage that CR gives it only an average resale value.

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Classic American Muscle Car That Many Crave

With 2010 Redesign, Market Gets Better for Used Mustangs The 2005 Ford Mustang continues to be a strong seller because of its good looks. It's a classic American muscle car. Photo © Ford

Ford Mustang – I loved the redesign of the Ford Mustang in 2005 so much so that I saw the 2010 recently at the New England International Auto Show in Boston and it made no impression on me. This redesign, in my humble opinion, was the best in 20 years for the ‘Stang. My model of preference is going to be either the 2006 or 2007 V-6 models based on reliability reports from Consumer Reports (subscription required). The 2005 model gets bad marks for the fuel and electrical systems.

You might lust after the bigger V-8 versions that are in existence, but I’ve driven the V-6 on many occasions and find it suitable for everyday driving. The Ford Mustang has stood the test of time for almost 45 years.

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A Sub-Compact Used Car with Plenty of Room & Pep

Consumer Reports Doesn't Like It, But Neon Has Been Trouble Free Sub-compact sedans don't come much better than the 2005 Dodge Neon. Photo © Dodge

Dodge Neon – We’ve owned a Dodge Neon since 2002 and it has given us only a minor trunk latch problem – that I learned how to fix after a frustrating trip to the dealership the first time it malfunctioned. Interestingly, since I fixed it, the problem hasn’t returned and I am not a mechanical person. Anyway, this little four-door sedan, that was discontinued in 2005, proves that sub-compact can still be roomy and sporty to drive.

It’s somewhat depressing to note that Consumer Reports wouldn’t recommend the 2002 model (but that’s OK because we’re going to keep it until it dies). However, it does have good things to say about the 2004 model.

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The Right Luxury Sedan with The Wrong Name

Premium luxury sedans didn’t get any better than the Phaeton The 2004 Volkswagen Phaeton is a great luxury sedan that nobody would purchase because it said VW on the hood. Photo © VW

VW Phaeton – Premium luxury sedans didn’t get any better than the Phaeton when it was first introduced in 2004. The problem was it was a Volkswagen and nobody wanted to shell out anywhere from $65,000 up to $100,000 for a VW. People spending that kind of money want some bragging rights. You don’t get those from the company that sells the New Beetle.

The Phaeton suffered for nothing when it came to luxury. I drove the top-of-the-line model with the 6.0-liter, 12-cylinder engine and massage seats. This all-wheel drive cruiser was just plain fun to drive.

Unfortunately, Consumer Reports has no reliability info on the Phaeton. Remember, CR buys all of the cars it tests. It probably couldn’t justify dropping 100 large on a sedan. However, I have not heard of any persistent mechanical problems with the Phaeton.

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Acura MDX - A Premium Luxury SUV

It has everything one could want, including a 50/50-split third-row seat 2004 Acura MDX is the top used luxury SUV. Photo © Acura

Acura MDX – This continues to be my favorite luxury SUV. However, I favor the MDX before its 2007 redesign. It has everything one could want in an SUV, including a 50/50-split third-row seat that folds away into the floor when not in use and the overall abundance of Acura excellence. I think the Acura MDX is really the benchmark for all other luxury SUVs and none match it.

Consumer Reports is fairly effusive in its praise, too. The model I would point you toward is the 2004 Acura MDX. Its only average score comes in the electrical system category. Otherwise, it’s all excellent or above average.