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An orange 2021 Chevy Spark is shown driving on a city street after visiting a used Chevy dealer.

Shopper’s Corner: Your Guide to Buying a Used Chevrolet Sedan

What do you value most in a vehicle? Are you looking for an efficient and engaging powertrain, innovative technologies, or a combination of luxury and affordability? If you’re like me and so many others, you’re likely looking for a combination of these and an automaker that offers an extraordinary balance that doesn’t force you to compromise or lower your standards.

Chevrolet has offered as much since 1911, when Louis Chevrolet and William C. Durant joined forces to make high-performance vehicles accessible and more affordable. Since then, Chevrolet has shaped the American landscape, with that legacy continuing today at your local used Chevy dealer. You can see it firsthand in Chevrolet’s extensive lineup of sedans that boast the longevity, reliability, efficiency, and engagement that have defined the brand for the last century.

Shopping for a used Chevy sedan is exciting because of the automaker’s reputation, but even more so because of the many available options. Chevrolet’s current sedan lineup solely features the Malibu, but you’ll find plenty of others on the used lot. Here’s a closer look at those options, their defining features, and what you can expect from one of America’s most trusted automakers.

The Mini Car: Meet the Spark (2012-2021)

Affordability is the Spark’s defining characteristic, making it incredibly appealing on the used lot. Chevrolet introduced the Spark to North American drivers in 2009, but the five-door hatch didn’t officially debut until 2013. Even then, it wasn’t entirely new. The Spark was already widely known overseas as the Daewoo Matiz. With General Motors purchasing Daewoo in 2002, the Matiz eventually found a home in the Chevy family.

The Spark instantly garnered acclaim as the most affordable car in the segment, with Chevy adding tangible value to the mini car to heighten its appeal. Chevrolet’s efforts worked, with the Spark named the fastest-selling car shortly after its debut. Over the years, Chevrolet continued the same approach, outfitting the sedan with many standard safety and connectivity features, a large digital display, power windows, Bluetooth capability, navigational tools, and more.

For those looking for comparable features to newer Chevrolet models, look for a 2021 Spark since this was the car’s last year in production. The 2021 Spark has a four-trim lineup (LS, 1LT, ACTIV, and 2LT), with the ACTIV undeniably the most appealing because of its raised suspension, roof rack, and heated front seats. You’ll also find a seven-inch color touchscreen display, WiFi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

The Sporty Subcompact: Meet the Sonic (2012-2020)

Where the Spark caters to drivers looking for a budget-friendly mini car, the Sonic answers the need for an affordable subcompact sedan with more room. Known overseas as the Aveo, the Sonic debuted in the Chevy lineup in 2012 as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback. Instantly recognizable by its wide stance and motorcycle-inspired headlamps, the Sonic made a lasting first impression as one of the safest and best-equipped models in the segment. Chevrolet solidified the Sonic’s reputation by making it widely functional and well-equipped. It has flat-folding rear seats to improve its cargo capacity, a turbocharged engine, and options like heated seats.

By the end of its tenure in the Chevy lineup, the Sonic was praised for its youthfulness, efficiency, affordability, and sporty aesthetic. Because of this, I recommend shopping for a later-generation model, like a 2020 Sonic. It has newer features like LED lighting, steering-wheel-mounted controls, air conditioning, and the Chevrolet infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You’ll find more premium features on the Sonic Premier, but the Sonic with the RS package is the sportiest, with its rear spoiler, blacked-out details, flat-bottom steering wheel, and leatherette seating.

A white 2020 Chevy Sonic Rs is shown stopped near a crosswalk.

Chevy’s First Plug-In Hybrid: Meet the Volt (2011-2019)

Chevrolet made history in 2011 when it introduced the Volt as its first mass-produced electric vehicle with an extended driving range. A small gas engine makes the Volt a hybrid, but it serves solely as a generator to recharge the battery, with a solely electric powertrain driving the wheels. The Volt and its 379-mile range made a stellar first impression, with Chevrolet introducing drivers to a plug-in hybrid car that was affordable, engaging, and well-equipped. Add in the Volt’s standard eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty on its lithium-ion battery pack, and it’s no surprise that the sedan became a popular seller.

Today, those looking for an affordable electric vehicle will find it in a used Volt. Chevrolet discontinued the Volt in 2019, with the new model priced at $34,395. On the used lot, you can expect a budget-friendly price tag that doesn’t require you to compromise. Models like the 2019 Volt feature the Chevrolet infotainment system on an eight-inch touchscreen display, a power adjustable driver’s seat, an HD Rear Vision Camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, and plenty of amenities like heated seats, heated exterior mirrors, and wireless charging.

The Midsize Marvel: Meet the Cruze (2011-2019)

Chevrolet’s sedan lineup flourished around the 2010s as the automaker introduced models like the Volt, Spark, and Sonic. The Cruze joined the lineup in 2011, answering the need for a value-packed midsize car with an efficient and engaging powertrain. Like many others, Chevrolet tested the Cruze’s popularity overseas before introducing it to the North American market, where it became an instant success because of its spacious cabin, turbocharged heartbeat, and segment-leading safety features.

Chevrolet built on the Cruze’s popularity by offering it as a sedan or a hatchback, with both options available until its discontinuation in 2019. Regardless, you can expect the 2019 Cruze to deliver the most value and greater appeal because it introduced an updated design, from a new front fascia and grille to new wheel designs and the updated Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system on a seven-inch center touchscreen. Depending on the trim, you’ll find many other appealing elements, like heated front seats, keyless start, and automatic climate control.

Chevy’s Powerhouse: Meet the Impala (1958-2019)

The Impala has an incredible history in the Chevy lineup, garnering acclaim as Chevy’s flagship sedan with a penchant for performance. This defined early models like the Impala SS of the 1960s, with Chevrolet revamping the full-size car until the 1980s before discontinuing it in 1985 and reintroducing it in 1994. By the new millennium, the Impala returned and stuck around the Chevy lineup until 2019, where it ended on a high note as Kelley Blue Book’s most value-oriented full-size sedan for seven consecutive years.

Like the other sedans, shopping for a 2019 Impala is the best way to enjoy features comparable to newer Chevy models. For example, these models are powered by either a standard 2.5L engine or a more potent 3.6L V6, a must if you want to experience more engagement and responsiveness. You can also look for the Midnight Edition package, which puts the Impala in stealth mode with blacked-out badging, wheels, grille, and rear spoiler. Beyond this, the 2019 Impala goes out with a bang, with its MacPherson-strut front suspension and four-link rear suspension guaranteeing exceptional handling and an extensive suite of amenities, like dual-zone automatic climate control, wireless smartphone charging, and heated leather seats, delivering outstanding value on the used lot.

A gray 2019 Chevy Malibu is shown parked on a parking spot.

Chevy’s Long-Running Sedan: Meet the Malibu (1960s-Present)

Like the Impala, the Malibu has an impressive history in the Chevy lineup. The midsize sedan debuted as a top-tier Chevelle trim in the 1960s before gaining a place of its own in 1978. Although it was discontinued in 1983, Chevy revived the nameplate in 1997 and has proven that the best-selling sedan only improves with age. After all, it’s one of the few remaining sedans in the industry, with no other rivaling the Malibu’s history and longevity.

The Malibu’s long tenure in the industry makes shopping for a used model exciting because there are so many outstanding options. Chevy has done an excellent job keeping the sedan fresh with frequent updates, with drivers often turning to the current or ninth-generation lineup. Debuting in 2017 with a longer wheelbase and a more spacious cabin, the ninth-generation Malibu is modern and well-equipped. After the mid-cycle refresh in 2019, the Malibu gained an even sleeker appearance, with a larger front grille, LED headlamps, and other sophisticated details. The 2019 Malibu is also the first to offer the Malibu RS, a sportier trim with a black grille, 18-inch wheels, and a dual exhaust that gives the sedan a performance-oriented aesthetic.

Shopping for newer Malibu models might mean spending slightly more on the sedan, but you’ll still find the midsize marvel is budget-friendly and packed with value. Chevrolet guarantees as much, adding leather seating and a premium Bose sound system to deliver an immersive listening experience. You’ll also find plenty of power under the hood, courtesy of the Malibu’s turbocharged heartbeat that does an exceptional job balancing power and efficiency to give drivers the best of both worlds.

What Will You Drive?

Shopping for a used sedan is no easy feat because the industry is inundated with options. Fortunately, narrowing your search to used Chevy sedans eliminates a lot of stress because of Chevrolet’s reputation for building long-lasting and reliable vehicles. Sedans like the Impala, Malibu, Volt, Spark, and Sonic showcase as much, and offer a wide selection that makes finding the perfect sedan an enjoyable experience guaranteed to more money in your wallet.