Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A close-up on the front of a red 2021 Nissan Versa parked in a dealership with other used cars for sale.

Why Your Next Used Car Should Be A Nissan and Which One Should You Buy?

Let me ask you a question: What would be the better route if you had $25,000 to spend on a vehicle? Would you pay as close to that figure as possible, or would you rather keep a few thousand dollars or more if there were a viable enough option? Some drivers fall into both categories, but saving money is one of the biggest advantages of buying a pre-owned vehicle, so why not take it one step further and save even more money by purchasing a Nissan rather than something else? There’s always something to be found when shopping for used cars for sale, but today, I want to discuss why shopping for a Nissan vehicle would be the best route if you are a cost-conscious driver in the market for a pre-owned car.

The Nissan vehicles I’ll be bringing into the discussion today include the Versa, Altima, and Rogue Sport, and there will also be a mention of the Maxima and Pathfinder. These Nissan vehicles are perfect examples of easily accessible pre-owned models, and if you are looking for efficiency, reliability, and affordability, these vehicles are for you. And, if you were not aware, Nissan vehicles may differ from the competition in price, but they still don’t shy away from modern vehicle sensibilities. Are you interested in learning more? I have detailed everything you should know, so keep reading before shopping.

Nissan Versa

Why would I consider the Nissan Versa one of the best pre-owned vehicles? The reason is that the Nissan Versa is also one of the best new vehicles. If viewed from a financial angle, the Nissan Versa is among the most affordable vehicles on the market. Used Nissan Versa models rarely exceed $20,000, and on average, you will find a pre-owned Versa ranging from $10,000-17,000 – less than $10,000 if you buy an old enough model. The low starting price of new Versa models dramatically contributes to this – the 2023 Versa has a starting price of $15,980 – but when you consider the concept of vehicle depreciation, it’s understandable why a vehicle that costs less than $16,000 on the new market can cost as low as $10,000 or less on the pre-owned market.

The Nissan Versa has been part of the North American market for over fifteen years, but given the low starting price of most Versa models, you should consider a model from 2018 onwards. Pricing is the main appeal of the Versa, but there’s more to it than price. Take the 2020 Nissan Versa, for example; a 1.6L 4-Cyl engine can create EPA-estimated ratings of 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway (35 mpg combined) with the Continuously Variable Automatic Transmission (CVT.) The Versa also has an available manual transmission, which significantly enhances its appeal to drivers who prefer it that way.

Nissan Altima

The Nissan Altima is more well-rounded than the Versa, but this performance and cargo space boost comes at a higher price. Like the Versa, the Altima is still generously priced for what you are getting. Given the 2023 Altima’s starting price of $25,630, the Altima is far below the $30,000 threshold in the new market, but this is especially the case with pre-owned models. A trend you will notice with the Altima is that price to performance is always a highlight, and if you are shopping for a pre-owned Altima, you should begin shopping with the 2019 model and above for the most modern experience. It is related to another strength of the Altima – lastingness. The Altima has been available in North America for around 30 years, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

The Altima has several advantages over the Versa, so if you were to spend extra money over the latter – using the 2020 models as my example – you get access to an All-Wheel Drivetrain and a turbocharged engine that more than doubles the performance of the Versa. The Altima also has more standard tech than the Versa, like an enhanced infotainment center with a larger screen, and the Altima has a roomier trunk with 15.4 cu-ft of space over the Versa’s 14.7 cu-ft of space. The Altima is a great pre-owned sedan if you do not want to spend too much money, but the Versa does not match your needs.

An orange 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport is shown driving through a city intersection.

Nissan Rogue Sport

I have gone on enough about how well Nissan sedans hold up their part of the bargain in giving you an experience that makes them top-value picks. But to those drivers who do not want a sedan and would rather have an SUV, I have this to say to you: I hear you loud and clear. My pick for your pre-owned Nissan vehicle is to buy the Nissan Rogue Sport if you want a cost-conscious SUV. The Nissan Rogue Sport is marketed at a lower price than its bigger sibling: the Rogue – but the Rogue Sport has lofty ambitions of its own.

Compared to the Nissan Kicks – Nissan’s most affordable yet most underpowered and least spacious SUV that starts at several thousand dollars less on the new market – the Rogue Sport is decidedly larger than the Kicks by almost double when folding down the rear seats. The Kicks has its low cost, and much like the Versa, it’s a great way to get your foot in the door if shopping for a reliable pre-owned vehicle. However, with more cargo room, the Rogue Sport is an excellent option over the Kicks if you want cargo space on a budget. For my example, let’s place the 2020 Rogue Sport against the Kicks. The 2020 Rogue Sport can have up to 61.1 cu-ft of space, but the Kicks doesn’t budge past 32.3 cu-ft.

Nissan Maxima

I thought it would be fun, or at least interesting, to bring in a couple of Nissan’s pricier vehicles into the mix – albeit ones that are still exceptionally priced on the pre-owned market owing to Nissan’s generally generous pricing. I want to mention that the first of the two pricier Nissan vehicles is the Nissan Maxima. The Nissan Maxima is a midsize sedan that performs beyond the scope of the two previous sedans I have mentioned: The Versa and Altima. This is because under the hood of specific Maxima models – like the 2020 Maxima – is a V6 engine capable of pushing 300 hp and 261 lb-ft of torque.

The Maxima has a couple of oddities against its cheaper siblings: it has less cargo space than the Altima or Versa, and the Maxima takes after the Versa in only offering a Front-Wheel Drivetrain. It makes up for it with better standard infotainment tech and the aforementioned performance gains, which are made better by ample fuel efficiency ratings of 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway (24 mpg combined.) If you have the extra money and fall into the category of a driver who wants to make the most of their dollar, consider the Maxima.

A blue 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is shown driving on a sandy road in a desert.

Nissan Pathfinder

This list of pre-owned Nissan vehicles would only be complete if I mentioned at least one family-friendly Nissan vehicle. The Pathfinder is a three-row SUV, the only one on this list I have put together. The Pathfinder is a great way to situate the family with a fun and exciting vehicle that everyone can enjoy without breaking the bank. You are getting less room than a full-size SUV, but the Pathfinder is the next best thing with cargo space that beats the Murano, Rogue, Rogue Sport, and Kicks. Pathfinder models are also one of the better Nissan vehicles if off-roading interests you, as the Pathfinder can be equipped with 4WD. Even with 4WD, the Pathfinder is identically fuel-efficient to its FWD counterpart – the 2020 model gets 20 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway with both FWD and 4WD – the only exception is 23 mpg combined with FWD and 22 mpg combined with 4WD.

However, I picked the Pathfinder for this list because it has exceptional cargo space owing to the three rows of seating. There is an argument to be made that the Pathfinder wouldn’t be the best choice if you won’t be using the third row of seating – the 2020 Murano has 32.1 cu-ft of space with five passengers, while the Pathfinder has 47.4 cu-ft of space. But the 79.5 cu-ft of space you can get with the Pathfinder by folding down both back rows of seats is more than the 67 cu-ft of space. The Pathfinder is better for versatility if you need to transport long, tall, or wide cargo while still providing enough cargo space for you and your family.

Time for the Main Course

As much as you may have learned by reading, there is still much to learn about Nissan vehicles. This should give you an idea of what kind of manufacturer Nissan is: a respectable and trustworthy manufacturer dedicated to value and quality. These five vehicles I have mentioned are nothing but a mere appetizer, and it is understandable if some of you have filled up on this proverbial bread. But, if I were you, I would look deeper into Nissan’s lineup because the main course is well over a dozen available models that call for a healthy pre-owned presence, too. The story’s moral is: If you want to save money but not cheap out, buy a Nissan.