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10 Used Cars To Consider Before Buying New

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9. Mazda Miata MX-5
Trim: Base two-door convertible
Original MSRP: $22.125
KBB private party value: $5,160
Retained value 23.3%

So begins the Japanese dominance of used car offerings.

Of the 30 reliable used vehicles on KBB's list, Mazda, Toyota, Subaru, Honda and Nissan made 21 of them.

Domestic, Korean and German manufacturers have since caught up, but the Japanese automakers were well ahead of the pack by the time the 2008 fuel crisis hit and everyone else began focusing on efficiency and durability. The Miata piled on by becoming the retiree's car of choice with a 167-horsepower, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder and five-speed manual transmission that gives the competing Porsche Boxter a good run for the money.

You don't get the pretty pony or the prestige when you pass up a Porsche Boxter for a Miata, but not doing so costs car buyers thousands for no real benefit. The two cars have similar acceleration (zero to 60 in 6.5 seconds for the Porsche, seven seconds for the Miata), similar ratings from Consumer Reports (90 for Porsche and 89 for Mazda) and similar customer satisfaction.

Meanwhile, the Miata lacks the Porsche's slew of engine, cooling, electrical system, power equipment and significant brake problems that add up to a lot of future costs over the life of the car. The 16-inch alloy wheels, larger brakes and a child seat anchoring system Mazda put into the 2003 may not be as sweet as the available hardtop on the current model, but it's still a great convertible on the cheap.