Shopping for a used car can be one of life’s more frustrating experiences. If you know what you’re looking for in terms of year, make and model, the trouble is often in finding the specific car you’re seeking.

If you're just shopping for a used small car, and you're flexible regarding year, make and model, chances are good that your search will prove far less frustrating.

Consumer Reports feels your pain, and a recently compiled chart shows you which CR-recommended 2007 and 2008 models have depreciated the most. In other words, it shows which reliable, used small cars are also the most affordable.

The list is somewhat of a mixed bag. In first place is the 2008 Suzuki SX4, which has an average purchased-from-dealer price of $10,025, representing a 37-percent drop from the car’s original MSRP.

We like Suzuki’s small hatchback and sedan well enough, but wish you the best of luck in finding one on the used market. The automaker didn’t move a lot of new SX4s in 2008, so finding a clean used example will likely be a challenge.

Also making the list is the 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, which is a purpose-built sports car that’s largely unsuitable as a daily driver.

Though small in size, the WRX STI is plenty thirsty, thanks to a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine that produces close to 300 horsepower and drives all four wheels. Insurance costs will likely be unpleasant, too.

Still, there are plenty of good options in between these extreme examples. If we needed an economical daily driver, we could certainly live with a 2007 Toyota Prius or a 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit.

If we wanted something that offered a blend of entertainment value and frugality, either the 2008 Honda Civic Si or the 2008 Honda Fit Sport would be welcome in our garage.

If you’re in the market for a good deal on a used small car, you may want to give the Consumer Reports list a glimpse before you head out to shop car dealers. 


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