October 3, 2023

In 2019 alone, 40.8 million used cars were sold, compared to only 17 million new cars. The demand for used cars is rising, showing that more Americans want vehicles that are affordable while still being reliable. In addition to price, people look for cars that fit their lifestyle. Gas mileage, safety, four-wheel or all-wheel drive, and styling are just some of the factors that determine purchases, and many times these are influenced by characteristics of the driver’s region. We have compiled a guide to the most popular used car purchases according to region and environmental factors to aid you in your search for the perfect car for you.


The Nissan Altima is on top of the most popular used car purchases in the USA, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a spacious midsize sedan that’s available in all-wheel drive, making it a reliable option for any environment. With 28 MPG for city driving and 39 MPG on the highway, this car is perfect for daily commutes or frequent road trips. The Nissan Altima is also incredibly safe – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it an overall 5 out of 5 stars for safety.

The Honda Accord is another popular choice, and for many of the same reasons as the Altima. This brilliant vehicle also offers powerful performance in multiple terrains regardless of weather or road conditions, with a NHTSA safety rating of five stars.

The popularity of used car purchases is not uniform across all regions. It often depends upon the underlying factors, conditions, and requirements of every region. Here is a breakdown of popular used cars by region.

The Midwest: Chevrolet Impala

Chevys have long been popular in the Midwest and the used Chevrolet Impala reigns most purchased. This midsize sedan is roomy, durable, and ideal for families. It can get up to 19 mpg in city limits and offers 28 mpg on the highway, perfect for families in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana.

The West & The East: Honda Civic & Honda Accord

The Honda Accord is a popular choice for used cars in Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia. This car has been a favorite among car owners since its initial release in 1976, currently coming in second as the most popular car across the United States. This midsize sedan is now entering its 10th generation with durability and robustness as its prime features. Moreover, car owners can also enjoy a fuel economy up to 50 mpg, which is remarkable compared to other options within the same price range.

Another similar option is the Honda Civic. This car is popular in the West and the East alike. It is normally perceived as an ideal option for commuters as it can take the beating of everyday use without frequent maintenance.

The North: Chevrolet Malibu

The Chevrolet Malibu is the popular choice for used car purchases in states close to or in the North such as Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The main reason behind this car’s popularity is its amazing control during heavy snowfall. The Northern regions are prone to heavy snowfall during the cold months, so people need a powerful and reliable car that offers maximum traction and performance on thick sheets of snow and slippery roads. This is where Chevrolet Malibu excels.

Moreover, this vehicle is also affordable. This vehicle is smaller than other options, but it still offers ample headspace and legroom for up to four people. In addition to this, the Chevrolet Malibu offers good gas mileage in the city limits and on the highway. It is the ideal option for casual winter driving.

The South: Nissan Altima

The Nissan Altima is the most popular purchasing option for used cars in the South. Since these areas are typically not covered in mountainous regions or prone to heavy snowfall, there aren’t many environmental factors that influence this decision. Instead, people go for cost-effective options, and Nissan Altima comes out on top. This car is also quite popular in some areas out West, such as Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada.

Outlier States

There are a few states that have their own, unique favorite used car options. The individual requirements, road conditions, traffic situation, and environmental factors influence this choice.

Alaska: Toyota RAV4

Alaska is often a snowy area, and cars need to offer amazing traction control, reliability, and cruise control on slippery roads. In addition to this, cars need to be able to withstand unpredictable and adverse weather conditions. This is why the Toyota RAV4 is the most popular used car purchase in Alaska.

With the option of front- or all-wheel drive, it is a safe and affordable car that doesn’t compromise on performance. Moreover, this brilliant car can easily seat up to five passengers without any issues. It is among the few cars that can carry a heavy load on slippery roads without sacrificing traction and control.

Vermont: Subaru Impreza

Vermont is yet another area that is prone to heavy snowfall throughout the winter season. Therefore, car owners look for vehicles with maximum traction control, great performance in thick snow, and a heated cabin. This is where the Subaru Impreza jumps in and saves the day by offering impeccable performance against the snowy season.

This is a strong and very affordable car – in fact, it starts at $18,795 brand new. Moreover, it comes with all the modern features that a car owner may want or need in their vehicles. It offers road assist, lane changing features, heated side mirrors, powerful cruise control, and much more at your fingertips. Since this is an all-wheel drive, it’s ideal in snowy conditions.

Wyoming: Ford Explorer

Wyoming, with its wild and adventurous land, is perfect for exploration. This is when you need a powerful vehicle by your side that can easily make its way through open space and keep you going on all kinds of terrain – and the Ford Explorer is that car. This midsize SUV serves as the perfect choice for adventurous lifestyles. You can reliably make your way through wide and open spaces in minutes with this car under your feet.

Hawaii: Toyota Corolla

Hawaii offers a moderate driving environment along backroads and side streets. Vehicle requirements aren’t as stringent as with other areas and Hawaiians prefer the Toyota Corolla. This brilliant car offers maximum durability and reliability that can help you get through the busy streets of Hawaii. The Corolla also keeps it simple with user-friendly technology and a minimalistic design.

What Are the Ideal Vehicles for Different Land Types?

Different land types also require different vehicles: snowy areas benefit from four-wheel drive, and mountainous land types require powerful all-wheel drive cars that can also withstand any adverse weather conditions. Here are the most popular cars according to land types.

Hilly/Mountainous Areas

Hilly and mountainous areas, such as San Francisco, the Rocky Mountains, Appalachian Mountains, or Cascade Range, demand powerful vehicles and require more effort to drive. You cannot expect a standard front-wheel drive vehicle to offer smooth performance in these areas; look for four-wheel or all-wheel drive options that will allow better traction on rugged terrain. If you plan on hiking or camping a lot, look for an SUV or compact SUV with plenty of interior space or a truck with a large bed. Some of the most popular used car purchases for this land type include:

1. Jeep Wrangler

This car offers superior off-road capabilities with heavy-duty skid plates, all-terrain tires, and extra electric power to cruise through the toughest landscapes. The doors are also removable, making it an iconic vehicle for those who love the outdoors.

2. Toyota Tacoma

This is yet another powerful vehicle that offers great off-roading performance and comes with rugged and reliable construction. It comes pre-equipped with modern driver-assistance tech.

3. Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback offers maximum traction in snowy areas and also offers peak performance in hilly regions with quick acceleration and responsive handling. The spacious cabin can also easily accommodate up to five passengers.


If you are currently thinking of buying a car for a desert area, it is important to choose a car with a powerful AC that will work in extreme temperatures and good gas mileage for those long stretches without gas stations. If you plan on off-roading, you’ll need a four-wheel drive. Three of the most popular types of cars for deserts are:

1. Toyota Landcruiser

This powerful all-wheel drive car is a beast when it comes to tearing through vast deserts. Outside of the United States, the Landcruiser is even popular for cruising through miles of deserts in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. It generates 381 horsepower, so it can power through just about anything.

2. Hummer H1

Hummers were originally intended for military purposes and tougher terrains. This spacious and powerful car is ideal for deserts, and the large tires offer great control in sandy areas.

3. Ford Raptor

Ford pickup trucks have always been an excellent choice for hilly and sandy areas. The Ford Raptor is perfect for deserts as it can offer upgraded suspension along with elevated wheel travel.


When purchasing a car for snowy areas, you want to look for four-wheel or all-wheel drive. Whichever car you choose, make sure you install winter tires! Here are some popular choices:

1. Ram 1500

The powerful RAM 1500 is the latest in RAM trucks, and it is ideal for snowy regions. It offers powerful traction capabilities, and the elevated wheel travel helps tackle frequent inches of snow without issues.

2. Toyota 4Runner

This midsize SUV option is ideal for icy regions as it is capable of offering continuous peak performance on slippery roads with skid plates, driver-assist features, and a 4.0-liter V6 engine. You can enjoy amazing on-road handling and performance against thick sheets of snow and ice.

3. Honda CR-V

This compact SUV provides spacious headroom and leg space for passengers while offering a 190 horsepower engine to the drivers. It also offers heated seats and tires designed for maximum traction and control in snowy regions.

Frequent Long-Distance Driving

If you often have to cover long distances or make road trips frequently, you should look for a car with fuel efficiency. This will help you prevent wasting a ton of gas driving back and forth. You also want a car that can take a lot of mileage with little maintenance. The three most popular used car purchases for this type of driving are:

1. Honda Accord or Civic

This car seems to pop up on many lists of best used cars – and for good reason. You can enjoy an average mileage of 32 mpg to 36 mpg on the highway, so it’s a popular choice for drivers who have to be on the road for most of their day. It is also easy to maintain, as it does not require frequent maintenance outside of the usual oil changes and tire rotations.

2. Toyota Prius

Toyota knows how to make long-lasting and fuel-efficient cars, and the Prius is a prime example of this. You can enjoy up to 50 mpg mileage on the highway, which is remarkable considering that other options offer around 36 mpg within the same price range.

3. Hyundai Sonata

This vehicle offers a state-of-the-art technology, and you can enjoy up to 36 mpg on the highway. As a reliable car with a 180 to 290 horsepower engine, you can count on it to not break down in the middle of your long-distance journey.

How to Choose the Best Car for your Situation

Do you need 4-wheel, all-wheel, rear-wheel, or front-wheel drive?

This will depend on the type of environment you’ll be driving in. If you don’t have to worry about arduous land types, such as deserts or hilly areas, you can easily go for a front- or rear-wheel drive.Typically, front-wheel drive is known for better gas-mileage and better traction in rainy or snowy conditions. It also allows for more space in the backseat by putting the driving wheels under the engine. On the other hand, rear-wheel drive is popular for drivers who want intense control over their cars, as the back tires power the car and the front wheels steer.

Adverse weather and road conditions demand more effort from the driver and more power from your car. If you live somewhere with harsh winters or rough terrain, you will want a four- or all-wheel drive vehicle for any tricky landscapes. All-wheel drive is optimized for on-road performance and automatically engages when necessary – meaning that only two wheels are used until you need them. This improves its fuel economy for everyday driving while still providing control during snowy or slick conditions. Four-wheel drive will need to be engaged by the driver, but it allows for the best control when off-roading by locking the front and rear driveshafts together, ensuring the wheels turn at the same speed. There are also cars that offer both four- and all-wheel drive, perfect for anyone who frequently drives on slick roads but also wants the option for off-road terrain.

Do you require good fuel efficiency?

If you have to drive around a lot, you may want to get a car with higher fuel efficiency. For instance, if you constantly have to go out of town for business, choosing a car that can travel more miles per gallon of gas will save you money.

What is the climate like in the middle of summer/winter?

The underlying climate of the region will affect what type of car you’ll want, as well as what color. Lighter shades such as sky blue, white, or silver are ideal for areas with hot summers as they won’t retain heat. On the other hand, darker shades such as black, dark blue, or dark brown are ideal for winter. These will keep the car warmer for longer periods of time.

Are there any cars that are better to buy new?

Certain cars retain their value more than others, so if you are debating between buying used or new, it could depend on what type you want. Certain models offer relatively cheaper models as compared to previous years’ versions. A new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has a 8.9% price increase against previous models, so purchasing a new car may be more worth your money. On the other hand, the price difference of a used Jeep Compass is 34.8% of the new car price, which means a new car will quickly depreciate in value. So, the final decision depends upon your personal preferences, requirements, and landscape conditions.

The perfect car looks different for everyone, and can be influenced by many factors. Whether you enjoy off-roading or often find yourself driving long distances in the snow, you can find a used car that fits your lifestyle and budget.