2002 Honda Accord EX-L manual - 84k miles - $5,990 - Sterling, VA

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A lot of shoppers assume that new cars are more reliable than used cars, but that’s not always true. If you think about it, new cars are by definition unproven, because they haven’t been on the road for that long. The current Honda Accord, for example, uses a recently introduced automatic transmission (a CVT) that may or may not be dependable over the long haul. Only time will tell.

But we know that the sixth-generation Honda Accord (1998-2002) has a legendary reliability record, which is why a gently used example is one of the very best bets on the used-car market.

This is a one-owner, final-year specimen that unfortunately wears period-correct pinstriping on its sides. Let’s focus on the “one-owner” part, though, as it’s pretty unusual to find a car that’s spent this long with the original purchaser. The Carfax shows no accidents, so this is close to a best-case scenario in terms of vehicle history.

The top-of-the-line EX-L came with all sorts of desirable features, including leather upholstery (hence the “L”) and Honda’s top stereo at the time with a six-CD in-dash changer. The engine is a smooth and reasonably peppy four-cylinder that has hardly ever failed anyone, if you believe the internet (we do). With just basic maintenance, mileage of 300k+ is well within the realm of possibility. Note the five-speed manual transmission – not only is it a pleasure to operate, it also means you don’t have to think about the problematic four-speed auto that most sixth-gen Accords employed.

Honda’s not known for making especially durable leather, but the seating surfaces in this car look remarkably well-preserved. Power seat adjustments were another standard feature on the EX-L.

With 84,314 miles showing on the odometer, this Accord hasn’t even hit its first timing-belt interval (105k). Given the car’s advanced age, we’d suggest having it changed soon after purchase for peace of mind, but it’s probably not vital. These engines aren’t known for being overly sensitive. It’s worth noting that the seventh-generation Accord (2003-'07) switched to a timing chain, and good examples of that model can also be found in this price range. But we prefer the crisp styling and classically low beltline/dashboard of the sixth-gen car, and the driving experience is fully modern, so no concerns there.

The backseat looks just about brand-new.

Traditionally, the EX trim level has meant a standard sunroof in Honda-land, and this Accord EX-L is no exception.

Such simple, timeless lines. Subsequent Accords look (and are) bulbous and overgrown by comparison.

Overall, this car’s value proposition is nearly impossible to beat. For $6k, you’re getting a spacious, nicely equipped sedan that’s rewarding to drive and is a virtual lock to give you 150,000+ more miles with minimal maintenance costs. Why spend four times as much (or more) on a brand-new Accord, let alone some other new car with a sketchier reliability reputation? Buy some index funds with the $18-20k you’ll save, or break it up into monthly investments over time, and see how you’re doing in five or six years. You’ll be in a much better position financially, no doubt, and guess what? Your 2002 Accord will still be running like a champ.

Grab it HERE on AutoTrader before it’s gone.