SANTA MONICA,, an online resource for automotive information, announced its recommendations for used cars and trucks, and offered advice for used-car shopping.

"Used cars and trucks, even those that are only a year old, are typically at least 20 to 30 percent less expensive than their new counterparts, allowing buyers to save money or to afford vehicles with better performance or more features," said Phil Reed, co-author of's "Strategies for Smart Car Buyers." "Additionally, because a used car cost less to buy, it will also cost less to finance and insure."'s 2005 Used Car Recommendations:

Economy Car:1998-2003 Honda Civic

Midsize Car:1998-2003 Toyota Camry

Large Car:1998-2003 Ford Crown Victoria / Mercury Grand Marquis

Luxury Car:1998-2003 Lexus ES 300

Sporty Car:1999-2003 Mazda Miata

Mini-SUV:1998-2003 Honda CR-V

SUV:1999-2003 Nissan Pathfinder

Minivan:1999-2003 Honda Odyssey

Small Pickup:1998-2003 Toyota Tacoma

Large Pickup: 1998-2003 Ford F-150 editors emphasized reliability, safety, and availability as the most important criteria when developing this list. Based on these considerations as well as the fact that vehicles incur the most rapid depreciation in their first few years, a low-mileage two- or three-year-old car or truck tends to be the best choice.

For those seeking additional peace of mind, Reed recommends purchasing a vehicle that qualifies for an automaker's certified pre-owned program. These vehicles have passed detailed inspections and benefit from extended warranties that will be honored at any franchise dealership for that make.

Reed warns against purchasing a vehicle that has been certified only by a dealership, and not by the automaker itself. Dealer certification does not offer the same level of protection. For example, the extended warranty is unlikely to be honored at any other dealership.