The BMW 3 Series, Kia Optima Hybrid, Scion xB, and Toyota Prius V are my top used car picks for 2015

Ted LaturnusLooking for a used car around five years old? Here are some models from 2015 that I happen to like, from four manufacturers.

BMW 3 Series

BMW makes some outstanding automobiles, no question. But for driving pleasure, value, and accessibility, the BMW 3 Series takes some beating.

The base version was actually less expensive than the smaller 1 Series, and you could get the 3 in a wide range of body styles and performance levels, including a lovely touring wagon and cabriolet.

There was also all-wheel-drive availability, and BMW still offered something many other upscale manufacturers seem to be walking away from: a manual gearbox.


2015 BMW 3 series

2015 Kia Optima Hybrid

2015 Kia Optima Hybrid

2015 Scion xB

2015 Scion xB

2015 Toyota Prius V

2015 Toyota Prius V

2015 car reviews



As ever, the in-line six-cylinder engine is a model of refinement and civility; even in base trim, it has more than enough oomph around town and is superb on the highway.

If I had to choose within the 3 Series lineup, I would go with the Coupe, which gets my vote as one of the smartest-looking cars on the road. This stunningly beautiful automobile is cleanly styled and loaded with presence and panache.

As ever, BMW’s 3 Series is one of the strongest lineups in the industry.

Runner-up: Z4 roadster.

Kia Optima Hybrid

The Kia Optima Hybrid is a fine-looking automobile. But throw in the fact that it has a smooth and thrifty hybrid drivetrain, and it becomes even more attractive.

Around town, the Optima Hybrid will return fuel economy of less than 5.0 litres/100 km. On top of that, this is one of the few hybrid models that does not feature a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It has a conventional six-speed automatic transmission, which makes all the difference when it comes to driveability.

No wonder it’s won a handful of awards since its introduction in 2011, including the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada Best Family Car over $30,000.

Equally important, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has this one on its Top Safety Pick list for 2013, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it a five-star safety rating, which is the best there is.

Runner-up: Rondo.

Scion xB

With the same engine as a Toyota Corolla and the dimensions of a small mini-van, the Scion xB box on wheels is as handy as a toolbox. Fold the seats down and you can carry almost 12 cubic feet (339 litres) of cargo.

The very definition of urban cool, the xB has also carried home its share of awards, including a Best Buy recommendation from Consumer Reports and the highest ranking possible from marketing researcher J.D. Power for initial quality and vehicle dependability. Not to mention, there are a bunch of safety kudos from the NHTSA and the IIHS.

As a bonus, it can be enhanced with various Toyota Racing Development accessories, such as alloy wheels, stabilizer bars and a big brake kit.

Runner-up: FR-S.

Toyota Prius V

Toyota is all about practicality and nothing is more practical than a Toyota Prius V.

Toyota actually classifies this one as a station wagon, and in addition to delivering the best fuel economy in its category, the Prius V is also the roomiest. It can be had with a plethora of convenience features, including leather interior, heated seats, backup camera and so on.

While far from being a hot rod, the V offers more power than any other Prius in Toyota’s stable and makes a decent highway cruiser while delivering a remarkable 4.8 litres/100 km fuel economy. It’s almost redundant to add that Natural Resources Canada has awarded the Prius its ecoEnergy award for fuel economy for 12 years running.

But here’s the best part: since its introduction in 1999, the Prius has also proven to be one of the most dependable automobiles on the road, hybrid or otherwise. That’s why so many cab drivers choose them.

Runner-up: FJ Cruiser.

Happy hunting.

Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

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