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10 Used Cars to Check Out Before Buying New

1. Toyota RAV4
Trim: Sport utility
Original MSRP: $18,435
KBB private party value: $8,110
Retained value: 44%
If you tend to get the CR-V and the RAV4 confused, don't worry. You're supposed to.

The king of the used pocket utility vehicles, however, seemed a little more like a wagon at this stage of the game. The 2002 RAV4 handles like a car, gets 148 horsepower out of its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and has adjustable cup holders and several storage bins for family vacations and schlepping to and from school or soccer practice.

If there's one lesson to be taken from this list, it's that those little details and the knowledge that you can rely on them for years at a time don't get less important with age. Were features such as ABS brakes, aluminum wheels, air conditioning, remote keyless entry and a power sunroof optional in the 2002? Yes, but it gets a combined 25 miles per gallon, has dual front airbags and an extremely tight suspension for a small SUV of its type.

Having children is an expensive proposition and forces certain elements of American households into a period of stasis while they're in school. If the dishwasher with the wonky rack and the living room furniture straight out of The O.C. are in it for the long haul -- or at least until the kids get out of college -- the car's likely in a similar state. When you need a lot of years and space for your money, a car such as the RAV4 can take the beating until you're back in the market.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Follow on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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