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TheStreet Open House

10 Used Cars to Check Out Before Buying New

3. Mini Cooper
Trim: Base hatchback
Original MSRP: $16,850
KBB private party value: $5,640
Retained value: 33.5%
Hard to believe it's been 10 years since the revived Mini Cooper first graced our shores.

Surprisingly, the Mini's retro exterior and everything it conceals have held up remarkably well over the years. The company that brought it back to the U.S., BMW, doesn't have any other cars in KBB's decade-old Top 20 and isn't known for keeping its cars out of the shop for such long periods.

The Mini's turned that idea on its head while giving owners of its original 2002 incarnation the same 1.6-liter, 115-horsepower engine that made the car so fun to drive in the first place. That horsepower number may seem a bit undersized compared with 160-horsepower midsized cars on the morning commute, but that horsepower is pushing a svelte 2,300-pound car and taking turns like a BMW twice its size.

The look of the car turned people onto it immediately, but the drive and standard features such as six-way manually adjustable faux-leather seats, a tilt steering wheel, centrally mounted speedometer, air conditioning, a six-speaker stereo with CD changer pre-wiring, speed-sensitive intermittent wipers and power windows, locks and mirrors didn't hurt. It's also a safe little box with ABS, cornering assist, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the driver and front passenger, head airbags and a crash sensor that turns on the hazard and interior lights automatically and unlocks all the doors in the event of a collision.

You'll have to cross your fingers and hope the original owner spung for the premium package if you want cruise control or a sunroof, but it'll look just as sexy while giving owners minimal hassle for their money.

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