7 of the best late-model used cars you can buy

In shopping for a used car, of course you want a slick-looking, great-driving, reliable model. But you also want to know it won't lose too much value if you're ready to sell it a few years later. Combining these two approaches, used-car shopping and research site CarGurus.com has picked its best late-model used cars in seven categories.

Over the years, CarGurus' test drivers have driven most popular models. In addition, they've gone over the reviews of other outlets. Starting with strong test-drive scores, they then looked for vehicles with a better-than-average record of holding value over a 12-year period.

The picks cover ranges of model years from 2007 to 2017. Since many leased cars are returned after three years, we decided to focus on the 2014 versions of these vehicles.

Let's take a closer look at these seven late-model used cars.

Compact car: 2013 to 2016 Dodge Dart

The Dodge Dart may be gone, but it's not forgotten. Discontinued as a new car, used Darts are expected to hold their value 24 percent better than the average compact, according to CarGurus.

Test drivers say the Dart has impressive interior room for its size. And its infotainment system, with an 8.4-inch touch screen, was also praised. In addition, the Dart boasts strong fuel economy, with EPA ratings of 28 MPG in city driving and 39 on the highway.

Prices for a used 2014 Dart range from $13,391 to $18,370, according to U.S. News.

Midsize sedan: 2011-2017 Dodge Charger

If muscle car looks and performance turn you on, consider a used Dodge Charger. It's projected to hold its value 16.5 percent better than the average car in this segment.

Strong acceleration and nimble handling let the Charger live up to its aggressive profile. But it also has a strong safety component. Advanced safety features like lane-departure and blind-spot warnings are available as options. The Charger V-6 engine is rated for 19 MPG in city driving and 30 on the highway.

The average price paid for the 2014 Charger ranges from $18,463 to $38,750, according to U.S. News.

Luxury sedan: 2013-2016 Lincoln MKZ

Lincoln has an uphill battle convincing shoppers to consider it alongside European luxury names like BMW and Mercedes-Benz. But CarGurus says the MKZ holds it value about 20 percent better than luxury competitors.

The MKZ also stands out in the class for fuel economy. It comes with either a four-cylinder engine rated at 21 MPG in city driving, 31 highway or a V-6 rated at 18 MPG city, 27 highway. CarGurus praises the MKZ for its safety equipment such as forward collision warning.

The 2014 MKZ is selling from $24,374 to $26,811.

Small SUV: 2007-2016 Jeep Wrangler

The Wrangler handles depreciation as easily as it does mud and rocks on a mountain trail. CarGurus says the Wrangler holds its value better than any other car on this list, with depreciation of only about 30 percent in a 2007 model selling used now.

To the Jeep off-road prowess, you can add comfortable leather seats in the top-end Sahara and Rubicon trims. The Wrangler's V-6 engine is rated for 17 MPG city, 21 highway.

The 2014 Wrangler sells starting at $21,549 -- only about 4 percent below its original price after three years.

Midsize SUV: 2010-2016 Toyota 4Runner

The fifth-generation Toyota 4Runner still has the truck-like body-on-frame construction. But that works well for off-road capability, says CarGurus. The boxy design also results in plenty of cargo space for this family hauler.

The V-6 engine in the 2014 4Runner is rated for 17 MPG city, 22 highway. The 4Runner is projected by CarGurus to hold its value 33 percent better than average.

Used 2014 4Runners are selling between $30,338 and $43,400.

Full-size SUV: 2013-2016 Hyundai Santa Fe

The Santa Fe scored well in all aspects of test driving and is expected to hold its value 18 percent better than the average in this class. Reviewers also liked the comfortable cabin and the availability of blind-spot monitor and rear parking sensors.

The Santa Fe engines also scored positively. The base four-cylinder engine is rated for 20 MPG city, 27 highway, while the optional V-6 is rated for 18 MPG city, 25 highway.

Used 2014 Santa Fes are selling between $20,095 and $26,740.

Full-size pickup: RAM 1500

When it comes to holding value, the RAM 1500 lags slightly behind the Toyota Tundra among pickups. But the RAM nonetheless vaulted to the top spot on the strength of test-drive scores and praise from among CarGurus users.

Strong towing performance couples with options like adjustable air suspension to make the RAM a winner for work or leisure. Starting with the 2014 model, the Ram 1500 offers a diesel engine that gets up to 29 MPG in highway driving (19 in the city).

Used 2014 Ram 1500s are selling between $19,953 and $40,693.