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Published March 20, 2023
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Daydreaming about the car, truck or SUV you’d like to test drive while waiting for your tax refund to hit your bank account?
Good news – tax refunds are hitting accounts early this year, with the average refund amount of $3,079 hitting bank accounts within around 21 days with direct deposit, CNBC reported in February.
Tax experts recommend filing online – general deadline is April 18 this year – or face a backlog of paper returns, according to NPR.
By shopping and saving with EchoPark, you can make that refund go further and get behind the wheel of your dream ride. Still trying to narrow down your choices? Take a look at our picks for best used cars to buy right now.
If you’ve got to battle that Houston traffic, consider putting your tax refund into a well-equipped and reliable midsize sedan like the Toyota Camry to ease your daily commute. You’ll get good fuel economy from the Camry’s 4-cylinder, 204-horsepower engine, but the 301-horsepower V6 (something close rival Honda Accord doesn’t offer) will make sudden lane changes easier and the commute in general, more fun. With the 4-cylinder engine, the Camry gets an EPA-rated 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. The V6 gets an estimated 22/33 mpg city/highway.
When it’s bumper to bumper out there, Camry’s seats are comfortable for a long ride. Cue up the latest true crime podcast or audiobook to pass the time in traffic. The intuitive infotainment system, which includes a 7-inch touch screen, a six-speaker stereo, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, USB ports, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa.
You’ve been dreaming of a full-size pickup truck that’s a workhorse and a spacious family hauler. What do you buy?
The Ford F-150, of course.
No other truck in its class can tow as much as the F-150 - up to 14,000 pounds of construction equipment, a big boat or decent-sized camper. Six powertrain options are available: a 290-horsepower V6 (the base engine), 325-horsepower twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, 400-horsepower EcoBoost V6, 400-horsepower V8, 250-horsepower turbodiesel, and the F-150 hybrid, introduced in 2021, which features the larger EcoBoost V6 and an electric motor and has a total output of 430 horsepower.
After working in the dirt all week, the F-150 is also a champion tailgater. Take the whole family to your favorite team’s game – there’s room even for adults to sit in the backseat of a SuperCab model, and the available generator can power speakers, TV and small appliances for those weekend parking lot parties.
Often ranked No. 1 among compact cars, the Honda Civic is a solid choice if you’re looking to spend your tax refund wisely.
There’s a lot to love about the ever-popular Civic, which received a redesign for 2022, with new styling inside and out and added a standard touch-screen infotainment system. The redesign also included a larger optional touch screen,and newly available features such as a digital instrument cluster, wireless device charging, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and a Bose stereo.
A 158-horsepower 4-cylinder comes standard, with an optional 180-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder. No matter which engine you choose, it’ll be efficient, getting 26-33 mpg city/36-42 mpg highway.
Driver and passengers will find spacious, comfortable seating in the front and back. The Civic has one of the largest trunks among competitors as well, but if you need a little extra cargo room, opt for the sporty hatchback model, which has 24.5 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats.
The Mazda CX-5 is one of those compact SUVs that can put the “fun” in tax “refund.”
Sporty and fun to drive, the CX-5’s cabin also puts off luxury vibes without the premium price tag (and of course, you’ll save even more when you shop at EchoPark). U.S. News uses words like “agile” and “elegant” to describe Mazda’s most popular offering.
The CX-5 2021 models got an infotainment upgrade, growing the touchscreen to 10.3 inches and adding a Wi-Fi hotspot and remote access to its features through an app. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard starting with 2021 models.
The standard 187-horsepower 4-cylinder is peppy enough, but for a real good time, add the 250-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder. All-wheel drive is an option for 2021 models and earlier, but became standard in 2022.
A long list of safety features comes standard, including forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and rearview camera.
Looking to make your tax refund go a long way with a practical compact SUV? Take the Toyota RAV4 for a spin.
The Toyota RAV4 is well-rounded, with rugged good looks, great gas mileage, lots of room for passengers and cargo and loads of standard features.
This compact utilitarian is equipped with an adequate 203-horsepower four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that gets an estimated 27 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.
For an even more efficient RAV4, opt for the hybrid model. Equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that deliver a combined 219 horsepower, the RAV4 Hybrid gets 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.
For added fun, there’s the TRD Off-Road model, featuring 8.4 inches of ground clearance, Falken all-terrain tires, hill start assist and descent control and special off-roading modes – Mud & Sand, Rock & Dirt and Snow.
Looking for a SUV to haul the whole family around in style to school and work and even off-road? Then the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a good buy with your tax refund check.
Moms and dads will love this midsize SUV’s smooth ride and handling, kids will love the easy-to-use tech features, and everyone will love the space and comfortable seating. Redesigned in 2022, the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s interior has been described as “swanky,” rivaling some luxury SUV interiors. For 2022, it's powered by either a 3.6-liter V-6, a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 (discontinued in 2023) or a plug-in-hybrid 4xe powertrain.
Need more space? Opt for the Jeep Grand Cherokee L, which offers seating for up to seven. Like the Grand Cherokee, it has the same posh interior and comes loaded with standard features.s Planning outdoor adventures with the fam? Mud and rocky inclines are no match for the Trailhawk model, equipped with an off-road camera, a limited-slip differential, a sway bar, a terrain management system, an air suspension, tow hooks and skid plates.
You’ve worked hard all year and your tax refund is in hand. Isn’t it time you treated yourself to an upgrade?
Redesigned in 2022, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class blends luxury, performance and tech-forward infotainment. The entry-level Premium trim is packed with standard features, including an 11.9-inch touch screen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, biometric (fingerprint) memory settings, Wi-Fi hot spot, HD Radio, Bluetooth and a USB-C port.
Synthetic leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power sunroof, LED ambient lighting, proximity keyless entry and a power trunk lid are also included in the entry-level trim.
All this luxury is powered by a 255-horsepower turbo-four engine. Agile handling and an interior that can only be described as opulent round out this small luxury sedan.
Still trying to decide on your dream car? Our Experience Guides are here to help – they’re our car experts, and can help you find the right used car, truck or SUV that’s perfect for you. Start browsing online or schedule a test drive today at an EchoPark near you.