I find the best way to check out used cars without going to car lot is online.
Why not try www.cars.com?
When you open their site, select the used car section and peruse all details of the car (including colors and accessory pkgs), how it was equipped that year, the gas mileage, and the like models.
Also try Consumer Reports (annual car report). They have a whole edition on new and used cars (best and worst used cars), prices, how to select used cars, reputations as reported by the consumers themselves and the problem maintenance areas of each year.
My personal feeling about a good used car is that you can't go wrong with a 'Certified' Honda or Toyota with lower mileage. See the Consumer Reports for a detailed explanation of what the Certified Used programs entails for both Honda and Toyota. I bought my Honda CRV that way . It had 54k miles on it and it saved me a lot of grief when buying it. Also if you ask, there's a special disclosure where they dealer reports any accidents that the car has had.