A new Cadillac CTS looks good, but the same model for half the price looks even better. A new study by automotive research firm iSeeCars.com has named the 11 cars that can save shoppers 45 to 51 percent when buying a 3-year-old car versus new.
The researchers at iSeeCars analyzed more than 5.8 million vehicle sales to find the 2014 models with the highest-percent depreciation after three years. These "Best Bargains" experienced losses in value at least 1.3 times greater than the average depreciation of all vehicles, which is 34.5 percent.
"Whether you call them almost new, gently used or lightly used, the fact that auto leases have risen 91 percent in the last five years means a boon for shoppers who want a late-model car at a bargain price," said Phong Ly, CEO of iSeeCars.com, in a statement.
The 11 good-deal vehicles iSeeCars called the Best Bargains, followed by their percent depreciation and the average 3-year-old used-car price, are:
11. Ford Focus, 45.0 percent, $11,853
10. Ford Fusion, 45.1 percent, $15,140
9. Volkswagen Jetta, 46.4 percent, $13,033
8. Infiniti Q50, 46.9 percent, $24,956
7. BMW 3 Series, 46.9 percent, $24,821
6. Nissan Maxima, 47.9 percent, $18,867
5. BMW 5 Series, 48.0 percent, $33,474
4. Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 48.3 percent, $23,212
3. Mercedes-Benz E-Class, 48.4 percent, $33,727
2. Cadillac ATS, 50.4 percent, $21,173
1. Cadillac CTS, 51.4 percent, $27,537
Luxury brands including Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and BMW ranked in the top five spots, with select 2014 models costing half as much as their 2017 counterparts. However, it's worth noting that the rankings are dominated by sedans; trucks and SUVs are missing from this list.
"Luxury brands are known for depreciating at a higher rate because they're often leased to keep monthly payments down," said Ly. "This helps create a constant influx of 3-year-old vehicles in the used-car market, driving prices lower."
Used-car shoppers don't have to sacrifice new-car reliability for big savings at the point of sale. Though they have the highest three-year depreciation, all but four of the cars in iSeeCars' Best Bargains earned average or above-average reliability ratings from Consumer Reports.
A consumer looking for a used-car bargain with some peace of mind may want to consider shopping certified pre-owned cars. These cars are used, but they go through a rigorous inspection process and often come with an extended warranty. Several automakers offer special financing on CPO cars, too. For those shopping for used cars, make sure to use our Used-Car Buyer's Checklist to guide you through the process.
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