Best bargain used cars are mostly luxury at affordable prices

Most of us are taught to see depreciation as a bad thing. And it is if we own something that is depreciating – or losing value.

But if you’re shopping for a preowned vehicle, depreciation can work in your favor, and more is better.

That’s where the latest study of best bargain used cars comes into the picture, identifying the vehicles that have depreciated the most over the last three years and represent the biggest potential savings for consumers.

Acura RLX best bargain used car
Photo credit: Acura via Newspress USA
The 2016 Acura RLX is the best bargain used vehicle this year, reports

“The rising popularity of auto leases in recent years has led to an influx of cars coming off lease that are deeply discounted and provide bargains for used car shoppers,” said Phong Ly of “Some of these bargains present good opportunities for consumers as reliable vehicles.”

The vehicle search engine “analyzed more than 4.8 million car sales to identify models with the greatest loss in value after three years, when most leased cars enter the used-car market.”


Luxury car brands offering models at prices many can afford

The research showed that the 20 best bargains among lightly used vehicles – excluding electric vehicles and luxury cars originally costing more than $80,000 – all depreciated more than 50 percent, significantly more than the average of 38.2 percent for all vehicles. Their prices new ranged from $41,074 for the Buick LaCrosse to $77,005 for the Lincoln Navigator L, with an average price of $55,705.

Following are the 20 best bargains – most of them considered luxury vehicles – their percent of depreciation and average three-year-old price:

20 best bargains

  1. Acura RLX, 55.8 percent, $28,259
  2. Lincoln MKZ, 55.6 percent, $19,855
  3. Mercedes-Benz E-Class, 55.4 percent, $31,051
  4. Jaguar XF, 54.8 percent, $30,268
  5. Cadillac XTS, 54.5 percent, $26,306
  6. Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, 54.5 percent, $20,034
  7. Kia K900, 54.4 percent, $26,522
  8. BMW 5 Series, 53.8 percent, $30,203
  9. Cadillac CTS, 53.8 percent, $26,785
  10. Audi A6, 53.3 percent, $29,941
  11. Volvo V60, 53 percent, $22,159
  12. Cadillac ATS, 52.7 percent, $24,715
  13. Infiniti Q70, 52.5 percent, $27,662
  14. Infiniti Q70L, 52.3 percent, $30,491
  15. Volvo S60, 52 percent, $20,997
  16. Lincoln Navigator L, 51.6 percent, $37,905
  17. Buick LaCrosse, 51.2 percent, $41,074
  18. BMW 3 Series, 50.6 percent, $23,611
  19. Kia Cadenza, 50.2 percent, $19,508
  20. Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 50.1 percent, $25,768

“Luxury brands are often leased, which creates a surplus of these three-year-old luxury vehicles in the used-car marketplace without an equal amount of demand,” said Ly. “Given the heightened demand for SUVs, which account for a higher share of used-car inventory than ever before, luxury sedans are less sought after and have to come down significantly in price to attract used-car buyers.”

A few mainstream lightly used cars – all below the $22,000 average transaction price for preowned vehicles – also rated among the best bargains:

9 best mainstream bargains

  1. Buick LaCrosse, 51.2 percent, $41,074
  2. Kia Cadenza, 50.2 percent, $19,508
  3. Ford Fusion Hybrid, 49.7 percent, $14,844
  4. Chevrolet Impala, 49.4 percent, $17,745
  5. Kia Optima Hybrid, 49.2 percent, $16,381
  6. Fiat 500L, 49.1 percent, $13,403
  7. Ford Taurus, 48.7 percent, $17,587
  8. Audi A3, 48.1 percent, $20,316
  9. Chrysler 300, 47.8 percent, $20,184

Their prices new ranged from the Fiat 500L at $27,956 to the Kia Cadenza at $41,515, with an average new price of $32,085, lower if the Cadenza and LaCrosse are excluded.

All of that being said, it is possible to find some relative bargains on lightly used SUVs, although most of the top 10 are luxury vehicles.

10 best SUV bargains

  1. Lincoln Navigator L, 51.6 percent, $37,905
  2. Infiniti QX80, 49.1 percent, $38,869
  3. Lincoln MKT, 49 percent, $28,441
  4. Ford Expedition, 48.7 percent, $30,874
  5. Lincoln Navigator, 48.1 percent, $38,426
  6. Lincoln MKC, 48 percent, $23,006
  7. Buick Enclave, 47.8 percent, $26,021
  8. Volkswagen Tiguan, 47.7 percent, $16,235
  9. BMW X5, 47.7 percent, $37,196
  10. Infiniti QX60, 46.9 percent, $28,993

Six of the SUV bargains are from domestic carmakers, and there’s a reason for that.

“These SUVs are ranked highly in their respective classes but aren’t as popular as their more luxurious competitors,” said Ly. “As a result, their demand might not be as high, which provides value for used car shoppers who are interested in a dependable luxury SUV.”

Meanwhile, only one lightly used pickup truck depreciated more than the average for all vehicles. The Nissan Titan XD dipped 45.9 percent, to an average three-year-old price of $33,097.

“If you are purchasing a new vehicle and plan on turning it in after a few years, consumers might want to avoid the vehicles on this list,” said Ly. “[But] if you want to save money, purchasing a car that has already lost most of its depreciation is a smart economic decision.”

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