In 2011, the Ford Explorer was not only redesigned; it was reincarnated. The truckish, thirsty workhorse of 2010 gave way to a swanky, gadget-packed crossover. The new Explorer disappeared from car lots like cards dealt by a Vegas master. Twitterpated buyers came a-mobbing. Meanwhile, the price of the 2010 Explorer, a perfectly good SUV, dropped like a hailstorm.
Moral of this story: Depreciation is in the eye of the beholder. If you’re looking for a gently used or pre-owned vehicle in 2015, then chances are that a model redesign or jump in gas prices or corporate recall has done your work for you.
If, say, you just sold your third winter vacation home in Naples, Florida, then you might want to purchase a 2001-2007 Maserati Coupe or a 2005 BMW 7-Series sedan or a 2008 Land Rover Range Rover HSE. According to Popular Mechanics, these vehicles and their peers can be found on eBay for four figures, often with the shine still on ’em.
What if you don’t have a third vacation home? A Consumer Reports study detailed the best used vehicles for any budget up to $25,000. For less than $10,000, you can drive away in an award-winning 2008 Mazda3, a compact sedan or hatchback with an upscale interior, efficient engine and sprightly driving dynamics. If you need more room, Consumer Reports recommends a 2005 Acura TL or 2005 Honda Pilot. (An Acura, by the way, is a Honda by any other name. It’s the same company, different marque, more luxury.)
If you want the newest car for the lowest price, then check out iSeeCars.com. The site compiled data from 15.7 million cars and calculated the highest one-year deprecation rates from 2013 to 2014. The winners (or losers, depending on your perspective) included niche attractions like the subcompact Smart Fortwo and Mini Cooper and forgotten mainstream offerings like the Chevrolet Impala and Volvo S80. Most models sold for about 33 percent off new price, or $10,000-$20,000 in savings. One excellent option is the 2013 Lincoln MKS, an underdog luxury sedan with a 300-horsepower V6 engine, adaptive suspension dampers and standard SYNC and MyLincoln Touch.
Veteran car dealer Steven Lang and statistician Nick Larivere developed yet another system to categorize the best used car bargains. By calculating trade-in mileage and mechanical condition, they discovered that oft-ignored vehicles like the Chevy Cavalier and the Toyota Land Cruiser are the automotive equivalents of granite.
Because depreciation is beautiful.