The Best Cars to Buy Used Instead of New

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Motor Company

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2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai Motor Company

Value Vehicles

It's a confusing time to be shopping for a car. Because of pandemic shortages, some cars actually cost more used than new. Still, if you choose the right model, you can shave more than a quarter or even a third off last year's sticker price by buying used. Using the most recent data from iSeeCars, Cheapism identified 15 vehicles that shed the most value after just one year of life on the road, making them a bargain for used-car shoppers. Seven are luxury cars; five of those are luxury sedans. But there’s something for everybody on the list, and no matter your choice, it comes at a discount of more than 25%. For context, the average car sells for 17% less after one year of use. 

Related: The Fastest-Selling New and Used Cars Will Surprise You

2020 Kia Sorento
Kia Motors America

15. Kia Sorento

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 27.3%

  • Dollar savings: $8,489

The Kia Sorento is one of three SUVs rounding out the back of the list behind the top dozen savings. Even brand-new, this three-row midsize is known for value — and that’s before it drops in price by more than 27%. Even so, many Kia drivers opt instead for the higher-end Telluride, according to iSeeCars, which keeps demand and prices for used Sorentos low.

Related: 30 Best SUVs of All Time

2021 GMC Yukon
2021 GMC Yukon by General Motors (CC BY-SA)

14. GMC Yukon XL

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 27.8%

  • Dollar savings: $22,639

Many full-size SUVs lose a lot of value after their first year because of their high starting MSRPs, according to the iSeeCars report, and the GMC Yukon XL is no different. It starts at $51,600 — and got an upgrade this model year, which forces pre-makeover models to depreciate even more dramatically.

Related: 50 of the Biggest Cars Ever Made

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2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai Motor Company

13. Hyundai Santa Fe

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 28.7%

  • Dollar savings: $9,061

Like the Kia Sorento, the Hyundai Santa Fe is known for quality and value. But also like the Sorento, iSeeCars reports that the brand’s own higher-end model — the Hyundai Telluride, in this case — steals some of its thunder and causes its price to crater on the used market.

Related: “Foreign” Cars That Are Made in America

2020 Cadillac XT5
2020 Cadillac XT5 by General Motors (CC BY-SA)

12. Cadillac XT5

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 28.7%

  • Dollar savings: $14,851

The midsize Cadillac XT5 is one of two luxury SUVs to make the list. The report concludes that the XT5 simply isn’t as popular as some of its more sought-after rivals in the crowded and competitive midsize luxury SUV segment. That makes it relatively easy to find a steal on a used model after a year.

Related: The Least Expensive SUVs to Own

Mitsubishi Mirage G4
Mitsubishi Motors

11. Mitsubishi Mirage G4

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 29.2%

  • Dollar savings: $4,781

The Mitsubishi Mirage G4 is one of only three non-luxury sedans to make the list. The report indicates that part of the reason the G4 is such a bargain on the used market is that sedans, in general, are no longer in-demand vehicles — and the subcompact G4 just isn’t particularly competitive in its segment.

Related: 51 of the Smallest Cars Ever Made

Mercedes-benz Cla
Mercedes-Benz USA

10. Mercedes-Benz CLA

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 29.5%

  • Dollar savings: $13,420

According to HotCars, few brands on the market are more infamous for rapid depreciation than the prestigious Mercedes nameplate. The CLA is approaching 30% off in the used market, but HotCars warns buyers to beware that their gently used Mercedes will continue to hemorrhage value over the next few years — and used Benzes are notoriously expensive to own and maintain.

Related: Legendary German Cars That Raised the Bar

BMW 3 Series

9. BMW 3 Series

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 29.7%

  • Dollar savings: $15,266

The S Series is one of two BMW sedans to make it onto this list — the other is riding pole position in the No. 1 spot. According to MotorBiscuit, the E-90 3 Series is the most reliable used BMW that money can buy, particularly the non-turbocharged models.

Related: 50 Most Popular Cars of the Past 50 Years

2020 Nissan Sentra

8. Nissan Sentra

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 30.2%

  • Dollar savings: $6,209

Another of three three non-luxury sedans to make the list, the Nissan Sentra is already affordable before its price tag starts shrinking, which it does for a few reasons. First, it’s a sedan — and demand for sedans continues to fall. Also, according to iSeeCars, the Sentra got a makeover in 2020, which tends to make prices fall even further on the used market.

Infiniti Q60
Infiniti USA

7. Infiniti Q60

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 30.9%

  • Dollar savings: $16,944

The Q60 is one of the five luxury sedans that together account for a full one-third of this list. It does a good job at the hard task of competing with the likes of the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series, according to Kelley Blue Book, despite the fact that neither a manual transmission nor a soft-top are to be found anywhere in the lineup.

Related: Luxury Cars Under $50K That Are Totally Worth Owning

Daimler AG

6. Mercedes-Benz GLA

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 30.9%

  • Dollar savings: $13,562

The Mercedes-Benz GLA got a design upgrade in 2021, according to the iSeeCars report. That reduces demand for previous model years and sends used prices downward. It’s one of only two luxury SUVs to make the list.

Related: 2021 GLA-250 Offers Mercedes Luxury Performance for Under $40,000

Ford Mustang

5. Ford Mustang

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 31%

  • Dollar savings: $13,422

The American classic that’s responsible for the pony car revolution is a good buy on the used market simply because of its own success, according to iSeeCars. The Ford Mustang is the country’s bestselling sports car, which means supply is high and last year’s model is comparatively cheap.

Related: Ford Muscle Cars That Defined a Generation

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Mitsubishi Motors

4. Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 31.6%

  • Dollar savings: $8,041

Although it doesn’t hold its value — which is good for the second owner, not the first — the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is certainly built to last. The manufacturer’s confidence is evident in its 10-year 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, according to Kelley Blue Book, which is among the very best on the market.

Related: These Cars Are the Most Likely to Surpass 200,000 Miles

2021 Infiniti Q50

3. Infiniti Q50

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 34.9%

  • Dollar savings: $16,322

Moving into the top three is the Infiniti Q50, part of the pack of luxury sedans that accounts for one in three vehicles on this list — and it’s the first car to give up more than one-third of its value in 365 days. According to KBB, it provides true premium luxury that punches well above its price tag.

Related: Most Expensive Cars Sold at Auction

Smart Sedan: Hyundai Sonata
Hyundai Motor America

2. Hyundai Sonata

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 36.1%

  • Dollar savings: $9,898

The last of three non-luxury sedans on the list made it all the way to second place. The Hyundai Sonata got an upgrade in 2020, which makes an already affordable car even cheaper on the used market.

Related: Hyundai Shows Its Stuff With the Sporty 2021 Sonata N Line

2020 BMW 5 Series
BMW Group

1. BMW 5 Series

  • Percent savings (used vs. new): 36.4%

  • Dollar savings: $24,207

The BMW 5 Series is No. 1 no matter how you measure it — the luxury sedan boasts the highest percent difference and the highest dollar difference in used over new among all vehicles on the market. iSeeCars cites the overall declining popularity of sedans as well as the fact that so many buyers in the luxury segment specifically have switched over to SUVs.

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