Shopping for a car is a thrilling experience. However, it can be a daunting one, as well. Deciding what vehicle model to get and which model year, and then determining its usability can make the process extremely anxiety-inducing. “Do I get a new car or a used car?” and “Which ones are worth it?” are examples of the questions consumers ask themselves when put on the spot.
Fear not, though. We here at HotCars live to serve, especially in regard to cars! After taking a look at many affordable/popular vehicles, we compiled a comprehensive list in regards to what cars should be bought used or brand new. So, without further ado, here are ten of the best cars to get used (and five that should be bought new)…
15 Buy Used: Mazda Miata
Right out of the gate, we have one of the greatest budget race cars as an example: the Mazda Miata. As far as the year goes, you really can’t go wrong with either generation; whether it is a classic NA or a newer ND trim! If cruising on a highway with the top down or going to track-days sounds fun, then the Mazda Miata will hit every possible note!
14 Buy Used: 2017 Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S
The Miata, unfortunately, isn’t everybody’s idea of the perfect, affordable, small sports car. One that does qualify (to some), however, is the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S/Toyota GT86. In a collaborative effort between the three manufacturers came to be a model that was sometimes thought to be the new-age Supra.
Though the Supra is now released, the BRZ still stands as a tinnier, modifiable, and more economical version of the Japanese sports car, so to speak. On average, you can get a used one from $13,000 to $20,000, depending on the condition and year.
13 Buy Used: 2017-’18 Dodge Charger
Just a handful of years ago, Dodge, along with Ford and GM, were criticized for their vehicle’s reliability and standards. Unlike its competitors, Dodge has managed to break away from the mold; making some outstandingly tough and good-looking cars.
Anybody who doesn’t want to spend top dollar on a 2020 Charger should, instead, invest in a 2017 – 2019. You’ll get all the same quality, but for a fraction of the cost.
12 Buy Used: 2014 Infiniti Q50
When the brand Infiniti is brought up around car enthusiasts, the typical person will likely think of the G35, G37, and Infiniti-back Red Bull F1 team. These are all fantastic, but why not go for something different, like the 2014 (to present) Infiniti Q50. It’s nearly the same as the G-series, except it’s sharper/more aggressive and extra expensive. That’s all avoided, though, when you buy a used one.
11 Buy Used: 2015 Lexus IS
Want to know what Lexus and Porsche have in common? It’s their minimal changes to their vehicle’s exterior. In all honesty, though, Lexus models did look similar to each other throughout the generations, making it easy to pass off an older model as a factory-fresh one. Case and point, the 2015 Lexus IS: it looks a lot like a 2020 Lexus, drives like a 2020 Lexus, but doesn’t have an MSRP of one.
10 Buy Used: 2017 Honda Civic Type R
Those of us who love JDM cars have been waiting for this one. Brand new, a Civic Type R will only cost you (about) $10,000 more than the base Civic Sport. That’s a great deal already, especially when you consider its ludicrous speed on and off track. However, a used one’s even cheaper!
Obviously, the Type R will depreciate over time, yet, since it’s already cheap as chips, you’re not losing much going for the Type R package over nothing.
9 Buy Used: Nissan 370Z
From the age of Datsun to the modern-era, Nissan’s Z-series has stood steadfast in their production and sales. The latest one, the 370Z, is the culmination of decades of hard work and research to make the best mid-sized sports car they can. The NISMO is where things get really extreme, but when it comes to the standard 370Z, most of the models are identical. The regular 370 is wonderful to tune, as well.
8 Buy Used: BMW 3-Series (E36)
Similar to many foreign carmakers, a new BMW isn’t an affordable choice for a lot of people. However, a used one is, particularly our favorite modern 3-Series; the BMW E36. They’re not as old as the E30’s, yet, not too new to cost an absurd amount. Right now, the E36 is in the perfect low-point. Afterward, the value’s only going to build up until it reaches the E30’s level (and beyond).
7 Buy Used: 2017-’18 Dodge Challenger
What we said previously about the late-2010’s Dodge Chargers holds true for not just the, but the entirety of their muscle car/sports car lineup, including the 2017 t0 2018 Dodge Challenger. What was once a useless boat has blossomed into a muscle car worth the money. At least, for a used one that is…
6 Buy Used: 2012 Audi TT RS
Few people will doubt the quality of Audi’s vehicles, particularly their “S-line” and “RS” editions. These bad boys are an outstanding combo of luxury and performance, yet, almost all of them are close to $100K. Rather than get a late-’90s RS, observe the first-generation Audi TT RS. Upon release, the TT RS sold for over $60,000, but, today, they’re less than $30,000 on a good day.
We can’t really foresee the price of the original Audi TT RS depreciating as drastically as it has already, so it wouldn’t be reckless to snag one now (we’re not offering financial advice, just our humble thoughts). If it makes you feel any better, Autotrader shares our sentiment, too.
5 Buy New: Tesla Model 3
Starting off the list of great new cars is the Tesla Model 3. These cars aren’t particularly old to begin with, but it’s better to get a brand new one, especially when dealing with all-electric cars. Though technology has advanced rapidly in that field, we’re still very far behind where all-electric tech could be. As such, the newer ones will (likely) be faster, more capable, and stronger internally.
4 Buy New: Toyota Avalon
Next up is the Toyota Avalon; a sort of mix between a Camry and a Corolla. The interior and exterior are top-notch and, being a Toyota, scores high for reliability. Like with everything, however, the most important part is the price. Thankfully, the Avalon is already cheap (~$34,000), so don’t worry too much about waiting for the “cost to go down.” Odds are it’ll only change incrementally in the short-term. Plus, no mechanics to deal with for a 2020 Toyota!
3 Buy New: Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that a 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is going to be cost-efficient. What we are saying, though, is that a new version is the one that’ll cause the least problems. According to sources with knowledge of the matter, the new C-Class scores very low on reliability after a couple of years. In short, don’t get stuck with a couple-year-old Mercedes only to be left the mechanics bill a week later…
2 Buy New: Ford Mustang
You may be thinking, “Don’t buy a used Mustang? Are you nuts?” The sentiment is understandable, but hear us out. As has been mentioned in a recent HotCars article about the new Ford Mustang, we discussed the Mustang’s reliability and recall frequency throughout its history.
In the past, recalls have been much higher, yet, they decrease in amount over the years (see link for more). In total, the Mustang has been recalled 64 times since 1965. The new ones, on the other hand, look to change that undesirable moniker. Another thing, too: don’t think that because a Mustang is old that there won’t any more recalls. The boys at Ford (sometimes) pick up problems that they missed years prior, so be wary with a used one…
1 New: Chevrolet Corvette
If you’re considering getting a used Corvette C7, please wait! After all, Chevrolet is about to release the quickest Corvette to-date; the C8. Swapping out the front-engine setup for a mid-engine design completely revolutionizes the Corvette’s capabilities. As the years go on, it may get even faster! So get a new one while they’re hot; before the C8’s marked-up by dealerships.
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