I’m a new car buyer and very faithful to my wheels. My family’s last two cars, a Toyota Cressida and Tercel, lived to be 23 and 19 respectively. For me, buying new makes sense. My current vehicles, a 2007 Camry Hybrid, a wickedly wonderful lime-green, and a fire-engine-red 2011 Ford 150 Ecoboost will probably outlive me.
However, for many people, buying used is a better choice if for no other reason than cost.
If you’re considering a previously loved vehicle turn to edmunds.com and its recently published annual guide to the best used cars. Not long ago the winners came from the usual suspects, Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Now other Asian manufacturers like Hyundai and even American makers are making the list.
Edmunds.com ranks the vehicles according to reliability, longevity, crash test results, value and availability. The latter is important but not often considered by buyers. The more cars you have to choose from the better deal you can make and the more options you will have.
Here are some of the major category winners for the years 2005 to 2010:
- Compact sedan: Hyundai Elantra
- Mid-size sedan: Nissan Altima
- Large sedan: Hyundai Azera
- Wagon: Pontiac Vibe
- Compact SUV\Crossover: Honda CR-V
- Minivan/Van: Honda Odyssey
- Compact Truck: Toyota Tacoma
- Hybrid: Toyota Prius
You can find all the category results with notes about the models at edmunds.com/car-reviews/best-used-cars.html.
Don’t forget that while a used car might be cheaper than a new one, financing charges are often higher. If you have little or no down payment then you could easily have higher monthly payments buying used.
Zero interest new car purchases are rarer than they were at the height of the recession, but financing charges on new cars are often two to four per cent less than on a used vehicle if you purchase through a dealer.
The best strategy when buying used is to aim for at least 25 per cent down, finance with a personal or home equity line of credit and set the payments to discharge the debt in less than four years.
Alison Griffiths is the author of Count on Yourself: Take Charge of Your Money. Reach her at alisongriffiths.ca or at firstname.lastname@example.org