Top Cars to Buy New Over Used

By Julie Blackley

These New Cars Have the Smallest Price Difference Over Their Lightly Used Versions

According to the latest study by automotive research firm and search engine iSeeCars.com, the average new car costs 30.2 percent more than the one-year-old used version of the same vehicle. However, consumers torn between purchasing new or lightly used may be surprised to learn that they don’t have to pay much more for certain new cars as the price difference can be as little as 10.5 percent or less than $2,300.

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 7 million new and used cars sold from August 2018 to January 2019, comparing the prices of new cars to lightly used equivalents and identifying those with the lowest price differences.

Instead of buying a car that’s already been driven for one year, consumers can buy the new version of select vehicles for just a few thousand dollars more to avoid the uncertainties that come with purchasing a used vehicle,” said iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly.  “When spread out over the average terms of a car loan about six years at a 4% percent interest rate for example, the increased monthly payment can be as little as $35 per month. This price difference could even be less when you take  into account new car incentives that may exist for a given model.”

iSeeCars Top 10 Cars to Buy New Over Used
Rank (By Percentage) Model % Difference New Over Used $ Difference New Over Used
1 Honda HR-V 10.5% $2,260
2 BMW X1 11.7% $4,194
3 Subaru Crosstrek 12.2% $2,978
4 Honda CR-V 12.2% $3,230
5 Toyota Tacoma 12.3% $3,891
6 Honda Civic 12.3% $2,505
7 Honda Pilot 12.8% $4,518
8 Mazda CX-5 13.4% $3,457
9 Porsche Macan 14.5% $8,302
10 Subaru Impreza 14.7% $3,035
Overall Average 30.2%
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The list of cars that have the smallest change in price between their new and gently used versions is dominated by SUVs, which comprise seven of the top 10 models. “SUVs have eclipsed sedans as the most popular vehicle type, so it is no surprise that their surge in popularity has resulted in a below-average price difference between new and gently used versions,” explained Ly.

Subcompact SUVs comprise the top three vehicles on the list. The Honda HR-V takes the top spot with a 10.5 percent price difference, followed by the second-ranked BMW X1 with a 11.7 percent difference, and the Subaru Crosstrek with a 12.2 percent difference. “Subcompacts are a rapidly growing segment because they strike the right balance of cargo room and other SUV perks while maintaining a price tag that is comparable to sedans,” said Ly. “Each are among the top models in their class, and the demand could be driving up prices for lightly used versions of these subcompact SUVs.

To further demonstrate the popularity of small SUVs, three compact SUVs make the list including the fourth-ranked Honda CR-V, the eighth-ranked Mazda CX-5, and the ninth-ranked Porsche Macan. “Both the CR-V and the CX-5  have high reliability and value ratings,” said Ly. “The lowest-cost model in the Porsche lineup, the Macan, was a Kelley Blue Book Resale Award winner in 2017 and 2018 and appeals to luxury buyers who want this desirable name badge.”

The Toyota Tacoma ranks fifth, showing only a 12.3 percent price difference between new and used. “The Toyota Tacoma is known for its reliability and durability, and because of the high demand for lightly-used pickups, it maintains most of its value in the used car marketplace,” said Ly.

A pair of compact sedans, the sixth-ranked Honda Civic and the tenth-ranked Subaru Impreza, account for the only passenger cars on the list. “While the sedan segment as a whole is declining, this shows that there is still some demand for compact sedans,” said Ly. “The prices of compact cars rose in 2018 after years of declines due to rising gas prices and heightened demand from buyers looking for more affordable vehicles.”

Rounding out the list is the seventh-ranked Honda Pilot midsize SUV. “The Honda Pilot is known for its reliability and is among the more affordable third-row SUVs available,” said Ly. “The demand is high for this practical and dependable family vehicle.”

Top Cars to Buy New By Price Difference ($)

In addition to the cars with the smallest price difference in terms of percentage, iSeeCars examined the list to determine the top ten cars with the smallest difference between new and lightly used vehicles by dollar amount.

Top Cars to Buy New (By $ Difference)
Rank (By $ Price Difference) Model $ Difference New Over Used
1 Honda HR-V $2,260
2 Honda Civic $2,505
3 Nissan Versa $2,918
4 Subaru Crosstrek $2,978
5 Subaru Impreza $3,035
6 Honda CR-V $3,230
7 Nissan Rogue Sport $3,365
8 Mazda CX-5 $3,457
9 Buick Encore $3,545
10 Chevrolet Cruze $3,591
Additions to the list include the third-ranked Nissan Versa subcompact car, the seventh-ranked Nissan Rogue Sport subcompact SUV, the ninth-ranked Buick Encore subcompact SUV, and the tenth-ranked Chevrolet Cruze compact car. “Small cars and SUVs are priced lower than larger models, so there isn’t as much room for their price to come down from their new models” noted Ly.

Top SUVs to Buy New Over Used

iSeeCars examined the data to determine the top 15 SUVs that have the smallest price difference between their new and slightly used models.

Joining the seven SUVs on the overall list are eight SUVs in varied sizes to include three midsize, three compact, and two subcompact.

iSeeCars Top SUVs to Buy New Over Used
Rank (By Percentage) Model % Difference New Over Used $ Difference New Over Used
1 Honda HR-V 10.5% $2,260
2 BMW X1 11.7% $4,194
3 Subaru Crosstrek 12.2% $2,978
4 Honda CR-V 12.2% $3,230
5 Honda Pilot 12.8% $4,518
6 Mazda CX-5 13.4% $3,457
7 Porsche Macan 14.5% $8,302
8 Nissan Rogue Sport 15.9% $3,365
9 Subaru Forester 16.0% $4,078
10 Chevrolet Traverse 17.0% $5,906
11 Buick Encore 17.3% $3,545
12 Toyota Highlander 17.5% $6,044
13 GMC Terrain 18.4% $4,951
14 Toyota 4Runner 19.1% $6,614
15 Subaru Outback 19.6% $5,543
SUV Average 21.5%
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The three additional midsize SUVs, which join the fifth-ranked Honda Pilot, include the tenth-ranked Chevrolet Traverse, the twelfth-ranked Toyota Highlander, and the fourteenth-ranked Toyota 4Runner. “The Traverse and the Highlander are popular and reliable family crossovers that are competitively priced for the segment,” said Ly. “The 4Runner is built on a truck platform and is known for its ruggedness and durability, which could explain why a lightly used version maintains most of its value.”

The three additional compact SUVs are the ninth-ranked Subaru Forester, the thirteenth-ranked GMC Terrain, and the fifteenth-ranked Subaru Outback. “Both the Subaru Forester and the GMC Terrain earn high reliability and safety ratings which contributes to their high demand in the used car marketplace,” said Ly. “Technically a crossover wagon, the Subaru Outback has a niche following of consumers who want a rugged crossover with the cargo space of an SUV that handles like a car.”

The two subcompact SUVs include the eighth-ranked Nissan Rogue Sport and the eleventh-ranked Buick Encore. “Nissan introduced the subcompact Rogue Sport in 2017 to capitalize on the success of the compact Rogue and appeal to consumers who want a sporty and spacious vehicle with car-like dimensions,” said Ly. “The Buick Encore is among the top vehicles in its class in terms of quality and popularity and has resonated with consumers by offering style and sophistication with an average new starting price of $24,077.”

“Noticeably absent from the list are full-size SUVs, which typically have higher starting prices and likely have to come down a lot in price to attract used car buyers,” said Ly.

Top SUVs to Buy New By Price Difference ($)

In addition to the SUVs with the smallest price difference in terms of percentage, iSeeCars examined the list to determine the top ten cars with the smallest difference between new and lightly used vehicles by absolute dollar amount. iSeeCars identified 12 SUVs with a price difference below $5,500.

Top SUVs to Buy New Over Used (By $ Difference)
Rank (By $ Price Difference) Model $ Difference New Over Used
1 Honda HR-V $2,260
2 Subaru Crosstrek $2,978
3 Honda CR-V $3,230
4 Nissan Rogue Sport $3,365
5 Mazda CX-5 $3,457
6 Buick Encore $3,545
7 Chevrolet Trax $3,978
8 Subaru Forester $4,078
9 BMW X1 $4,194
10 Honda Pilot $4,518
11 Jeep Renegade $4,626
12 GMC Terrain $4,951
13 Dodge Journey $5,051
14 Hyundai Tucson $5,423
 

Additions to the list include the seventh-ranked Chevrolet Trax subcompact SUV, the eleventh-ranked Jeep Renegade subcompact SUV, the thirteenth-ranked Dodge Journey midsize SUV, and the fourteenth-ranked Hyundai Tucson compact SUV.

“The Dodge Journey stands out as the only midsize SUV on the list,” said Ly. “While it receives poor ratings and is one of the worst-rated vehicles in its class, it has a lower than average starting price for the segment at $23,471 so the price isn’t significantly reduced from its new version.”

Top Pickup Trucks to Buy New Over Used

iSeeCars also analyzed the price differences between new and lightly used light-duty pickup trucks to determine those that had below average price differences when compared to the 24.4 percent average for the segment.

iSeeCars Top Pickup Trucks to Buy New Over Used
Rank (By Percentage) Model % Difference New Over Used $ Difference New Over Used
1 Toyota Tacoma 12.3% $3,891
2 Chevrolet Colorado 15.7% $4,610
3 Toyota Tundra 16.8% $6,392
4 Nissan Frontier 17.2% $4,009
5 Ford F-150 20.8% $7,953
6 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 21.3% $7,539
Pickup Truck Average 24.4%
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The third-ranked Toyota Tundra joins the top-ranked Tacoma as the second Toyota pickup to have a below-average price difference. “Toyota pickups are known for being indestructible, which contribute to their value retention,” said Ly. “Additionally, Toyota is not a major fleet seller, so there are not as many in the used marketplace compared to fleet sellers like Ford, which heightens demand.”

A pair of Chevrolet trucks have a price difference below the 24.4 percent average for the segment: the second-ranked Colorado and the sixth-ranked Silverado 1500. “The Colorado has been named as the most fuel-efficient pickup, which helps set it apart from its competitors,” said Ly. “The Silverado 1500 is known for its technological features in addition to its durability, which help contribute to a lower-than-average price reduction on its one-year-old models.”

Ranked fourth is the Nissan Frontier, which has a 17.2 percent price difference. “A new Frontier has the lowest starting price of its competition at $27,307, and its ability to attract more practical pickup buyers has helped it steadily grow in popularity in recent years,” said Ly.

The Ford F-150 ranks fifth and rounds out the list of trucks that consumers should consider buying new instead of lightly used. “The Ford F-150 is the top-selling pickup, which means that its high demand results in its high value retention,” said Ly. “The F-150 joins the Tundra as the only two full-size pickup trucks with a below-average price difference between their new and lightly-used models.”

Best Car to Buy New by City

iSeeCars examined the data geographically to determine the best car to buy new in the top 20 largest cities by determining the lightly used models with the lowest price difference compared to their new version.

City Best Car to Buy New % Difference Over Used $ Difference
Atlanta, GA Ford Fiesta 20.7% $2,530
Boston, MA-Manchester, NH Subaru Impreza 10.8% $2,173
Chicago, IL Honda HR-V 8.1% $1,800
Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH Hyundai Sonata 15.7% $2,930
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX Chevrolet Cruze 16.0% $2,480
Denver, CO Subaru Crosstrek 10.8% $2,576
Detroit, MI Subaru Crosstrek 7.4% $1,807
Houston, TX Nissan Frontier 12.1% $2,704
Los Angeles, CA Honda Civic 14.5% $2,894
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL BMW X1 3.5% $1,249
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN BMW X1 4.0% $1,421
New York, NY Honda HR-V 10.3% $2,262
Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL Nissan Frontier 9.8% $2,200
Philadelphia, PA Subaru Impreza 11.5% $2,480
Phoenix, AZ Chevrolet Cruze 14.4% $2,193
Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA Honda Civic 13.2% $2,712
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA Honda Civic 18.5% $3,672
Seattle-Tacoma, WA Ford Focus 11.6% $1,756
Tampa-St Petersburg (Sarasota), FL Honda Civic 10.1% $2,027
Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD) Nissan Rogue Sport 3.2% $713
The model with the lowest price difference across the most cities is the Honda Civic, which appears four times.

When deciding between a new and a lightly-used version of the same vehicle, consumers should look at the price difference to decide which is the smarter purchasing decision. “While buying lightly used may appear to save you money, a new car’s warranty and incentives might make it a more economical option while offering the peace of mind of a new vehicle,” said Ly. “It’s important to understand that it is a good financial decision to purchase some models new, while there are others that should be purchased used.”

Methodology

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 7 million cars sold between August 2018 and January 2019.  New cars included in the analysis were from model years 2018 and 2019, while lightly used cars were defined as used vehicles from model years 2017 and 2018. Models with low sample size were excluded from the analysis, as were cars with outlier mileages.  The average asking prices of the lightly used cars were compared to those of new cars from the same model. The difference in price for each car was expressed as a percentage of the used average prices.

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is an online car search engine that helps consumers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, like the iSeeCars VIN report. iSeeCars.com has saved users over $174 million so far by applying big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of cars and thousands of dealers. Based in the Boston area, iSeeCars.com was founded by former TripAdvisor and SAP executives determined to improve the car shopping experience for consumers.