- Tesla Model 3 is the top car with the smallest price difference between new and lightly-used versions
- Pickup trucks are the most represented vehicle type on the list of cars to buy new likely due to short supply and high used car prices
- Luxury sedans lead as the vehicle type with the greatest price difference between lightly used versus new versions
iSeeCars.com analyzed asking prices from over 2.6 million new and used cars sold from August 2020 to March 2021. It identified the top 15 cars that have the smallest price difference between new and one-year-old used versions of the same vehicle, as well as the 15 cars with the largest price differences.
“The used car market is still seeing the effects of plant shutdowns during COVID-19, which has led to higher prices and shorter supplies of in-demand vehicles like pickup trucks,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “While lightly used cars typically provide cost savings over their new versions, sometimes buying a new version of the car is a smarter financial decision, especially for consumers taking advantage of the lower finance rates that typically come with new cars.”
Best Cars to Buy NewiSeeCars identified the new cars that have the smallest price differences over gently-used versions. Fifteen vehicles have price differences of at least 1.5 times less than the average vehicle.
The list of cars that have the smallest change in price between their new and gently-used versions is composed of a mix of vehicle types led by seven pickup trucks, five SUVs (including one hybrid), one electric vehicle, one sports sedan, and one hatchback.
|iSeeCars Top 15 Cars to Buy New Over Used|
|Rank (By Percentage)||Model||% Price Difference|
From New $ Difference 1 Tesla Model 3 * 2.1% $923 2 Toyota Tacoma 4.2% $1,557 3 Kia Telluride 5.7% $2,456 4 Ford Ranger 7.1% $2,416 5 Jeep Gladiator 7.1% $3,373 6 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid 7.8% $2,808 7 GMC Sierra 1500 8.2% $4,731 8 Toyota Tundra 8.3% $3,939 9 Chevrolet Colorado 8.8% $3,051 10 Honda Civic (Hatchback) 8.9% $2,309 11 Hyundai Palisade 9.8% $4,488 12 Jeep Wrangler 9.9% $3,712 13 Subaru WRX 10.2% $3,506 14 Toyota 4Runner 10.8% $4,909 15 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 11.2% $5,072 Overall Average 17.0% $6,279 * Tesla Model 3 average new car price estimated by applying used car trim distribution to pre-rebate new car MSRP as of March 2021.
Earning the top spot is the Tesla Model 3, with a one-year-old lightly used version costing just 2.1 percent less than a new version. “The Tesla Model 3 received a $2,000 new car price cut in 2020, which narrowed the gap between new and used car prices,” said Brauer. “The Model 3 also commands a high used car price because it’s in relatively short supply in the used car marketplace.”
Seven pickups make the list including the Toyota Tacoma, the Ford Ranger, the Jeep Gladiator, the GMC Sierra 1500, the Toyota Tundra, the Chevrolet Colorado, and the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. “Plant shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a widespread shortage of new pickup truck inventory as demand for pickup trucks continued and drastically outpaced supply,” said Brauer. “This led to a shortage in the used car market as well because fewer people were trading in their trucks, while used truck demand remained high due in part to a surge in home improvement projects. Additionally, the Jeep Gladiator was new to the market in 2020 and the Ford Ranger was reintroduced for the 2019 model year after a multiyear hiatus, creating a short supply of these much buzzed about pickups.”
Two SUVs introduced as of the 2020 model year make the list: the third-ranked Kia Telluride and the eleventh-ranked Hyundai Palisade. “The Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade have been in high-demand since their debut, and the short supply of new versions drives up the prices for lightly-used versions that are also in short supply,” said Brauer.
Two Toyota SUVs make the list including the sixth-ranked RAV4 Hybrid and the fourteenth-ranked 4Runner. “The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid had trouble keeping up with demand even before the pandemic due to problems with the battery supply chain, so buyers are willing to pay a premium for used versions, which aren’t very plentiful in the used car marketplace,” said Brauer. “Crossovers have overtaken traditional truck-based SUVs in popularity in recent years, but the popularity of the body-on-frame 4Runner has endured, perhaps due to its reliability and because it’s one of the last midsize truck-based SUVs still available.”
Two compact vehicles make the list, the tenth-ranked Honda Civic hatchback and the thirteenth-ranked Subaru WRX sporty compact sedan. “The Honda Civic hatchback was introduced for the 2017 model year, adding more cargo room and utility to the already popular vehicle,” said Brauer. “The Subaru WRX is produced in low volume, so used versions of this popular and affordable performance car are generally tough to come by.”
Rounding out the list is the twelfth-ranked Jeep Wrangler. “The iconic Jeep Wrangler has carved out its niche as an affordable and capable off-roader, and it has maintained its popularity due to its enthusiastic fanbase and timeless design,” said Brauer.
Best Cars to Buy UsedThe list of cars that have the greatest change in price between gently-used and new versions is led by luxury vehicles, which account for seven vehicles on the list. Specifically, luxury sedans make up a third of the models on the list, with five.
|iSeeCars Top 15 Cars to Buy Used Over New|
|Rank (By Percentage)||Model||% Price Difference|
From New $ Difference 1 BMW 5 Series 36.4% $24,207 2 Hyundai Sonata 36.1% $9,898 3 INFINITI Q50 34.9% $16,322 4 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 31.6% $8,041 5 Ford Mustang 31.0% $13,422 6 Mercedes-Benz GLA 30.9% $13,562 7 INFINITI Q60 30.9% $16,944 8 Nissan Sentra 30.2% $6,209 9 BMW 3 Series 29.7% $15,266 10 Mercedes-Benz CLA 29.5% $13,420 11 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 29.2% $4,781 12 Cadillac XT5 28.7% $14,851 13 Hyundai Santa Fe 28.7% $9,061 14 GMC Yukon XL 27.8% $22,639 15 Kia Sorento 27.3% $8,489 Overall Average 17.0% The BMW 5 Series midsize sedan takes the top spot and is joined by another BMW sedan, the compact 3 Series, in the ninth spot. Additional luxury sedans on the list include the third-ranked INFINITI Q50, seventh-ranked INFINITI Q60 and the tenth-ranked Mercedes-Benz CLA. “Buyers who opt for a one-year-old version of these sedans can enjoy significant savings ranging from $13,420 for the Mercedes-Benz CLA to $24,207 for the BMW 5 Series,” said Brauer. “These price drops reflect the declining popularity of sedans, especially among luxury buyers that have switched to SUVs in recent years.”
Three non-luxury sedans of varying sizes make the list, including the second-ranked midsize Hyundai Sonata, the eighth-ranked compact Nissan Sentra, and the eleventh-ranked subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage G4. “In addition to sedans seeing lower demand, these sedans are not hot sellers in their segments,” said Brauer. “However, these vehicles, especially the Sentra and the Sonata, which were completely redesigned for 2020, present additional savings opportunities on already affordable vehicles.”
Two luxury SUVs make the list, the sixth-ranked subcompact Mercedes-Benz GLA and the twelfth-ranked midsize Cadillac XT5. “The Mercedes-Benz GLA was redesigned for 2021, which lessens the demand for used versions from the previous generation,” said Brauer. “The Cadillac XT5 hasn’t resonated with buyers like competitive vehicles in the popular luxury midsize SUV category, resulting in big discounts in the used market.”
The convertible version of the popular sports car, the Ford Mustang, ranks fifth. “The Ford Mustang is America’s best-selling sports car, which means supply is high and pricing is lower for used models,” said Brauer. “This presents an attractive deal for buyers who have always wanted a Mustang.”
Rounding out the list are three SUVs: the thirteenth-ranked Hyundai Santa Fe, the fourteenth-ranked GMC Yukon XL, and the fifteenth-ranked Kia Sorento. “The midsize two-row Hyundai Santa Fe and three-row Kia Sorento are both praised for their value and quality, but buyers may be passing them up for the hotter and more upscale Palisade or Telluride,” said Brauer. “Full-size SUVs like the GMC Yukon XL generally drop significantly in price given their high starting prices, and the Yukon XL’s 2021 redesign may cause used prices to drop even further.”
Best Cars to Buy New and Used By CityDo the best cars to buy new and used vary by geographic area? To find out, iSeeCars analyzed the lightly-used models with the largest and smallest price differences compared to their new version in the top 50 largest cities.
|Best Cars to Buy New and Used By City|
|Best Car to Buy New||Best Car to Buy Used|
|City||Vehicle||% Difference From New||Vehicle||% Difference From New|
|Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM||Toyota Tacoma||-6.6%||BMW 5 Series||29.2%|
|Atlanta, GA||Ford Ranger||-0.3%||INFINITI Q50||38.8%|
|Austin, TX||Toyota Tacoma||1.0%||Hyundai Sonata||32.1%|
|Baltimore, MD||Toyota Tacoma||-2.2%||INFINITI Q50||40.6%|
|Birmingham, AL||Toyota Tacoma||2.4%||Nissan Sentra||25.9%|
|Boston, MA-Manchester, NH||Jeep Gladiator||2.7%||Hyundai Sonata||38.8%|
|Charlotte, NC||Toyota Tacoma||-9.0%||INFINITI Q50||38.3%|
|Chicago, IL||Jeep Gladiator||2.3%||BMW 5 Series||36.6%|
|Cincinnati, OH||Toyota Tacoma||3.3%||Hyundai Sonata||34.3%|
|Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH||Toyota Tacoma||-11.0%||Hyundai Sonata||30.5%|
|Columbus, OH||Kia Telluride||1.9%||Hyundai Sonata||33.0%|
|Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX||Toyota Tacoma||-1.1%||Ford Mustang||38.0%|
|Denver, CO||Toyota Tacoma||3.2%||Nissan Altima||39.1%|
|Detroit, MI||Toyota Tacoma||0.0%||Hyundai Sonata||31.6%|
|Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, MI||GMC Sierra 1500||3.8%||Hyundai Sonata||34.3%|
|Greensboro-Winston Salem, NC||Dodge Charger||2.4%||INFINITI Q50||36.2%|
|Greenville-Spartanburg, SC||Chevrolet Colorado||6.7%||Ford Mustang||31.0%|
|Harrisburg-Lancaster-York, PA||Toyota Tacoma||5.9%||Audi Q7||27.9%|
|Hartford & New Haven, CT||Ford Ranger||1.8%||Chevrolet Equinox||39.5%|
|Houston, TX||Toyota Tacoma||-5.3%||Hyundai Sonata||41.0%|
|Indianapolis, IN||Ford Ranger||-1.3%||Ford Escape||29.2%|
|Jacksonville, FL||Toyota Tacoma||-2.3%||Nissan Altima||30.8%|
|Kansas City, MO||GMC Sierra 1500||0.4%||Hyundai Sonata||37.0%|
|Las Vegas, NV||Toyota Tacoma||4.0%||Hyundai Sonata||32.6%|
|Los Angeles, CA||Toyota Tundra||1.0%||Chevrolet Camaro||39.5%|
|Memphis, TN||Toyota Tacoma||1.8%||Hyundai Sonata||33.6%|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL||Chevrolet Colorado||-1.1%||BMW 5 Series||39.4%|
|Milwaukee, WI||Toyota 4Runner||2.7%||Chevrolet Equinox||30.3%|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN||Chevrolet Colorado||3.3%||Hyundai Sonata||36.3%|
|Nashville, TN||Nissan Rogue Sport||-2.7%||Hyundai Sonata||27.5%|
|New York, NY||Porsche Cayenne||4.2%||Hyundai Santa Fe||40.7%|
|Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News,VA||Toyota Tacoma||2.7%||Jaguar F-PACE||26.4%|
|Oklahoma City, OK||Toyota Tacoma||4.3%||Kia Sorento||32.5%|
|Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL||Toyota Tacoma||-0.1%||Chevrolet Trax||34.3%|
|Philadelphia, PA||Jeep Gladiator||-2.1%||Nissan Rogue||40.0%|
|Phoenix, AZ||GMC Sierra 1500||0.5%||Chevrolet Equinox||35.9%|
|Pittsburgh, PA||Toyota Tacoma||4.3%||Kia Sorento||41.0%|
|Portland, OR||GMC Sierra 1500||1.4%||Hyundai Sonata||37.9%|
|Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), NC||Dodge Challenger||0.4%||Chevrolet Equinox||38.0%|
|Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA||Ram 1500 Classic||-4.7%||Chevrolet Equinox||37.8%|
|Salt Lake City, UT||GMC Sierra 1500||3.7%||Hyundai Sonata||34.2%|
|San Antonio, TX||Toyota Tacoma||1.9%||Nissan Sentra||34.2%|
|San Diego, CA||Toyota Tacoma||-8.7%||Hyundai Elantra||41.2%|
|San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA||Honda Civic||3.8%||Nissan Sentra||35.3%|
|Seattle-Tacoma, WA||Toyota Tundra||-0.6%||Ford Mustang||36.3%|
|St. Louis, MO||Jeep Cherokee||4.9%||Nissan Sentra||29.2%|
|Tampa-St Petersburg (Sarasota), FL||Honda Civic||-5.7%||Chevrolet Equinox||33.0%|
|Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD)||Dodge Challenger||-2.4%||Nissan Sentra||39.4%|
|West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL||Jeep Gladiator||3.3%||Nissan Murano||37.9%|
When deciding between a new and a lightly-used version of the same vehicle, there are important things to consider. “While buying used typically provides upfront cost savings compared to buying new, sometimes used vehicles only offer minimal savings, especially when finance rates and rebates on new models are taken into account,” said Brauer. “Additionally, new cars aren’t subjected to the wear and tear of some lightly-used cars, so the extra cost might be worth the added peace of mind. On the other hand, buying used can provide significant savings, allowing buyers to purchase higher quality or better equipped vehicles that may otherwise be out of their price range.”
iSeeCars.com analyzed over 2.6 million cars sold between August 2020 and mid-March 2021. New cars included in the analysis were from model years 2020 and 2021, while lightly-used cars were defined as used vehicles from model years 2019 and 2020. Low-volume models were excluded from the analysis, as were cars with outlier mileages and models discontinued as of the 2020 model year. 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 new average prices and ranked by this difference.
iSeeCars.com is a car search engine that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, like the iSeeCars free VIN decoder reports. iSeeCars.com has saved users over $280 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 new cars and used cars.