Allow me to paint you a picture: for years, you looked at luxury sedans, sports cars, or maybe even EV models and wistfully imagined yourself in one, only to be stuck with a family-friendly and practical minivan or SUV. Sound familiar? Well, if so, and you’re ready to move on from that reliable family wagon to something a bit more bold and exciting, then this is a good time to head to your local used car dealer and treat yourself.
You might not realize it, but a used luxury sedan, sports car, or EV model represents an amazing deal. These cars are sold at high prices but experience tremendous depreciation over the first few years they’re on the road. So you might look at the MSRP on something like a BMW 3 Series and think it will remain forever out of your reach – but if you look for a model fresh off a lease, then you might be surprised. Today, I’m going to take you through just a small sample of some of the best cars you didn’t know you could afford and show you just how accessible they can be (as long as you’re good with a pre-owned model).
BMW 4 Series or 3 Series
My father was a public school teacher who had a real love of cars pretty much all of my life (for example, the ’79 Camaro he had and adored when I was a kid), and he had a real interest in getting a hold of “the ultimate driving machine.” Since he wasn’t one of those wealthy public-school teachers we hear about so often, however, it felt very much out of his reach. Until he let go of the idea of a brand-new model and went with a used one instead (he chose a CPO model, which was a bit more expensive than a standard used one would be, but that’s up to you).
Whether you’re interested in a BMW 4 Series or 3 Series, both are a great example of the kind of car you can get that you probably don’t realize you can afford at your local used car dealer. Looking at a brand-new BMW 3 Series, for example, they start at about $41k MSRP and can easily go up to $60k+. But you can get a 2017 BMW 330i XDrive for about $25k, sometimes even less. Choosing one fresh off a lease can save you more than 50% off its original price while still letting you feel the power and sophistication BMW is known for.
Audi A4 or A6
Luxury cars, in general, represent some of the highest levels of depreciation when it comes to the first few years of owning a car, which is why they are much more accessible than you might think. If you prefer Audi to BMW, then you’re still looking at great opportunities for picking up an Audi A4 or an A6 and saving a lot of money. For example, a new Audi A6 right now starts at about $55k and can quickly surpass $60k or $70k. But you can find a 2017 Audi A6, with the same impressive engine and amazing luxury features, starting at about $25k, even CPO models.
If Mercedes-Benz has been the luxury car you’ve been dreaming of while lugging kids to school for the last couple of decades, then you’ve got great options there too. The E-Class, in particular, is a fantastic choice for saving money when looking at models at your used car dealer. I will say they tend to run a bit higher than the Audi and BMW models I mentioned, usually starting at more like $30k rather than the low-mid 20s, so keep that in mind. But if Mercedes-Benz has always been your aspiration, then you can still save a ton of money on one fresh off a lease.
Although luxury sedans might have the most options for you to save big bucks with a model you never thought you could afford, there’s at least one great luxury SUV to consider: the Infiniti QX60. A brand-new Infiniti QX60 starts at about $44k and can easily cost a lot more once you start adding options. But you can find 2017 models for $20k or even less – though you’ll usually see them going for about $25k. If you like the size and performance of an SUV, but want something luxurious to enjoy, then this is an amazing choice.
Now, I know not everyone dreams of a “luxury” car. Maybe you’ve been stuck with a small SUV or even a sedan and wished you had the muscle of a pickup truck. Or perhaps you’re looking to get a boat and enjoy some time out on the water without worrying about kids and weekend plans, etc. The Chevy Silverado is a fantastic option for saving serious money with a model right off its lease. While a brand-new Silverado starts at almost $30k and can easily reach closer to $50k, you can find a 2017 model for as low as $25k.
Sports cars are also a great choice if you’re looking to take advantage of initial depreciation and get a car you never thought you could afford. That being said, something like a Maserati might be $50k cheaper when looking at a three-year-old model, but that can still make it more than $70k. A Ford Mustang is a fantastic model to look at since they start at a lower price and have some significant depreciation on them. While a brand-new Mustang GT starts at $35k and can easily go for much more than $40k, you can find a model from 2017 at about $25k.
Believe it or not, electric cars offer some of the biggest savings imaginable when looking at used models. While you miss out on the most advanced batteries and other technology, if you want an EV and want to save money, going used is definitely the way to go. Even a luxury EV like the BMW i3 can be an amazing opportunity to get a car you never thought you could afford. While a brand-new i3 starts at more than $44k right now, you can find a 2017 BMW i3 for $20k or less!
Tesla Model S
Okay, so full disclosure: this is not going to be incredibly affordable. If your budget is in the $20-30k range, then sadly, a Tesla is still out of reach for you, even a used model. You might be able to find a 2017 Tesla Model 3, which is the most affordable option from Tesla, for about $40k, some out there are a bit less, but many are more like $45k. Tesla’s aren’t cheap to begin with, and while they do experience depreciation, they go through the least amount for an EV.
That being said, if you really want a Tesla Model S (and I don’t blame you), going with a pre-owned option is a great way to make it a reality. It’s still going to be expensive, but it might be much more within your reach. Consider this: a brand-new Model S, right now, starts at about $80k (you’ll see them for $75k, but that’s with “potential savings”), but they can easily cost more than $100k. You can find a 2017 Model S for as low as about $45k, and they’re almost always less than $60k, even with long-range models.
Maybe You Can Afford Your Dream Car
So whether you’re looking for an EV, a luxury sedan, or even a pickup truck, choosing your local used car dealer can make your dreams a reality. You might be shocked at the types of car models you can afford when you buy used. In fact, you just might find yourself driving around in your dream car before you know it.