New or Used: The CamCord of SUVs?

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
new or used the camcord of suvs

Josh writes:

I’m currently in the market for a 2005 or 2006 Chevy Tahoe Z71 and was wondering about when would be the best time to buy. Before you question the Tahoe, I’m probably one of the only people who can justify one. I live in Colorado and spend almost every weekend in the mountains hauling people and their gear up 4wd trails and snowy roads to trail heads and sleeping in the back.

I figure that given gas prices going up, this summer would probably see the values drop off. I like to do the opposite of everyone else who will be buying fuel efficient vehicles. But then I read an article by Steve that said the used car market is going to be getting worse. I’ve see prices go down some over the last 6 months (been watching the market), but not by much. So does this summer sound good, should I buy now, or wait for the future?

Steve Answers:

The stock market and the car market have one thing in common.

You can’t time them… unless you happen to be the .001% that have reliable inside information.

However you can look at certain indicators such as ‘days in inventory’, incentives, rebates, and unusually generous financing terms. Automotive News and a number of other automotive sites track these figures like clockwork.

But even with these opportunities, you are still going to be subjected to a sophisticated and long shell game at the dealership when it comes time to buy.

There is ‘some’ truth that the last few days of the month may lend themselves to special bonuses and incentives for a given dealership ‘if’ they hit a certain quota. However this numbers game isn’t always linear because not all sales become a reality.

A new car dealership has to deal with the fact that a lot of deals that are ‘written up’ during the weekend fall through the following Monday due to consumer financing issues. You also have folks who will get buyer’s remorse or simply lie when it comes time to buy their supposed new car. They walk away and all the dealership gets is wasted time and recycled paper.

My advice is not to prognosticate your way through this process. If you’re a ‘keeper’, just buy a leftover 2011 and consider that wise decision a healthy victory.

Sajeev Answers:

Don’t look at me: anyone who lives in Texas better NOT hate on someone for buying a Tahoe! That’s an executable offense!

And while I am no Steve Lang, I pretend to be for parties…or any special occasion.

I believe that summertime is the best time to buy. Wintertime brings lower gas prices (sometimes), snow, slick conditions and extended families arriving for the holidays: which brings families together into something more Tahoe like. And everyone knows a Z71, its a brand cache that’s rather hard to avoid in the flyover states. SUVs in your price range are old enough that buying new will never make sense…even if the used market pretty much sucks for a potential buyer at the retail level.

My only advice? Consider avoiding the Tahoe just like any value conscious sedan buyer avoids CamCords. Tahoes are in fact the CamCord of SUVs. Look at the Ford Expedition, it chronically sells for less. I haven’t seen much on the Jeep Commander, but I suspect it will also trade less than a Z71…and be even better off-road.

More to the point: have you considered going Commando(er)?

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to, and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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2 of 103 comments
  • Morbo Morbo on Dec 27, 2011

    But more on topic. BOF Ford Explorer? or it's unlived twns Mountaineer / Aviator? BOF Trailblazer or one of it's myriad clones, specifcally the extended length version. There's always the Nissan Armada. It's unloved and has got to be cheap nowadays.

  • DC Bruce DC Bruce on Dec 29, 2011

    An apparently good resource for determining the reliability of used vehicles (other than anecdotes from people who post on websites) is Posters will post their particular complaint about a particular make/model/year of vehicle, and the repairpal people will chime in if this is a common problem on this particular make/model/year. So, that's a little more useful than the "frequency of repair" data presented by Consumer Reports, or Mr. Karesh's "True Delta" information. That said, I would consult all three sources before considering any used car . . . so you have an idea of what you're getting into.

  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂