Hammer Time: 'Old' New? < or > 'All' New?

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time old new or all new

The best deal.

Most consumers use this phrase interchangeably with what they really want. The best car.

The question is whether they can find both at the same place.

Small confession here. I usually could care less if a new generation model is 10% better or 15% better than the old one.

To be frank, I consider the majority of new models to be cheaper products that, over the course of years, will fail to live up to the standards of the older model.

It may drive better at first. It’s new after all. But give it 80k miles of driving and many of those pressed plastic bits are going to be stressed to the point where vibrations and noise will make many of these cars unpleasant to drive. CVT transmissions and cheap plastics still don’t hold up from what I have seen at the auctions, and until they do, I won’t be endorsing any new model that is laden with them.

So what is a good deal these days?

1) The unpopular car that is well engineered.

2) Which is still left at the dealer lot during model changeover time.

3) That is easy to maintain and keep for the long haul.

Here’s two local models in my neck of the woods that caught my eye. Specifically because a friend of mine was recently looking for a new set of wheels. ( click!)

If you look at the top two vehicles, you will see two leftover 2012 Honda Accords. Both stickshifts. Both of these have been in their inventory forever. One was priced at $17,600 when I looked at it online this past weekend. The other was priced at $17,800.

This weekend I shared the information with a friend, who may have carried it forward to someone else. So what happens? It goes up of course … perhaps until the consumer calls the dealership and ask them if they are willing to make a deal on a car they have been sitting on for 120+ days.

Click on the stock photos for the white one, and you see it was built April 2012. The gray one? It’s upside down. But if you stand on your head you’ll find that it was built February 2012.

These are two Accords that are similar in their product staleness to what I bought for my late father back in the day. He bought a 1992 Lincoln Mark VII at a time when the Mark VIII had already launched. As a result, Ford was heavily discounting an already unpopular model, that also happened to fit my father’s desires to a T.

Nine years and one unavoidable accident later, we went out and bought the outgoing Lexus ES300 at a time when the new generation had already hit the pavement. Was the older model supposedly better than the new one? No. But that older model had already made hundreds of thousands of consumers happy. The Lexus also received the full benefit of five years worth of quality improvements and manufacturing prowess.

Those attributes are seldom factored in. However in the long run, if you are the type who is a ‘keeper’ who prefers to keep their cars for 150k miles or more, this is where your sweet spot will lie.

An outoging model. High quality. Great reputation. Proven powertrain. Discounted price.

Eleven years later that Lexus is still vault like when you drive it. I am willing to bet that the Accords I mentioned above will be a nice fit as well for somebody out there who doesn’t mind rowing their own gears.

So folks, when it comes time to buying your next new car, weigh everything in. Are you a keeper? Or a trader? Chances are if you look at your next new car as a long-term investment, it may pay to shop for that ‘old’ new instead of the ‘all’ new.

Agree? Disagree? Stories? Please post away. All the best!

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2 of 65 comments
  • Snakebit Snakebit on Oct 31, 2012

    I, too, haven't yet driven a Dart, and I'm hoping to. It looks good on paper and in the showroom, now I wonder what it's like on the road, and trying one for week as a rental might be ideal. The very time that the current Impala came out, a friend visited me from L.A., and he was driving one for local rental. I asked, 'whata U think?', and he said, 'it's just your basic rental, that's all'. Each time I see someone in a current Impala, I ask myself what made them do that? Was it the thousands of dollars in trunk money/rebates or that's what their company issued them, was it that their wide bum wouldn't be comfortable in anything more sensible, like a Malibu?. I've had Chargers and Chrysler 200's for rentals, didn't want them at first, but found that for just a week or less I got used to them. The latest rental wrinkle I've found is that I'll reserve a Focus or Altima or Mazda6, and the person at the rental counter(usually Hertz)will say, 'I'm sorry Mr. Snakebit, we don't have any of those now, but I'm authorized to upgrade you to a Crown Victoria.'And I usually have said, ' I'm sorry, too, but in my world, it's unlawful to use 'upgrade' and 'Crown Victoria' in the same sentence. Let's try again, shall we?' And Hertz usually finds something magically much closer to what I find acceptable. What's a bit maddening about Hertz at LAX is that they probably have the largest and most diverse selection of cars in the States. But I find that they're not all offered to the general public, even to a regular customer. As for why Amercans usually associate bigger with fancier, or compact with bare bones content, I'm at a loss. If they looked at cars like the VW GTI or Focus ST five-door, they might wise up.

  • Phlipski Phlipski on Nov 09, 2012

    I want to thank Mr. Lang for this article. It spurred me to look for end of model year deals which led me to Edmunds.com vehicle incentives link. There I saw 2012 Pathfinders with $5K in rebates. Since the 2013 was coming soon Nissan is practically giving away the 2012s. So after a little dealer haggling I settled with Ft. Worth Nissan on a 2012 SV rwd model for $24K plus TTL. The total out the door price was $25,809! MSRP was $33,665 (not including ttl). I wasn't planning on buying an SUV until the spring, and even then I was planning on going used, but lightly used car prices are crazy right now.

  • El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?
  • Buickman yeah, get Ron Fellows each time I get a Vette. screw Caddy.
  • Dusterdude The Detroit 2.5 did a big disservice by paying their CEO’s so generously ( overpaying them ) It is a valid talking point for for the union ) However , the bottom line - The percentage of workers in the private sector who have a defined benefit pension plan is almost non existent - and the reason being is it’s unaffordable ! . This is a a huge sticking point as to have lower tier workers join would be prohibitive ( aside from other high price demands being requested - ie >30% wage gain request ) . Do the math - can a company afford to pay employees for 35 years , followed by funding a pension for a further 30 years ?
  • El scotto Human safety driver? Some on here need a human safety thinker.
  • Carlson Fan Stupid vehicle, that can't do any of the things a truck should be able to do. If I want something fast/quick and sporty I'll get a corvette or a 4 dr sport sedan. Taking a truck & neutering it to try and make it into something it's not is just pointless. But maybe that's the point of this road disaster