These Depreciation Bin Specials Are Your Best Bet for Bargain, Off-Lease Bliss

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
these depreciation bin specials are your best bet for bargain off lease bliss

Late-model used cars have long been the clever shopper’s new vehicle alternative. While hubris keeps some of us from dirtying our driveways with anything that isn’t fresh from the factory, bargain hunters know purchasing an off-lease vehicle is a decent way to save a trunkload of cash and obtain something that can still be considered modern. It also provides cash-strapped individuals with the ability to buy something normally above their means.

With leasing growing in popularity and off-lease vehicles pouring into the market like pigeons on a slice of bread, shoppers can find late-model, low-mileage cars for roughly half the price of a new one. Often, still under warranty. Some deals are better than others, and a recent analysis of 2014 model-year vehicles highlights several models with above-average depreciation rates buyers can easily take advantage of.

iSeeCars compounded more than 5.8 million sales to parse out the models with the greatest loss in value after three years, when most leased vehicles join the used car market. While the average rate of deprecation was 34.5 percent, Cadillac’s CTS and ATS clocked in value drops of 51.4 and 50.4, respectively. That’s terrible news for those who bought one new but food for thought to anyone considering a second-hand luxury vehicle. You can easily find a 2014 CTS for well under $28,000, according to those metrics. However, some light browsing would suggest there are even better deals to be found with a modicum of effort.

While a little more expensive than the Caddies, Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class and C-Class sedans also posted higher than normal deprecation rates of about 48 percent. Those models are followed closely by the BMW 5 Series. The 3 Series and Infiniti’s Q50 also represent a good bargain, though the latter vehicle holds its resale value a little better with only 46.9 percent of its original value lost.

If you’re noticing a trend with these pre-owned vehicles, it’s because these are the most commonly leased cars in North America. “Whether you call them almost new, gently used or lightly used, the fact that auto leases have risen 91 percent in the last five years means a boon for shoppers who want a late-model car at a bargain price,” explained Phong Ly, CEO of iSeeCars. “While some of the best bargains we identified are leased more than others, they all have the most depreciation after three years and they’re great buying opportunities when you look at the data.”

Not all of the best deals were lease hounds, however. The Volkswagen Jetta, Ford Fusion, and Ford Focus all depreciated more than 45 percent.

Losses on utility vehicles are a little leaner. While shoppers can find a three-year-old Cadillac SRX, Buick Enclave, Kia Sorento, or Infiniti QX60 (representing a 42.4- to 44.0-percent loss), SUVs typically hold their value better than cars. But no segment’s value is quite as sturdy as the mighty pickup truck.

“Below-average depreciation isn’t surprising when you consider the increased demand for trucks,” said Ly. “In a previous study, we found that original owners also keep their pickups longer than the average vehicle.”

The average three-year depreciation for trucks was 28.5 percent, making it the only vehicle segment with all its models yielding depreciation rates below the overall average. While the Ram 1500, Ford F-150, and GMC Sierra 1500 all deprecated faster than their contemporaries, they were still so close to the segment average that it wouldn’t be worth a comparative analysis.

If you’re hunting for a mind-blowing deal on the second-hand market, stick to the sedan.

[Image: General Motors]

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5 of 67 comments
  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Jul 08, 2017

    As long as the cheap leases continue, that's what we'll do. 4-5 oil changes, a couple of tire rotations, wiper blades, and gas...that's IT. After 3 years (really more like 30-32 months because they pull us ahead each time), dump it for a new one. No muss no fuss, never out of warranty, no sales tax, at least not directly, no trade-in haggling and hassles.

    • See 1 previous
    • FreedMike FreedMike on Jul 08, 2017

      +1 to Cincy. If you don't do a ton of driving, and you like getting a new car every few years, leasing is the best way to go. By far. And +1 to the follow up comment as well. There are websites that will explain how leases are calculated, and apps that you can put on your phone. Make sure the dealer is disclosing the money factor accurately, plug the info into your calculator, and make sure it adds up. If they're trying to sneak stuff in there, it won't.

  • 22_RE_Speedwagon 22_RE_Speedwagon on Jul 08, 2017

    New 2016 Q50s are being advertised for 27% off MSRP right now in the Boston area.

  • Duane Baldinger Where can I send the cash? It's a surprise BDAY present for my cupcake Mailman. D Duane
  • Art Vandelay Pour one out for the Motors Liquidation Corporation
  • Bill Wade Norm, while true I'll leave you with this. My 2023 RAM is running Android 8 released in 2017.My wife's navigation on her GM truck is a 2021 release, I believe the latest. Android Auto seems to update very week or two. Now, which would you rather have? Anybody with a car a couple of years old NEVER sees any updates. Heck, if your TV is a few years old it's dead on updates. At least cell phones are rapidly updated. If your old phone won't update, buy another $200 phone. If your GM vehicle doesn't update do what, buy another $50,000 GM vehicle?
  • Lou_BC Once again, Mustang is the last pony car standing. Camaro RIP, Challenger RIP.
  • FreedMike Next up should DEFINITELY be the Cadillac Eldorado. On the subject of Caddies, I saw a Lyriq in person for the first time a couple of days ago, and I'm changing my tune on its' styling. In person, it works quite well, and the interior is very nicely executed.