Ask Jack: Does New Beat Big?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
ask jack does new beat big

The word “disruptive” is thrown around quite a bit in the auto industry, usually to mean “some wacky idea that won’t succeed without a multi-billion-dollar investment, an outrageous set of coincidences, and an overnight change of heart affecting two-thirds of humanity.”

Allow me to offer an example of something that has truly disrupted the auto business without so much as a single fawning piece in Fast Company or WIRED: the massive and significant extension of reliable service life among cars and trucks built after, say, 2001 or thereabouts. In 1957, there was no reason to have a sixth digit on an odometer; in 1987, owning a car with 100,000 miles on it meant that you were either dirt poor or a seriously skilled shadetree mechanic.

In 2017, 100,000 miles is the new 30,000 miles. People are paying real money for cars with six-figure odometer readings. Hell, people are taking out five-year used-car loans on vehicles with six-figure odometer readings. More importantly, the social stigma associated with owning a used car has more or less disappeared in many circles.

As a consequence, today’s buyers operate in a sliding-scale market where mileage affects price but doesn’t always have much effect on utility. It can be a good idea to get “more car” or “more truck” even if it means accepting an older vehicle with a longer history. Which is where today’s episode of Ask Jack begins.

Hector asks:

I know you have a Silverado and was wondering if you like it enough to advise for the purchase of a used truck from that same bodystyle. I have a budget of between $25,000 and $30,000 and I could get a 2014 Silverado crew cab with 60,000 miles or so for that money. Or I could get an almost-new Colorado crew cab for that same money. There are dealers with 5,000 miles on a Colorado from 2017 and they will sell for $25,000. Do I get the bigger truck with more capability or do I get the new truck that will last longer? I don’t tow anything; I use my truck for my family and for hauling toys.

The first thing I did was to check out the market. Sure enough, 2014 Silverado CCSB (crew cab short bed) trucks with between 50,000 and 75,000 miles on them are selling for between $25,000 and $30,000. That won’t get you an LTZ or High Country but it will get you a 2LT. The interesting thing is that you can get that same truck brand-new for about $41k during one of the big-discount GM sales. If you can buy a new truck for $41k then sell it for $25k with 70,000 miles on it then I think you’ve gotten some really good value there. Go put 70,000 miles on a new BMW 750Li and see what it’s worth afterwards.

Hector’s numbers on the Colorado added up as well. There’s a surfeit of lightly-used Colorado LT crew cabs in the $25k range. Most of them have under 10,000 miles. If you’re willing to take a work truck with the V6 option, this one looks like a heck of a deal.

Obviously a Silverado has more capability than a Colorado, even if the biggest “toy” Hector hauls is an ATV or a pair of dirt bikes. The question is whether it’s worth taking an older truck that’s out of warranty in order to get that capability. In this case, I’d be inclined to advise against it. There’s nothing to say that a 2014 Silverado with the 5.3-liter won’t run a quarter-million miles without much trouble. Nor can you reasonably expect to see a significant fuel economy advantage with a Colorado.

What you do get with the smaller truck, however, is a factory warranty plus the pleasure of driving the most trouble-free miles any vehicle will have — by which I mean the first 50,000 miles. So unless Hector really needs the extra space, power, and utility of the Silverado, I think he should pick the Colorado. Today’s vehicles might have a remarkably long life, but it’s still worth starting closer to the beginning of that life.

[Image: General Motors]

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6 of 77 comments
  • Ajla Ajla on Jan 09, 2018

    2014 was the first year of the K2 Silverado and I would not buy a first year GM vehicle.

    • See 3 previous
    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Jan 10, 2018

      @Lou_BC My F150 Heritage is probably had the best assembly quality of any vehicle I've owned.

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Jan 10, 2018

    Quite accurate I'd say, and I am squarely in this market. I will NEVER buy a new car, I can't afford it and don't want to take the depreciation hit anyway. Honestly, it's a golden age of extremely reliable cars with 80-100,000 miles. I think the best deals are cars known for reliability, but also ones that are known to be popular with older folks who get them serviced religiously. This means of course older, high-end Lexus are screaming deals - doubly so as they don't have the cache of German cars. I drive a 2000 Lexus GS right now, my next car will be a 2006 Lexus LS430, which I hope to buy in the next year or two. I'll likely pay CAD$10-14,000 for it and it will likely have 150,000KM. And being what it is it will likely be as reliable as the day is long and provide amazing luxury. All for the price of a newer, used Accord. Now, don't me started on used 4Runners that are going up in price no matter the age, rust, mileage or condition.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.