Buy this, not that: Is luxury

What luxury car should I get?

Luxury cars are often called "aspirational vehicles." In other words, they are something many people strive toward purchasing one day. A new luxury car might not be attainable. But a used luxury car might be. The big question is this: Is a used luxury a smart choice?

Consider this scenario: You're prepared to spend $30, 000 on your next car. You can easily afford a new non-luxury sedan, like a Honda Accord, loaded with such options as leather, navigation, automatic climate control and a rearview camera.

What if, for about $2, 500 less, you could get a three-year-old BMW 328i with just under 10, 000 miles on it? Or if the 3 Series is too small, how about a four-year-old Mercedes-Benz E350 with 38, 000 miles for about $29, 900? It's a tempting proposition. But is it a good choice?

Keep in mind that the prices above are just examples. The actual price will depend on the specific vehicle, where it's being sold and whether it is being sold by a dealer or a private seller.

For the purposes of this article, we're going to use a 2011 BMW 328i and a 2014 Honda Accord EX-L with navigation as our reference points. We've come up with a list of pros and cons of a new non-luxury versus used luxury car-buying decision.

A New Non-Luxury Car


  • Perfect condition: The car will only have a few miles on it and you are its first owner. A used car's mileage and condition will vary.
  • Longer warranty: New cars come with at least a three-year limited warranty and at least a five-year warranty for the powertrain. Some luxury cars have longer warranties, but there may only be a year or two left on them, depending on the age of the car you're interested in buying. Buying a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle can offset this to some degree, but you'll have to pay more for the car.
  • Better selection: You can go to any franchise dealership and find the new car you want. Used cars are sold everywhere, but they will have a greater degree of variation because of their mileage and condition level.
  • Better incentives: The new vehicle may have incentives that can drop the price or offer a low interest rate. Interest rates are typically higher on used vehicles.
  • Newer technology: The newer the car, the more modern features it will have. This can apply to safety (more airbags, better crumple zones) and infotainment technology (streaming audio, better smartphone integration).
  • Less maintenance: A new car should only need oil changes and tire rotations. Some new cars actually come with free maintenance. If something breaks down, it will be covered under the new-car warranty. The used luxury car might have free maintenance, too, but it may only have a year or two remaining on its coverage.
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