Do Old Used Cars Really Cost As Much As New Ones?

2012 Toyota 4Runner

The definition of “old” has changed a lot. An old car, according to me, has been in service for a good decade. Even that definition can be stretched, since I own two 2004 vehicles that are coming up on a decade of life but still run like new.

So an article with the headline “Old Cars Are Worth Almost As Much As New Ones,” caught my attention. I clicked, read the article and felt deceived. The “old” cars mentioned were one model year old. Whoa! That makes my cars museum-worthy.

Of course a 2011 vehicle is going to sell for something close to the price of a 2012. That’s no surprise. It would be really interesting if cars that are three or four years old were selling for close to the price of new, but that’s not the case. Even two-year-old Toyota and Honda cars sometimes sell for close to the price of new.

The article says,

On average, new cars are selling for only 11.5 percent more than their year-old counterparts these days. That’s the smallest gap in 14 years.

There’s an example of a 2012 Camaro selling for just $126 less than the 2013 model and the 2011 Toyota 4Runner priced just $254 under a new 2013. That’s just not very surprising considering the lack of lease returns after so many automakers gave up leasing the last few years. Paired with people holding on to their cars longer and fewer new ones rolling off the production lines, used cars will continue to hold their value for a while longer.

That’s why the CarGurus used listings are so popular. Customers want the best deal, and CarGurus listings show exactly how good a deal each listing is compared with the listed prices of similar cars. It makes quick work of price shopping and can give you negotiation power should you fall in love with a car priced too high.

The truth is, if you’re shopping for a used car that’s only a year old, you might consider new instead. If you want to go older than that, like most buyers of used cars, dive into the used listings and find yourself a screaming deal on a great car!

If the prices were almost identical, why buy a year-old used car instead of new?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Chevrolet Camaro
Used Toyota 4Runner


  1. sometimes you can get better financing terms on a late model used car than you can on new cars. Although margins between new and year-old used cars runs around 10%, the gap is much larger if you are trading in. Dealers have a tendency to overcharge on used cars (most dealers make more on used than new) and they take that out of your hide if you trade in.

  2. I saw that story too, it was so stupid. Thanks for calling it out and providing a sane voice about used prices…

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