The Best Used Luxury Car You Can Buy

2005 Volkswagen Phaeton

Do you remember the Volkswagen Phaeton?

This is the car that proved very few people in the U.S. were interested in a $75,000 Volkswagen. The Phaeton was introduced for the 2004 model year and was gone by 2006…so for two short years, American auto buyers had the chance to buy the nicest, most expensive Volkswagen ever sold.

An Audi-sourced 4.2-liter V8 was the *small* entry-level motor, while a massive 6.0-liter W12 was the up-level choice. Both engines were, and still are, magnificent.

The Phaeton was built in the same plant that created the Bentley Continental and Flying Spur. From the inside, one might never guess he or she is in a Volkswagen. From the outside, no one would ever think the Phaeton is anything more than a larger version of the Passat.

That’s where the Phaeton failed. Now, a good 10 years later, it’s time to look at the Phaeton again.

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Can a Hyundai Be Better Than a BMW?


There’s something seductive about the idea of buying a used luxury car.

Getting a car that will make friends and family swoon is exciting, so why not cruise around in the kind of style only a used Jaguar or BMW can offer?

Stepping a few model years into the past can get you a car that costs less than an entry-level new car. Plus, used luxury cars usually have better driving dynamics and possess way more brand panache than your average new Hyundai.

However, buying older luxury can cost you more than you might realize, and not just in maintenance costs.

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The $40,000 Bentley: A Good Idea?

2005 Bentley Continental GT

Even when I’m not shopping for a car, I’m shopping for a car.

It probably happens to you, too. For me, I’ll just be going about my normal day-to-day business when suddenly, out of nowhere, I think it’s a good idea to buy a car.

Maybe driving past a dealership and seeing a great price on the window of a perfect car spurs the thought. Maybe it’s an online ad, or maybe it’s just a friend or family member who says something that sparks an interest.

It has happened to me twice in the past week.

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Buying Used Luxury? Think Twice

How much are those rings worth to you?

How much are those rings worth to you?

Driving a luxury car for the price of a Honda is an appealing proposition.

I’ve advocated for it on these very pages. Why would someone spend $25,000 on a new Accord or CR-V when they could have a used Audi A6 or Q7?

The benefits make it seem like a no-brainer. For the same money you get more luxury, more brand panache, better performance, and an all-around cooler vehicle. Everything’s great, up until your new luxury car needs some basic maintenance and repairs.

I’d like to share my personal story, so you might avoid the fate that has fallen upon me.

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The Cadillac of Big Sedans Isn’t a Cadillac… Yet

Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

There are two great ironies in this world.

The Cadillac name, throughout the ages of its existence, has survived as a stand-in for luxury, even as the cars themselves have lost much of their cachet over the years.

Today we see and hear “the Cadillac of such-and-such,” over and over, as the name stands for the highest attainable levels of quality.

That’s great irony number one. Today’s Cadillac models, while fine cars, aren’t associated with the best of the best.

Great irony number two is this:

There’s isn’t currently a “Cadillac of Cadillacs.”

However, that is about to change.

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Do You Have an Older Car That Has Aged Gracefully?

Sure, they looked pretty good when new...

Sure, they looked pretty good when new…

Aging gracefully is important, for humans and automobiles. As this isn’t a blog about Homo sapiens, I’ll refrain from my judgments on the human side of age and grace.

No car, though, is off limits.

Take a couple of 10-year-old cars, put them next to one another, and note the difference in how they have aged. Obviously, how the well the car has been cared for makes a huge difference in the way it looks. Some cars, though, just look every bit their age, while others still look surprisingly new. That’s a function of design and build quality.

Take, for example, these two vehicles:

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When New Cars Lose Value Fast, Used Buyers Win!

2009 Jaguar XF Supercharged

2009 Jaguar XF

Quick depreciation is a terrible thing. And a beautiful thing.

For buyers of new luxury cars, a sinking value can lead to abandoning a car after just a couple years of ownership. For buyers of used luxury cars, it can lead to some killer deals on cars that would have been unattainable new.

Think about it: If you had the choice between a brand-new, top-of-the-line Toyota Camry or a 3-year-old Jaguar XF, wouldn’t the Jag bring you an exponentially greater amount of happiness? Of course, it might also bring heftier insurance and repair bills, but that’s beside the point. We’re talking image here—and a well-priced used luxury car can provide ample amounts of that!

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Low-Cost Luxury Spurs Tough Decisions

Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

At some point in our lives, each of us must face The Decision.

For some, The Decision must be made immediately upon college graduation. For others, it doesn’t surface until later in life. But The Decision is unavoidable. Automakers know about The Decision and will do anything in their power to help you make the one they believe is right.

For them, the earlier The Decision is made, the more likely they are to earn a lifetime customer. That is why more and more luxury automakers are rolling out entry-level cars. Convince a 25-year-old to make The Decision, and many years of profitable upgrades await. The Decision, or course, is whether to spend money on an entry-level new luxury car or spend the same amount on a late-model, higher-end used car.

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