Gap Shrinking Between New and Used Prices

The gap between new- and used-vehicle pricing in many segments has narrowed significantly, with new vehicles, on average, selling for only 11.5% more than a comparable 1-year-old used car, reports Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights, Kelley Blue Book. 

Used subcompact and compact cars only offer consumers an average savings between 5 to 7%, while used hybrid cars and mid-size crossovers are within 3 to 4% of an equivalent new vehicle.  After factoring in incentives and lower finance APRs on new cars, purchasing a new vehicle is in many cases only marginally more than purchasing used. 

While traditionally shoppers would save thousands of dollars by purchasing a slightly used vehicle rather than new, this is no longer the case. As used-car values remain near their all-time peak, Kelley Blue Book sees new-vehicle sales cannibalizing used vehicle sales. 

During the past several months, Kelley Blue Book has observed a shift in shopper activity from used to new vehicles based on the 14 million visitors to each month, as well as new- and used-vehicle sales.  In terms of Web traffic on the company’s car-shopping website, there has been a 5 percentage point shift in new-car shopper activity since January.  Similarly, new-vehicle sales have been increasing consistently year-over-year (increasing 9% in July alone), while used-vehicle registrations declined by 4 to 5% year-over-year from March through May.

The choice to purchase a new or used car can certainly vary depending on the model being considered.  For instance, a consumer considering a Ford Focus can save as much as $3,000 by purchasing a used model-year 2011; however, the strength of the 2012 redesign may prompt them to spend a little more on the latest and greatest model.  A consumer in the market for a Toyota FJ Cruiser should almost always opt to buy new.  A brand new 2012 FJ Cruiser currently has a Fair Purchase Price of $28,500, a mere $300 more than a used 2011 FJ Cruiser with 20,000 miles.

To assist consumers in identifying those vehicles that may make more sense to buy new, Kelley Blue Book has compiled a list of 10 new vehicles that are only marginally more expensive than their 1-year-old counterpart.

10 New Vehicles to Buy New Rather Than Used
Make Model Trim New MSRP Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price (NEW)* Kelley Blue Book Sugg. Retail Value (USED)

New - Used


Chevrolet Camaro LT Coupe 2D $26,180 $25,261 $25,135 $126/0.5%
Toyota 4Runner SR5 Sport Utility 4D $33,640 $32,294 $32,040 $254/0.8%
Toyota FJ Cruiser Sport Utility 2D $28,515 $28,444 $28,200 $244/0.9%
Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sedan 4D $18,245 $17,450 $17,300 $150/0.9%
Jeep Wrangler Sport SUV 2D $22,970 $22,281 $22,000 $281/1.3%
Honda Fit Sport Hatchback 4D $17,850 $17,234 $17,000 $234/1.4%
Volkswagen Golf TDI Hatchback 4D $25,705 $24,168 $23,730 $438/1.8%
Kia Rio LX Sedan 4D $14,150 $13,433 $13,150 $283/2.1%
Mazda MAZDA2 SPort Hatchback 4D $15,325 $14,406 $14,100 $306/2.2%
Chevrolet Equinox LT Sport Utility 4D $25,875 $24,845 $24,305 $540/2.2%

*Fair Purchase Price reflects value of a MY2012 new vehicle while Sugg. Retail Value reflects a MY2011 used vehicle.

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