The depreciation that comes as soon as you drive a new car off the lot can be staggering. To avoid this, many savvy shoppers buy gently used vehicles – cars and trucks that are about a year old. Often sold as dealer demos, these autos can be a very good deal for shoppers.

We analyzed the data from over 14 million car sales, to find the top 20 lightly used cars for families who want the best bargain.

Family vehicles were split into two categories: sedans and crossover-SUVs/minivans. Our lists only include vehicles that received a 4- or 5-Star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and have child safety locks and safety seat anchors. We ranked the results by price difference between average list prices of new and used vehicle sales.

Top 10 Lightly Used Family Sedan Bargains

Make Model Avg Price New Avg Price Used % Price Difference New to Used
Lincoln MKS $46,502 $30,463 -34.5%
Volvo S60 $41,248 $27,044 -34.4%
Lincoln MKZ/MKZ Hybrid $41,913 $27,736 -33.8%
Cadillac ATS $41,982 $28,631 -31.8%
Buick Regal $32,422 $22,305 -31.2%
Kia Optima Hybrid $28,627 $19,784 -30.9%
Cadillac CTS $53,688 $37,298 -30.5%
Cadillac XTS $54,119 $37,605 -30.5%
Chrysler 200 $25,106 $17,517 -30.2%
Buick LaCrosse $38,120 $26,690 -30.0%

 

In sedans, the top five are all luxury cars, and premium brands make up the bulk of the top ten list. Given the faster early depreciation of luxury cars on the whole, this is not a surprise.

Topping our list are the Lincoln MKS and Volvo S60, which have a price difference from new to 1-year-used of 34.5 and 34.4 percent, respectively. This means that the average purchase price of the MKS averaged $46,502, but as a 1-year-old purchase, it’s priced at just $30,463 (average).

For fans of the Lincoln brand, the MKZ and its Hybrid option rank third on our list with an average price drop of 33.8 percent. The Cadillac ATS and Buick Regal finish off the top five with 31.8 and 31.2 percent drops respectively.

Several high-MPG vehicles made the top 10 list of sedans ranked by price drop. The Volvo S60 and Chrysler 200 are rated at 29 and 28 mpg highway, respectively and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is rated at 40 mpg highway.

Top 10 Lightly Used SUV/Minivan Bargains

Make Model Avg Price New Avg Price Used % Price Difference New to Used
Lincoln MKX $49,483 $34,465 -30.3%
Kia Sorento $31,653 $23,262 -26.5%
Ford Expedition EL $61,172 $46,057 -24.7%
Nissan Murano $37,772 $28,571 -24.4%
Ford Expedition $56,295 $42,843 -23.9%
Hyundai Tucson $27,424 $20,879 -23.9%
Mazda CX-9 $36,676 $28,182 -23.2%
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport $30,105 $23,305 -22.6%
Kia Sedona $32,530 $22,882 -29.7%
BMW X3 $49,937 $38,989 -21.9%

 

The Lincoln MKX ranks first on the SUV/Minivan top 10 list, with a 30.3 percent price drop after one year. The average purchase price as a new vehicle had the Lincoln MKX selling at $49,483, but a year later selling at just $34,465. The MKX is the only luxury vehicle on the list of top family SUVs and minivans to buy lightly used.

The Kia Sorento ranks second with a 26.5 percent price drop, followed by the Ford Expedition EL (24.7%), the Nissan Murano (24.4%) and the Ford Expedition (23.9%).

The 1-year price drop is smaller among crossover-SUVs, which may be because crossovers tend to hold their resale value fairly well. Interestingly, nearly all of the crossover-SUVs on the top 10 list have higher than average MPG ratings compared with the overall market (22 mpg), including the top-rated Kia Sorento, Nissan Murano and Hyundai Tucson.

For extra passenger capacity, the best used family cars include some large crossover-SUVs such as the extended wheelbase Ford Expedition EL and the standard Ford Expedition, as well as the Mazda CX-9.

Methodology

 

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 14 million cars sold between August 1, 2015 and July 31, 2016. For the price analysis, new cars were from model years 2015 and 2016. Lightly or 1-year-old used cars were defined as cars from the 2014-2015 model years with mileage within 20 percent of 13,476, the average annual miles traveled in the U.S., according to the Department of Transportation. Models with fewer than 250 new and 250 used cars sold were excluded from the analysis. The average asking price of the 1-year-old used cars were compared to those of new cars from the same model. The difference in price for each car was expressed as a percentage of the new model average price. Only models which had 4- or 5-Star safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and which had child safety locks and child seat anchors as standard features as of the 2015 model year were included for further analysis. MPG and interior volumes reported come from the dimensions of the 2015 model year.

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