When buying or leasing a new car, Kiplinger readers know to consider depreciation and residual value. In a purchase, the better your new ride holds its value, the more resale dollars you’ll eventually capture. With leases, the higher the residual value, the lower the monthly payment. But when it comes to buying used, depreciation can be your friend. For a variety of reasons, some used cars have depreciated faster than their peers but are still great values.
You have to be willing to look past the blue-chip brands in each class of cars–usually the Toyotas, Hondas and Subarus–to the unsung and overlooked Fords, Chevys and Hyundais. American and Korean brands are turning out some high-quality vehicles lately that have slipped under the radar of the used car market. The high residual values and costs of the blue chips, while well deserved, are due largely to their popularity, notes Ronald Montoya, senior consumer editor for Edmunds.com.
The hidden values, by comparison, might mean “buying from a brand you’re not familiar with, or not comfortable with,” Montoya explains.
And note that a used car with a rock-bottom price isn’t necessarily a steal. Some fetch a fraction of their original price because, well, they’re not very good. But working with Edmunds, and with an eye to reliability (as measured by Consumer Reports), we looked at a range of two-year-old vehicles (an age representing a “sweet spot” on the depreciation curve) and lined up eight models that are the hidden values of the used car market. Have a look.