Volvo S80

Presumably, if you’re shopping for a used car, dollar value is a priority for you. Not that value isn’t a priority for most car shoppers, new or used, but used-car folks tend to ratchet things up a notch.

I get that. My wife and I have purchased more one- to two-year-old cars than we have new ones. Generally, we have sought out premium rides that, for whatever reason, have depreciated far faster than other cars in the same class.

Some cars simply aren’t worth seeking out used. Acura’s excellent RDX, for example, retains a stunning 71 percent of its retail value after 24 months. The Lexus RX 350 retains a mind-boggling 80 percent of its value over the same period of time. Those numbers are crazy, and they make buying a new RDX or RX much more attractive.

What we’re looking at here is a list of arguably cool luxury rides that, after two years in use, have depreciated to such an extent that they are now compelling buys. Whereas the aforementioned Acura held on to more than 70 percent of its value, we’re seeking out cars that are going for 50 percent or less. Worth noting is that after 24 months, most of these cars still have another two to three years of warranty remaining in force.

Note: All residual value quotes come courtesy of the Kelley Blue Book Residual Value Guide. Note also: I am quoting Carmax prices here because those listings should better reflect national conditions than any local source. Motivated shoppers ready to do battle with a private dealer may well get a better deal than the prices listed here.

The $14,000 Question: Used-Car Options for Around $250 a Month


2010 Volvo S80 (base)
KBB residual value: 45%
Carmax listings (20,000-30,000 miles): $26,998
2012 base price: $38,425

Shoppers looking for examples of this Swedish mini limo will likely need to peruse local Volvo lots for more choices, as Carmax has just a single example listed this week. Those so inclined will find a car with a classy, understated cabin and a smooth and very refined drivetrain. Most examples will likely be equipped with all-wheel drive, which will add a little to the asking price.


2010 Hyundai Genesis Sedan (4.6)
KBB residual value: 49%
Carmax listings (20,000-30,000 miles): $27,998
2012 base price: $45,350

We would have gone with the 3.8 V6 model here, but its 53-percent KBB residual rating came in just over our stated criteria. As with the Volvo, the Carmax listings were a bit thin for the Genesis Sedan. But the example found came in under $30,000—pretty attractive for a roomy, nearly 400-horsepower sedan with oodles of cabin space and loads of leather.

Hyundai Genesis Sedan


2010 Jaguar XF (base)
KBB residual value: 50%
Carmax listings (20,000-30,000 miles): $32,998-34,899
2012 base price: $53,875

Lots of power, surprising handling prowess, and a gorgeous cabin—what’s not to love? Toss in the nearly half-price ticket to entry on two-year-old examples of this Jaguar XF and you have a pretty compelling used-car option here. Those who still whisper about Jaguar reliability are reminded that this car is still under factory warranty.

Jaguar XF


2010 Lincoln MKS (base)
KBB residual value: 44%
Carmax listings (20,000-30,000 miles): $21,998-$26,998
2012 base price: $42,375

We’ve always felt that, as a new car, the MKS was lacking in character and handling prowess, and that the asking price was a tad high. But at these prices, this roomy, classy, tech-packed sedan has a lot going for it. Note that the rocket-emulating EcoBoost version of this large Lincoln goes for substantially higher prices.

Lincoln MKS

Should I Buy a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Vehicle?