When you're buying a new car, how well it holds its value can be a prime consideration. But when buying a used car, the math is reversed. A big loss for the original owner in the car's first year can present you with a bargain -- if, of course, the car is a good one.
The automotive website iSeeCars.com has done a study to see what cars are the biggest bargains as used one-year-olds. The cars on the list, which runs heavily to luxury sedans, all delivers savings of 31 percent or more versus the new-car price for the same car's current year model.
The study reviewed 14 million used-car sales between Aug. 1, 2015, and July 31, 2016, to get the average depreciation figures. Because of the time span, in earlier cases it was 2014 models vs. new 2015s, while later it was 2015 used vs. 2016 new. The price and savings amount average all those transactions.
iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly explains that "The cars that experienced the greatest changes in price tended to be those that are less popular, especially luxury brands." Luxury models almost always decline in value faster than mainstream brands -- especially when compared with those like Honda with very strong resale values.
But recently sales of all sedans have slowed while lower gas prices have encouraged strong sales of pickups and SUVs. And indeed, the top five vehicles on the study's list of those that hold their value best -- all 8 percent or less loss in the first year -- included three pickups, a Jeep Wrangler and a Honda Fit.
We picked out five of the most interesting bargains from the iSeeCars list to tell you more about. So if you're interested in an almost-new luxury car (Volvo, Mercedes, Lincoln) or near-luxury (Buick and Chrysler) sedan, click ahead for more details.
2015 Volvo S60
The savings on a one-year-old S60 with an average price of $27,044 is $14,204. The standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine both provides strong acceleration and is rated for 25 MPG in city driving and 37 on the highway -- exceptionally good for this class.
Test drivers also say that the S60 has a comfortable ride and crisp handling., And of course, being a Volvo, it comes with multiple safety features. The City Safety system can stop the vehicle at low speeds to avoid hitting pedestrians. And the lane keeper warns you if you're drifting out of your lane.
2015 Mercedes-Benz C250
The only car on our list that's a two-door coupe, this sleek Benz delivers savings of $15,247 on an average price of $44,454.
Completely redesigned for 2015, the C-Class coupe and sedans are praised by test drivers for their comfortable ride and luxurious interior. One reviewer even called the interior "stunning."
The base four-cylinder turbocharged engine gives reasonable acceleration and is rated for 22 MPG in the city, 31 on the highway.
2015 Lincoln MKS
At an average price of $46,502 this sedan saves $16,039 versus a new 2016 model.
Ford's luxury division has struggled, but many of the reviewers surveyed by U.S. News like the MKS. They praise it for a comfortable interior, composed handling and strong brakes. Unlike some competitors, the MKS has a six-cylinder engine as standard, providing good acceleration. It's rated for 19 MPG in city driving, 28 on the highway.
2015 Chrysler 300
The 300 is Chrysler's bad boy upscale car. With aggressive styling and faster acceleration than you would expect in a big car, it has found a steady audience. The savings with buying a 2015 vs. 2016 is $11,525 on an average price of $36,317.
The 300 has a comfortable interior and is well-equipped with features such as dual-zone climate control. Its standard six-cylinder engine is rated for 29 MPG city, 31 highway.
For the power-hungry, an optional V-8 is rated for 16 city, 25 highway.
2015 Buick Regal
The lowest-priced car on our list, the Regal nonetheless has luxury touches such as an interior with upscale materials. The average price of the 2015 is $32,422 for a savings of $10,117 -- or 31 percent.
The Regal's standard four-cylinder turbocharged engine gets credit for reasonably good acceleration and is rated for 21 MPG city, 30 highway.
One drawback in buying the 2015 instead of the 2016: The newer model has the GM wireless hotspot that can put several devices online at once -- and help keep the kids quiet during a long trip.