You say you always wanted to drive a Mercedes-Benz or BMW? This could be your time to get a late-model luxury sedan at about half of what it cost as a new car.
Automotive data and research firm iSeeCars.com scanned the current market for the best bargains in three-year-old used cars -- the time when most returning lease cars go up for resale. They found a clutch of luxury sedans, and some mainstream models, that are selling for just over half of what they cost as new cars. These models have depreciated at least 1.3 times the average three-year loss in value for all vehicles of 34.5 per cent.
These sedans have lost value in part because of new- and used-car shoppers' preference for SUVs. But the high incidence of leasing among luxury models also plays a part.
"Luxury brands are known for depreciating at a higher rate because they are so often leased to keep monthly payments down," said Phong Ly, CEO of iSeeCars.com. "This helps create a constant influx of three-year-old vehicles in the used-car market, driving prices lower."
In compiling this list, iSeeCars.com analyzed 1.1 million used-car sales from January through May this year. With models such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and others that have a large number of variations, they averaged the price paid for almost all vehicles under the umbrella of that model name.
For the original 2014 new-car prices, they also averaged all versions for the actual selling price -- not the manufacturer's MSRP.
We're profiling the seven cars on the best bargains list that have average or above-average reliability in Consumer Reports ratings. (Two Cadillacs, the CTS and ATS, are priced at less than half their original cost but have below-average reliability).
Here's a closer look at these five luxury and two mainstream brand 2014 sedans, in order of the size of their depreciation.
The 2014 E-Class is selling at an average of $33,727, according to iSeeCars.com. That's 48.4 percent lower than its original price.
The E-Class ranked in the top three of midsize luxury sedans as rated by reviewers sampled at U.S. News Best Cars. Restyled for the 2014 model, the E-Class gets praise for its comfort, performance and top-notch reliability.
The 2014 model added modern safety equipment like lane-keeping assist to help the driver avoid accidents. The EPA rates the optional turbodiesel engine for 28 MPG in city driving and 40 on the highway. The gasoline version is rated for 20 city, 30 highway.
This smaller, less-expensive Mercedes is selling at an average of $23,212 for the 2014 model. That's a 48.3 percent drop from its original new-car price.
Though not as sporty as some of its competitors like the BMW 3 Series (see below), the C-Class is recommended for its good-looking interior and its steady, comfortable ride.
Its base four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine is rated at 22 MPG in city driving, 31 on the highway. The more powerful six-cylinder version is rated 20 city, 29 highway.
BMW 5 Series
The midsize 5 Series is selling for an average of $33,474 -- a 48 percent decline from the original new-car price. Like most cars in its class, the 5 Series is praised for a smooth ride and comfortable seats.
The 6-cylinder diesel engine that was introduced for 2014 gets special mention for its performance and its rating of 26 MPG in the city, 37 on the highway. The turbo four-cylinder gasoline version is rated for 23 city, 33 highway.
Nissan's lively, top-of-the line sedan is one of two cars on our list selling for under $20,000. It's currently priced at an average $18,867, according to iSeeCars.com. That's a 47.9 percent discount for the 2014 model from its original new-car price.
Reviewers like its easy-to use tech features. But the attraction for most buyers is the powerful V-6 engine -- rated at 19 MPG in the city, 26 on the highway.
BMW 3 Series
The model that helped make BMW's reputation for sporty sedans is selling for an average $24,821 for the 2014 model. That's a 46.9 percent discount from its new-car price.
The 3 Series ranks No. 1 among small luxury cars, according to reviewers sampled by U.S. News. Test drivers praise it for its power and agility. On the practical side, they find the 3 Series has good rear-seat leg room for its size.
The optional turbodiesel engine is rated for 31 MPG city, 43 highway. The turbocharged gasoline engine is rated at 23 city, 34 highway.
The Infiniti Q50 luxury small car is selling for an average of $24,956 -- a 46.9 percent discount from its new-car price three years ago.
Introduced with the 2014 model, the Q50 wins praise for its smooth ride and easy-to-use infotainment system. Test drivers also like the powerful V-6, which is rated for 20 MPG in city driving and 29 on the highway.
Though the Fusion is the least expensive car on our list at $15,140, it has depreciated less (45.1 percent) than the luxury models. Test drivers describe it as fun to drive with agile handling. They also like the relatively large trunk space for a midsize sedan.
The Fusion's four-cylinder turbocharged engine is rated at 25 MPG city, 36 highway. The Fusion also comes as a hybrid and as a plug-in hybrid, which has a combined city-highway rating of 88 MPGe -- the equivalent to gas mileage ratings for an electrified car.