While buying a new vehicle may be exciting, there are a few downsides to it that lead many people to buying lightly used vehicles instead. Firstly, a new vehicle is, by nature of being new, fully priced at the MSRP. Secondly, the value of the vehicle drops significantly the moment it is driven off the dealers’ lot. Thirdly, and probably most importantly, a vehicle, with extremely rare and extremely expensive exceptions, is always a depreciating asset.
Some new cars do dance along the edge of the value-for-money equation, but more often than not, used vehicles are becoming more and more popular.In fact, in 2019, more than double the amount of used cars left dealership lots than new cars. These used cars are also becoming more expensive than they used to be in previous years, although they are still at a better bang for your buck position than a new car.
Today, we are going to break down the best value new and used vehicles of the current or late-model generations. In selecting these cars and trucks, we looked at what features are on offer, how much they have depreciated from their MSRP (for used vehicles), and how much value they hold in today’s and tomorrow’s market. A few choices may even surprise you!
Up To $15,000
Used: Honda Civic (2015 to 2021 Tenth Generation)
Let’s be honest here. If the Honda Civic, the always dominant king of the used vehicle market, was not in this list anywhere, it would be a glaring oversight. In times past, the Civic was the econobox, the typical first teenage car, the car you could literally drive for hundreds of thousands of miles and as long as you changed the oil once in a while, it would literally run forever.
That legendary reliability is still present in late-model tenth generation Civics. While they do drop off the cliff in terms of depreciation once they leave the dealer lot as a new car, the canyon floor is a lot closer than it used to be. Take, for example, a 2015 base model Civic for sale in Texas. These vehicles were $21,000 or thereabouts when new, and can still be found in private listings for around $11,000 to $13,000, or on used dealership lots for about $1,000 more.
And that is for one of the best selling cars in all of the USA. The counter to the value, however, is that base model Civics really and truly base model. You will still get power locks, power windows, and all the major safety features, but don’t go into it expecting the latest and greatest interior or infotainment system.
Used or New: Kia Soul (2019 to Present Third Generation)
It speaks volumes that in just over a single decade, a small CUV from South Korea went from being thought as “ho hum another Korean rustbucket,” to “Wow, this thing is actually pretty damn nice!” This has come about through two major factors that Kia uses to attract buyers.
Firstly, you will honestly not find a better equipped base model of any vehicle than what you find in a Kia, of any model. You literally will get the kitchen sink, both faucets, a lovely countertop, and cupboard space in their interiors. All the uprated trims do of the Soul is add a few features like satnav and a sunroof.
Secondly, Kia has positioned the Soul, and in fact almost their entire lineup, at an attractive place in the market for a young professional between the ages of 25 to 35. This is the market space where an affordable CUV like the Soul, which starts at $17,000 for a base model LX and tops out at $27,000 for the “everything included” Turbo model, will thrive.
And the used market is excellent for finding lightly used Third Generation Souls, with prices averaging from about $14,000 for a base model, to $23,000 to $24,000 for a top of the line Turbo model. In all honesty, the only depreciation involved there is the “I drove it new off the lot” hit that every car takes. They are holding value extremely well, because of quite literally being the best value new vehicles out there.
$15,000 to $30,000
Used: Ford F-150 (2015 to 2020 Thirteenth Generation)
As pointed out in our Ford F-150 Thirteenth Generation Buyers Guide, there is quite literally an F-150 for every possible thing you could think of in Texas. There’s a trim for the everyday rough-and-tumble construction worker and tradesman, through to bigger and heftier models for the rancher, to luxury offerings for the suit-and-tie professional going to work in downtown Austin.
Compared to previous generations of F-150’s, the thirteenth generation has held on to its value fairly well. This is a bit surprising, as when a vehicle has the sales volume of new trucks that Ford has (735,000+ new F-150’s sold in the US in 2013 alone), you would expect that the supply would meet the demand, driving prices downwards.
The slightly weird thing about it is, the higher the trim level, on the average, the better the value for your money gets. This may be because the most F-150s sold are in the mid to high trim levels, or because the F-150 is still America’s favorite truck. Either way, a used thirteenth generation Ford is quite possibly the best value used truck you can find in Texas.
Used or New: Nissan Altima (2018 to Present Sixth Generation)
As we discovered in January of 2021, much to our surprise, the Nissan Altima is the best selling used car in Texas. Not just a best selling car, the best selling. However, as we also discovered, there is a damned good reason for that.
The Altima is Nissan’s crown jewel in the USA. Sure, they sell the GT-R supercar, have trucks and cars for every price point, but the Altima is where they put their engineering expertise to work. Nissan engineers are experts at extracting the most out of their cars and engines, and the 2.5L mild hybrid inline four with 188 HP and the 2.0L variable compression turbocharged inline four with 250 HP that the sixth generation Altima has as options are both ridiculously over-engineered.
Known as the PR25DD eVTC and KR20DDET respectively, they each have their own claim to fame. The 2.5L engine is meant for long distance cruising, something that happens a lot in Texas, with ample grunt with that tiny bit of electric kick at the start to get you up to highway speed, and then just enough horsepower to sip fuel while cruising. The 2.0L turbo, however, is the technology masterpiece, with an on-the-fly variable piston stroke, from the extremely turbo friendly 90.1mm (8.0:1 compression) at cruising RPM to 88.9mm (14.1:1 compression) for off-the-line torque while the turbo spins up. It’s also the world’s first production series variable compression engine.
And on top of that, the Altima holds value unbelievably well, while also giving you a ton of bang for your buck. It doesn’t hurt that the car is very well equipped at all trims, and you get what is arguably one of the finest engines to ever grace American shores in a car that is both big enough, yet small enough, to fit inside the heart of a Texan.
Used or New: Ford Mustang (2015 to Present Sixth Generation)
It wouldn’t really be a list for Texas if the venerable, legendary Mustang wasn’t part of it. And as recent sales figures have shown, the love for the pony car hasn’t diluted throughout the years. However, there is a bit of a caveat to which Mustangs hold their value the best.
Despite being a great engine, even more powerful than the Cyclone V6 that was available until 2017, the 2.3L EcoBoost turbocharged inline four is still seen as “not the right fit” for a Mustang, and cars with the inline four drop off significantly in value. However, if you are looking for a good used bang-for-your-buck car, you really can’t go wrong with the inline four.
However, the Mustang that has held the best value, and is still an amazingly good buy, is the Mustang GT with the now-legendary Coyote V8. At least 435 HP and 400 lb-ft of torque sounds good to anyone, and the truth of the matter is that the Mustang is the most affordable way to get that power.
If you are looking at one new, at just over $36,000 MSRP you are getting a car that sounds great, runs great, is actually moderately fuel efficient (for a Mustang!), and, with the sixth generation having independent suspension on all four corners, is incredibly comfortable and responsive.
Used, any Mustang GT from the sixth generation that has been taken care of properly, and not flogged at the race track or drag strip every weekend, is a great American muscle car that won’t shake itself apart after a few thousand miles. Built well, well-engineered, and you just can’t beat the howl from the Coyote V8 echoing behind you as you give it a little stick.
Used: Mazda CX-9 (2016 to Present Second Generation)
To say that Mazda has had a bit of a love/hate history in the US is like saying that it gets hot in the summer in Texas. However, after the fairly anaemic early 2000s, the marketing and sales guys in Japan got a big slap upside the head from Mazda USA, and suddenly fun, affordable, and feature packed Mazda cars started to appear. The redesigned MX-5 and the new and fun Mazda 3 were the real kickstart to this, but it has passed through the entirety of the model lineup, and the CX-9 SUV has benefited to no end from it.
Consider the following: A new CX-9 in base trim starts at $34,000 MSRP, but is almost always optioned out to around $40,000. There’s no use in getting a midsize SUV unless you get a few optional features to spruce it up a little, no?
Then consider that depreciation from MSRP is averaging about 30% to 40% for a 2016 model, mostly dependent on mileage. Being an “expensive” SUV, the vast majority of owners will have it dealer serviced, will take care of the interior and exterior, and will put mostly gentle city miles or everyday freeway miles on the engine, never really cranking it out for all its worth.
What you end up with is a superb, well-engineered, nearly bulletproof SUV that can happily handle a small family and their cargo, can cruise the highways with grace and comfort, and is still small enough to fit into most parking stalls. While there are better featured, better equipped, or even better value SUVs out there, the CX-9 wins because it doesn’t shout about itself. It just does everything an SUV should do, is actually quite fun to drive, is beautifully equipped on the inside, and can do the inter-city highway dash across Texas with very good fuel efficiency.
Let AutoDigg Help You Find The Perfect Car!
If any of the cars above interest you, you can create a customized search request through AutoDigg to let potential sellers out there know you’re looking. Through our integrated contacts with a lot of Texas dealerships and sales sites, those sellers will compete to get your business, and as the saying goes, competition is great for the consumer.
It’s as easy as signing up, putting in the information for the year, make, model of car you’re looking for, and then boom, instantly a search request is created. It lasts for 3 weeks automatically, giving sellers a good period to bid each other down until you get the best price. Also, those dealerships and sellers will never get your contact information during the process, as your privacy is important to us, and we will never spam, call, or contact you, nor allow the dealerships or sellers to do so either.
This means that you, the buyer, are in complete control. When you get a price you want, you can then yourself contact the dealer or seller, and go through the whole purchase process from there. If you don’t get a price you like, after 3 weeks the request automatically ends. And even better, for buyers, the whole process is entirely, completely, and utterly free!