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Why Doesn’t Everyone Own a Used American Luxury Car?

According to a study conducted earlier this year by car research site iSeeCars, the number one and number two fastest-depreciating cars on the market are the Cadillac CTS and ATS, respectively. Both cars lose just over half their value in only 3 years. That means you can get a current-generation CTS for an average of just $27,537, or under $20,000 if you’re okay with having a few extra miles on the clock.

That’s about the same price as a used Jeep Grand Cherokee or Ford Explorer of the same age. I don’t know about you, but between a Grand Cherokee, an Explorer and a CTS, I know which of those three I would want in my garage. I’ve preached before about how the CTS and ATS are fantastic used car values, but it isn’t just those two that are great buys.

It’s not available anymore, but I recently came across a screaming deal on a different American luxury sedan that made me wonder why everyone doesn’t buy one of these. It was a 2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost, which was the first year of the car’s final facelift before it was put out to pasture in 2016 in favor of the new Continental. You might think of it as little more than a rebadged Ford Taurus, and you wouldn’t be far off, but hear me out.

The asking price for this MKS in particular, which had right around 100,000 miles on it, was just under $11,000. For $11,000, you could get a full-size luxury sedan with all-wheel drive, 365 horsepower, massaging, heated and cooled leather seats, a ton of modern safety tech (like adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring), the SYNC infotainment system with navigation, a dual-pane sunroof and so much more. For $11,000! Now we’re talking used Hyundai Elantra money.

With the MKS having depreciated even deeper than the Taurus it’s based on, why would anyone buy a used Ford Taurus? A nicer car with more features can be had for less money. And that’s kind of the whole point of a used American luxury car.

Sure, it might not be as nice as the German cars, but it’s definitely more reliable and cheaper to live with, especially when it’s out of warranty. Not to mention how much nicer these cars are than a lot of other nonluxury cars at the same price point on the used market. As for used Japanese luxury cars, those generally have pretty strong reliability records, but they just don’t quite fall off a cliff of depreciation like the American cars do.

For a comfortable, affordable commuter or family car that’s a little more stylish than your average sedan, I strongly recommend a used American luxury car. Or, if you’re a gambler, go ahead and toss the dice on a used Mercedes-Benz or BMW with no warranty. At least the sticker price will be cheap!

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  1. After my wife and I had our 2nd kid we were looking for a bigger car to replace her Scion TC.  She wanted a pseudo luxury SUV (Acura MDX) and I wanted some kind of hybrid, (Chevy Volt).  We already had an older suburban so there was no need to daily drive an SUV and she refused to look at Ford, Chevy, Honda, or Toyota.  So looking for a compromise I came up with an off lease MKZ hybrid.  While looking around I found they were basically the same price as a Fusion hybrid titanium with similar age and miles.  I never thought in a million years I’d own a gussied up Fusion, since there are so many better cars out there for the same price if you were buying new but give it 2 or 3 years and MKZs are basically the same price as a Fusions and you don’t have to drive a lower class Ford!  She is happy to have her “luxury” badge on the front of the car and I’m happy with a car that can get over 40mpg.

  2. I don’t own one because they are ugly.  I currently drive a 99 Lexus ES300, which was cheap and is well known to be a reliable driver.  It also is not ugly.

  3. I have a 2011 Mercury Grand Marquis as my daily. I love used American luxury cars as a daily driver. However, I find the Lincoln MKS ugly, the rear seat of the Cadillac CTS small, and the Cadillac ATS just small overall (I know small is the point of the ATS). The Chrysler 300C would work, but I’d be concerned about it’s quality and reliability. I’m waiting for the Lincoln Continental to come down in price. Until then, I’ll go for a late model Lincoln Town Car when I need to replace the Grand Marquis.

  4. Is anyone else having trouble viewing recent articles? This is the most recent article I’m able to see; with the Suburban generations ranked before that. If I go directly to YouTube and click the link for the Aston Martin article, it brings me to the Overstreer page with  this as the most recent article. I run into the same issue using incognito as well.

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Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt is an author specializing in Oversteer content, new car reviews, and finding the best car, truck, and SUV deals each month. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Eric can often be found exploring the north woods on his 1983 Honda Gold Wing when the weather allows it. Father of four, husband of one, and unapologetic minivan enthusiast. Eric mastered driving stick by having a 3-cylinder Chevy... Read More about Eric Brandt

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