Car Buying:  Clutch

Buying a Certified Car Is Kind Of Like Luxury Consignment

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Tara Trompeter July 2016

I've always had expensive taste. From an early age, I found myself ogling designer bags on the arms of chic older women and noticing luxury SUVs being driven by moms in the carpool line. I also learned at a young age that new isn't always necessary. In fact, my last personal vehicle purchase was a certified pre-owned (CPO) car, and the reason behind it might surprise you.

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

When I was in college, I desperately wanted a Prada messenger bag. It was a black nylon crossbody tote with the iconic silver triangle emblem affixed to the front of the bag. It probably cost several hundred dollars at the time, and as a 20-year-old college student working full-time in a clothing boutique to pay for school, I simply couldn't afford it. Growing up, my mom used to take me to consignment stores, which I hated with a passion -- that is, until the day I walked into my first luxury consignment shop, surrounded by designer labels at discount prices.

It was like a dream come true. As I browsed through the racks of candy-colored clutches and sky-high heels, I stumbled upon my bag: My Prada messenger tote was just sitting on a shelf, discarded by someone who no longer wanted or needed it, now offered at a dramatic discount. It was in near-perfect condition with an authenticity card zipped carefully inside the inner pocket. I bought it immediately and could not have cared less that it wasn't brand-new -- it was beautiful, and it was mine.

In the 15-plus years since my Prada bag purchase, I've bought a LOT of secondhand designer goods. I think that's why, when the time came for me to buy a new vehicle, I refused to consider anything but a certified luxury car.

New to You

When I started my car search back in 2007, I knew I wanted a Lexus. I also knew that as a young, recently married couple with lots of new financial responsibilities, my husband and I couldn't afford to buy a brand-new one. Honestly though, I didn't care. I never felt like I was settling. As I bounced between dealer lots, test driving various 2-year-old midsize Lexus SUVs with their new-car smell still very much intact, I couldn't have been happier.

The car I chose had low mileage, all the latest technology and Lexus' amazing CPO warranty (now called L/Certified, which was No. 1 on our list of 10 Best Luxury CPO Programs for 2016). It was a secondhand luxury car, but it was new to me -- and in my mind, it was every bit as fabulous as the brand-new version on the lot. And this doesn't just apply to luxury cars -- the higher trim levels on nonluxury cars can often be as pricey as entry-level luxury vehicles. Buying CPO is a great way to get all (or most) of the features and options you want without paying the new-car price.

So the next time you're lusting after a sleek new car -- or a gorgeous designer bag -- don't simply assume you can't afford it. You might be surprised at just how new that secondhand car feels when you're behind the wheel, with the keys sitting pretty in your gently used designer bag.

RELATED INVENTORY
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Used 2013 Lexus RX Models AWD
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Used 2013 Lexus GS Models AWD
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Used 2013 Lexus RX Models FWD
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Used 2013 Lexus CT 200h
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Buying a Certified Car Is Kind Of Like Luxury Consignment - Autotrader