CARS

You knew used car prices were high. Here's how outrageous it has become

Why are used car prices so high? You can blame many of the same reasons that drove up the prices on new cars. Now, some used models outprice the same version of a brand new vehicle.

  • The average used car sold for nearly $30,000 in January, a 30% hike from two years ago.
  • Older models haven't fared much better: The average price for a nine-year-old car is up 43%.
  • But found 10 used car models whose resale price in 2022 will really give you sticker shock.

For used car shoppers, it’s grim out there.

It used to be that dreaded sticker shock came from the prices of new cars. Now used car prices are just as bad.

How bad? The average used car sold for $29,594 in January, up from $22,676 last year, a 30% increase, Edmunds.com reports. 

On individual models, price inflation can be starker.

Even the price of a modest 3-year-old Nissan Versa subcompact car has risen 66% to an average of $16,366, Edmunds says. The starting price of a new Versa is $15,080.

Looking at the inflated price of the average used car, “it seems like a new car price,” says Jessica Caldwell, Edmund’s director of insights.

It’s not just the newer used cars. “What we see is the older used cars are increasing just as much,” she says.

The average transaction price of a 9-year-old car rose 43% in a year.

TIPS FOR SELLING YOUR CAR:How to maximize the value of your used vehicle

A dealership in New York City sells cars on Sept. 29, 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic may be waning, but outrageous prices on new and used cars alike are one of its lingering symptoms. The shortage of new cars, spawned in part by the lack of computer chips, rolled right into the used market.

At one end of the used car market, motorists pay top dollar for basic transportation. Among 3-year-old models, the Versa, the venerable Dodge Grand Caravan minivan (up 69% to $25,789), Toyota’s Prius hybrid (up 61% to $28,758) and even the Chevrolet Sonic, a discontinued subcompact (up 55% to $18,473), are basic vehicles used to get from Point A to B that have seen some of the biggest increases.

SHOPPING FOR A USED CAR? Prepare for little selection, no negotiation

Fastest sellers both basic and fancy

At the other end, well-heeled buyers cast money cares aside to put dream cars in their driveways with apparently little regard for price.

The fastest-selling used vehicle, gone in an average of 24 days on sale, was Tesla’s electric Model Y compact SUV. Average price: $67,121, reports iSeeCars, a car search engine that has access to new and used car sales data. The average used car usually takes about twice as long to sell.

Two new models, the Ford Bronco, an off-road-capable SUV, and the electric Ford Mustang Mach-E, are also in the hot-selling used-vehicle rankings. Rather than languishing on dealers’ waiting lists for new cars, buyers turned to the slightly used vehicle market.

MOST INTRIGUING NEW VEHICLES:Cars, trucks and SUVs coming in 2022 from Ford, Toyota, Honda and more

No bargains in topsy-turvy market

Sometimes, impatient buyers pay above the list price for a new vehicle.

The asking price of a 1- or 2-year-old Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV – the swanky G-Wagon of celebrity fame – ran 36% above the price of a new one, iSeeCars says. It's much the same for a slightly used Chevrolet Corvette, for which asking prices were 20% above, according to iSeeCars.

“It used to be the way to save money was to buy a used car. That’s obviously not the case anymore,” says Julie Blackley, iSeeCars’ communication manager.

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