New study: These are the 10 best deals on almost-new cars

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New study: These are the 10 best deals on almost-new cars
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Money expert Clark Howard has always recommended that you buy a slightly used car — two or three years old — to get the most for your money.

But which almost-new cars are the best bargains right now? iSeeCars.com is out with a new list!

iSeeCars, a car search engine website, says the average vehicle will depreciate 35% after three years, which is why Clark likes the idea of buying a used car instead of a new one.

However, some cars depreciate at an even higher rate, presenting buyers with an opportunity for big savings.

“The rising popularity of auto leases in recent years has led to an influx of cars coming off lease, creating the opportunity for consumers to find bargains on late-model vehicles,” said iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly. “Consumers who take advantage of these best bargains can purchase a three-year-old car for half the price of what it would cost to buy the same car new.”

For this study, iSeeCars.com analyzed more than 4.1 million car sales and identified models with the greatest loss in value after three years — the time when most leased cars enter the used car market.

RELATED: Best and worst auto insurance companies

iSeeCars: 10 best bargains on almost-new vehicles

Rank Car Avg. 3-Year-Old Used Price % Depreciation Depreciation Compared to Average
1 BMW 5 Series $30,846 52.6% 1.5 x
2 Volkswagen Passat $14,906 50.7% 1.4 x
3 Mercedes-Benz E-Class $34,010 49.9% 1.4 x
4 BMW 3 Series $24,024 49.8% 1.4 x
5 Ford Taurus $18,098 49.7% 1.4 x
6 Chrysler 200 $14,011 48.4% 1.4 x
7 Volkswagen Jetta $13,157 48.1% 1.4 x
8 Audi A3 $21,120 47.9% 1.4 x
9 Cadillac SRX $26,291 47.2% 1.3 x
10 Buick Enclave $26,620 46.8% 1.3 x
Average for All Vehicles 35.0% 1.0 x

The BMW 5 Series luxury vehicle earned the top spot on the list. It depreciated 52.6% and 1.5 times more than average. iSeeCars.com says there’s a reason so many luxury models made the list.

“Luxury brands are known for depreciating at a higher rate because they are often leased to keep monthly payments down, which lowers the demand for these vehicles in the used car market,” said Ly. “While some luxury models tend to quickly lose a lot of their value, they still don’t drop in price enough to attract used car buyers who may be reluctant to pay the premium for high-end trims and technological features.”

Overall, the list features vehicles across a wide range of price points. Two Volkswagen models, the Passat and Jetta, have average prices under $15,000 after three years.

All of the cars have a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rating of five out of five, with the exception of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which earned four stars.

Of course, this list should only be a starting point for your car research. Clark suggests that you consider a short-term subscription to Consumer Reports to read its reviews and ratings.

Read more in Clark’s guide to buying a used car in 2018!

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Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, MichaelSaves.com.
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