Fall is in the air. Besides looking to the calendar, you can always tell that autumn is just around the corner because the new cars for 2011 are making an appearance in a big way (manufacturers introduce new models throughout the year, but autumn remains the official start of the new automotive year). So with a new year of vehicles popping up, new-car buyers ask themselves the age-old question: Am I better off to wait for the new models to come out or should I buy a leftover at the end of the season? The answer: maybe.
Every five years or so, car makers completely redesign models, from making updates to mechanicals and styling midway to a full redesign. On the plus side, these new models come with the latest safety and convenience features, and updates to engines, transmissions, and technology mean improved fuel mileage and performance. On the minus side, they pretty much always cost more (this includes the models that only have a slight redesign), and don’t even about getting a discount.
If you’re going for a leftover model, there are plenty of pros on the benefits side of the list. You’ll be able to save some money upfront, because dealers want to clear old inventory. These cars come with a full warranty, and if you are a long-distance driver, buying a car at year’s end will give you one more model year to spread your miles over. Also, according to reliability surveys, new models have more problems on average than those that have been on sale for a year or more. This means the last year of a model’s production is often the most reliable.
On the down side, the leftover car is a year old the moment you drive it off the lot, which means you’ll lose a money of the depreciation if you trade every couple of years. And if your leftover has been replaced with a redesigned model for the new model year, it’s likely to depreciate even faster.
[Source: Consumer Reports]