If we're purely talking about the financial aspect of cars, I'd argue that a somewhat rusted used car is probably the best financial deal out there to get you from A to B! Who wants to buy a rusted car? I wouldn't buy one myself, but it is mostly vanity..
I didn't say nothing improves, but I could buy a used car with this new rust proof technology used for over what a decade now. The 90's required way more routine rust proofing for sure but there are still many components susceptible to heavy salt and it will still rust after any light damage or complete neglect over time. When it comes to rust, nothing beats routine washing and some routine light oil spray. The americanized Honda/Acura is not the same at all as what you see in Europe or Asia because they had to compete in the cheaper American market. So how did they cut the costs? Sometimes they manage to cut costs without any real world impact and I think Honda has done a better job than some others (doing things like replacing water pumps with plastic components for example)
Still the money you save to be behind in technology by a few years far outweighs buying a new car with no knowledge of what they've skimped out on. The updates are mostly incremental rather than revolutionary.
When everyone thinks the same they don't think at all
The engine technology offered is not even the same from the days of my 94 Accord to new engine technology today in Europe/Asia compared to America. The gas is different and the Euro specs tend to get better fuel mileage real world with a different fuel map. BMW has been very vocal about how horrible American gas is for engine reliability, it's causing well known problems with older engine's injectors and they refuse warranty work caused by ethanol corrosion. The exhaust systems are regulated differently which affects fuel mileage as well. Basically they are regulated by completely different beasts
I've heard many Canadians saying buying an old European car being impressed how far ahead and safer they were equipped, so how is it a technological advancement on new cars? The new European cars do lots of things their American counterparts don't have yet, and the Hondas and Fords are nothing like ours. There's a big difference between a car made in Germany or Mexico. Getting a licence in Europe is expensive, driving in Europe is expensive and the inspections are far more strict, you have to carry first aid, breathalyzer, fire extinguisher etc. Completely different market.
When everyone thinks the same they don't think at all
Depends on the class of car. Most technology, including safety features, tend to trickle down from high end cars into cheaper ones. I'm guessing if you compared a brand new compact with a 10 year old Lexus LS or BMW 7 series, the compact would have less safety features even though it's much newer. But a 2012 compact vs a 2002 compact, of course the 2012 would have much more safety features. That's another reason I prefer to buy used higher end cars, it allows me to have those safety features sooner, since a 3 year old luxury sport sedan is likely to be packed with more tech including safety features than a brand new compact.
My parents are still under the impression that old cars are safer because they're bigger and heavier and "they're made of metal while newer cars are made of plastic". In any crash I would rather be in a brand new Honda Civic than a 1980s full size car.
I love the ridiculous apples-to-oranges comparison of "Well, buying a new car was frugal cause I'm not buying somebody else's problems." Just like with any significant purchase, research is key. You wouldn't buy a lemon vehicle model NEW so why would you buy it USED? Test drive it and pay a mechanic to look at it.
The excuse that "I intend to drive it for 10 or 15 years so my $25,000 purchase is smart because depreciation isn't real" is downright stupid. Depreciation is very real, because at the end of its lifecycle a new car or a used car is only worth $50 at the wreckers. Whatever you pay up front, minus 50 bucks, is the eventual depreciated value of your purchase. You can choose to be the idiot that picks up the majority of the tab -- when the car is nice and new and shiny and fun -- or the guy that picks up the smaller portion -- who owns the car when it's older, perhaps just a couple years, perhaps when it's 9 years. And let's not even get into the opportunity cost of the up-front capital.
If you only buy 'beaters' like me, you may own a few more cars over the years but your lifetime depreciation bill, across all of your cars, will be drastically lower. Your savings will be more than enough to buy a nice used Mercedes or Audi. An increased maintenance bill can be EASILY mitigated by up-front research, doing your own personal maintenance for simple stuff (learn how to change your air filter and your own oil), and putting a few extra dollars into babying it (use synthetic, clean the fuel injectors, yada yada). Note that if you "drive your vehicle into the ground" over 15 or 20 years, as you plan to do, you'll pay the up-front depreciation bill AND the higher maintenance bill, giving you the WORST of both worlds.
If you're frugal, the only argument is about what type/model year of USED car you'll be purchasing. I bought an 03 Malibu last year for next to nothing. I could have bought something newer/nicer, but I was afraid my partner would ding the crap out of it (fear realized btw). It does the job, I've kept it in good working order (and I baby it because I intend on driving it until at least 2023). The V6 is a really nice mix of power and fuel economy.
Some interesting discussion. I have resisted joining this discussion because spending decisions are very personal and will depend on one's tastes and utility function. Some people like expensive cars and get a lot of enjoyment driving in them. Others do not and would rather spend their money on other things or simply save it. We all hear the anecdotal stories of wealthy people driving cheap cars, etc. i am sure these stories are true but that doesn't mean much because these wealhy people are just spending their money on something else. Somebody on one of these forums once said something like " people who spend less than me on a particular item are cheap and those that spend more than me are wasteful"
Personally I like expensive cars and can afford them. Obviously I don't expect everyone to share my view.
I'm actually debating this now.
I'd like to get a minivan.
However the new/old pricing is just too tight for it to make sense.
A brand new Grand Caravan SXT with second row Stow n Go is $24,245. or $20k for the real base model, there will be about $1500 in delivery and other fees.
I don't see used vehicles being cost competative, particularly if I consider the cost of the new tires I'd have to buy quite soon on many new vehicles.
If someone can show me numbers (for Ontario) that a used minivan is a better deal, I'd love to see them.
You can get a 2010 Grand Caravan with Stow n Go for $12k.
That one has a lot of km, so if you want something with less km, here's one for 15k:
There is no doubt I am a "car guy". An expensive car guy. An expensive German car guy. The problem is 5 years ago I decided that I would attempt to hit financial independence/early retirement by my early to mid 40's... as a result I currently drive a 12 year old pick-up. Some weekends I go to the auto mall and drool at the latest and greatest out of Germany - and being the frugalite that I am, when I pull up in my truck, wearing my inexpensive, decidedly non-fashionable clothes, the salesmen avoid me like the plague. I think if they saw a print-out of my TD Easyweb/Waterhouse accounts they might carry me around the car lot in a litter. Its really quite funny how judgemental these luxury dealers are... they really do dismiss you out of hand if you don't pass the visual wealth test.
If my networth doesn't diminish or actually increases after the first 10 years of my premature workplace exodus, I could see a nice car in my future then. But sadly, not in the cards now.