Mike Timmermann, Clark.com
If your kids have grown up and headed off to college, you may be thinking about trading in your family car for a vehicle that’s a little more fun to drive!
To do the best by your wallet, Clark generally recommends buying a used car that’s a few years old.
IMV is a tool the website uses to show what a car is worth, comparable to the national average price.
Affordable cars for empty nesters
2009 BMW 1 Series 135i, $12,263 IMV
CarGurus.com says: “At 300 horsepower, the smooth inline 6-cylinder powering at 2009 BMW 135i has enough oomph to put a smile on your face, sending the coupe to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds. All of that power is sent to the rear wheels, only adding to the Bimmer’s fun-to-drive character.”
2012 Volvo C30 T5 R-Design Platinum, $14,831 IMV
CarGurus.com says: “If the kids have left home but you know they’ll be back, picking a car with a backseat (however small), a hatchback design, and an impressive safety record is still a recipe for success. Powered by Volvo’s turbocharged 5-cylinder, the 2012 C30 mixes stylish lines, practical versatility, and Volvo’s great reputation for safety with spirited driving dynamics and a 0-60 time of just 6.2 seconds.”
2014 Ford Mustang GT Premium Convertible, $19,568 IMV
CarGurus.com says: “Ford invented the pony car with the Mustang back in 1964. At less than $20,000, a 2014 Ford Mustang GT Premium Convertible will put a smile on anyone’s face — particularly if they’re hoping to drop the top and listen to its V8 soundtrack run them up to 60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds.”
2010 Porsche Boxster S, $27,976 IMV
CarGurus.com says: “When most people think about Porsche, they assume 6-figure price tags. But a 2010 Porsche Boxster S — capable of hitting 60 miles per hour in 5 seconds — can be found under $30,000. Who knew putting a Porsche in your driveway could be so affordable?”
2013 Lexus IS 350C, $29,851 IMV
CarGurus.com says: “A 306-horsepower V6 in the 2013 Lexus IS C should be enough to help empty nesters get their thrills, but Toyota’s reputation for reliability means your mechanic shouldn’t be getting his. While the more powerful Lexus IS F is also an option in the sub-$30,000 price range, you’ll have to settle for an older model year — and unlike the IS C, there is no convertible option. Anyway, 5.8 seconds to 60 is fast enough, right?”
Clark’s key takeaway
Although you may find a vehicle that you love on this list from CarGurus.com, it’s only a starting point. Check multiple sources for car ratings and reviews. Consumer Reports is a great resource.
Once you find a car that you’d like to buy, there are two important things to remember:
- Check the vehicle history report. Run the VIN though CarFax.com to find out if it’s a flood vehicle or if it has been in a horrible accident.
- Have the used vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic. One of the key things to know about buying a used car is that you buy “as is.” CarFax alone is not enough of a check; you need to take this additional step.
Finally, arrange auto financing in advance! Look at credit unions, online banks or even traditional banks. Only take dealer financing if it beats any other offer you have.