What Cars Should I Buy?


I'm looking to spend about $50k on 2 cars. We need a small call (wife - school drop off, no real big driving/kms) the other car something we can do longer trips in with the family. I'm 6'3" tall, and don't want to use the "jaws of life"getting in and out of a car. 

Interested in your thoughts. Do we buy a small brand new smaller car (Hyundai, Mazda. etc) and a larger second-hand car (large sedan, SUV)? Or do we buy a second-hand smaller car and a new family car? Or do we buy a second-hand for both, where you can more car for your dollars?

Thanks, Brendan


There's no real right answer here - except that you will certainly enjoy greater buying power if one or both vehicles is used.

As a rule of thumb, cars lose about a third of their value at three years of age, and half their value at five years old. According to Ausstats, cars in Australia drive a little under 15,000km every year.

With this in mind you could assess your situation like this:

Buying two tree-year-old-cars will give you about the same buying power (at a $50k spend) as buying two brand new cars at $71,000. The downside is:

  • No new car smell
  • Each car will have driven about 50,000km
  • The warranty will have expired on most brands

However, Hyundai, Kia and Mitsubishi offer five-year warranties.

So, the most economically rational assessment of your situation is to find two three-year-old cars from Hyundai, Kia or Mitsubishi, with less than 50,000km on the clock. You'll still get the 30 per cent price reduction compared with new, and you'll be protected by two remaining years of factory warranty.

Which cars should you buy?

Hyundai i30s from 2011 were a great little car, and Kia did a fantastic Sportage from 2011 as well (I bought one of those - the fully loaded diesel - and it was a ripper of a car).

You'll pick up a really good 2011 Hyundai i30 SLX petrol auto hatch privately for about $18,000. This was a car that cost the first owner more than $30k by the time he got it on the road ($28,950 + on-road costs). Full specifications on the i30 petrol auto SLX. Basically this was an inanely popular little car that was also well made and very practical transportation. Also has a five-star ANCAP safety rating - which is important, even if it's just going to the shops/school.

Full 2011 Hyundai i30 model range.

A 2011 Kia Sportage Platinum diesel was $39,490 + on-road costs in 2011. You will buy one used today in a private sale for about $28,000. Full details on the 2011 Kia Sportage Platinum diesel. This is a very highly equipped vehicle with great practicality, and equally at home in the city or on long drives. I still own mine; it's great. It's essentially the same thing as a Hyundai ix35, but Kia poached former Audi design guru Peter Schreyer just before that vehicle was released. (He's the bloke who designed the Audi TT.) And that's why the Sportage and subsequent Kias started looking significantly better.

Full Kia Sportage 2011 model range.

So there you go - two good used cars for $46,000. You'll have enough left out of your budget (just) for rego and insurance.

See also my used car checklist.

I hope this helps.