America’s Most Wanted: The Used Cars Everyone Is Snatching Up
We know which new vehicle sells the most year after year: Ford F-150. Countless business owners use it for work, and after decades atop the sale charts it would take a seismic shift in American life to dethrone it.
However, the used auto market is a different animal. On that front, cars with a niche market and higher-than-average depreciation dominate. In short, the used market is now a place where electric vehicles, performance cars, and luxury vehicles rule.
A study by iSeeCars.com highlighted this trend. Examining over 2.1 million pre-owned auto sales between January and September 2017, the research site and search engine found furious demand for late-model plug-in vehicles in general and EVs in particular (all from 2014 or later). In the case of the top models, they sold 11 days faster than the average. Here are the 10 hottest-selling cars on the used market.
10. Tesla Model S
If you want to see a car with almost unbelievable demand, check out the numbers on a pre-owned Tesla Model S. According to iSeeCars data, the price of Model S increased 3.5% yet still cracked the top 10. That put Tesla’s flagship sedan at $70,372 used, and buyers couldn’t snatch them up fast enough. It took just 26.1 days to sell a Model S, about a week faster than the average used car. Judging by the starting price of the base model ($68,000), it’s clear the longer-range models are the hottest.
Next: Ford’s plug-in sedan sold even faster than Tesla.
9. Ford Fusion Energi
In terms of comfort and convenience, green cars don’t get much better than Ford Fusion Energi. The plug-in sedan gets you about 20 miles on electric power before switching into hybrid mode (offering another 530 miles of range). You charge on a regular household outlet and otherwise do as you would with any car. Buying one new originally cost consumers $33,900 before incentives, but iSeeCars found used models averaging less than $19,000. After 26.1 days on the market, they were gone.
Next: A new Mercedes is going faster than any other SUV.
8. Mercedes-Benz GLC
U.S. consumers had their first shot at the Mercedes GLC in 2015. Just two years later, the midsize luxury SUV has cornered the used market for utility vehicles. Buyers only had 25.7 days to snatch one model before it disappeared from secondhand listings. When more two-year leases of GLC end in the coming months, demand might relax, but for now this Benz is a hot ticket. It’s moving nine days faster than a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Next: A performance coupe drivers don’t want to sell
7. Scion FR-S
You can buy one new as Toyota 86 and get the same feeling from Subaru BRZ, but the used Scion FR-S ranks among the industry’s hottest sellers in 2017. The rear-wheel drive coupe is known for driving pleasure and value (it started at $26,255), so we can see how a lower price makes it even more desirable. FR-S lasted an average of 25.1 days before it exited the used market, beating a used F-150 by 10 days.
Next: Nissan’s electric car is a steal on the used market.
6. Nissan Leaf
We tried to tell people what a great deal the used Nissan Leaf was, but apparently they already knew. The used electric car offers over 100 miles in driving range and, after incentives and depreciation, 2016 models began selling for over 50% off the original price. Since Nissan only offered this range in Leaf’s highest trims, these two-year-old cars also come loaded. No wonder they exit the used market in a flash. iSeeCars found them gone after an average of 25 days.
Next: A turbo-powered Hyundai that’s gone in a flash
5. Hyundai Veloster Turbo
You might have noticed the quirky, three-door Hyundai Veloster in your travels, but did you know there was a turbo-powered model (201 horsepower) with manual transmission? We’re guessing savvy used car shoppers did because Veloster averaged a mere 24.9 days on the pre-owned market before a buyer took advantage. In total, there are four models to choose from, but we can’t see anyone getting excited about the 132-horsepower version.
Next: The original Prius plug-in is still a hot item.
4. Toyota Prius Plug-in
According to iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly, the original Toyota Prius Plug-in’s popularity (24.7 days on the market) is all about location. “Demand for the Prius Plug-In may have stayed strong due to demand from California — 73 percent sold there,” Ly said. “Plug-in hybrids met the requirements for California’s Clean Air Vehicle decals, which allows drivers to use HOV lanes, and the distribution limit of the stickers was removed last year.” Given the model’s puny EV range and the value of Prius Prime, we buy that logic.
Next: One pricey Lexus sedan makes brief appearances on the used market.
3. Lexus IS 200t
Drivers first saw the Lexus IS 200t as a 2016 edition, and used models of this pricey sport sedan have not lasted long on the secondhand market. Even though the higher-trim models offer more power and comfort, the base IS is no slouch with 241 horsepower on tap. Once the original buyers (and dealers) listed them, they waited a mere 24.5 days to find a new owner — nine days better than the market average.
Next: The plug-in hybrid variation of BMW’s electric car sells like few others.
2. BMW i3 REX
What a difference a year makes in the electric car market. We’ve seen how Nissan Leaf’s price slashed in half after a short time, and the BMW i3 REX wasn’t far behind. iSeeCars data showed the original (2014) model dropped 38% (nearly $15,000) on the used market between 2016 and 2017. Unlike the pure EV model, the i3 with range extender covers over 150 miles with a charge and never leaves drivers stranded. Now that three-year leases are ending, the used price of $23,603 has buyers grabbing an i3 REX within 23.2 days.
Next: An electric Fiat is America’s fastest-selling used car.
1. Fiat 500e
As other electric cars improved in some way or another, the Fiat 500e has stayed the same. It cracked 80 miles of range upon release, offered a fun driving experience, and had minimal production, so the West Coast-only EV has always been in high demand. However, the 40% price drop — to an average of $9,055 in 2017 — makes 500e a steal. These days, sellers can expect their electric Fiat to go within 22.2 days. It’s the hottest used car in America.