If you're looking for a high-end car, buying used is buying smart: These expensive cars lose a sizeable percentage of their value in their first few years of ownership, and by buying a car that is not quite new, you can save a bundle of cash. And thanks to the popularity of leasing among luxury buyers, there are plenty of late-model low-mileage cars from which to choose. Let's take a look at some of the best high end cars you can buy used.
10 Best High End Used Cars
Photo Credit: Aston Martin
Aston Martin DB9
There are plenty of cars that offer the performance of an Aston Martin, and a few that offer comparable craftsmanship, but few cars deliver this sort of exclusivity—the Aston Martin is a car you rarely see out on public roads. The Aston Martin DB9 is a beautifully built example, with a gorgeous leather interior and a powerful V12 engine that sings out an exhaust note unlike anything else on the road. new Aston Martins are insanely expensive, but a used one can be surprisingly affordable to buy (though not necessarily to insure and repair).
Photo Credit: Audi
Among big German luxury cars, the A8 is unique: Its quattro all-wheel-drive system delivers excellent grip and handling, and its interior design is handsome, functional and not overly laden with questionably-useful gadgets as are some other high-end German cars. The big Audi is also a very good value, delivering more car for less money than its German competitors. If you're looking for an A8, we suggest seeking out its performance-oriented sibling, the S8; the latest iteration packs a 520-hp V8 engine that rockets this big ship to 60 in around four seconds. Audi has a new version of the S8 on the way, which will only drive used prices down even further. Shop carefully and you should be able find a bargain.
Photo Credit: Bentley
Bentley Continental GT
Big and beautiful, the Bentley Continental GT is one of the most exclusive coupes you can buy—and one look at it from either the inside or the outside will tell you why. Offered with a range of 4.0-liter V8 and 6.0-liter W12s, all of the Continental GTs are very quick, and they all feature interiors made of the finest woods and leathers on wheels. Bentleys cost as much as a house when new, but they don't change much from year to year, so by buying a “previously enjoyed” example you can get essentially the same car for a lot less money.
Photo Credit: BMW
BMW 7 Series
BMW is in a gadget war with Mercedes, and as a result you'll find the BMW 7 Series packed with high-end features ranging from a night vision camera to doors that cinch themselves closed. BMWs are lovely to look at and fantastic to drive, and engine choices include a silky-smooth V12 in the top-of-the-range 760i model. And now is a good time to buy: BMW introduced a new version of the 7 Series for the 2016 model year, and that will help reduce the cost of previous generation (pre-2015) cars on the used market.
Photo Credit: Cadillac
The Escalade started out as a Chevrolet Tahoe with a Caddy badge; today, it is one of the most sought-after luxury SUVs on the market. Though it has its own unique styling, interior design, and luxury features, the Escalade shares enough of its mechanical bits with its Chevrolet- and GMC-branded counterparts to keep parts and repair costs down. Much as Cadillac might not like us to say it, the Escalade is largely a Chevrolet truck at heart, and that's a good thing: These trucks are built to last and an Escalade is less likely than, say, a Range Rover, to be problematic as it ages. The latest version of the Escalade was introduced in 2014 as a 2015 model, so we may start to see some of them coming off short-term leases; the previous generation (2007-2014) models are very nice vehicles as well, and are worthy of your consideration.
Photo Credit: Hyundai
A Hyundai? On a list of high end cars? No, we haven't made a mistake, and no, we haven't lost our marbles: The Hyundai Equus really is an extraordinarily nice car. To be fair, it lacks in some of the high end impress-your-neighbors features found in high end Mercedes and BMWs, but its spacious interior is swathed in leather and wood, it rides smoothly and quietly (unless you crank up the high end stereo, which sounds fantastic), and it has a powerful V8 engine under the hood. Back in South Korea, executives love to be chauffeured around in the Equus, and with good reason. The Hyundai Equus is already a bargain compared to German luxury cars, and used examples are even more affordable.
Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover
No one does luxury quite like the British, and the XJ is a great example. Climb inside, luxuriate in the deep leather seats, and you'll find the XJ feels more like its high-end British brethren from Bentley and Aston Martin than comparably-priced German competitors from Mercedes and BMW. Actually, we're wrong to talk about them being comparably priced; the XJ is a bargain compared to its German rivals when new, and thanks to healthy depreciation, they can be an excellent buy on the used market—just be sure to get a car that has been well cared for, with a record of service receipts to verify its maintenance history.
Photo Credit: Lexus
Lexus LS 600h
The Lexus LS is often dismissed as a glorified Toyota, but it really isn't fair to paint the latest LS with that brush—it really is a very nice car in its own right. The bones of the current LS date from the middle of the last decade, but Lexus gave these cars a makeover in 2012 that greatly improved both styling and driving dynamics. We're particularly fond of the long-wheelbase LS 600h hybrid—not so much for its fuel economy as for its smooth, electrically-augmented power and roomy back seat. And since Lexus is a division of Toyota, you can expect the LS to deliver a long and relatively trouble-free life—all the better when buying used.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz
One can argue feature-for-feature whether the big Benz is a better car than the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Jag XJ, or any one of its rivals, but it's an undeniable fact that few cars impress onlookers like a Mercedes. Whether it be old or new, when you pull up in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, people know you've arrived, both literally and figuratively. The S-Class is big and opulent, and whether you opt for a V8-powered model or a V12, you'll find that it drives like a dream, gliding down the road as if troubles simply don't exist. The S-Class is very expensive when new, but a used example can be a real bargain.
Photo Credit: Porsche
When it first made its debut, people didn't know quite what to make of the Panamera—was it a serious Porsche or just an ordinary 4-door with styling cues that mimicked those of the 911? A quick drive is all it takes to see that the Panamera is something special—a big 4-door car that replicates the driving excitement of Porsche's 2-door sportsters. As with the 911, Porsche offers a dizzying array of Panamera models with engines range from modest to madness, but all Panameras are beautiful to look at and fantastic to drive. Porsche is just now bringing the second-generation Panamera to market; there were few serious changes between 2011 and 2016, so older, lower-cost models look (and perform) much like the latest Panameras.