Get a Luxury Used Vehicle for Non-Luxury Price With a Cousin Car | Edmunds

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Get a Luxury Used Vehicle for Non-Luxury Price With a Cousin Car

Before You Buy That Used Car, Research Its Upscale Relative


If you're shopping for a used car, here's a hot tip: Seek out the swanky "cousin car" of the non-luxury vehicle you're considering. You might be able to get a used luxury car for about the same price as a non-luxury one.

What's a cousin car? It's the luxury counterpart of a non-luxury car. For example: Acura is the luxury offshoot of parent company Honda, and many of its models share platforms, powertrains and cabin components.

Likewise, Lexus sprang from Toyota. Infiniti is Nissan's luxury brand. Lincoln is the upscale kin of Ford. Cadillacs are a branch of the Chevrolet family (all part of the bigger GM family). Audi comes to us from Volkswagen. More recently, Hyundai spun off Genesis as its luxury brand.

Here's the genius of shopping for a cousin car: Luxury vehicles tend to lose value faster than their non-luxury counterparts, so you can sometimes get a used luxury vehicle for not much more than its more modest cousin, even if they had a significant price difference when they were new.

Edmunds data strategist Ivan Drury crunched the numbers for more than 18 pairs of cousin cars over six model years. Here's the best of the bunch.

Appreciate the Depreciation
To get started, let's look at two cousin cars from the midsize luxury SUV segment — the 2012 Acura MDX and the 2012 Honda Pilot:

Cousin Cars

The luxury 2012 Acura MDX sold for about $43,000 new. The nice-but-not-posh 2012 Honda Pilot went for $28,600. Compared to its non-luxury cousin, the MDX has additional horsepower, upgraded handling and a more upscale interior. As a used car, the MDX now sells for $22,100. That's depreciation in action. The 2012 Honda Pilot, meanwhile, now sells for about $20,300 used.

When they were new, they had a $14,400 price difference. Today? It's $1,800. You have to ask yourself: For $1,800 more, why wouldn't you buy the MDX?

Here are more examples, segment by segment, showing the kinds of bargains you can find if you go cousin-car shopping: 

Compact Sedans: 2014 Acura ILX and 2014 Honda Civic

Cousin Cars

The 2014 Acura ILX sold for about $27,000 when it was new, and it had such standard features as a well-appointed leather interior, moonroof, larger wheels and other styling cues not found on the 2014 Honda Civic, whose starting MSRP was $18,000. A new-car price difference of $9,000 has now dropped to $2,500.

Vehicle Approx. starting MSRP when new Approx. average used selling price now
2014 Acura ILX $27,000 $16,700
2014 Honda Civic $18,000 $14,200
Difference $9,000 $2,500

Full-Size Sedans: 2010 Lincoln MKS and 2010 Ford Taurus

Cousin Cars

In 2010, the Lincoln MKS cost about $16,800 more than the 2010 Ford Taurus. Shoppers who opted to pay the extra money were rewarded with an upgraded leather interior, Bluetooth, heated and cooled seats, parking sensors, and a host of other performance and appearance upgrades compared to the Taurus. Now? Those extra bells and whistles will only cost about $2,400.

Vehicle Approx. starting MSRP when new Approx. average used selling price now
2010 Lincoln MKS $42,000 $13,000
2010 Ford Taurus $25,200 $10,600
Difference $16,800 $2,400

Crossover SUVs: 2012 Acura RDX and 2012 Honda CR-V

Cousin Cars

Thanks to its turbocharged four-cylinder engine and sporty handling, the 2012 Acura RDX won a loyal following and was one of the most popular compact crossover SUVs available at the time. In addition to the turbocharged engine variant not available on the 2012 Honda CR-V, the RDX also came with a slew of upgrades, such as xenon headlamps, foglights, paddle shifters and standard 18-inch wheels. When they were new, the difference between the RDX and CR-V was roughly $10,000. The difference now hovers around $1,150.

Vehicle Approx. starting MSRP when new Approx. average used selling price now
2012 Acura RDX $33,000

$17,150

2012 Honda CR-V $23,000

$16,000

Difference $10,000

$1,150

Midsize SUVs: 2011 Lexus RX 350 and 2011 Toyota Highlander

Cousin Cars

The 2011 Lexus RX 350 was known for having a beautiful interior filled with top-notch materials, including supple leather and rich wood trim. It also had a reputation for being smooth and quiet at highway speeds. For many shoppers the RX 350 represented the perfect combination of luxury, comfort and utility. But that perfection came at a price: about $11,000 more than its more humble cousin, the 2011 Toyota Highlander.

Vehicle Approx. starting MSRP when new Approx. average used selling price now
2011 Lexus RX 350 $39,000

$20,400

2011 Toyota Highlander $28,000

$18,400

Difference $11,000

$2,000

Large SUVs: 2013 Lincoln Navigator and 2013 Ford Expedition

Cousin Cars

The 2013 Lincoln Navigator came with a bevy of standard features, including a power liftgate, power-folding running boards, power-adjustable pedals, a power-folding third-row bench and even more power features we don't have space to list. Combine all those creature comforts with the Navigator's handsome profile and chrome flourishes and you get the pinnacle of full-size luxury. All of this opulence allowed the 2013 Navigator to command a price about $17,000 more than the 2013 Ford Expedition on which it was based. Now the cost difference is now about $3,100.

Vehicle Approx. starting MSRP
when new
Approx. average used selling price now
2013 Lincoln Navigator

$57,900

$31,000

2013 Ford Expedition 

$40,600

$27,900

Difference

$17,300

$3,100

Close-Price Cousins: 2013 Lexus LX 570 and the 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser
Sometimes, the difference in price between luxury and non-luxury car cousins starts and stays close, whether new or used. A good example is this pair.

Cousin Cars

Vehicle Approx. starting MSRP when new Approx. average used selling price now
2013 Lexus LX 570 $81,500 $48,800
2013 Toyota Land Cruiser $78,500 $47,100
Difference $3,000 $1,700

A Classy Cousin That's Cheaper: 2011 Lincoln MKT and 2011 Ford Flex
Every now and again, a used luxury car may cost less than its standard cousin.

Cousin Cars

Vehicle Approx. starting MSRP when new Approx. average used selling price now
2011 Lincoln MKT $44,200 $15,700
2011 Ford Flex $29,000 $17,200
Difference $15,000 $1,500 less

Cousin-Shopping Tips

  • The numbers in the examples above represent average transaction prices for the listed vehicles, and not any particular trim level. So if you shop for any of the models shown, expect to see some price variance based on miles, trim level and your local market.


  • When you're considering which cousin car is best for you, remember that the luxe version may carry additional costs beyond its higher selling price. Some premium brands recommend or require high octane fuel, while the everyday model may be just fine with lower-grade gas. Insurance costs may be higher. And maintenance may be more expensive for the luxury version.


  • When you're shopping, keep these luxury and non-luxury cousin pairs in mind:

    Acura/Honda
    Audi/Volkswagen
    BMW/Mini
    Buick & Cadillac/Chevrolet & GMC
    Lincoln/Ford
    Genesis/Hyundai & Kia
    Infiniti/Nissan
    Lexus/Toyota
    Toyota/Scion

    Cousin cars offer a unique opportunity for you to get more for your used-car dollar while staying with a vehicle family that you like.


To find a dealership that knows how to treat shoppers right, please visit Edmunds.com's Dealer Ratings and Reviews.

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