Car Buying Tips

Used Car Hidden Gems

It is not everyone’s thing, but used cars provide excellent value for the dollar. Of course, it means you skip the new car smell and you may end up with a car that is less than perfect or – depending on your budget – with higher mileage. But cars are becoming more and more reliable, so the habit some have of parting with their cars at around the 100,000 km mark means there are a lot of cars on the market that have a ton of life left in them.

Even better are cars that sold in low volume, not because they were not good cars, but perhaps they just didn’t compete that well in a saturated market. The result: hidden gems that are great value as used buys, some of them even with low mileage at a fraction of the cost of new.

2011–2015 Hyundai Equus

Let’s start with something almost new and certainly off the beaten path. How about a Hyundai Equus? This vehicle was built not exactly to compete with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series , but to deliver a similar vehicle at a fraction of the price. With a starting price of just over $62,000 when released in 2011, the Equus certainly made some waves for the few that got to drive one. A large flagship luxury sedan a little early for the Hyundai brand perhaps, just as they were starting to dip their toes in the higher end markets.

There were 16 available on nationwide at the time of writing. This 2011 model is located in the GTA for under $25,000 and has only 51,000 km on the odometer; that’s just over two years of driving for the average consumer – sounds like a smoking good deal to me.

2009–2012 Acura RL

Acura is well known for reliable cars and from my inside source (an Acura service technician) the RL is rarely seen in the service department due to its reliability and quality build. The RL was always a little bit odd, not large or prestigious enough to compete in the full-sized luxury segment and its bland looks meant that most wanting to look the part ignored it. Again, this is another car that started at around $65,000 when new. Five years and just 85,000 km later and you can have one for under $24,000 – like this 2010 AWD Navigation model.

Again a low volume model so there are only a small selection (7 currently) of them to choose from nationally on Many RLs listed are much older models, so supply of this generation is limited. But if you are looking for a car that is loaded with Navigation, leather seating, all-wheel drive (Acura calls it SH-AWD) and a ton of luxury kit, the RL is a smart reliable buy.

2009–2015 Lincoln MKS

With over 50 MKS’s available on, the MKS is a little more plentiful to choose from, but that works even further into a buyer’s hands. The EcoBoost all-wheel drive models of the MKS started at over $53,000 in 2011. These cars were built off of the Ford Taurus platform, making this a large luxury sedan that has a solid and well-known chassis. The EcoBoost 3.5-litre engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission offers smooth and effortless power and the EcoBoost model was loaded with xenon headlamps, parking sensors, push-button start, leather seating with heated and cooled front seats, SYNC entertainment system and more.

I’ll admit the MKS styling can be love it or hate it, but it is not really that outrageous. The interior, also a little on the old school side, is quiet and luxurious. This all sounds great at $53,000, but what about at under $28,000 for a 2013 model with less than 20,000 km on it. You can pick up 2009 MKS’s in the $10,000–$13,000 range depending on mileage – that’s a lot of car for not a lot of cash.

2011–2015 Toyota Avalon

Yes it has a stigma, the Toyota Avalon is known as an “old man’s car”, but hey, there is nothing wrong with that… is there? It is classified as that because it is large, quiet, comfortable and reliable – all traits that seem positive to me. Some say that the Lexus ES is a gussied up Avalon but I look at it the other way around: the Avalon is a cut-price Lexus ES. Not much is missing in the Avalon in terms of luxury that you get in the ES and the packaging is simple with one loaded model to choose from.

A 2011 Avalon XLS listed for $41,000 – actually even new the Avalon is a bargain if you ask me. The 2011 received a refreshed front end making the styling more appealing and modern, though the platform was unchanged from 2004–2012 with just styling changes and updates along the way, so you really can’t go wrong with an older model as well.

There seem to be a few 2011 models available on and with over 80 Avalons listed the selection is pretty good. I found one 2011 example that has just over 85,000 km and is listed for under $16,000.

2010–2015 Jaguar XF

Unlike the Avalon, nobody will laugh at you coming or going in the Jaguar XF. Although the Jaguar may not be noted as the most reliable purchase, you can always invest in a third party warranty for between $2,000–$3,000 and drive away with peace of mind for a few years after your purchase.

A base 2010 XF is powered by a 4.2-litre V8 engine with 300-horsepower but all other XF models sport a 5.0-litre V8 engine producing 385-horsepower and 380 lb/ft of torque. In 2011 the base model also received the 5.0-litre V8 so you may want to avoid the 4.2-litre as it is less desirable.

Jaguar XFs can be found easily in the $20–30K range (this 2010 XF has 97,000 km and listed for just $20,900), some with very low mileage and occasionally higher mileage units for under $20,000, like this 2010 for $24,400 with less than 30,000 km on the clock.

The sporty Jaguar XFR started at over $85,000 in 2011, with only two one left on (at the time of this writing), if you really want one of these cars you might have to act fast or prepare to pay what the seller wants. Something tells me though that they do not sell extremely quickly due to their “out of the box” nature. All you really need to know about the XFR that really matters is that it is powered by a 5.0-litre V8 engine that is supercharged, generating an incredible 510-horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque.