The inescapable fact is that, while you sleep, prices of new cars are rising. Take this new 470-hp Dodge Charger SRT8 we’re testing. The old one—final model year: 2010—started just below $41, 000. The 2012 model, albeit with a larger engine, more horses, and more standard amenities, is $47, 650. This is not the “change” we voted for!
However, also while you sleep, prices are falling. That is, on depreciating used cars. Once the plastic is pulled off the seats and the car is wheeled out of the showroom, its value-meter starts spinning backward, sometimes much more quickly than its odometer spins forward. You’ve seen the ads: former rock stars of speed, luxury, and technology, just a few ticks past their sell-by dates and available for 50 or 60 cents on the dollar in copious quantities, thanks to rampant leasing in recent years. Is there a point where a rising star collides with a falling one, such that you might have to think long and hard about which one to grab? We think we’ve found such a place.