Big Spender or Big Saver? Two Used Cars to Fit Your Finances

When it comes time to buy a car, there is a lot to consider. For starters, you must ask yourself will you be driving the car, or is it a gift for a family member? Do you need a car with low mileage, or will a well-traveled car work just fine for you? What about features – do you need top-of-the-line luxury amenities or is bare-bones best?

And the most important question of all: what can I spend on this car?

Luckily, used car prices run the gamut to absurdly cheap (remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is) to unimaginably expensive (we’re talking over $38 million expensive – of course, it was a Ferrari). Most of us, however, are going to fall somewhere in the middle – we’ll either pay at or around $10,000 and consider it a pretty excellent deal for a pre-loved car, or we’ll pay at or around $20,000 and be happy with a car that is probably pretty close to new and in very good condition.

Side note: If you are reading this article to find out how to purchase a car that is at or around $38 million dollars, you might need to refine your Google skills – we can’t help you with that).

No matter if you are a big spender or a big saver, there is a car out there for you.


Big Spender

Remember when Kanye West dropped this lyric on us: Couldn’t afford a car so she named her daughter Alexis? Well lucky for you, according to U.S. News and World Report, if you’re willing to spend around $20k, you can actually afford a Lexus. They named the 2012 Lexus ES 350 as the Top Used Midsize Car, a title we can fully agree with.



The 2012 Lexus ES 350 is a comfortable five passenger sedan that is truly a luxury ride. The ES comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, which roars past the stop signs with 268 horsepower. Gas mileage is decent at about 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 miles per gallon on the highway. Interestingly, the 2012 ES is powered by the exact same engine as the 2017 ES – so you lose nothing by buying used when it comes to performance.

The 2012 Lexus ES is not a sporty ride, but it never claimed to be. Rather, the Lexus is a comfortable, luxurious ride – perfect for either a long commute or a relaxing cruise up the coast.



The 2012 Lexus ES 350 comes in one trim, which should make your used-car shopping journey that much easier. For being an almost five-year old model, the standard amenities on the Lexus ES rival many of 2017’s base models. The 2012 Lexus ES 350 comes standard with: leather upholstery, wood interior trim, keyless ignition and entry, a sunroof, fog lights, heated exterior mirrors, Bluetooth phone and audio functionality, a six-CD changer, satellite radio, an iPod and an auxiliary jack and an eight-speaker sound system. There are also ten-way power front seats, driver memory functions and an auto-dimming mirror.

As you are buying used, be sure to look out for any models that also have additional packages included – you may find a 2012 Lexus that is equipped with navigation, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, and a backup camera, among other features. There are so many features and packages available on the 2012 Lexus ES 350, it pays to shop around.


Big Saver

Not looking to spend much on the car or at the pump? That’s okay, because the 2009 Toyota Prius is one of the best cars to buy for under $10,000 – and with the hybrid’s tremendous fuel economy, you’ll be seeing savings for years to come.



Of course, in 2017, we are all a lot more familiar with hybrids and even electric cars than we were in 2009 when they were still relatively new to the market. The Prius has long been the gold-standard of hybrid vehicles and the 2009 vintage does not disappoint. Powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, the Prius will go zero to 60 in 10.4 seconds – remember: it’s not made for speed, it’s made for economy. This fuel-saver gets 48 miles to the gallon in the city and 45 mpg on the highway – that’s going to amount to some serious change in your pocket. The 2017 Prius has managed to improve the car’s fuel economy to 54 mpg in the city and 50 on the highway, but that’s certainly not a large enough difference to dissuade anyone from buying the used model.



While not quite as fancy as the 2012 Lexus, the amenities in 2009 standard model Prius are certainly nothing to scoff at. Buy the base model (which is actually called the standard model in Toyota speak – the three trim levels for the Prius are Standard, Base and Touring) and you’ll enjoy keyless entry, power windows and locks, a touchscreen display, and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player. Pretty good for entry level on a car that’s eight-year-old. Although the 2009 Prius only offers three trim levels, it does offer an extensive array of options that will make the car feel even more modern and luxurious such as Bluetooth capability, navigation, a rearview camera, a nine-speaker JBL stereo and leather seats. Browse around and you should be able to find a Prius that has everything you could possibly want in a new car, not just a used car.


Buy Used, Save Big

Whether you decide to splurge or save on your new car, you can be happy knowing that just by buying used you’ve saved a bucket of money. Look at the 2017 Lexus ES – it has a starting MSRP of $38,900. And the 2017 Toyota Prius? It starts at $24,685. Those are crazy prices for cars that aren’t that much different than their predecessors! Now go ahead and have a little fun while you shop for your used car because no matter if you are a big spender or big saver simply by buying used, you’re coming out ahead.

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