There are many reasons to research a used car dealership near you instead of just visiting a random dealer. To begin with, used cars are cheaper and avoid the massive depreciation that hits any new car the moment it drives off the lot. But as important as counting pennies can be, frequenting used car dealerships also has another advantage––the opportunity to buy out of production models.
Car manufacturers often launch unique vehicles only to discover that the interest is lower than anticipated, and even popular designs sometimes fall victim to politics and budgets. This means that drivers interested in something more individualistic than the generic sedans and SUVs that fill the nation’s roads can often best have their desires fulfilled by buying used. While there is an almost limitless number of unique vehicles that can be found by searching used car dealers in the area, here are three interesting designs that might provide inspiration for a used car search.
An SUV Coupe?
Today, sporty performance-oriented SUVs are becoming more and more popular. Perhaps the greatest expression of this concept today are the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLC Coupe, with their sloping car-like rooflines. However, nothing has yet gone as far as the now-discontinued Acura ZDX.
This unique sport-back SUV has hidden handles for its rear doors, making it look like a luxury coupe with some extra ground clearance. But despite its sports car design, the Acura ZDX is not missing out on bad weather or off-road performance and even boasts one of the better all-wheel drive systems available. Introduced for the 2010 model year and discontinued after 2013, the rarity of this vehicle only makes it more interesting, and yet examples are still relatively new and usually in good condition.
Powered by a 3.7L V6 producing 300 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, the almost 4,500 pound Acura ZDX is not particularly fast, although it has a decent enough turn of speed by SUV standards. But it comes with one of Acura’s excellent Super Handling all-wheel drive systems that uses active torque vectoring to send power precisely where it is needed. The Acura ZDX even comes with two mode active dampers to further improve ride and handling.
Further, the car includes both center and rear limited-slip differentials, giving it incredibly good low traction performance. And for those rare people who desire to take a luxury sports SUV off-road, it even includes hill descent control. Although with a 19.8-degree angle of approach and large 19-inch wheels wearing relatively narrow sidewall rubber, it is probably best to keep this vehicle on prepared roads.
But no matter the type of driving, the Acura ZDX will keep its occupants comfortable with a host of luxury features. While the infotainment technology is now slightly dated compared to modern luxury vehicles, it still holds up well compared to average cars. And the Acura ZDX sports all the basics expected of a luxury car, from heated and vented premium leather seats to a high-quality ten-speaker surround sound system. While the Acura ZDX is not for everyone, it is still well worth checking out should one show up at a nearby used car dealership.
High Revving Rotary Fun
For a rather small automobile manufacturer, Mazda has produced a disproportionately large number of interesting vehicles. Unfortunately, with the exception of the iconic MX-5 Miata, they have generally been short-lived. However, there is one unique Mazda creation that is still relatively easy to find on used car lots. This is the Mazda RX-8, the somewhat forgotten successor to the groundbreaking Mazda RX-7.
Produced from 2004 to 2011, this car comes with a ridiculously high revving rotary engine, suicide doors, and standout styling, making the Mazda RX-8 a truly one of a kind car that will appeal to anyone who appreciates less conventional vehicles. And although it can be something of a gas guzzler, the Mazda RX-8 is actually a surprisingly practical car.
The most unique aspect of the Mazda RX-8 is, of course, the 1.3L rotary engine. For those unfamiliar with this technology, it eschews traditional pistons in favor of a single rotating triangular plate. This allows for an extremely high redline and horsepower to displacement ratio but comes at the cost of poor fuel economy and oil consumption. And with ever-increasing government fuel economy requirements, this drawback means that today the rotary engine has been abandoned. When paired with its six-speed manual transmission, the engine in the Mazda RX-8 produces an excellent 232 horsepower and 159 lb-ft of torque with a sky-high 9000 rpm redline. However, the automatic transmission option only makes 212 horsepower thanks to its much lower 7500 rpm redline. Still, in a vehicle that weighs slightly over 3,000 pounds, either option will provide solid acceleration.
Aside from its engine, the Mazda RX-8 stands out for its 2+2 seating and rear suicide doors. With 32 inches of rear legroom and the ability to enter and exit without crawling around the front row seats, the Mazda RX-8 is considerably more practical than the average compact coupe. However, its 7.6 cubic feet of trunk space is rather limited. However, the largest drawback to living with one of these cars is its fuel consumption. With an 18 miles per gallon combined fuel economy and a demand for premium gas, the Mazda RX-8 is not a car for drivers on a budget. And with its 16.9-gallon fuel tank giving it around 300 miles of range, it can actually be out-ranged by some electric vehicles. But despite its flaws, a used Mazda RX-8 is an incredibly unique car that is still fairly modern and extremely affordable.
A Hybrid Sports Car
The Honda/Acura NSX delivers an incredible level of performance by combining a gasoline engine with electric motors. This allows for plentiful instant torque and has since been copied by other supercars such as the BMW i8 and Ferrari SF90 Stradale. However, Honda also used this same technology on another far more affordable sports car, the Honda CR-Z. And while the performance of this car is nowhere near that of its big brother, it is still a unique machine that can be easily found at many local used car dealerships for a low price. Plus, in direct contrast to the Mazda RX-8, the Honda CR-Z offers probably the best combination of fun and fuel economy available.
As a compact two-seat hatchback, the Honda CR-Z is a stylish and one of a kind design. However, cargo space is more limited than it could have been thanks to a set of vestigial rear seats leftover from the 2+2 seating arrangement available in some foreign markets. Even with this design quirk, the Honda CR-Z is possibly the most practical two-seat vehicle ever built and can fit a surprising amount of cargo. The 37 miles per gallon combined fuel economy is also unheard of in anything purporting to be a sporty design. However, despite its marketing and aggressive looks, the fundamental flaw of the Honda CR-Z is that the vehicle is rather gutless. Together, its 1.5L gasoline engine and electric motor only manage to produce 130 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque.
But these numbers are not quite as bad as they might appear at first glance because the Honda CR-Z weighs in at less than 2,700 pounds. And although its acceleration will never be described as anything more than brisk, this low weight means that it can still be fun on winding roads. Particularly since the Honda CR-Z is one of the very few hybrids to offer a six-speed manual transmission. Still, as unique as this little sports hybrid is, it is decidedly not for anyone chasing blinding acceleration. Instead, those drivers will have to save up a bit longer and find a used car dealership near them with an Acura NSX.