June 16, 2024

Do Cars from a Few Years Ago Hold More Appeal Than Brand-New Models?

If you’ve had to purchase a vehicle at any point in the past four years, you are familiar with the challenges in the market. Dealers were only carrying the top trim levels and adding extra charges, used car prices were extremely high, and availability was scarce. However, there have been improvements recently, with used car prices decreasing, dealer markups mostly disappearing, and some models even being offered for less than the MSRP. Despite this, some buyers have opted out of buying new cars for good, not necessarily due to financial constraints, but because they believe older cars are superior.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article that delved deeper into this trend. Unfortunately, it heavily relies on anecdotes gathered from social media responses, so it lacks comprehensive analysis on the prevalence and evolution of this belief over time. It’s essential to take anecdotes with a grain of salt, especially as the responses were based on the question, “Name a new car/truck/SUV that is not as desirable as the design it replaces?”

The responses reveal the diverse reasons why people are hesitant to buy new cars. Some worry about cybersecurity issues, while others are cautious about modern features like start-stop systems, continuously variable transmissions, and diesel engines requiring diesel exhaust fluid. Additionally, some individuals are reluctant to part with specific features such as manual transmissions, CD players, or dislike touch screens.

Many of these concerns are valid. Data security in connected cars is a significant issue, and not all automakers prioritize keeping consumer information confidential. Early versions of CVTs and start-stop systems had implementation issues, and few automakers offer manual transmissions today. While some responses suggest a resistance to change, with a belief that “new is different, and different is bad.”

“I rented a brand new…Kia Sorento last week and it made me appreciate my previous-gen Tahoe even more,” shared one individual with the WSJ. “The user experience completely confused me, making it more distracting than useful.” Similarly, another person commented, “My wife recently bought a new Toyota Highlander, and it feels like you need a semester at MIT to operate the turn signal.”

Another commenter went as far as suggesting that new cars shouldn’t be called cars at all. “They are tools that efficiently transport you but lack emotional connection. The thrill of a new car lies in its ability to engage you during your journey from point A to B and relieve you from the task of driving,” they expressed to the WSJ.

While there is a perception that a significant portion of the public believes old cars are superior to new ones, the upward trend in new car sales contradicts this notion. Despite the drop in new car sales in 2020, sales have rebounded, with over 15.5 million new cars sold in 2023. This is lower than the 17 million plus new cars sold in 2015 and 2016, but factors like disrupted supply chains due to COVID, high-interest rates, and stagnant wages have contributed to this decline.

The situation is complex, with economic factors playing a significant role in consumer behavior. Companies must pay their employees adequately to sustain new car purchases. Otherwise, consumers will opt for used vehicles. While some caution towards new car features is justified, the decision to buy new or used is not solely about personal preference. Where do you stand on this matter? If you belong to the camp of never buying new cars again, is it solely a financial decision, or would you still prefer older vehicles even with the means to afford a new one?


Q: Are new cars safer than old cars?

A: New cars often come equipped with advanced safety features that may make them safer than older models. However, this can vary depending on the specific make and model.

Q: Why do some people prefer old cars over new ones?

A: Some individuals prefer older cars due to familiarity with their features, concerns about new technology, or sentimental value attached to the vehicle.


While there is a subset of consumers who believe old cars are superior to new ones, the overall trend in new car sales indicates that the majority still opt for newer models. Economic factors, technological advancements, and personal preferences all play a role in the decision to purchase a new or used vehicle. It is essential for consumers to weigh the pros and cons of both options before making a decision.

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