Secondhand cars aren't just a great option for drivers on a budget, they're also a good alternative when new cars are in short supply.
Reduced production during, and as a result of, the worst of the pandemic means many people face long waits if they wish to buy a new vehicle. This forces them to consider the used car market.
Here we take a look at seven of the best second-hand cars currently available. Each has different advantages that mean it's particularly suitable for a certain audience. Discover why so many Australians are opting for a used car rather than hitting the showroom.
1. Holden Commodore
The glorious days when a Holden could be purchased new have now drawn to a close. Arguably this country's most iconic brand, Holden cars ended production in 2020. Luckily there are still plenty on the secondhand market, including the amazing Holden Commodore.
The best selling car for an awesome fifteen years running, the Commodore remains one of the most searched for cars in Australia. Whether you want to enjoy the nostalgia of an early Commodore or prefer a modern incarnation, the second-hand market can provide! There are plenty of used Commodores needing new owners.
2. Toyota LandCruiser
You can't beat a Toyota, which is why it's the most popular brand in Australia. One of the best things about the brand is its reliability. You can drive a Toyota into the ground and it'll still keep going - think Hilux! The Landcruiser is no exception. It's available in every shape and style you can think of, including a hardtop, convertible, sedan and a cab version.
Landcruisers last for decades and are renowned for their reliability - both of which are traits that make them an excellent used car choice. Secondhand Land Cruisers are available, but you need to get in fast with an offer, as they're very popular.
3. Toyota Camry
The Camry seems to get overlooked in favour of the RAV4, which is a shame, as it's an absolute gem of a car. The advantage of this is that for drivers in the know, it's possible to get a very good car for a surprisingly affordable price. Its conventional saloon appearance and understated features provide a camouflage of average that's completely undeserved.
Not only is the Camry safe, fuel-efficient, roomy and very, very reliable, it's also pretty speedy and handles like a dream. If you like beef beneath the bonnet, find one with a V6 engine and you'll not regret it. There is plenty of debate on which years offered the best Camry. We like Camrys from 2014 and 2015, but any used Camry is going to be a great buy that will normally give years of useful service.
4. Mazda 3
Given the quality and performance of the Mazda 3, it's amazing how affordable a used one can be. Until recently, Mazda was a manufacturer that raced frequently. This meant that its cars incorporated some pretty sophisticated features. Some years back Mazda moved away from serving a generic audience. Instead, it concentrated on providing high-end vehicles with a luxury feel and superior performance.
The Mazda 3 showcases the results of this decision perfectly. A joy to drive and well-appointed inside and out, it's a popular car you'll love to spend time in.
5. Toyota Hilux
The Hilux is Australia's best-selling new car - rightly so, we feel! Absolutely bulletproof, the Hilux is legendary for its ability to take rough treatment in its stride. More recent incarnations have acquired some funky tech, a restyled interior and some other refinements. Despite these innovations, at heart, the Hilux is still the tough, indomitable machine it always was.
If you're more of a lifestyle Hilux driver, you may prefer one of the more modern options, where Toyota has gone some way towards removing the rough edges. If you're a die-hard Hilux purist, one of the earlier models is going to have the familiar bouncy ride you can't get enough of.
6. Mazda CX-5
The CX-5 is a compact SUV that combines good looks, fun driving and enough space for convenient everyday use. It's a multi-purpose vehicle that's suitable for almost anybody. Like most Mazdas, it's very stylish, with an up-market feel. It also drives well, which is always a bonus. Economical to drive, safe and with enough room to seat five adults, it's a capable workhorse at the same time as being an engaging vehicle to drive.
Some purists would argue there's more space in other compact SUVs. That said, if you're after a driver's car that also ticks all the SUV boxes, the CX-5 is a great choice. Look for newer models to get the most features for your money.
7. Honda CR-V
Families love the Honda CR-V, so if you're in the used car market for a vehicle that can carry children, adults and a stack of gear and safely, a used CR-V works well. The CR-V hit the market way back in 2002. It's come a long way since then, with models in later years undergoing several revamps. Although it's an SUV, it's far more of a car than it is an off-roader.
With a focus on comfort and space, this is a passenger-orientated vehicle that's absolutely ideal for families. If you want a used car that offers great value and provides versatile performance, the CR-V is the one to take a closer look at.
Why Buy Second Hand?
If you pick your brand and model correctly, buying a used car can give you virtually all the advantages of a new option, but for less. This means you can often buy a higher spec used car (which is usually more reliable) for your money than you could if buying new.
When a new car comes out, it may have flaws or problems that will take time to surface. Buy used and you'll already have a good idea of what weaknesses to look out for. You'll also have the advantage of hundreds of customer reviews of a model, giving you valuable feedback on whether it's a good option or not.
For drivers who like a car model from a particular year, buying second-hand gives you the chance to replace your old, worn-out favourite with a similar vehicle that's still roadworthy.
All these reasons and more explain why so many people choose to buy second-hand.
Surge in Demand For Used Cars
As already indicated, demand for used cars is growing rapidly. This is primarily because new car production has slowed right down. Continuing shortages of key components (for example semi-conductors) mean that manufacturers still aren't producing as many vehicles as usual. This has resulted in drivers facing long delays for their vehicle to be delivered if they buy new.
There are also issues around the pricing of new models. Several manufacturers have significantly increased the cost of their 2021 models in comparison with 2020, without necessarily providing enough improvements to justify the price hike.
Continuing pandemic restrictions in some areas, coupled with the knock-on effects on jobs of the recent lockdowns, means that many Australians don't have the cash to buy a new car, leading them to turn to the second-hand market.
The future of the economy remains uncertain, prompting people to be cautious in their spending habits - the second-hand market allows drivers to replace their existing cars without needing to over-stretch themselves financially.