Shopping for a used car is difficult. And more than difficult, it is frightening from a financial perspective.
Used cars seldom have much of a warranty if any guarantee at all. Certified pre-owned (CPO) is an excellent program that adds assurance for the buyer, but usually comes with a slightly higher price point. Regardless, when comparing a CPO used car with a non-CPO used car always go with the CPO option.
The buyer’s budget is very important when looking for a used car. Few people have enough money saved to buy a car without a loan. Many banks and other financial institutions offer competitive rates based on the buyer’s credit score.
Because used cars can be risky and are often bought with borrowed money, it’s paramount that the best decision is made deliberately. And the best decisions are made with the best analysis of thorough information organized into simple conclusions.
The goal of this project is to find the best SUVs for a small family.
The process used in this analysis is called multiple objective decision analysis. In order to find the best used sport utility vehicles of 2015, the constraints will be identified and the decision factors (called value measures) will be assigned an importance relative to each other. Every vehicle that is considered will be scored based on the value measures: i.e. fuel efficiency, safety rating, five-year true cost to own, etc.
In order for a sports utility vehicle to be considered, it must be made between 2009 and 2014 and seat at least five people. The vehicles, models 2009 through 2014, which made the first cut follow:
|HYUNDAI||SANTA FE SPORT|
|SUBARU||XV CROSSTREK HYBIRD|
For the next two steps, price is not a consideration. The value measures are identified and assigned a relative importance based on how important they are to the typical family on a typical day. The most important factors are the ones that have the greatest effect on the average day. In order of most important to least important, the value measures are: reliability, highway gas mileage, safety, five-year true cost to own, and city gas mileage.
These value measures and their relative importance may not be the same for all motorist, but the factors used in this project are generally important to all drivers.
Collecting raw data for this list of vehicles is time consuming, however two websites made it much easier. Kelly Blue Book was an excellent resource for collecting gas mileage and prices. Edmunds.com provides less common, but more useful information on vehicles such as reliability scores, safety scores and (coolest of all) the true cost to own (TCTO). TCTO uses historical data to calculate the annual cost of vehicle ownership by taking into account average insurance cost, repair and maintenance cost, depreciation and other costs of ownership. The five year TCTO is used based on the assumption that most family used cars are used by that family for more than five years or until that car dies beyond reasonable repair.
When comparing safety ratings, there are usually two different scales. In this analysis they were later translated into a number rating of one throught five.
Once all the raw data is collected, calculations are conducted to assign each vehicle a total score. All the raw scores are converted to a decimal based on the range from the lowest score in each category to the highest. So the
Value measures that have a higher importance account for a larger portion of the vehicle’s total score. Imagine a pie cut into different sized slices. The biggest slice is reliability, and the smallest is city gas mileage. Now imagine someone eating away the pie with poor scores. If a car scores poorly in reliability but extremely well in city gas mileage, then the city gas mileage slice has more pie left than the reliability slice.
Next a second cut was made for vehicles that received poor scores in safety, reliability. Essentially the top 20 vehicles are selected. 21 vehicles are shown because there was a score drop-off between number 21 and 22.
The sorting feature in most spreadsheet software allows the information to be organized by the total score in ascending order. Out of the vehicles listed, the 2014 Subaru Outback scored the most points. However the highest point score doesn’t mean it is right for everyone. Once price becomes a consideration the evidence will show which SUVs have the most ‘bang for the buck,’ and which ones are less economical.
Using the same websites to find a price for each vehicle, the price is set against the total value and plotted.
This final plot of cost vs. total score shows which SUVs have the most value. The line that is drawn over top of data points is called an efficiency frontier. Any point along that line has the greatest value or best score for its price.
The vehicle with the highest score is the 2014 Subaru Outback, however, that vehicle also has the highest price. So if a buyer wants that vehicle, and it’s within his or her budget, he or she should buy that vehicle. However, if a buyer can afford $19,000, then he or she should not buy the 2013 Nissan Rogue or the 2010 Toyota Venza. That buyer should purchase the 2010 Honda CRV because it has a higher score than any of the more expensive options within that budget. The he or she can put that extra few thousand dollars into after-market car seats or remote keyless entry to increase the vehicle’s resale value.
Price always fluctuates in real life depending on location and the condition of the vehicle. So when it comes to actually looking at vehicles, always look around at options that are close to the max budget before automatically ruling them out.
Using the factors considered above, the best sports utility vehicles for 2015 are the 2014 Subaru Outback, 2014 Honda CRV, 2013 Mazda CX, 2010 Honda CRV, and the 2009 Toyota Rav4.