Reader Question: 2015 vs. 2018 4Runner

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Wayne asks: We are considering buying a 2015 Limited 4Runner with low miles or a new 2018 Premium 4Runner.  Looking for your recommendation.  I have concerns about the repair expenses between the two model years. My wife and i enjoy hearing you on KMED with Bill Meyer and we appreciate your point of view.

My Reply: There’s not much difference between the ’15 and the ’18. The 4Runner hasn’t changed much in years – a good thing! Because it means the thing does not have many of the latest idiocies, such as a micro-turbo four cylinder engine paired with a ten speed transmission. This is generally true of trucks as a class of vehicle; they tend to remain the same (minor tweaks excepted) for twice as long as cars, which are usually given a major makeover every four years or so nowadays.

The longer production cycles for trucks are good in another way, too. The parts stay in production longer. It is often much easier (and cheaper) to find parts for a 12-year-old truck than a 12-year-old car.

So, I think your decision comes down to whether to buy the new (2018) or a used (2015). Here’s my 50 on that:

Buying new is almost always a bad decision – financially. It can be a good decision psychologically. Some people place enormous value on being the first person to drive the vehicle – and in the new car warranty. There is nothing wrong with that. But it is neither here nor there as regards the financial aspect.

The new car mark-up vs. depreciation, to put it in plain terms.

You will pay top dollar for the new car, even if you only pay “sticker.” And then you’ll pay about 20 percent off sticker during the first year you own it in depreciation. That is a big one-two punch to the wallet!

If you buy used, someone else will pay the new car mark-up as well as the depreciation. You will save at least 20 and probably 30-40 percent (in your example) off the price of the vehicle by going with a barely three-year-old 4Runner vs. a brand-new one.

Assuming a “good vehicle” in terms of its basic design and engineering (and the 4Runner is that, 100 percent) then your only worry is making sure the used one you buy was well-treated and that the owner/seller isn’t hiding anything ugly.  Exercise due diligence – inspect the thing carefully or have it inspected carefully by someone you trust – and you should be very happy with this vehicle!

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Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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