7 affordable and underrated used cars to buy

Bruce Newton

Posted May 03, 2023

The prices of some used cars are falling in Australia thanks to improving new car supply and buyer preference for Toyota vehicles and SUVs. Here's some affordable used cars to consider.

Looking for a new car? There are still affordable options out there if you are prepared to think out of the box, and search the used car market.

“Consider if you really need a Toyota, if you really need an SUV,” says Ross Booth, the global chief of car valuation experts Redbook.

“Could you make do with another brand, or a model from a less popular segment?

“Are you prepared to buy a model that is no longer sold, or a brand that no longer exists? 

“It all helps keep the price down.”

So with that in mind, let’s check out some options from across the used car spectrum to show what we mean. You can then calculate your potential used car repayments here.

One basic rule, we’re looking at vehicles from the last five years or so, rather than delving into older models where vehicle mileage is really climbing and age is causing issues.

A red Mazda 6

Supply for the Mazda6 far exceeds the demand in the used car market. Image: Getty.

Used luxury passenger vehicle

Jaguar XF

Sales of large luxury passenger vehicles have been steadily declining for some years. The likes of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series have been thoroughly supplanted by their SUV brethren.

The Jaguar XF never rose to any heady sales heights in Australia, but that actually helps its appeal as a used car bargain.

Sleek in its exterior styling and pampering within its leather-attired interior, the Jaguar XF is a traditional large saloon that drives enjoyably and comfortably.

Here we’re focussed on the second generation launched in Australia in December 2015. It came with a broad range of petrol and diesel engines but they were pared back over the years in the name of range simplification.

There was even a wagon, or XF Sportbrake, that was offered for only a couple years in Australia.

A comprehensive 2021 update brought with it a muscular styling update and an interior with new seats, infotainment system and digital instrument cluster.

According to Redbook, 2016 four-cylinder turbocharged XFs are available for less than $30,000. Of course, if you want a supercharged V6 then prepare to spend more.

Used large/medium passenger vehicle


Yes, it’s best to avoid the big brand names if you are after a used car gem. As Australia’s number two selling brand that hardly applies to Mazda.

But the Mazda6 sells in the medium/large passenger car segment, which has gone through a calamitous fall in buyer interest in recent years.

As a result the Mazda6 is one Mazda where demand is not outstripping supply, so prices have stayed under control.

The history of the Mazda6 actually dates back through three generations and 20 years. The current car actually dates all the way back to 2013, but it has been through a series of updates – minor and major - since then that have kept it fresh.

The Mazda6 is available as both a sedan and wagon and the latter is the pick if you want to maximise both style and space and you’re happy to pay a little extra.

A diverse powertrain choice includes staple naturally-aspirated and turbocharged petrol and economical turbo-diesel. Since 2013, all Mazda6s have been front-wheel drive with automatic transmissions.

Good looking, fun to drive and comfortable to ride in, the biggest thing the Mazda6 has going against it is it’s not an SUV.

That, of course, helps its used car pricing. A post-update 2018 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated Mazda6 sedan could start in the low $20K range according to Redbook.



A red Holden Astra parked on a grave driveway in dappled light

The Holden Astra was axed in 2019 but a nationwide service and parts back-up continues to operate. Image: Supplied.

Used small passenger vehicle

Holden Astra

Yep, a car no longer sold in here from a brand that no longer exists.

But the good news is the Holden Astra was always under-rated, and if you buy one today you’ll feel the benefit in the hip pocket.

There’s also nationwide service and parts back-up for all Holden products including the Astra, as required by law.

Launched here in late 2016 straight after being crowned European Car of the Year, this was the fourth Astra generation to be sold by Holden.

Initially available as a five-door hatchback developed by Opel in Germany, it was later joined by a Korean-built sedan and wagon.

Undoubtedly good enough in mechanical terms to match the local small car leaders such as the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, the Holden Astra was let down by high pricing and the decision to make life-saving autonomous emergency braking optional in the entry-level Astra hatch and absent from the sedan. At least it was standard in the wagon.

Holden axed the Astra in 2019, not that long before General Motors announced the closure of the brand.

So, no surprise then that the Holden Astra is a used car bargain. Sub $10,000 prices are feasible for 2016-17 high kay examples. Raise your limit to $15,000 and there are excellent newer low kilometre options to be found.

Used luxury SUV


Five-door hatchback SUVs that their manufacturers dub Coupes have become a thing in the past few years.

In exchange for sometimes questionable looks and reduced practicality, they generally demand higher prices than the regulation squared-off wagons they are based on.

But there’s one example of this breed, the BMW X4, that the valuation experts at Redbook have identified as being a bargain buy.

That really applies to the first generation model launched here in 2014 and sold until 2017.

Based on the BMW X3, it comes with a range of impressive drivetrains, luxury trims and price tags that can range from under $40,000 to about $50,000 for the last of the breed.


A white BMW X4

Opt for the BMW X4 if you're looking for a second-hand luxury SUV couple at an affordable price. Image: Getty. 

Large used SUV

Nissan Pathfinder

Given the popularity of SUVs in Australia, the reality is you have to do some fossicking to find a bargain.

In the family seven-seat SUV segment the Toyota Kluger and Prado, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-8 and CX-9 dominate. You can expect to pay big bucks for them on the used market.

But the Nissan Pathfinder is a bit player and that means there are bargains to be had on the used car market.

The vehicle we’re examining here is the fourth generation that first showed up in Australia in 2013. It was notable for abandoning its hard-core 4x4 roots to become a mellower all-wheel drive all-rounder.

It also abandoned turbo-diesel power, replacing it with a petrol-electric hybrid that delivered better fuel economy than the orthodox petrol V6 that was also on offer.

Buyers reacted without enthusiasm, but that’s good news for used car shoppers now.

The Nissan Pathfinder went through series of updates through the years and by the late teens was well equipped.

Pricing varies widely from around $20,000 for a high kilometre example of a Series II, while 2018’s Series III starts over $30,000. 

Used medium SUV

Renault Koleos

What’s called platform sharing in the automotive industry is now a common cost saving strategy.

Essentially, a whole bunch of different bodies are dropped over fundamentally identical underpinnings and drivetrains.

The Renault Koleos is a classic example of this. It’s effectively a Nissan X-Trail by another name.

That’s possible because Renault and Nissan are joint-venture partners.

So, the Koleos has the same petrol and diesel powertrains and front- and all-wheel drive chassis options as the Nissan X-Trail, it looks different inside and outside, but has been tuned to drive a little bit differently.

The current Renault Koleos arrived in 2016 and has since garnered a reputation for being a competent five-seat SUV. Bit like the Nissan X-Trail really.

Sales haven’t been similar though. The Renault Koleos has been a bit player despite the introduction of a seven-year warranty (since reduced back to five years) and generous servicing deal.

According to Redbook a five-year old Renault Koleos can be found from under $20,000.


A slate blue Nissan Pathfinder parked in a wooded forest.

Pricing for a Series II Nissan Pathfinder starts at around $20,000. Image: Getty.

Used dual cab ute

Mercedes-Benz X-Class

A Mercedes-Benz dual cab ute sounded like such a good idea at the time. The marketing power of the three-pointed star aligned with one of the globe’s booming vehicle sales segments, was posied to be a desierable vehicle.

Sadly, the decision to base the Mercedes-Benz X-Class on the Nissan Navara was a step too far for buyers, who shunned the expensive load-hauler so comprehensively it lasted just three years on-sale.

While entry-level models were indeed thinly disguised Nissan Navaras, the upper-spec 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 X350d was much more a proprietary Mercedes-Benz and a decent vehicle. 

But at more than $70,000 plus on-road costs in 2018 dollars in the Mercedes-Benz X-Class's cheapest form, it just cost a fortune.

Nowadays, these utes are going in the used market in range from $40,00-$60,000 depending on age, kilometres and things like options.

Sure, that’s a lot of money. But when you consider a new Ford Ranger Wildtrak V6 is $72,390, then the Mercedes-Benz X-Class looks like a bit of a used car bargain.


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