NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The U.S. used-car market is facing big supply shortages and unusually high prices these days, so consumers might as well buy certain models new instead of used, since there's little difference in price. "We're in a bit of a strange situation right now in that there simply isn't a lot of used-car inventory out there," says Eric Lyman of market tracker TrueCar.com.
Dealers have few used cars to sell because not many people bought or leased new vehicles during the 2008-10 economic meltdown, so there's a dearth of 3- to 5-year-old automobiles entering the resale market right now. That's resulting in higher-than-normal used-car prices, especially since plenty of Americans are still pinching pennies and opting to buy pre-owned vehicles instead of new ones. At the same time, today's low interest rates mean automakers can offer customers who can afford new vehicles cheap loans and other enticements. "The incentives that manufacturers are putting on new cars in terms of cut-rate financing or lease deals can actually make new cars more attainable than used ones," Lyman says. Adding to the similarities between some new- and used-car prices, some models haven't undergone major redesigns in several years, so older versions sell for almost as much as 2013s do.
Here's a look at five vehicles TrueCar recommends consumers buy new instead of used, as you'll save less than 19% by getting 2010 or 2011 versions. (The typical 2- to 3-year-old car costs around 30% less than its new counterpart.) All savings estimates refer to price differences between the average new car and that of comparable 2- and 3-year-old editions sold between Jan. 1 and May 17 at some 14,000 U.S. dealers that TrueCar tracks.