Buying Advice

Hertz's liquidated assets may be the key to getting a good deal on a used car

Cars from mass market and luxury automaker are now up for grabs at low rates.

Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Without Americans traveling for work and pleasure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses in the travel and auto industry are suffering. From airlines to automakers to dealerships and rental car services, the impact has been great.

As rental car companies look to remain solvent, CNN Business reports that industry experts expect rental car companies to unload 1.5 million cars from their U.S. fleets in the coming year. Hertz Global Holdings Inc., one of the nation's largest car-rental companies, filed for bankruptcy protection on May 20.

The company is selling its used cars at a steep discount according to the newest iSeeCars study. Analysis of over 20,000 used cars from model years 2017 to 2019 listed by Hertz Car Sales found that the company's vehicles can currently be found, on average, for $1,389 below market value, which is 43.3 percent more than the average discount for Hertz vehicles in April at $969.

Below are the best deals based on percent below market value.

No. 10. - Nissan Quest

2017 Nissan Quest

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Hertz has listed the car at an average price of $13,874. That amounts to an average savings of $1,810 because its price is 12 percent below market value.

No. 9 (tie) - Volkswagen Golf

2018 Volkswagen Golf

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The average Volkswagen Golf listed for sale is priced 12.3% below market value for a savings of $2,023. The Golf, on average, however, costs more than the Nissan Quest with its average price of $14,434.

No. 9 (tie) - Kia Forte

2019 Kia Forte Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia Forte is one of the cheapest models on this list, and a good car. It is listed on average for $10,851, which represents a savings of $2,023. That's 12.3 percent below market value.

No. 7 (tie) - Buck Cacada

2018 Buick Cascada

Photo courtesy of Buick

The Buck Cascada came and went from the U.S. market with America barely batting an eye. Still, it's a decent convertible (albeit with a dated infotainment system). Buyers will pay an average list price of $15,564 for one, which is a $2,241 savings over the usual price. That's 12.4 percent below market value.

No. 7 (tie) - Nissan Versa Note

2018 Nissan Versa Note

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The subcompact Nissan Versa Note is a good commuter hatchback. It's listed for just $9.533 on average representing a savings of $1,375 - 12.4 percent below market value.

No. 5 - Toyota Tundra

2018 Toyota Tundra

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The Tundra is the only truck on this list. Its average asking price is $31,383, which is 12.6 percent below market value. The average savings on the model is $4,714.

No. 4 - Infiniti QX50

2019 Infiniti QX50

Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

The Infiniti QX50 is a comfortable cruiser. Its average list price of $27,760 is one of the higher on the list, but that price represents a $4,145 average savings. The SUV is listed for an average of 12.7 percent below market value.

No. 3 - Mercedes-Benz A-Class

2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Hertz has listed the Mercedes-Benz A-Class car for an average of $28.555. That's $4,252 an average savings of $4,252 representing 13 percent below market value.

No. 2 - Chevrolet Trax

2019 Chevrolet Trax

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Trax fits the bill of what people most often think of when they think about a rental SUV. Current listings have the Trax with an average price of $11,196, an average savings of $1,714. That amount is 13.4 percent below market value.

No. 1 - BMW 7 Series

2017 BMW 7 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

Donald Osborne is famous for, among other things, being teased by Jay Leno about how he cares more about percentage gained or lost on the value of a car rather than the dollars and cents side of the equation on Leno's popular TV show "Jay Leno's Garage".

The BMW 7 Series is a classic example of the type of car Osborne would appreciate while Leno would roll his eyes. It is listed for an average price of $42,680 - easily the highest number on this list. However, that cost represents an average savings of $6,877, making the car 13.7 percent below market value.


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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Enclave Avenir is the top-of-the-line trim level of the SUV for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Buick

Some people are extremely adventurous eaters. I joke that the only food I won't eat is bugs that look like bugs. I'll do Indian, Thai, Korean and Ethiopian, sweetbreads, frog legs and endless servings of sushi. French Laundry. Cut. Alinea.

Others are into tamer fare: vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, grilled cheese (with Kraft American Singles) on Wonder bread, steak with ketchup. Cracker Barrel. Dairy Queen. Olive Garden, if you're feeling fancy.

Though the fancy food folks might look down on the Red Lobster-crowd, if you're a carmaker looking to sell big SUVs in Peoria, you best remember they exist — and what sorts of stuff they're into. Culinary adventures are all about trying new and exciting things, which not everyone likes.

2020 Buick Enclave Avenir The model is elegant, especially in the high-end Avenir grade.Photo courtesy of Buick

Some people — a lot of them, actually — are thrilled with unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks. And for them, GM has come up with the Buick Enclave Avenir, the Olive Garden of seven-passenger premium SUVs.

Though Buick might not carry the brand cachet of Volvo or Acura or it's up-market sibling Cadillac, the marque's SUVs (that's all it makes now, sadly) are remarkably popular. The Enclave is the three-rowed big boy, and the Avenir is the top-tier premium trim level. My test unit landed at $59,390 including the Avenir Technology Package which includes adaptive cruise control and improved automatic emergency braking. It's 2020. Both of those should be standard GM. Come on now.

It feels almost like a minivan but with the look of an SUV. Entry and exit is easy and the front and rear captain's chairs are supremely comfortable. The Technology Package adds an improved suspension which is gentle on aging backs and keeps things nicely stable. There are two sunroofs, one in the front that opens and one in the back that does not.

The 20-inch rims are sharp and, while the Enclave does not have the most exciting design in the world, it is inoffensive and soothing. It would look good in grandma's driveway on Thanksgiving Day.

2020 Buick Enclave Avenir The Enclave has a good amount of cargo space at the rear.Photo courtesy of Buick

The Buick infotainment system is excellent, with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot from AT&T and GM's unmatched OnStar service. The hotspot means that the litany of iPads and iPhones from the passengers in the back (and front) seats will always be able to connect and OnStar means if anything goes wrong, help is just a button press away — unless the air bags deploy, in which case help calls you instead. The Bose Premium audio system does its job well, with active noise cancellation and something called "Buick QuietTuning" to keep outside noise where it belongs.

The front seats are heated and ventilated, and both include a massage function which is a gift from the road trip gods. In my version, the second row seats were heated, but no cooling. The touch surfaces are all lovely and the cabin is light and airy thanks to large windows and those dual sunroofs. Visibility is excellent, and there's a 360-degree camera system to help you park in tight spaces.

The 3.6-liter V6 makes 310 horsepower but stays out of the way, as does the 9-speed automatic transmission. The Buick gearshift is mildly annoying to get used to, but after a week or two, you won't notice it anymore. There are a host of safety features, including rear cross traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot warning with alert feature if you're going to move into another car on the interstate. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined.

There's a remote start system, which is great for both hot and cold days, a power liftgate at the back, and a split power-folding 60/40 third row if you want to haul more stuff than people. It'll even tow up to 5,000 pounds if you want to haul a camper or small boat. But an off-roader this isn't. It's an unpretentious people and stuff hauler that won't draw too much attention to itself.

Unpretentious is probably a fair description for most Buick buyers. They don't need to show off. They just value comfort and roominess and want a car that will take care of them.

That's the Buick Enclave Avenir.

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The ID.4 will ramp up production as the U.S. says goodbye to the Passat.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Volkswagen Passat will end its run in 2023 at VW's U.S. manufacturing base in Chattanooga, Tennessee. But don't worry, Volkswagen has plans for what is next. In fact, they've already announced the products; they're just now getting around to specifying a timeline.

Currently, the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant is producing the Passat alongside the Volkswagen Atlas and Atlas Sport. earlier this year, the plant celebrated the 1 millionth vehicle to roll off its assembly line - Aurora Red Metallic 2020 Volkswagen Passat R-Line.

Before the Chattanooga plant opened, Volkswagen hadn't made a vehicle in the U.S. in 22 years following the closing of the Westmoreland facility in Pennsylvania.

1977 Volkswagen Dasher and 2020 Volkswagen Passat The Dasher was the predecessor to the modern Passat. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Passat got its start as a vehicle designed specifically for the North American market. Ground was broken on the Tennessee plant in 2009 and in 2011 it began producing the cars. It currently employees approximately 3,800 people. In the last nine years, the plant has produced more than 700,000 Passats and 100,000 Atlas SUVs. The new 2020 Atlas Cross Sport and the refreshed 2021 Atlas recently began production.

Volkswagen has announced that the plant will be the company's North American base for manufacturing electric vehicles including the ID.4, representing an approximately $800 million investment, starting in 2022. The expansion to enable U.S. production of long-range EVs began in November 2019.

The expansion includes a new Engineering and Planning Center (EPC) at the plant that will feature a unique, state-of-the-art high-voltage laboratory that is designed to develop and test electric vehicle cells and battery packs. These cells and packs are slated to be assembled in the U.S. before being inserted into vehicles.

Production of the ID.4 will ramp up starting 2022. It will reach full capacity by 2023, then the Passat will be shown the door. Before the U.S. production begins, Volkswagen will exclusively produce the ID.4 at its Zwickau plant in Germany.

2022 Volkswagen ID.4 The Volkswagen ID.4 will be made in the U.S. starting in 2022.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Though the Passat is leaving the U.S. market, it will continue as a vehicle for international sale. Development of the ninth-generation version of the model is currently underway.

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