There are some nifty all-wheel-drive sedans coming off lease, and that could mean a serious serving of savings and peace of mind for you.
We are talking about very clean 2008 AWD sedans. These are typically cars that have been returned at the end of three-year leases. And they are typically the kind of low-mileage, nearly pristine vehicles that dealers offer as certified used cars.
The advantage here is obvious: You let someone else take the first three years of depreciation, which are the worst, and you wind up with a nice, late model with most of its life ahead of it for a fraction of what the corresponding new vehicle would cost you. If you choose one of the AWD entry-level luxury cars we're going to check out, you'll also still be under bumper-to-bumper warranty.
And, of course, you will have a civil sedan that will get you and your family through the snow in sure-footed fashion.
We're going to look at five sedans: two midsize entry-level luxury automobiles, a compact entry-level luxury, and a popularly priced midsize and compact. We'll show the base "clean retail" price set by the NADA Guides for a car with an automatic transmission, and the base price of the new 2011 version of that automobile.
Cadillac CTS (clean retail, $27,250, new 2011, $42,245). Comfortable and competent, this sporty, uniquely styled midsize sedan was redesigned for 2008 and is, essentially, the current model. The 2008 model year saw the introduction of the direct-injection version of Cadillac's excellent, 3.6-liter V-6, a development that raised the horsepower rating from 263 to 300, making the CTS even more fun to play with.
From a driving standpoint, the CTS benefits from a firm but compliant European suspension, and a smooth, six-speed automatic.
Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport Sedan ($29,100 clean retail, $38,775 new 2011). This quiet, roomy midsize sedan is gorgeous inside and out, a delight to drive, and a good value. I like the sport version of the C300, which includes a sporty front-end treatment by AMG, the company's minister of speed and sex, as well as a sport suspension.
Motivation is courtesy of a 228-horsepower V-6 that moves the car along nicely and delivers overall mileage in the low 20s. A seamless seven-speed automatic delivers the power to the drive wheels.
The C300's crisp handling and precise steering are joined by interior roominess and quietude.
Audi A4 2.0T Quattro ($24,225 clean retail, $35,015 new 2011). The A4 is Audi's compact luxomobile and is available with either the 200-horsepower, turbocharged four suggested here, or with a larger, 255-horse V-6. The automatic gearbox is a slick seven-speed.
The 2008 A4 is a nicely realized car with appealing styling, lots of amenities, and excellent build quality. The car is a joy to drive with its lively engine, excellent handling, good road feel and high comfort quotient.
Ford Fusion SE ($16,300 clean retail, $29,155 new 2011). The Fusion is Ford's midsize family sedan, and represents a particularly good value when picked up as a used all-wheel-driver.
While the Fusion's base engine is a four-banger, it is equipped with a 221-horsepower V-6 when fitted with AWD. In addition to the extra power, the 2008 car with the V-6 also replaces the four-cylinder car's four-speed automatic with a superior six-speed.
This Fusion is pleasantly, if conservatively, styled. When obtained in the mid-level SE trim suggested here, it also boasts a reasonably generous amenity arsenal.
It is a solid, civil family car with good road manners, decent power and fuel economy, and a comfortable cabin.
Subaru Impreza 2.5i ($13,675 clean retail, $19,495 new 2011). The Impreza, Subaru's compact sedan, comes in two forms, the base 2.5i we're discussing and the WRX, a more expensive pocket rocket.
Restyled for 2008, and a dead ringer for the current Impreza, the 2.5i is fitted with standard AWD and Subaru's bullet-proof, albeit unconventional, 170-horse, horizontally opposed four. The optional automatic is a four-speed.
The 2.5i is a fairly roomy compact that handles as nicely as it is equipped.