Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A grey 2023 Cadillac Escalade is shown parked on a salt flat.

Cadillac Is the Most Affordable Brand for Used Luxury Car Buyers

Do you dream of a car with supple leather seats, a concert-grade audio system, and the premium craftsmanship only found on luxury brands that are well out of your price range? If so, you need to find a used Cadillac for sale. Cadillac could be the most underrated luxury automotive nameplate in the industry, but for luxury lovers on a budget, it represents a golden opportunity to get all the bells and whistles without going broke.

Why more buyers don’t at least consider a Cadillac is a mystery. As a century-old automotive mainstay, Cadillac has stayed true to its mission to build quality American luxury vehicles that compete with German and Japanese imports. The brand infuses its vehicles with a handful of over-the-top features, like audio speakers embedded in the headrest and hidden vaults in the console. These uncommon delights distinguish Cadillac from the competition.

As a used luxury vehicle option, the Cadillac lineup offers many intriguing models in all body styles. Some are discontinued, but many, like the pioneering Escalade luxury large SUV, just keep getting better with time. Which Cadillac models are the most budget-friendly? Here’s a guide to the automotive brand you need to consider if value and affordability are at the top of your list.

The Grand Daddy: The Escalade

Here’s a not-so-fun fact––the newest 2023 Cadillac Escalade ESV-V, also known as the tip-top ultra-highest-end Escalade in the lineup, starts at $149,990. Fully outfitted, the sticker pushes closer to the $160,000 mark. Contrast that with a slightly older 2018 model, the price of which averages less than half that amount yet boasts many of the same features, and you can see how much of a steal buying used is. The Escalade maintains a high resale value, but not so high that it’s unreasonably priced.

Now compare a new top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz G Class, which runs close to $200,000 fully loaded. A 2018 model will fetch well over $110,000 regardless of trim, color, mileage, or condition. Why? It’s a status symbol. Buyers are forking out a surcharge for the “prestige tax,” which is fine if you have the extra cash to burn, but if you truly want a beautiful, luxurious large SUV that’s also fairly priced, a used Escalade is the way to go.

Cadillac wasn’t first out of the gate with a large luxury SUV––that honor goes to Lincoln’s Navigator. However, what Cadillac did right was capture enough cache to dominate the segment in a few short years, stealing market share and earning prestige points. The Escalade is considered a high-end luxury SUV, but its perceived value is reasonable, resulting in an affordable price tag. Skip the G Wagon and find yourself a quality used Escalade.

Remember, quality trumps trendiness every day and twice on Sundays. Don’t fall for hyped-up vehicles just because someone with the last name Kardashian owns one. The Cadillac Escalade is a perennial favorite that features all the premium appointments one would expect on an SUV that costs up to six figures brand new. It’s OK to consider affordability, even when shopping for a luxury SUV.

A silver 2019 Cadillac CTS-V is shown after looking at used Cadillacs for sale.

Any Cadillac Sedan (But Look Closely at the CTS)

If you love a sedan, but only if it’s equipped with high-end finishes, the midsize Cadillac CTS is ideal. Thanks to a string of unfavorable resale value determinations by third-party automotive research outfits like Kelley Blue Book, the CTS represents likely the best luxury used car deal in decades.

The CTS and its smaller sibling, the ATS, are both sports-oriented sedans featuring plenty of cabin appointments and in-vehicle tech, along with impressive ride handling characteristics. The 2017 CTS features an available 420-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Inside, the cabin boasts perforated leather seating, authentic wood trim, and power everything. Combining luxury and performance at a price that’s well under $30,000 is an accomplishment that’s unique to Cadillac.

As for the ATS, with its laser focus on stealing market share from the sought-after (and far more expensive) BMW 3 Series, the ATS could be considered a failure. However, it’s lighter and more agile than the ubiquitous German bestseller. A top-of-the-line ATS Premium Performance cost $47,990 in 2017. On the used market, you can find one in the low $20,000 range. That won’t happen with a 3 Series.

Overall, the takeaway is that for the same $25k, you can either drive a nearly new fully loaded Cadillac sports sedan or a Kia Forte. Seems like a no-brainer, especially when considering the accolades Cadillac’s sedans have received over the years. Why choose a mainstream, mass-produced car with a tiny four-cylinder engine when you can opt for a true luxury vehicle that makes the commute a lot more fun?

The Cadillac XT4 Compact Crossover

Though Cadillac got the SUV memo a little later than other automakers, the 2019 XT4 clearly demonstrates an effort to hit the ground running. This compact crossover adopts the best of Cadillac’s sedan styling prowess and transforms it into a sleek, aerodynamic crossover aimed squarely at quenching America’s thirst for stylish utes.

Don’t let the size fool you because this compact crossover features big SUV bells-and-whistles like heated, ventilated, and massaging seats, spacious seating for five passengers, and leather-like upholstered door and dash accenting. Some models feature a 13-speaker Bose audio system and a head-up display, as well as a wireless device charger, along with navigation and a nicely sized infotainment touchscreen.

Choosing the XT4 as the primary family vehicle is smart since the newest models come with a generous number of driver-assist safety systems. All Cadillac XT4 crossovers include category-leading factory warranty coverage: a 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and a 6-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty. These longer terms mean that you are likely to find a model that’s still under warranty when shopping used. Add to that the premium dealership experience that comes with every Caddy, and you’ll forget you’re driving something luxury that’s actually affordable.

Bottom line: the XT4 trumps almost every other luxury compact crossover, especially on the used market. Depreciation puts a used 2019 XT4 in the $30,000 range, while the BMW X3 will cost you closer to $40k. As you can see, getting a Cadillac is a wise financial choice.

A silver 2021 Cadillac XT4 is shown parked near a large bridge.

Cadillac’s Moment Is Overdue

Like any high-quality product or service that sticks around for decades, the Cadillac brand has experienced its share of ups and downs. Consumer interest peaked with the launch of the Escalade, but Cadillac’s long 120-year history includes more than one highly successful vehicle. Models like the Deville, the Eldorado, and the Seville were all bestsellers back in the day, and Cadillac’s next renaissance is long overdue.

Attention to detail is evident in every square inch of every Cadillac that comes off the production line. That attention to detail is not just in the luxury features but also in the construction, making a vehicle that is destined to stay on the road for a long time. Buying used isn’t a step down if you are buying a Cadillac.

Heaven knows there are dozens upon dozens of used luxury vehicle nameplates to pick from, but none possess the unique qualities of a Cadillac. Tradition and heritage meet refinement in a way no other manufacturer can authentically duplicate. Though models like the Escalade tend to steal the spotlight, a handful of other Cadillac models deserve equal, or greater, consideration if you’re on the hunt for a quality used luxury vehicle.