The total cost of owning a car includes a variety of factors. The actual price of the car is not directly a factor, unless you keep the car forever.
The difference in price of a car between when you buy it and when you sell it form the simple depreciation of the car while you owned it. For example, if you were to purchase a car (we’ll call it car1), for $45K, drive it for a year, then sell it for $40K, you might say that car1 cost you $5K to drive for a year. On the other hand, if you purchase car2 for $25K, drive it for a year, then sell it for $18K, it cost you $7K to drive car2 for a year. So although car1 had a higher price, car2 had a higher depreciation, and so cost more to drive for the year.
For my next Cadillac I plan to target an expense range of $400/month for the car. I plan to drive it for 60 months. At the end of the 60 months I anticipate that the residual value of the car will be no greater than $5K. This means I will be looking for a vehicle that has a purchase price of $24K (60 mo x $400) plus $5K, or $29K.
Since the new CTS starts at $35K, that seems difficult as a budget for a Cadillac. But I will not be shopping for a new car this time out, but rather for a 2 year old model with under 25K miles. I also know that I drive an average of 15K miles per year. Keeping in mind my 5 year horizon, if I purchase a car with 25K miles, after 5 years it would have 5×15=75K + 25K = 100K miles, and should still be in relatively good shape, and not require excessive maintenance or repairs.
My favorite target that is just coming into the 30Ks is the 2008 Cadillac STS-V. As I have previously noted, the STS-V with every option known to man and a 469 hp supercharged DOHC Northstar V8 seems an amazing value, and it a high-weather mark in STS development. I am hopeful that by this summer I will be able to find an excellent example within my price range. Alternates would be to shop a fully loaded 2008/2009 CTS Sedan, or STS V8 Sedan, but the power and suspension tuning of the STS-V fit my idea of fun better.
Now it is just the matter of finding the right STS-V. Total sales in 2008 of this model was under 500, but as the V-Coupe arrives this summer hopefully more of the STS-Vs will be coming out of the woodwork.
I have not lost my love for the new 2nd Generation CTS-V of course, and once prices for the Super Car CTS-V are in the mid to low $30Ks I will be looking very hard at them for the next Cadillac V.