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Cars are given a facelift every so often, but are they really an improvement? Let's find out if you should buy a facelift or a pre-facelift version of that car.

Category: Car Buying Advice


If you have ever shopped around for a car, you must have come across the term 'facelift'. No we aren't talking about some cosmetic surgery for you to look younger, but it is a similar idea, just applied to cars.

An entirely new car takes many years of development before they are released to the market. As such, a generation of cars typically lasts around half a decade before the next is introduced. Hence facelifts are often introduced along the way to keep a car model fresh and updated.
 
 
So, what does a facelift include?

A facelift isn't an entirely new car - the core structure is usually unchanged
Before we dive into what facelifts exactly are, you need to know the terminology used by manufacturers. Usually, facelifted cars are advertised as 'new', while 'all new' usually refers to an actual new model. Facelifts are often also referred to as a minor model update, a refresh, or in BMW's terms, a Life Cycle Impulse.

Facelifts are usually based on the same platform as before with most of the major components, such as the greenhouse area and the car's unibody structure left undisturbed. Parts that are updated on facelifts varies from car to car. But common changes include the head and taillights as well as bumpers - parts that are easily replaceable.

Facelifts often include minor to major changes to the interior of the car. Afterall, that is a part of the car that directly affects the occupants. Usually trim pieces get a different finish or shade of colour. However, one change that can result in a vastly different experience is an upgrade of the infotainment system - such as when the C-Class got the new MBUX.

Drivetrain tweaks are yet another change to be expected with facelifts. Engines may get a slight bump in power or tweaked for better fuel consumption, and in some cases entirely new engine or transmission choices are even introduced to the lineup.
 
 
Newer is always better, right?

Newer isn't always better, not everyone fancy the larger grille on this facelifted 7 Series
Facelifted cars are new and improved versions of the original with latest features and design cues. Ageing models are renovated to match the latest offerings from the manufacturer. The best part is facelifted cars usually aren't much costlier as well, as it is after all a refresh of the lineup, and not an entirely new product.

Budget conscious buyers should also consider the other side of the picture. You might just be able to score a great deal on the outgoing version. And then, there's also the thing about preferences. Car designs are subjective. There's a chance you may prefer the pre-facelifted version of a car in some cases.

There may also be situations where more powerful engines are dropped from the lineup following a facelift due to changes in regulations. In such cases a pre-facelift model can actually be the more desirable option.
 
 
So should you buy a facelifted car

Yes, you should

The 2019 Avante facelift was so radical that you might mistake it for an entirely new model
A facelifted car is for you if you must have the latest, newest car that incorporates a brand's latest technology and features. And you don't mind the higher costs involved with getting such a new car.

Usually a good choice of facelifted car should include vastly updated features. A car such as the 2019 facelifted Hyundai Avante is one example. Its exterior was extensively redesigned - you wouldn't be blamed for assuming it to be an entirely new car. You also get an updated interior along with new safety features with it.
 
 
No, you shouldn't

The 2020 Previa dropped the option for a V6 engine
There are some circumstances where you shouldn't go for the latest shining example in the showroom. If you happen to prefer the pre-facelift car design, the new car just wouldn't do it for you. Sometimes the fancy new features aren't exactly useful for you as well, and in such instances you can consider going for a pre-facelift model which may very well be on a clearance sale.

Some facelifted cars turn out to be largely the same as before. Cars like the Nissan Sylphy comes to mind. Meanwhile others can even be perceived as inferior, such as the Toyota Estima (Previa), which saw the V6 engine option dropped from the lineup after a facelift.
 
 
Here are some related articles that might interest you
 
Car engines 101 - what is the right engine for you

Different types of automatic transmission explained - CVT, DCT & AMT

Thinking of buying a car? Which type of car suits you?
 
 
Want to get the latest facelifted model? Check out the new cars available now!

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