No matter how much you make it's never smart to buy a newer car as you will take a huge hit on depreciation. You can just afford to because you make more.
Although I understand you're trying to help someone whose personal finances you seem to know, I would have to disagree with the above statement.
In the same vein, then it would be appropriate to say no matter how much you make, it's not smart to buy a Mercedes (say, over a vehicle that's more economical to maintain.) But people do buy a new car in the same mindset that one would buy a used Mercedes over a more economical car. Because both owning a new Mercedes or buying a used Mercedes can give pleasure.
So perhaps the question is rooted in what gives you pleasure in relation to what you can sensibly (i.e., without being reckless and financially irresponsible) afford to spend. And how you like to spend that money.
I personally buy new cars. Only because it gives me pleasure. I own my cars on average for 7 years. Sometimes longer (I still have a Porsche that is 15 years old and a BMW that is 9 years old; both were bought new.)
I get royalty checks and bonuses and I enjoy spending them on a new car once in a while (and with no financing.) Just like anybody who spends their money on any other 'frivolous' consumable good. And we all buy stuff all the time, including expensive coffee drinks (that are enjoyed only for a very short time and are way over priced.
) We sometimes need to enjoy life in a way that makes us individually happy; life isn't always about "being smart." And it's why we take risks, explore, fall in love, etc..
And the depreciation gets amortized in my case, since I keep the cars to the point where it levels out. I don't lease for that reason (why pay the depreciation with throw away 'rent' payments), and I cannot write off lease payments under current IRS rules.
Point being is that new cars are being bought (and hey, they eventually become the supply chain for the used car market
) And that may not seem "smart" in a strictly financial point of view. Yet paradoxically the money saved may indeed end up simply being used in another "not so smart" manner; pick your vice....