If you are in the market to buy a new car, chances are you will keep it for many years. When it comes time to get yet another new car, you will expect a return on your investment for your current vehicle, but only after much depreciation. Indeed, on average new cars lose about one-fifth of their value after just one year of ownership.
Surveys and reports from various car resale and consumer websites have shown that some models do a better job of retaining their original value after one, three or five years of ownership, depending on the study, the model, and even the trim level. Ultimately, your resale value will depend on some factors you can control, such as maintenance and repair, as well as on the vehicle’s condition.
The best-selling small pickup truck is the Toyota Tacoma, a model that Kelley Blue Book says holds three-quarters of its value after three years of ownership. When you realize that some vehicles lose about half their value after three years, the Tacoma’s resale value is quite good.
Besides its quality and reliability, the Tacoma has something else going for it: the truck hasn’t changed dramatically, so newer models haven’t made the older vehicles look obsolete. The previous generation was produced from 2005 to 2015, and a redesigned 2016 Tacoma is available now. That new model is roughly the same size as the outgoing edition, but it has more standard equipment and costs at least $2,300 more. The new higher price on the 2016 edition should help older Tacomas retain their value.
America’s iconic 4×4 has nearly 75 years of history behind it. The Jeep Wrangler has evolved over the years, but not to the point where new ones are no longer recognizable. The Wrangler name itself came into being in 1987, succeeding various CJ names used since World War II.
KBB says that the Wrangler retains nearly 70 percent of its value after three years of ownership, easily besting the next SUV, the Toyota 4Runner. Its low starting price of $23,000 includes a V6 engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Shift-on-the-fly part-time four-wheel drive is standard, bringing off-road capabilities to the masses. Even nicely loaded models retail for under $30,000 new, adding such features as power accessories and a Uconnect touch-screen audio system.
Ford, Chevrolet and Ram may have the sales, but the Toyota Tundra has the best resale value among large pickup trucks. At 68.3 percent of its value after three years, it easily out duels the next large truck, the GMC Sierra, which comes in at 63.7 percent. Credit the Toyota brand for giving this model at least part of its superior resale value.
Another factor favoring the Tundra may be its higher starting price. At $28,150 it comes in more than $2,000 higher than vehicles from Chevrolet, Ram and Ford. But its standard equipment list works in the favor of people wanting a potent truck, delivering a standard V8 engine while its competitors offer a base V6. The entry-level Tundra also provides a standard double cab with traditional rear-hinged doors where its competitors offer a standard regular cab. You pay more, but you clearly get more.
The Cadillac CTS is recognized as one of the best values among luxury models by Consumer Reports. This model compares with the BMW 5-Series, Lexus GS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6. Its competitive price usually adds further discounting, making the CTS the value leader in the luxury sedan segment.
The CTS also handles just as well as its competitors and choosing a mid-level sedan provides the amenities you prize. Well equipped, the Cadillac CTS should cost $55,000 new and retain its value better than its competitors. The Vsport edition brings in a twin-turbo V6 engine that adds more than 100 horsepower when compared with the base model.
Small cars typically do not fare all that well, with many models losing half their value after just three years of ownership. A notable exception is the Honda Fit, a subcompact hatchback that retains 65 percent of its value after three years, falling to just under half its value (47.7 percent) after five years. You might put part of the depreciation blame on car size as increased demand for crossovers weighs in.
The Honda Fit has a number of things going for it, including its stellar quality. It has also achieved high marks on the safety side, garnering a 2015 Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Only two other very small models match the Honda in this regard: the Chevrolet Spark and the Toyota Prius c. The Fit also provides a long list of standard equipment and options such as leather-trimmed seats. A fully loaded model can be had for under $20,000 new.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Sports cars are notorious for losing value, with some vehicles depreciating by more than half within a few years. Enthusiasts, however, say that they don’t concern themselves with value, placing an emphasis on the fun factor instead. The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, however, does a laudable job in retaining its value with much credit given to its bargain $52,000 base price.
Most Corvette owners opt for better-equipped models. The good news here is that KBB has found that after three years of ownership the Corvette should retain about 64.3 percent of its value, falling just below half after five years. Even better, for owners who keep their cars for many years, they may see those values rise after 10 or 15 years. America’s iconic sports car has a certain cachet that adds value later on.
Best Resale Value
Certainly, a car’s resale value is an important consideration when exploring your new car purchases. It is also a consideration when you buy used, including a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle from a dealer. Carefully research the market to understand prices and you can come away with a deal you’ll be proud of.