By on April 18, 2012

If you read, maybe even follow Steve Lang’s advice on car buying, then you know how important and hard it is to fight the dreaded depreciation of your car. The minute you drive it off the dealer’s lot, it has lost a good chunk of its value. Some cars hold their value well, others not so much. Here are the best. 

Edmunds has sifted through its data and publishes the truly most valuable players in the field. Edmunds Best Retained Value® Awards recognize the brands and models that have the highest projected residual value after five years.

Honda is a multiple winner. Honda won the 2012 brand award for non-luxury makes for the second consecutive year. Its luxo-division Acura took home the luxury brand award for the first time. Honda’s average projected retained value after five years is 47.9 percent, while Acura’s average projected retained value after five years is 44.6 percent.

If you want a car that holds its value best, buy a truck. A Toyota Tacoma to be exact. After 5 years, it is projected to be worth 57.30 percent of its new car price. The Tacoma is followed by another truck, the Honda CR-V SUV with 54.6 percent.

2012 Best Retained Value Award Winners

Category Year Make Model Retained Value
Compact Truck 2012 Toyota Tacoma 57.30%
Convertible $35K-$45K 2012 Lexus IS 250 C 46.80%
Convertible Over $45K 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 46.50%
Convertible Under $35,000 2012 MINI Cooper 48.90%
Coupe $25K-$35K 2012 Ford Mustang 46.80%
Coupe $35K-$45K 2012 BMW 3 Series 44.00%
Coupe Over $45,000 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 47.50%
Coupe Under $25,000 2012 MINI Cooper 50.00%
Hybrid 2012 Honda Civic 46.10%
Large Heavy Duty Truck 2012 Ford F-350 Super Duty 48.60%
Large Light Duty Truck 2012 Ford F-150 48.40%
Sedan $20K-$30K 2012 Subaru Impreza 45.30%
Sedan $30K-$40K 2012 Lexus IS 250 46.30%
Sedan Over $40K 2012 Cadillac CTS 42.00%
Sedan Under $20,000 2012 Honda Civic 50.00%
SUV $25K-$35K 2012 Honda CR-V 54.60%
SUV $35K-$45K 2012 GMC Acadia 46.00%
SUV Over $45,000 2012 Acura MDX 44.20%
SUV Under $25,000 2012 Subaru Forester 44.60%
Vans 2012 Honda Odyssey 43.50%
Wagon $25K-$35K 2012 MINI Cooper Countryman 48.50%
Wagon Over $35,000 2012 BMW 3 Series 42.70%
Wagon Under $25,000 2012 Scion xB 47.30%
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44 Comments on “Which Car Holds Its Value Best?...”


  • avatar
    OhioPilot09

    This, along with reliability, are the 2 main reasons why we almost exclusively buy Hondas. This includes my family(wife and myself), my sister-in law(her and her husband), my brother, both my in-laws and my mother.

  • avatar
    GoesLikeStink

    Suprised the Tacoma is the only Toyota on the list. I guess the Lexus’ and Scion should count too.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I’m surprised the Honda Element isn’t on this list, they have ridiculous resale value. Ridiculous because I can’t imagine why someone would pay over 10k for such a rattle trap with 100k on it. Same goes for the CRV.

    Ahh, The Element is discontinued

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    It is hard to get too excited about many of these projected retained values. There was no Mini Cooper Countryman five years ago, so who knows how well they’ll be selling as used cars? The Lexus IS250 may hold up better than any of its competitors, but chances are that 5 years from now the current model will have been replaced for a few years and one of its recently released competitors will cost more as a used car. How accurate have these predictions been in the past? Predicted residuals make for good lease deals, but Toyotas and Hondas are the cars that can be bought instead of rented.

  • avatar
    jimf42

    my 2002 Focus SVT held its value extraordinarily well… more than 50% of what I paid for it in 02, despite 127k miles on the car.

    • 0 avatar
      replica

      I guess so. Sounds like a $4k car at best. If you bought it new in 2002, for, I guess $18k at the lowest, I really don’t expect you’ll get even $9k for it. I bought a 2004, with the HID’s, 70k miles on it for $7,200 about a year ago. I paid too much.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I refuse to buy based solely on resale value. I’m not driving a car for the next owner.

    Our cars have been very reliable, too. I just replaced struts and rear rotors on the Imp, but I planned for that and expected it not to last as long as the Honda – perhaps the Honda’s struts are shot too, but due to little highway travel, maybe we don’t notice?

    True, our 2002 CR-V is worth more than our 2004 Impala, but I actually ENJOY my Impala. Wifey enjoys her CR-V. We’re both happy. We also enjoy our 2007 MX5 we bought almost two years ago, used. We bought it because a larger convertible would have necessitated getting rid of one of the others, and I didn’t want a convertible as a daily driver. Plus, I can’t afford a Corvette…:{

    Depreciation never entered into our minds.

    I wouldn’t own a Tacoma on a bet because I “hate” all things Toyota – well, maybe except a Prius!

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @Zackman…Depreciation, means squat to me . When I sell the Impala, it will be, by the pound.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Depreciation means quite a bit to your insurance company after an accident. Not only will it affect the size of the check, it might also mean the difference between your car being repaired and being sent to the junkyard.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      And this is the key to the depreciation issue. If you buy used and drive the car until it’s used up, depreciation simply doesn’t matter. Do your research up front, buy the right car for your needs, and you shouldn’t have to sell it until either the car or you are dead, at which point the residual value is unimportant.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I refuse to let some depreciation schedule decide for me when my car is used up. Visit a junkyard sometime and see how many vehicles in there went to be picked over b/c the book says it isn’t worth anything but the car had a catastrophic failure of the engine or transmission that would lead to a repair shop bill that exceeds what the Blue Book says it’s value is.

        How many cars were neglected b/c they were deemed “cheap” which hastened their decline and premature arrival in the junkyard. Maybe up north where the salt eats all the schedule is valid but around here cars last alot longer if they are taken care of than the book says they are worth.

        If our 230K mile daily driver needs an engine or transmission I’m going to rebuild them myself and keep rolling another 100K miles. The body is rust free, the interior is nice, and the paint is good and we still like it. It also still meets our needs perfectly.

        Cheap wheels…

  • avatar
    replica

    Resale seems more related to how well you can negotiate at a dealer. I’ve never seen any real differences in resale with cars and I’ve owned about 20 over the years. The more I run my mouth, the more I get for the car.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Interesting table and, IIRC, this is not based on sticker price but on what KBB thinks is close to the real-world transaction price.

    The interesting question that I have never seen answered is Why? Some of these cars — the Hondas and the Toyota products — have reputations for reliability and low repair costs. But others — e.g. BMW, MINI — do not. And what’s up with the Civic Hybrid, which is generally considered to be underpowered even by hybrid standards and which does not generate spectacular mileage ratings like the Prius. Some cars are fun to drive — again BMW, MINI, Mustang — but others are not (e.g. IS250 which is underpowered and has a backseat that is too small for most adults).

    That’s the big mystery to me.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    In the real world Jeep Wrangler has the highest resale value

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Shockingly high. I have seen 15-year-old examples with 120K miles selling for $8000.

    • 0 avatar
      bills79jeep

      I agree, I’m shocked it’s not on this list. Want one in the fall/winter? Price premium, it’s a 4×4. Want one in the spring/summer? Price premium, it’s a convertible. People just love they way they look.

      When it comes down to it, a 1998 Wrangler and a 1998 Cherokee are very similar when you go past styling. Same drivetrain, similar interiors, same gas mileage, etc… When I was in the market for a car in college, I wanted a Wrangler, but ended up with a Cherokee because they are just so much cheaper.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it only looks like Wrangler commands an abnormally high resale value, but when I bought mine, I plotted a few points and found that FJ and JK go neck and neck. There is really nothing unusual about Wrangler prices. This includes how much they fall off in respect to mileage as well as age. It may be the case that really ancient but well-preserved Wranglers are valued highly, but the first 5 years post purchase are nothing special.

  • avatar
    onthercks07

    Hard to believe the figures on the Cadillac CTS and that a Honda Civic Hybrid holds its value better than a Toyota Prius (??). Dealers can’t sell CTS’s brand new right now, let alone used and Toyota Priuses are selling like crazy

  • avatar

    I’m surprised the Jeep Wrangler isn’t on there. Around here (Western Canada) it is probably the resale value king. Miatas do pretty well too as you rarely see them under $10k no matter the year but they don’t sell in big numbers new.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    My question is: which cars that are actually complete crap have really high resale values compared to the cars that are virtually indestructible that have really low resale value?

    I seem to recall the PT Cruiser having an over-inflated asking price when it was first released and commanding a premium in the used market, even while general consensus (among those on the internet anyway) was that the vehicle itself was terrible.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Search eBay for ten year old Silverado’s that only dropped 50%. Yes, ten(10) year old domestic trucks do hold their value. Can’t say the same for Japanese full size trucks over 10 year period.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    Surprised to see the CTS on this list (and I drive one!). Def didn’t buy it for the resale value, nor did most other CTS owners I know.

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    How did the Subaru Impreza end up in the 20K-30K category when it starts at $17.5K?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The Impreza is mostly due to it’s not that popular and thus not many are available, specially in the sunbelt

  • avatar
    mikey

    Intersting….Hmmm no Kia’s eh?…or VW’s

  • avatar
    lw

    Shocking that the Volt didn’t make the list… Just shocking.

  • avatar
    mikey

    As an avid TTAC reader I was under the impression that Honda had forgot how to build cars. According to the experts, the Koreans had captured the top spot.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      while one might argue that Honda has lost it’s design mojo, I haven’t seen anyone complain that their quality has tanked. And when you’re buying a car without a warranty, reliability is number one on the list. The Korean’s may be sexier, but the jury’s out as to whether their reliability is up to snuff yet.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        A friend has a Kia Borrego – so far the only one I’ve noticed, and he’s having niggling electrical issues with it.

        For now, Kias are good rentals, but still requested and got an Impala for a rental when we were on vacation in SoCal last September.

        Sorry, I’m an Impala guy and I love-‘em…

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        So Honda’s engineering has gone downhill? To me only their styling is a problem. Their engineering is fine.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Seems the popularity of a car, ex BMW 3, has a lot to do with resale value.

  • avatar
    jimbobjoe

    I’m quite curious to see what happens to the Nissan Leaf. On the downside is the battery–how much it’ll cost to replace and how long it’ll last. On the upside, it’s mechanically far simpler than a car with an engine.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    Here in rain-drenched, road-salted England, we’d be lucky to achieve these resale value percentages after 3 years!

    Our cars may be expensive to buy new compared with the US, but the values become much more comparable when buying at 3 years old.

    It seems you guys have a much longer term outlook on car ownership in the US. Over here, many people still lease or buy a new car every three years, often spending a very large chunk of their disposable income to keep up this neighbour-impressing pretence.

  • avatar
    carbiz

    … and a 600 sq ft closet costs $400k in downtown Toronto… just exactly what does that prove?

    Mileage and condition are everything. If you paid $5,000 more for the Odyssey than a similarly equipped Grand Caravan, do you think you’re going to drive it the same way?


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