By on November 19, 2011

If you are one of those who are itching to buy a new car after years of economy-induced withdrawal, one of the many questions that may run through your mind is the exit strategy from that shiny new car. In other words: How well will the car hold its value? If you want the executive summary: Buy just about any Toyota, Lexus, or the 2012 Jeep Wrangler.

If you need more detail, hit the jump.

Residual value is an important data point in the business. Amongst many other things, the residual value influences your lease rate, and your trade-in, just in case you don’t want to hold on to that car for 10 years, which happens to be the average age of a car on U.S. roads.

To help you with this tough decision, Kelley Blue Book  published its 2012 Residual Analysis Report and handed out its Kelley Blue Book’s Best Resale Value Awards. The awards went to Toyota and Lexus. Says Kelley:

“The brand in which the entire lineup of 2012 model-year vehicles is expected to retain the greatest amount of its original value after five years is Toyota. The luxury brand with the same claim is Toyota’s more refined sibling, Lexus.  Both brands regain the titles they claimed from Kelley Blue Book back in 2010.”

“Despite Toyota’s success in the 2012 residual rankings, the company lost market share in the U.S. due to its supply shortage following the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.  The challenge for Toyota next year will be to regain this share without depressing its residual values,” said Eric Ibara, director of residual consulting, Kelley Blue Book.  “A number of actions that could quickly increase sales and market share also could jeopardize its residual value crown, including over incentivizing and increasing daily rental volume. Clearly, Toyota’s actions through the next year will be pivotal in shaping its future direction.”

This may all be fine and good, but which car holds its value the best? Kelley came up with this top ten list. It shows the predicted resale value as a percentage of the purchase price after 36 and 60 months.

Kelley Blue Book Value Leaders 2012

Rank Model 36 months 60 months
1 2012 Jeep Wrangler 68.0% 55.0%
2 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser 67.0% 50.0%
3 2012 Toyota Tacoma 64.0% 49.0%
4 2012 Hyundai Tucson 64.3% 45.3%
5 2012 Audi Q7 63.3% 44.3%
6 2012 Infiniti FX 58.0% 44.0%
7 2012 Honda CR-V 60.3% 43.5%
8 2012 Lexus RX 64.0% 43.0%
9 2012 Nissan Frontier 56.2% 42.8%
10 2012 Chevrolet Camaro 57.0% 42.2%

This list could save you a lot of green, but greenies could possibly congregate for a Kelley Blue Book burning: 9 out of 10 on the list are trucks (or trucklets). The only non-truck on the list is the archetypical American muscle car, in place 10. Also, the list is mildly un-American.

(I of course am morosely interested in which cars are at the very bottom of the list.  Steve Lang, did you get your copy?)


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45 Comments on “Blue Book: Toyota And Lexus Hold Their Value Best, But The Winner Is The Wrangler...”

  • avatar

    Let’s hear it for UAW Local 12 members who built this fine vehicle that holds its value a full 5% over its nearest rival the Toyota FJ Cruiser after 5 years, and many others! Wohhh hoohhhhhh!!

  • avatar

    Oddly enough I am looking for either a Wrangler, Tacoma or possibly a Subaru Forester with the new FB engine in it. I’m sure Subaru’s are just off the top 10 list of high resale value vehicles.

    It’s too bad the Jeep Liberty I got rid of last years didn’t hold its value as well as the Wrangler. The depreciation curve on that thing was about as bad as a Crown Vic.

  • avatar

    The Wrangler is a strange thing. It is the most basic vehicle on the market except for maybe a Ranger, yet it is overpriced when it’s new, and stays overpriced for years to come.

    • 0 avatar

      It all depends on your perspective. If you view the Wrangler as a “car”, then maybe its overpriced for what you get. If, instead, you consider what a stock Wrangler is capable of right off the showroom floor (especially a Rubicon model) I would challenge you to find another new vehicle that is equally capable for less money. If you think the answer is the Toyota FJ (the closest competitor), you would be wrong.

      • 0 avatar

        I can’t imagine the rather expensive and specialized Rubicon holding on to it’s value that well. At least from where I’m sitting, I’d be awfully concerned buying a used Rubicon, as many of them are bought specifically to be driven rather roughly.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        I can’t imagine the rather expensive and specialized Rubicon holding on to it’s value that well.

        I can. Sure not many people will actually use a rubicon for what it is intended for but… How many WANT to look like they need it?

      • 0 avatar

        More Rubicons are bought by posers than people who will actually use them for what they are made for. Want a nice, clean Rubicon that’s spotless underneath? Just read some online ads and you will find plenty of them. For off-roaders on a budget (i.e. couldn’t afford new) these garage queens are highly sought after and finally will get used in the manner they were intended.

    • 0 avatar

      I dont think its overpriced at all, especially in its newest form. Its infinitely practical, they finally made the interior nice enough for every day use without losing its ruggedness, they are decently comfortable, I remember being shocked at how much nicer it rode than my (admittedly older 2003) Explorer, and, as the article points out, they hold the best resale value of any new car available. For $24k you get one of the most capable cars on the planet with 4wd, 4-doors, room for 5, a convertible top, great resale value, tons of customization options, and, IMO the best feature of all — you are not a poser driving some silly cross-over station wagon. Sure, you lose gas mileage, but no worse than any other SUV… I’m averaging 19mpg with our CRV, which is pathetic.

      Where the Wrangler value proposition falls apart is with the options and packages. The higher trim model prices increase way to much for what you get. You are better off buying the base model, then adding your own touches. If you truly NEED a Rubicon, then its a decent deal, but most people who buy them dont need them, they just want the look.

      • 0 avatar

        The thing with my Rubi was that I do not have a place, tools, or time to work on it. On the other hand, I’m rolling in money, figuratively speaking. Might as well get that mandatory and overpriced swaybar disconnect muff.

      • 0 avatar

        No matter how good it is off road it is still a very basic car to produce. A 4 wheeler is also good off road but you are not going to pay $30K for just that capability. A vehicle with solid front and rear axles based on a design from World War 2, and just a couple pieces of cheap plastic to make an interior, the price is not justified.

      • 0 avatar

        @Pete – Sounds like you bought the Rubi for good reasons, and like I said, for ppl who need the capabilities, its still a good deal. From what I understand, you could not buy a base model Wrangler and modify it to the level of a Rubi for the same price as just buying one from Jeep.

        @mbella – 4wd ATVs can hit $10k these days, and the 4-seat RUVs are easily hitting $13-15k. A Wrangler starts at $22k, not 30k. It comes with the Pentastar V-6, 4wd, a not-too-crude-anymore interior, a full softtop thats actually quiet and waterproof, a nice set of off-road tires, and a very stout frame that can handle almost any off-road conditions right from the showroom floor. Not to mention, its got a coolness factor that no crossover SUV can touch, and almost no markup in the sticker. I sincerely doubt it costs much less to build than its sold for, there are not too many cars that cost less, even basic fwd economy 4cyl cars hit $15k+ these days.

  • avatar

    It depends on what you do with it.
    If you want to commute to work, or cruise the highway, yes it is a basic and even crude transportation.
    If you want to go off road, its capabilities are unique.
    There is a market for that, increasing its value over what you would expect for a basic car.

  • avatar

    Toyota owners pay msrp? Sounds like a Hank Hill episode. I think uninformed younger crowd and middle aged woman chide this skewing of perception.

    Lexus? Come on! Their sales reflect a more wise consumer. Auto media need to catch up or at least listen.

    We all know Toyota is not what they used to be for many years now and with recent competition I wonder how long before Consumer Reports and KBB follow this trend?

  • avatar

    Where’s Acura? They are usually at the top of the “holds value” lists.

  • avatar

    I have been telling people this for years, mostly to surprise. A used Wrangler is one of the worst buys you can find. I think the 55% number is even skewed a bit, because of the large number of “modified” Jeeps that are worth less than stock. Nice, stock, lower-mileage Wranglers almost always bottom out around $15k, regardless of the year, and the price goes up as they get newer. With brand new ones available for about $22k, it hardly seems worth it to buy used.

    I remember a few yrs ago when they still offered the 2wd Unlimited, with incentives you could buy a stripper base model 4-dr for around $18k. In Florida I didnt need 4WD, I just wanted a beach cruiser and jet ski tow vehicle… we almost pulled the trigger, but ended up just keeping our Explorer. Looking back, I should have, I think that Jeep would STILL be worth close to what I would have paid for it.

    • 0 avatar

      I found a nice ’04 TJ around here with 70k miles on it in really nice shape. Even KBB said private party sale is 15k and the seller is asking 15.5k, but he said he would take 15. It’s crazy.

      I would rather have the inline 6 of the TJ, but a bare bones model ’12 Wrangler with the new Pentastar V6 would only be a few grand more than a used TJ, and I can get some great financing deals from Chrysler as well.

      I really desire the simplicity of the TJ and its durable 4.0 inline 6, but it doesn’t make sense financially.

      • 0 avatar

        @grzydj – I have a friend who is into Jeeps bigtime, when he was shopping, he insisted on a TJ, he says the new ones are junk. His advice was to find the newest nicest lowest-mile one you could find, because the price spread between that one and the most beat up crapper TJ is only $2-4k. Case in point, one of our helpdesk guys on a budget bought an 03 TJ auto with 80k for $12k, and it was most definitely not mint. Had an older style interior that stunk from the top being off in the rain, ugly aftermarket wheels, needed tires, was scratched and dinged, etc. My other freind found a completely mint bone stock 2006 TJ, stick, in orange, with under 30k miles, older female driven, etc, looked like it came off the showroom floor, for $16k. Sure, $4k is a big spread, but there was a LOT more life left in the 06 than the 03.

    • 0 avatar

      A modified Jeep is usually worth the same amount as a stock one, assuming it isn’t a hack job. The problem is that mods rarely add any value in the marketplace, regardless of what the seller may think – unless they are willing to hold out for that one specific buyer who wanted to do the exact same thing to the Jeep and knows how much it would cost to do it.

      • 0 avatar

        I would agree… but this is Florida, so most of the older modded Jeeps for sale are usually hack jobs designed for running in mudholes. There is a local guy I went to high school with who owns an off road customizing shop, and he builds some amazing Jeeps, very top notch. It shocks me though, how so many people buy fully loaded Rubicons and then take them to him to have everything underneath swapped out. Whats the point of paying extra for the Rubi if you are going to replace everything anyway??? The best part is, you are right, when those modded Jeeps come up for sale, they tend to cost right around the same price as the stock used ones on dealer lots. My co-worker picked up a sweet 08 Unlimited for right around $20k, had like 30k miles and everything was done completely top shelf, suspension, wheels, interior, top, fender entensions, bumpers, winch, etc.

  • avatar

    Try pricing the last of the old “TJ” series Wrangler (2006 model year) in “Rubicon Unlimited” trim. They seem to be holding at least 60-65% of their original value – in fact, they are often priced higher than comparable 2007 (the first year of the new model) vehicles.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Like the Wrangler for what it is but it wouldn’t make much sense to for me to own one unless I could pick it up dirt cheap (not enough use for 4wd for me to justify purchasing one). I’m amazed how well even an old 4cyl manual trans model holds it’s value.

    • 0 avatar

      Good luck finding one that hasn’t had the life beaten out of it for dirt cheap. There really does seem to be a minimum floor for Wranglers, even 1997 models with 4cyl manuals as you stated.

      There is an upside though: After you drove it for a few years and decided to move on, you could very likely get awfully close to what you paid for it if you shopped well initially. Although I have no interest in selling, I could flip my ’06 Rubicon Unlimited I bought about 20 months ago and make a $1,500-$2,000 profit.

    • 0 avatar

      We owned a 1992 Wrangler YJ for about two years – bought it in July ’08, sold it in March ’10. Not a bad vehicle, but the internal donut clutch slave and its problems turned me off and since it was so old, I no longer wanted to bother with it. The Peugeot tranny was irritating, too.

      What really turned me off was the lack of security for locking gear in it – it was a rag top. If I had a cabin in the woods to stay, it wouldn’t be an issue, but keeping expensive stuff in it while out hiking on public wildlife areas where anybody could rip you off while you were away did it. When my son and I hit the woods, we take my wife’s CR-V.

      Jeeps sure are a blast, though, and I’d recommend one anytime. Just realize it’s not an economy car!

  • avatar

    If I’m not mistaken, Black Book is the industry standard for setting projected residuals that are used in car leasing. I don’t believe that Kelley is used as often.

    It would be interesting to compare the various forecasts to see if they differ very much from each other, and to review past results to see whether their forecasts proved to be accurate.

  • avatar

    The Wrangler’s high residual should come as no surprise. As a rock-crawler it will always find more demand in the used the market than in the new one.

    And what’s this… a Hyundai near the top of the list, ahead of any Honda, BMW or Lexus? The high residual they gave me on a Santa Fe lease back in 2008 is starting to look less like a bribe, and more like a reasonable business projection.

  • avatar

    Thought that the Mini Cooper was up there somewhere.

  • avatar

    I just purchased a base 2012 Wrangler Unlimited manual with the power window/accessories package and LSD. Over the years, I’ve owned an original 1987 Wrangler and a 2000 TJ. My ’87 was a bit of a dog in that it had serious reliability problems. The TJ was pretty great and very solid/reliable. But it was the unrefined machine purpose built for off-road and was not a lot of fun on the highway. The 2012 is an impressive kit. With the Pentastar, there is actually power to spare. The motor makes nice sounds and feels very much alive; more so than the 4.0. The interior is also finally where it needs to be in terms of solidity, quietness and comfort. There are no buzzes or rattles and it is a place where I could easily spend the day. I haven’t taken it off road yet but I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

  • avatar

    A bit diff. from what ALG has for 2012 residual values.



    • 0 avatar

      I’d trust ALG over Kelly any day. Who the heck is going to want to shell out mucho dinero for an out of warranty Q7?

    • 0 avatar

      That list is for brands, not specific models. While the Wrangler is tops on the KBB list, nothing else Jeep makes holds very good value at all, so overall the brand is much lower. I am sure Lexus and Acura are more consistent across the board, but none really top out higher than average. Plus, the Wrangler is a total anomoly, its not really fair to compare it to “normal” cars because it really has no competition in the marketplace, and there is a rabid fan base supporting it.

  • avatar

    No, the cars that hold their value best are pre-07 CARB-era VW TDIs and 1980s Mercedes-Benz 300d turbo-Diesels. Check their used prices and be amazed.

    • 0 avatar


      If they broke out residuals by engine the pre-smog compression ignition premium would be huge.

      The rare 05-06 Liberty Diesels also fall into this category. with the newest one being 5 years old you’re hard pressed to find one for less that $14k..and they were $23-28ish new.

  • avatar

    Only one car on there, and the Audi in 5th place?

    Looks like some kind of “new math” to me!

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    Those of us who hate car payments and pay cash love the high depreciation vehicles that retain their abilities much better than their resale value. There are great buys out there that get no respect but will take you to 300,000 miles with little trouble.

  • avatar

    Seriously, how do one predict MY 2012’s resale value in 2015 & 2017? This reminds me of some guy’s prediction that DJ will be hitting 20,000 points by now.

  • avatar

    I’m wondering if 2012 Wranglers pushed down the values of models with the 3.8L “minivan engine”. Pentastar is supposed to be markedly superior in every respect (although its durability is not known).

  • avatar

    Wranglers hold their value because because truck + convertible = fun. Most jeeps will see little to no off road time, and most owners don’t really care. They are fun to own, represent carefree youth, and are great to own when you want to take the top off but don’t like sports cars.

    Plus, for a young guy, you learn quickly that girls usually love to ride in a jeep vs. just about any other car (which is why I loved my POS CJ5). Hey, few things look better than a good looking woman in a open top Jeep, and women seem to like to see guys in a Jeep as well. As long as people think of cars in terms of sex appeal there will always be a market for Jeeps.

    If you see Wranglers strictly in terms of off road prowess you need to back away from the computer for a while.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Worst resale values… off the top of my head I would say…

    Luxury brand: Saab. The old 9-3 and 9-5 were at a near two year supply back in 2009. They even had 9-7’s thru 2010.

    Transportation: GM and Ford minivans. Absolutely horrific resale values.

    Sports car: Chrysler Crossfire… they stopped production in 2008. But you could still easily find new ones at Chrysler dealers thru 2009 and early 2010.

    Midsized Cars: The orphan models. The Aura was probably the best pick of the worst in this regard. Sebrings tend to still do OK as buy-here- pay-here vehicles. The G6, especially in lower trims, has a rather nasty depreciation curve.

    Small Cars: For five year models it would likely be a 2007 Ford Focus. They had insane levels of overproduction in their final year and Ford was willing to tag very heavy rebates and incentives to move that metal.

    On the very small side… the Chevy Aveo and Pontiac G3. Far worse resale than the Rio and Accent.

  • avatar

    I would think resale value would be based up on actual price paid vs MSRP. Easier to calculate vs MSRP, but not a good representation since no one pays MSRP.

  • avatar

    one of the many questions that may run through your mind is the exit strategy from that shiny new car

    Not really. My exit strategy is and always has been to drive my car until it dies. I view the money spent on a car just like that of every other purchase–a sunk cost.

    • 0 avatar

      My exit strategy is and always has been to drive my car until it dies.

      Your exit strategy may be determined for you, such as if your car has been totaled in a wreck.

      Therein lies the problem with cars that depreciate rapidly. This can be a bigger problem if you’re upside down on a loan at the time that the decision is made for you.

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