By on April 15, 2016

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara rear side yellow

If you’re looking to get the most money back when you drop your car onto the used market in five years, better get into something large and utilitarian.

Large and midsize trucks and SUVs grab the top five-year resale values in Edmund’s 2016 Retained Value Awards, with conventional and luxury midsize and large cars depreciating the most.

The biggest winner at trade-in time is the Jeep Wrangler, which muscles out competitors like the Toyota 4Runner to capture the traditional midsize SUV crown. Retaining 62.7 percent of its value in five years, the Wrangler tops the category’s already lofty 62-percent average.

Toyota’s Tacoma bested the midsize truck category with a 66-percent retained value, while the automaker’s Tundra accepted the large truck crown by holding on to 58.6 percent of its value.

The rest of the five top categories saw the Ram 2500 take the heavy-duty prize (58.6 percent) and the GMC Yukon win for large traditional SUV (52.6 percent).

Worse-performing categories favored Japanese and European automakers. The Subaru WRX was tops among compact cars (58.3 percent, though the category retained only 47.6 percent of its value), while the law of Heaven and Earth again made the Toyota Camry numero uno among midsize cars (48.1 percent).

Okay, so bigger is better for average resale values, but what about high-tech options and neat-o gadgets? That’s gotta mean something to a used car buyer, right?

Not so fast. More tech could net you a higher price if you were bartering a one-year-old model in your driveway after losing a poker game, but those options will be as dated as parachute pants and cassette tapes in five years.

“Shoppers interested in technology are probably going to gravitate toward new or near-new cars,” Edmunds’ features editor Carroll Lachnit told Extremetech.

Backup cameras, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and high-end infotainment systems are rapidly becoming the norm even on entry-level models. In five years, there’ll be far more choice than today, and that could water down the impact such technology could exert over the price of a five-year-old model.

h/t Vipul Singh

[Image: © 2015 Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars]

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69 Comments on “Want Your Vehicle to Retain its Value? Make Sure it’s Big, or Bigger...”


  • avatar
    VW16v

    This is if gasoline prices stay below $3.00/gallon. Prices go above $4.00/gallon and those resale values on model’s averaging 16 mpg will take a dump in resale value.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Not necessarily. Buyers of some of the vehicles awarded are in a financial demographic where gas price fluctuations are not a big determining factor.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes I am paying around $2.50 a gallon Premium and getting less than 12 Miles per gallon, but my resale value with SRT has REMAINED HIGH.

      Take a look on the book value of a SRT JEEP or SRT HELLCAT.

      Mercedes and BMW/ Audi depreciation look like bricks by comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I did and I just realized I can buy a clean, low mile three year old GC SRT8 for $35k. Down from an initial MSRP of about $60k. I guess that’s not totally catastrophic resale for this class of vehicle. For comparison, a similar age/mileage BMW X5M with an MSRP of damn near $90k seems to go for $51-53k. So percent-wise, it is nearly a wash, but in terms of actual dollars of course the BMW lost more.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Why in the world did Mercedes Benz Metris get awarded in the Small Commercial Van category? It’s barely been in the market a few months!

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Title is a little misleading. Big/bigger is good, unless it’s a car, which makes it bad. And yea, I would wager that we will see significant increases in gas in the next 5 years, which will make ownership of those big thirsty inefficient trucks pretty painful.

    • 0 avatar

      Doubtful. Big trucks – especially Diesels – are workhorses or vehicles of lifestyle. Either way, expect to see them remain stout on the resale market.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Diesel pickups hold their value very well. Pickups are probably the most common vehicle in my part of the world. The bigger dealers in my region will have over 100 new 1/2 tons in inventory, around 1/2 that number in HD’s. They’ll have 20 cars and probably 40 CUV/SUV’s. The used lot looks about the same. Fleet or work trucks tend not to exert a downward pressure on used prices because they are usually beat to death.

        I can see Jeeps retaining their value well because there is only a small portion of the population that actually uses them as intended. Some of those guys will buy used to let someone else take the depreciation. I saw a 3 year old Wrangler on the lot stickered for basically the same price as new. It looked like it never saw dirt.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      They’re not as thirsty as they used to be (except the Tundra).

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    While the results are not surprising in any way I am curious of how the calculations are done. If it is trade in to MSRP, than yes the Tundra wins.
    If it is trade in to actual transaction price than I think the domestic three in the truck category may win. Hard to beat the resale on a duramax HD that came with 10k on the hood during truck month and probably had an actual purchase price 13k-15k back of MSRP.

    I am a bit surprised about the WRX. Egad, I would most likely be a little skeptical of picking one of those up after 5 years of unknown use and abuse. Perhaps, I am the wrong age demographic for a used WRX though

    • 0 avatar

      WRXs bring solid money IF IN STOCK CONDITION, which apparently defies the entire purpose of buying one for some reason. Just saw a ’15 run through the Chase lane in Orlando on Tuesday with 5k miles and Yellow Light announcements for ‘ALTERED SUSPENSION’, ‘NO CATS’, and ‘AFTERMARKET AUDIO’

      Really?

      Really?

      All that extra cream but why make a payment, right?

      • 0 avatar

        I joined some of the WRX groups and message boards in case I wanted to buy or sell something for my car and it baffles me how many times I see people buying parts and then selling them off because they need to make a car payment. I am big on modifying cars but am not one to do it unless the car is paid off.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I am imagining most of those posters being children, essentially (early 20s)

          I definitely made some less than great purchases around that age. I paid cash for my cars though so I never ran that risk.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen a WRX that wasn’t at least Stage 2 (downpipe and tune) in the wild.

        What gets me even more is when they swap out the wheels – there’s a guy at my work with a 2015+ STI, which comes with $500+/corner BBS wheels who took them of for cheap-ass rotas. I mean really? You’re going to put $150 wheels on a $40k car when you had much nicer ones to start with because why?

        That said, there are definitely ways to tastefully and minimally modify one that keep it close enough to stock to easily revert on trade, and potentially improve or at least not lose resale value. Stage 2 is easy enough to revert (6 bolts and reflash to stock), and an AccessPort tuner sells for 90% of new price on the secondary market, and a downpipe around 75%. if you don’t bro-out with the cheap coilovers and do something tasteful like RCE springs with Bilsteins it’ll look and handle better without being stupid if you don’t feel like doing the work a second time. If I had one, it would probably end up around that modified. beyond that though, is a bridge too far in my mind.

        • 0 avatar

          I completely agree about the wheels and can’t fathom why people slap Rota’s on when they have a much higher quality wheel on the car already.

          I agree with you and I have been thinking about and AccessPort for a while but don’t want to risk warranty issues so I am still on the fence. I have done some small stuff such as install fog lights but that’s about it for now. I want it to be good reliable daily driver and will save the heavy mods for my Legacy and Montero.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      This is a really good point. Really really good actually. Could turn this whole survey on its head.

  • avatar

    From someone who lives half the time at the auction…

    In no particular order
    4×4 Tacoma
    4×4 Tundra
    4×4 4Runner
    Land Cruiser/LX570 (if you can FIND one)
    Corvette
    Mustang GT + high-trim editions (Shelby, Cobra, etc)
    Wrangler
    4×4 Crew Cab Pickup
    4X4 3/4-ton Pickup w/Diesel

    Anything else, you’ll never, ever win. At least with those cars, depreciation is mitigated or in some cases (Wranglers and 4×4 Diesels) almost negligible.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      What about Subaru WRX and Forester? Is that mostly dealer markup when you see a 5 year old WRX with 60k miles for $26,999. New that same car is $28,999

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Unless its an STI, yeah don’t buy those. Greed in motion.

        MY11 Subaru Impreza WRX 2.5i (base?)

        02/18/16 TX HOBBY Regular $16,900 52,970 Above GREY 4G 6 Yes
        02/18/16 PALM BCH Regular $16,600 56,309 Avg SILVER 4G 5 Yes
        03/31/16 PHOENIX Regular $14,900 56,915 Avg WHITE 4GT M Yes
        03/01/16 NEWENGLD Lease $15,000 74,296 Avg WHITE 4G 5 Yes
        04/06/16 SAN DIEG Regular $16,600 76,093 Avg GRAY 4GT 5 Yes
        03/10/16 ATLANTA Regular $15,400 78,587 Avg BLACK 4GT 5 Yes
        03/03/16 ALBANY Regular $14,000 83,966 Avg BLUE 4GT 5 Yes
        02/18/16 TAMPA Regular $11,800 100,107 Below BLACK 4G M Yes

        MY11 Subaru Impreza WRX Limited

        03/18/16 PA Regular $16,600 55,336 Avg SILVER 4G 5 Yes
        03/18/16 PA Regular $19,000 56,133 Avg WHITE 4G 5 Yes
        03/23/16 CALIFORN Regular $21,500 56,719 Above BLACK 4GT 5 No
        04/08/16 PA Regular $19,800 64,677 Above BLACK 4G M Yes
        03/16/16 STATESVL Regular $17,000 66,865 Avg GRAY 4GT 5 Yes
        03/18/16 PA Regular $13,300 81,662 Below Blue 4G N Yes
        03/30/16 SAN ANTO Regular $16,500 85,207 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes

        MY11 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

        04/08/16 NEVADA Lease $25,000 10,401 Above WHITE 4GT 6 Yes
        03/23/16 PITTSBGH Regular $29,300 12,196 Above SILVER 4G 6 No
        03/30/16 PA Regular $24,500 36,878 Above GREY 4G M Yes
        03/22/16 RIVRSIDE Regular $22,750 38,743 Avg BLACK 4GT 6 Yes
        03/16/16 SAN DIEG Regular $21,250 48,438 Below WHITE 4G 6 Yes
        04/06/16 NJ Regular $23,500 56,279 Avg Blue 4G M Yes
        03/18/16 NEVADA Regular $24,000 60,737 Avg GRAY 4GT 6 Yes
        03/18/16 PA Regular $21,700 65,074 Avg RED 4G 6 Yes
        04/06/16 NJ Regular $20,700 67,158 Below GRAY 4GT 6 Yes
        03/16/16 SAN ANTO Lease $21,900 72,295 Avg SILVER 4G 6 Yes

        • 0 avatar
          VW16v

          28,
          Sounds like dealer’s are making a killing selling used WRX’S and STI’S. I’ve seen STI’S advertised for over $32k with 100,000 miles and more. And the you are rolling the dice on that the car was not modified.

      • 0 avatar

        I usually skip on used vehicles that tend to get modified just because you never know what the previous owner might have done. There are a lot of people that will modify a car and then put the stock parts back on when it is time to sell. Out of interest, I looked at used WRX prices when I was shopping for mine and on average, a 1 year old WRX with 10k miles was being advertised for only $800-900 less than what I paid for my new one.

        Also, I am quite happy to see that my car will benefit from some of that retained value.

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        Car buying, car-choosing, is an emotion-based activity and choice.

        Subarus now sell well because of their following – they’re trendy. Exactly like Jeep. In Oregon, in Colorado, in some other regions, they are THE car to have. Never mind that their reliability over their life is not spectacular…on a par with the better Detroit products.

        Jeep as well. Trendy, kewel; image-driven. It’s a posture paradigm, as young women in tank-tops advertise how tuff they are as they roll to the mall or tattoo parlor.

        Traditional SUVs are now big because of CAFE’s twisted regs. There will be no more CJ-3a’s or Samurais. How Subaru will meet those regs with their fuel-using AWD drivelines, I don’t know. Perhaps pass the penalty on to buyers.

        But by government’s Kafkaesque standards: Tuff trucks equal big trucks. Tuff trucks are also a fashion prop. Gas is cheap; and those who still have money in this crony-corporatist economy, have MORE money. So overpriced fashion-prop tuff trucks, sell.

        That can change and eventually will. The trend in such a distorted economy as our own is: As the rich get richer, they also get fewer in number. The air is rare in such vaunted, crony-connected peaks; and a small customer base does not support a large market for big fashion trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          As someone who lives in a Subaru-heavy region and owns a Subaru (for now) I can say they sell for exactly the opposite reason from trendiness: people like the price, the packaging, the better-than-average AWD system, and the reputation for durability (if not always reliability). Your typical Subaru buyer (self included) wouldn’t know a trend if it hit him or her in the face.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            “Your typical Subaru buyer (self included) wouldn’t know a trend if it hit him or her in the face.”

            Riiiight. That’s why they fly off the lots in hip, trendy, areas – and why they scarecely show on the charts in unhip, unkewel, Rust-Belt regions where AWD is needed as much or more.

            That’s also why the Mazda and Hyundai and other AWD brands/models don’t sell nearly as well; and why Toyota, which otherwise does well, hasn’t made much of a dent in the AWD car segment.

            If Subaru delivered value, I could see it. But between what I’ve read and my limited exposure (four Subaru gofer cars run by my employer) the value is only about average, with several serious weak spots in the engine design. As I said above, they’re not BAD like Detroit used to be bad; but they’re far from bulletproof; and only fashion trends can explain their phenomenal sales, in artsy-fartsy Green Hipster regions.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            If you actually visited the areas involved rather than just dismissing them as monolithic “artsy-fartsy Green Hipster regions” you’d see who is buying Subarus and who is not.

            Artsy-fartsy hipsters generally can’t afford new cars. But those that can (trust fund?) tend to buy Volkswagens, or maybe Priuses if they’re extra-green. The Subaru buyers tend to be more granola than average, obsessed with outdoor sports and dogs, dressed in fleece and clunky tennis shoes (often guilty as charged on the weekends), and decidedly un-hip. The motivation is largely that Subarus are cheap, spacious, and the AWD system is somewhat to very much (depending on the particular Subaru) better than those in the equally affordable competition.

            Engine issues are largely fixed in Subarus from the last five years or so, although the engine is still a bit down on both power and efficiency compared to others. The ever-present bugaboos of disposable CV joints and rattly interiors are still there but don’t really change anyone’s mind.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            “If you actually visited the areas involved rather than just dismissing them as monolithic “artsy-fartsy Green Hipster regions” you’d see who is buying Subarus and who is not.”

            Visit the areas? I LIVE in one. I’m a transplanted Northeast Ohioan now living in a hipster-occupied portion of the Bitterroots. And the local Subaru dealer has a license to mint money.

            Interestingly, the weather here is, in the Five Valley region, more temperate than either Cleveland, Buffalo, or Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin…all places I took my mail for extended periods. Yes, if you have to get to Bozeman or Helena, you need four-wheel-drive. Chevrolet trucks do just fine. So, too, for that matter, does front-wheel-drive.

            But it’s Subarus that sell like beer at a Teamsters’ picnic.

        • 0 avatar
          Counterpoint

          Subaru will meet those regs the same way as everyone else: plug-in hybrids. Expect them to drop the symmetrical AWD architecture and use an electric motor to drive the rear axle.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            I don’t know how I, or anyone, can expect them to PAY for it.

            As cars increase in complexity, economies of scale become more and more critical. The pattern became clear in the 1960s: Small companies like Studebaker and Kaiser finally gave up or sold to larger parents. AMC was next – they could make money with the two basic models, so long as they remained simple. But emissions research cost the same for AMC as it did for GM; and AMC had five percent of the volume of the General. And the Antitrust division of DOJ had forbidden, for some reason, collusion of manufacturers on emissions research.

            AMC fell. Then, of course, Chrysler saw the writing – and sold itself to Daimler-Benz, thinking it a dowry, not a payment by a john. When Uncle Daimler had relieved itself, there was no smaller American-based company than Ford. Which almost didn’t make it through the business turndown, either.

            In this environment, little Subaru is going to engineer a hybrid system, something that stressed Toyota…and make money, on one-fifth the volume, with the added AWD complexity?

            I think not.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I’m going to be selling or trading my 2013 Forester XT soon. 3 1/2 years, 27k miles, and I’ll get about 80%-82% of what I paid new *from a dealer*. It’s pretty ridiculous. (Although what I paid new was a hefty chunk off MSRP.)

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I might add Lex ES/RX to that list.

    • 0 avatar

      VW16v,
      True. A well-kept Forester is worth a bundle and they will bring out-of-book. Subaru sedans (aside from WRX)? Good luck getting much over NADA Clean Trade-In.

      28,
      Eh. You’d be surprised what I pick up RXs for. Granted, the latest one was a 450h hybrid, but I picked it up for back of rough black book.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Perhaps I may be then.

        You know, Dal is looking for a RX450h hybrid for his wife…

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Lots of cheap prices on crappy RXhs, but the good ones are expensive and sell quickly. Apparently the used buyers on these are pretty informed and they snap up the loaded, low-mile ones.

          I’m trying to haggle with a nearby Lexus dealer right now on a 2014 I want (fully loaded with 22k), but their asking price is ridiculous — about $7k too high, maybe $5k when you take Lexus’s very good CPO warranty into account — and so far they’re reluctant to give much.

          http://www.lexusofbellevue.com/VehicleDetails/certified-2014-Lexus-RX_450h-AWD_4dr-Bellevue-WA/2746632003

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Dal,
            An rx hybrid at $44k and soon to be three year old model seems a bit pricey.

            The 2017 Forester is said to be quieter inside and adds some new upgrades. Or maybe you are wanting more luxury. So the Lexus is the option.

            http://www.carscoops.com/2016/04/2017-subaru-forester-gains-revised.html?m=1

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            For complicated but good reasons we really want a hybrid or EV. If that weren’t true we’d be keeping the Fozzy. Nothing wrong with it and it’s in very good shape.

            I agree that CPO RX I sent is pricey. It’s worth a bit more than average because it’s got several unusual and expensive options but I still don’t want to pay more than $40k for it.

          • 0 avatar

            I bought a 2012 RX450h with 78k miles for ~$17,900 plus fees. Light hit in the back (rear bumper resprayed) and its on the CARFAX.

            Add transport, detail, buying a duplicate key, floorplan, etc., I owned it for ~$17,700. That black-that-almost-looks-blue-because-of-all-the-metallic on cashmere leather, NAV, Xenons, etc. Sold it for $21,800+++.

            I think everyone got a good deal all-around.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Brian, that does sound like a good deal on both ends, even with the Carfax scarlet letter.

            I’m looking for a lot fewer miles and prepared to pay accordingly. Just not $7k above book value.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Flybrian,
        I agree with other WRX being the sedan for resale value. Legacy seems to be in the Accord and Camry resale value range. Maybe a little higher. It seems counter productive financially to purchase a used WRX/STI. Unless you can purchase directly from the auction.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Interesting that the Camry is #1 among midsizes despite the fleet sales and incentives.

    I would’ve bet on the Accord or Legacy.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Without looking at the full article, that summary doesn’t support a bigger is better narrative. With the exception of the Camry, it suggests that if you want something with good resale, get something that doesn’t have a lot of competition (and ergo, fewer used alternatives).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    BTW, thank you for getting the “its” and “it’s” correct in the headline.

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    STIs will always hold value due to the lack of new supply and the lead time it takes for Subaru to make them when ordered (usually a 4-6 month wait…usually, I say, as there are some lucky circumstances you can get one a month or so sooner, or happen to chance into someone’s canceled order.) If your dealer is part of a distributorship, allocations come into play as well.

    Dealers will gouge a customer on an STi because they can, new or used. The customer is usually a flatbrimmer whose parents will be providing a monetary subsidy for the purchase. Most dealers will charge near or at MSRP on a new one, and selling a pre-owned STi is even more profitable for a dealer as you can imagine.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I figure my 2004 gasser GMC HD PU with a 180K is still worth 10K easy. That truck had a $42K MSRP in ’04 but a meaningless number as I paid $33K. Which means after all the work I’ve gotten out of it over 12 years of ownership it’s still worth a 1/3 of what I paid for it. And the icing on the cake is I haven’t done sh$t to it except put the key in and go!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      If you can get 10K, I say take it.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        If it’s 4×4, ext cab/crew cab, $10k would get offers within the hour on Craigslist.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          2WD 6.0 SLE does 2-5 150K+, 4WD 6.0 SLE has fewer examples but the three examples above 120 did 4,5-6,1. Conversely 103K-119K examples did 9,6-12 but were all listed as “above average”.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Oh nvm I thought he said diesel, my bad.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I am citing gas motor figures, here you’ll enjoy the second one:

            MY04 GMC Sierra 2500HD Ext Cab 6.6 Turbo Diesel

            01/14/16 DFW Regular $11,200 212,483 Avg GOLD 8DT A Yes
            02/23/16 STATESVL Regular $31,400 4,288 Above BLACK 8DT A No
            03/08/16 OHIO Regular $13,500 116,396 Avg TAN 8DT A Yes
            03/18/16 PA Regular $17,600 110,695 Above RED 8DT A Yes
            03/25/16 DFW Regular $17,500 109,991 Above GOLD 8DT Yes
            03/30/16 SAN ANTO Regular $10,500 175,544 Below BLUE 8DT A Yes

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          You know it Hummer. CC, 4X4, SLT trim, bone stock, original owner, excellent condition. I’ve got 3 people that know the truck who want to buy it I may not even have to list it.

          $10K might be a little optimistic but I’ll get $9K easy. Rather have the truck than the money but don’t need 3 vehicles or have the room to keep it anymore..

          If it had the diesel add another $4K

  • avatar
    ezeolla

    The Wrangler resale is nuts. A quick ebay search shows Wranglers similar to mine (2005 with manual and 4.0, <100k miles, not Rubicon) going for low to mid teens, which is nice since I paid $13.5k for it 7 years ago

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    If you need a vehicle but also want to put all that money into a no-interest bank account, buy a Toyota Tacoma double cab.

    According to NADA my Tacoma PreRunner is worth $1,000 less than the window sticker said it cost brand new in 2009 (it has just under 30,000 miles)

  • avatar
    Fred

    I got a deal on my TSX Sportwagon because no one wants one. Of course when I go to sell it I’ll get squat for it because even fewer will want one. There is of course a chance that wagons will make a comeback and I’ll get good money on it, but I doubt it.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    Larger vehicles might, and I say might, retain their value better, but cars will always sell quicker.

  • avatar
    Mackie

    Cars are a money pit. No matter how you look at it, you’re going to lose money. So… if I’m going to lose money anyway, I might as well get the car I really want instead of compromising for the sake of resale value. Luckily, I don’t want a FIAT 500L.

  • avatar
    RS

    What are depreciating the most? Some of those interest me more than the ones that don’t.

  • avatar
    Fred

    This big Beetle seems appropoite,

    http://cultureride.tumblr.com/post/142781058449/via-gene-routh-have-you-ever-wondered-what-a

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    When resale value is ludicrous and stup!d high, it screams of “poor value proposition”, when brand new. So this leads to thin showroom traffic for new ones, and too many waiting patiently and wringing their hands for clean a 3+ year old examples.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    American tastes are weird. They value big trucks and SUVs, more than German luxury sedans. That’s fine with me. Nothing sweeter than a 3-5 year old S Class at a FRACTION of it’s original SRP. They are great cars, and people who buy them new, usually take great care of them.

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