By on April 30, 2021

color

Color counts when selling or buying a car. But which colors help or hurt? iSeeCars.com, a car search engine, performed exhaustive research on this topic, recently publishing the results.

Their research confirms what we had heard previously from paint manufacturers. White, black, and silver are among the most popular colors. But that also means these colors have minimal impact. They’ll neither hurt nor help resale, because there are a lot of vehicles available in these colors. Did you know the highest depreciating color loses more than twice that of the lowest?

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Comparing prices of more than six million cars between 2017 to 2020, iSeeCars.com determined which colors help, hurt, or have minimal impact on resale value.

“A vehicle’s color is a primary consideration after deciding on a make and model,” said iSeeCars Karl Brauer. “Resale value is the biggest factor in vehicle cost. Consumers should consider their color choice.”

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What we didn’t realize was that popularity doesn’t always equate with higher resale value. Take for example special colors Toyota has used on Tacomas. Limited to the TRD Pro edition for 2020, army green was made available on all Tacomas in 2021. Brauer said, “Because Toyota pickup trucks hold their value, and olive drab is a novelty, it helped green pickups maintain their value.”

Colors

White, black, and silver, are the safest colors with the greatest appeal. But do they help a vehicle maintain its value?

“Many consumers pick mainstream colors not because they like them, but because they assume everyone else does. They appear to be in demand, yet our analysis confirms obscure colors hold their value better,” Brauer said.

Colors

Take a look at the color charts, and you’ll see. Some colors work better for one type of vehicle and not another. Fascinating research into one aspect of selling or buying a car we don’t take into account.

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[Images: Jeep, Nissan, Toyota, iSeeCars.com]

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31 Comments on “QOTD: Does Color Affect Resale Value?...”


  • avatar
    smicallef427

    I’m curious as to what colors are considered gold versus beige. The two color names are often used interchangeably, but, apparently it makes a difference. For example I might describe any of the following colors as gold or beige if I didn’t know the color as described by the manufacturer:
    Honda Champagne Frost Metallic
    Volvo Birch Light Metallic
    Ford Desert Gold
    Lexus Moonbeam Beige Metallic
    Lincoln Ceramic Pearl
    The iSeeCars article describes beige as anything from off-white to light brown, they never really explain gold.

    • 0 avatar
      4runner

      Back in the day, when Saturn was “a different kind of car company,” they would proudly advertise that their red color was simply “medium red.”

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      If I were to guess… they consider beige as a flat color similar to the way the trendy cement color is a flat grey. Toyota’s ‘Quicksand’ color on their trucks would be a beige, where any of the metalics you listed would be gold.

      • 0 avatar
        smicallef427

        Quicksand is a solid example of beige. I disagree that beige is nonmetallic “flat” paint. Nonmetallic beige paints aren’t that common and I can’t think of any examples in some of these categories. Chevy offers Empire Beige Metallic and that color is similar to all the beige/golds I listed above.

        Despite this report indicating that gold versus beige can positively/negatively affect resale value, it’s very unclear what colors they were actually referring to. It’s too bad they don’t break down the colors so we can actually see when gold and beige are counted one or the other.

        While on this topic… Where then do colors like Hyundai’s Glowing Yellow and VW’s Kurkuma Yellow get placed? Although called “yellow,” they’re arguably the most gold of all (e.g. yellow gold jewelry). They’re much closer to Cadillac’s Summer Gold Metallic or Ford’s Karat Gold than they are to any nonmetallic egg yolk yellow.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Yeah but if you put in a category for “Manual AWD Diesel station wagons purchased CPO” you would see brown come into its own!

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Customers chose boring colors because they don’t have any choices. Black, white, silver and dark gray at most! My wife had to wait to get a dark blue Honda CRV, the dealer had like 40 CRV’s on the lot! Back in the old days, my 1965 Corvair had 17 color choices and six interior colors!

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      ^This^ It’s not that people like black, white and silver that’s the only colors most cars come in. The study is somewhat flawed. “Give ’em any color as long as it’s black” I’ll bet black was the most popular Model T color.

      For me, personally, color is never a deal breaker, but if everything else is equal color would be the only deciding factor

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      I work down the road from an Infiniti dealer and a Buick dealer that are side-by-side. There is a line of well over 100 Infinitis and Buicks (almost all of them CUVs), all brand new, and every single one of them is a shade of white, silver, or gray. There isn’t a blue, red, green, etc., model shown in a high visibility road.
      If you don’t make other colors available, people won’t buy them. At least for 2020 and 2021, I am starting to see dark blues and dark greens starting to make a comeback. I do miss the color selections of the 1990s where it seemed that people were a little more daring with their colors!

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I agree. Black, white, and silver are the most common colours on any car lot. Darker shades of grey are very popular too.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Yeah and you actually got whatever particular color for the whole interior. These days it is black interior standard. Any other color “interior” means seats, door panel and a dash component. Everything else is still black. Can’t remember the car model, but one “build yours” I was looking at on line, the non-black “interior” was only different color seats.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        If you like that you’ll love the new Ford trucks, not only is everything else still black but most of the seats stay black too. You get the bottom half of the door panel, one stripe down the middle of each seat, the headrests, and nothing at all on the dash.

        It comes off as if they ran out of alternate parts halfway through and just used up what they had left.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          That would not surprise me if that was the case. Ford did just that with the SHO. Only the first gen SHOs were delivered with exactly the same suspension components. Second through fourth gen cars were seemingly shipped with whatever swaybars they had laying around.

  • avatar
    4runner

    There seems to be some pretty big holes in this data. It doesn’t appear that they are comparing apples to apples, but are merely mashing data together.

    For example, If you look at SUV depreciation, it would appear that yellow SUVs keep their value the most. However, the average sale price listed for yellow SUVs is $24,000.Beige SUVs seem to have the worst resale value, but have an average sale price of about 42,000. Obviously, the data simply is mashing together all SUVs based on color and is not providing any kind of normalization based on similar make/model.

    It would be much more helpful if they compared make/model color, i.e. what is the depreciation of a red Honda Accord versus a black Honda Accord. Comparing the depreciation of a “Canyon Ridge” (orange) Ford EcoSport versus silver Ford Explorer probably doesn’t reveal the true impact of color would have on depreciation.

    Back in the 1990-2000s, a brown Toyota Camry with a urine soaked interior and a bag of manure in the trunk kept its value better than a Red Pontiac Grand Prix that just left the dealer lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      I agree 100% in what you are saying. most likely not apples to apples. The fact that they are saying ‘beige’ trucks depreciate the least sticks out likea sore thumb. I suspect it is because most beige trucks being sold are higher end TRD Toyota Tundras and Tacomas which have great resale value regardless of color.

  • avatar
    toronado

    I think location is a big factor. I am really surprised at the data for yellow. While I love yellow it seems to sell poorly in my area (Tennessee) other than on Jeep wranglers and FJ Cruisers. I was with a Porsche dealer for years and a yellow 911 or Boxster would always sit and become a big loss.I would deduct big time for yellow on trades and it never seemed to matter. The car would sit and when it did sell it was usually an out of state buyer that saw it online. When we ran locates for someone that did want one they were almost always in FL or CA.

  • avatar
    carcomment

    Hard to believe so many words and charts presented fatally flawed information. This only works if you isolate model by model by manufacturer, price point by price point and configuration, year, geomregion etc. Some intern needed busy work. Sure the platitude of white, black grey is true because that’s where the volume is but beyond that these are geez whiz charts. Red coupes depreciate 2nd most in coupes but 4th best in sedans. Um ok, if you say so.

    Let’s face no one wants a red Ferrari.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’ve consistently found that red and blue examples of the used cars I’m looking for sell faster and with fewer discounts. That’s a major reason my last three used car purchases have been silver, white, and silver.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    As others have mentioned this data doesn’t tell very much at all since there is no separation by make/model. Yellow is near the top in many of the categories but how many vehicles in each category are even available in yellow? So we need to know what the average depreciation is of the models that do offer yellow vs models that don’t offer yellow.

    Back in the day green was the value killer and RED was the color of money at the used car auctions.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yellow? As in a color many Ferrari’s come in? Yeah that is going to skew the data big time.

      I buy the color I want… if I lose $3k down the road because of that decision so be it.

      I will NEVER own black or white again, both are terrible in terms of keeping the vehicle clean. I avoid silver or grey just because its so played out these days. I got my silver truck 20 years ago before it was “cool”. My current vehicles are red and blue. I’ve owned pretty much every color including orange and green. I like colorful vehicles.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Liars, damned liars and staticians.

    To really get accurate results that offer meaningful data, the statistical tools should be applied correctly.

    As others have mentioned, lumping vehicles into a single category like SUVs without segregating them by vehicle brand and model will not yield accurate information. There are other exceptions or rules which also require careful application.

    From my humble point of view, beautiful vehicles can get away with murder and still look beautiful.
    Once in Houston I saw an egg-yolk yellow Ferrari, and the thing was still stunning.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The other thing not considered is are they using actual transaction prices or MSRP and if MSRP is it base or prices with the actual options?

    In Pickups white is probable better than it shows up in the charts since many of those are bought by the dozen or hundred by large commercial fleets and you can be sure that they are not paying full MSRP. I know for a while U-haul was playing the market heavily with their Vans. They turned them quick because they got such good deals and demand for near new ones meant they could put it in the fleet for 6 months with little to no actual depreciation when it came time to sell. I think they do or have done the same with pickups too.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Yeah and you actually got whatever particular color for the whole interior. These days it is black interior standard. Any other color “interior” means seats, door panel and a dash component. Everything else is still black. Can’t remember the car model, but one “build yours” I was looking at on line, the non-black “interior” was only different color seats.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    just trying to figure out the comment posting software protocols here.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    White, black, silver, and shades of gray along with black interiors are what the dealers order to be safe and not be stuck with inventory that they cannot sell. That is why dealers have limited choice in inventory. Buy what you like especially if you are going to keep it for a long time because the longer you keep a vehicle the less depreciation means to you. A ten, fifteen, and 20 year old vehicle is still going to be worth a fraction of its original value unless you have a very limited edition vehicle. Most vehicles are bought to use and they are not bought as investments. If you want to invest buy stocks or bonds but don’t buy a car or truck unless you get a good deal or you are a dealer and you are going to flip it at a profit.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    There are a few colors that I wouldn’t take period. In fact I’ve turned down great deals on a couple of vehicles over the years because I hated the color so much. I’m done with silver, and black, too. I dislike weak, washed out colors tremendously. The pale yellow that Chrysler 300’s came in about 2005 or so was one. Keeping with the Mopars, Destroyer Gray is the worst “color” ever, with F8 Green right behind. Yellow Jacket, Torred, GoMango, B5 Blue, are all OK with me. I tried to get a Yellow Jacket Challenger the last time I bought a new car, but picked Torred over Plum Crazy Purple, and Octane Red, as I thought I might tire of them. Bright red never loses it’s appeal to me.

  • avatar

    You don’t select the color. The Sales Managers do. They buy vanilla so that you’ll “Drive home today” with a car “off the lot”. Colors mean opinions and no one has much opinion for silver white black grey/gray.

    In Europe, where the experience is buy and wait for YOUR build, the color palette is full spectrum.

    Some companies will toss one color in the mix every year. My MDX is boring honda silver. I wanted the color, but the price negotiated was off the lot at the end of the month….I was stuck in the system. Since then, I’ve made it a point to go color, so I have a blue car and a green one…but I had to angle for it.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Mopar, to its credit, does offer a nice selection of colors. I just saw a Challenger in a deep, dark red. It looked fantastic. Contrast that with a white Challenger – which looks like an appliance.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Arrest Me Red. It’s one of my least favorite in the color spectrum, but it’s low maintenance, hides dirt/grime, and dents/scratches fade into the glare. Non metallic of coarse, non clear coat, single stage. It actually looks great, dusk to dawn. What looks great in sunny daylight is so/so at night.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I can live with silver or white but not black because it is hot and hard to keep clean. I like the new grayish green that is on the Hyundai Santa Fe that Hyundai just revealed. Also like the bright red that Mazda offers.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Can we talk about this next? (It seems to tie in)

    https://luxe.digital/lifestyle/style/most-comfortable-heels/

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