Depreciation is a double-edged sword. A car with a high resale value (and low depreciation) is favored if you’re selling or trading in the vehicle. On the other hand, low depreciation (and high resale value) makes certain cars more expensive in the used car market.
The folks at iSeeCars.com love to slice and dice all sorts of automotive data and recently released details on the best resale value cars. The report also covers vehicles with the worst resale value. Let’s review the results. This info could be helpful if you’re searching for a ride that will hold its value or looking to take advantage of a big depreciation hit.
Best Resale Value Cars
It’s no surprise that there are few passenger cars on this list, given America’s love for trucks and SUVs. The depreciation values listed below cover averages over five years, according to iSeeCars.
#10 Nissan Frontier
The fact that the Frontier is on the list is a head-scratcher. This mid-sized pickup has been around since 1997, with only minor changes during this time. In fact, the closest thing to a refresh for the Frontier was the introduction of a new engine for the 2020 model year.
#9 GMC Canyon
The GMC Canyon is another mid-sized pickup that gets high marks for holding its value. Introduced in 2003 and redesigned for the 2011 model year, the Canyon and its corporate twin, the Chevy Colorado, benefited from the Ford Ranger being off the market for most of the 2010s. Interestingly, the Colorado’s depreciation (46%) is worse than the Canyon’s drop in value.
#8 Dodge Challenger
One of only three passenger cars on the list, the Dodge Challenger is another surprising entry. Perhaps it’s the old school (rear-wheel-drive orientation) design or the “far above average” predicted reliability rating from Consumer Reports. Regardless, the Challenger represents a solid choice for strong resale value.
#7 Subaru WRX
The WRX has long enjoyed an excellent reputation for sports car-like handling and performance wrapped in a compact sedan body. Its modest depreciation is consistent with Subaru being one of the best automotive brands for resale value. This is also one of our best picks for cheap tuner cars.
#6 Toyota 4Runner
The 4Runner is one of three Toyotas on this list. In fact, iSeeCars ranks Toyota as the best brand for overall resale value. The 4Runner may not be the most exciting SUV on the road, but its near-infallible reputation for quality certainly helps keep depreciation to a minimum.
#5 Toyota Tundra
Despite operating in the shadows of the Ford-Chevy-Ram pickup monopoly for more than 20 years, the Tundra has soldiered on with reasonable success. The Tundra skips splashier trims (there’s no King Ranch equivalent here) for less flamboyant offerings in typical Toyota style. Interestingly, the next-gen Tundra will skip the standard V-8 so that future resale values may be affected by this change.
#4 Porsche 911
Even a casual auto enthusiast could guess that the Porsche 911 would be on the list for best resale value. Older 911s fetch a decent price and always seem to be in demand. Newer models are coveted as well; even a modest price reduction thanks to depreciation represents savings for would-be owners.
#3 Jeep Wrangler
Outside of the current craziness of the used car market, second-hand Wranglers have always been strong sellers. Perhaps this is due to America’s insatiable desire for off-roading, almost countless Wrangler configuration options, or the relative ease for Wrangler modifications.
#2 Toyota Tacoma
The mid-sized Tacoma regularly battles the Jeep Wrangler for top honors in the best value car contest. Just like with the other Toyotas on the list, the Tacoma trades glitz for unexciting, a formula that proves successful for Toyota.
#1 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
In Unlimited trim, the four-door Wrangler adds another element to the model’s desirability: practicality. The extra set of doors makes this Jeep ideal for both everyday and off-road uses. And think about this depreciation number for a moment. Over five years, a Wrangler Unlimted loses about one-half percent in value per month, a drop that’s about 60% less than the worst depreciation offenders.
Worst Resale Value Cars
No “best” list is complete without having a “worst” list for comparison. So, we’re including the ten vehicles that are the worst for holding their values. This information will not only tell you what cars may offer great used-car deals but serve as a reminder about what vehicles to stay away from for new car shopping. The depreciation values listed below are averages over five years, according to iSeeCars.
#10 BMW X3
Maybe it’s BMW’s poor reputation for value retention that unfavorably affects the depreciation of the X3, the only SUV on this “worst” list. Check out our article on BMW certified pre-owned options to avoid this kind of drop-off on a new X3.
#9 Lincoln MKZ
The MKZ is one of Lincoln’s last shots at the sedan market, an effort that was never rewarded with strong sales or high resale values.
#8 Mercedes S-Class
Besides offering a top-tier luxury car experience, a used S-Class is great for eye-watering depreciation and YouTubers buying cheap German luxobarges.
#7 Volvo S60
A Volvo on any worst list is the automotive equivalent of bullying; it seems so unfair. Yet, the market continually hits the automaker with bad resale values, especially for its mid-tier sedan.
#6 Mercedes E-Class
There’s a common phrase in the car business, “Mercedes cars are good to lease, not to own.” Just one look at E-Class depreciation, and you’ll know why savvy car buyers never buy a new Mercedes. They lease new or buy used and let someone else take the depreciation hit.
#5 Maserati Ghibli
Maserati has the distinction of being the worst car brand in the U.S. for resale value. So, it’s no wonder that the Ghibli gets dinged. The sedan’s reputation for shoddy build quality and poor reliability doesn’t help either.
#4 Audi A6
There’s something about larger German sedans and weak resale values: maybe it’s due to reliability issues or passenger cars falling out of favor with buyers. Regardless of the reasons, the Audi A6 is affected along with its competitors. Audi also offers some certified pre-owned options that could help get you a better deal than buying new.
#3 Nissan Leaf
Early adopters of the first mass-market EV certainly are taking a hit when it comes to the resale value of the Nissan LEAF. Federal and state incentives helped further depress market pricing, as do concerns about battery longevity.
#2 BMW 5 Series
There’s not much to say here about another expensive German luxury making a list for worst resale value.
#1 BMW 7 Series
Here are some head-spinning numbers for you: the cheapest new 7 Series sells for about $87,000. After five years of ownership, the car will have dropped in value by $63,162 or a loss of more than $1,050 per month. And that’s before any loan payment. On a percentage basis for depreciation, a used 7 Series is one of the best value cars you’ll find.