Resale Value: Why It Matters and How to Get the Most for Your Vehicle
Did you know most Americans keep their cars for eight years before they think about trading or selling? Are you in the same situation? Regardless of your vehicle’s age, you’re ready to get behind the wheel of a newer model and have wondered, “Where should I sell my car?” But how much can you expect to get for your current vehicle, and how can you position yourself to get a larger return on your investment with your next model?
The used car market is flourishing more than ever, with the industry reporting over 40 million used cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in 2021. Automakers face component shortages and rising production costs, sending new car prices sky-high and leading more drivers to the used car lot. This situation gives you incredible selling power, nearly guaranteeing you’ll get top dollar for your vehicle. It also positions you to invest in a newer model with a high resale value, and here’s how.
Resale Value: Why It’s Critical to Do Your Homework
While many people focus on a car’s capability, features, and efficiency, resale value is another critical component. Every vehicle depreciates over time, but depreciation or loss in value doesn’t occur at the same rate. For example, some models depreciate slower than others, so you’ll often find used models like the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Tacoma, and Ford F-150 priced higher on the used lot.
How does this high resale value affect selling your current car? First, it means doing your homework before heading into the dealership. This involves preparing your vehicle, from cleaning it or having it professionally detailed to making minor cosmetic repairs like adding new floormats or replacing a broken taillight. Once these repairs are complete, you can determine the car’s value using tools like Kelley Blue Book’s trade-in valuator, which considers the car’s make, model, age, mileage, condition, and location in relation to the current market trends. Knowing your car’s worth is vital to negotiating a fair price and having confidence in the sale.
Going by the Numbers: Cars With High Resale Values
Kelley Blue Book is an exceptional resource for determining your car’s value, but it’s also an excellent shopping tool designed to help you get the most out of your next vehicle purchase. For example, KBB’s annual “Best Resale Value” awards showcase models that retain their value and exceed standard supply and demand. This list looks different each year and gives buyers and sellers an excellent starting point to maximize their investment.
So, what models make the list? How does this information impact your efforts to sell your car and make your next purchase? We’ll answer those questions by looking at the top performers over the last eight years, mirroring the national average that Americans keep their vehicles for eight years and the depreciation standard that new cars lose 60% in value after five years on the road.
Chevrolet, Dodge, Honda, Jeep, and Toyota earned the top ten spots on KBB’s 2014 list. The models included the Challenger, Wrangler, Camaro, Corvette, Silverado 1500, FJ Cruiser, Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner. In addition, Toyota earned top honors as the brand with the best resale value, with Lexus taking the title as the best luxury brand. Fortunately, the list didn’t end there.
The 2014 Nissan Versa was honored for having the highest resale value in the subcompact car segment, followed by the Subaru Impreza (compact), Honda Accord (midsize), and Toyota Avalon (full-size).[a] The Camaro V6 and Corvette took top honors in the sports and high-performance car segments, while the Jeep Wrangler was praised for its resale value as a compact SUV.
KBB’s “Best Resale Value” list brought several surprises in 2015, with Subaru replacing Toyota as the brand with the best resale value. The top ten list also looked different and featured models like the Ford F-150, Chevy Colorado and Silverado, and GMC Canyon and Sierra. However, the Honda CR-V, Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner remained staples on the list.[b]
The Honda Fit replaced the 2014 Nissan Versa as the subcompact car with the highest resale value.[c] Subaru staged another upset when the Legacy earned top honors in the midsize segment and ousted the Honda Accord. The Dodge Charger replaced the Toyota Avalon in the full-size segment, while Lexus remained the leading luxury brand, courtesy of models like the high-end LS 460, LX 570, and RX 460h.
For 2016, KBB’s top-ten list included the Subaru Forester and WRX alongside long-running honorees like the Chevy Camaro and Colorado, GMC Canyon and Sierra, Jeep Wrangler, and Toyota’s best-selling trifecta. Subaru retained its title as the leading brand with the highest resale value, as models like the Impreza, WRX, and Legacy won their respective segments. The Toyota Avalon reclaimed its title in the full-size category, while the Camaro SS ousted the Corvette as the leading high-performance car. This year also added the Tesla Model S as the plug-in vehicle with the best resale value.
Toyota resumed its place as the best resale brand in 2017, thanks to the best-selling 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra. However, Porsche ousted Lexus as the top luxury brand, with models like the Panamera, 718 Cayman, and Macan added to the list. The Nissan Maxima also made its debut in the full-size car segment, just as the Chevy Bolt EV replaced the Tesla as the best-value electric vehicle of the year.
Although Toyota and Porsche retained their top honors in 2018, KBB added the Honda Ridgeline to its top-ten list.[d] The Chevy Corvette and Camaro lost their spots, replaced by the Porsche Panamera and 718 Cayman for the second year in a row. While the Ford F-Series was touted for its resale value, the Silverado HD stole the show as the full-size pickup truck with the best resale value after five years.
2019 brought only minor changes and kept best-selling brands like Chevy, Toyota, Ford, GMC, and Jeep as top picks. In addition, the Subaru Outback earned a place in the two-row midsize SUV segment, joined by the three-row Toyota Highlander and the full-size Chevy Tahoe. The Dodge Charger also returned as KBB’s top pick in the full-size car category, with the Audi A7 earning a place in the luxury class.
Subaru returned to the spotlight in 2020, again ousting Toyota as the brand with the best resale value. Models like the Impreza, Legacy, Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback earned widespread honors on the list and further solidified Subaru’s blossoming reputation in the American automotive landscape. Alongside Subaru’s practical lineup, the list also gave top honors to the Toyota Prius Prime, Tesla Model X, GMC Yukon, and Lexus GS.
The 2021 list reintroduced Toyota as the best resale brand and added the Ram pickup, Jeep Gladiator, and Toyota Land Cruiser to its top ten picks. The Impreza, Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback earned Subaru top honors again for 2021. Additionally, the Corvette returned as the top pick in the sports car category. The Kia Telluride was praised for its high resale value in the three-row midsize segment, with the BMW X7 taking the title in the luxury class. Other additions to the awards included the Land Rover Range Rover Sport and the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
Why Knowledge Is Power: Using the Data to Your Advantage
This data is critical to selling your car because it gives you a better idea of its resale value and market demand. For example, the Toyota Tacoma and 4Runner are two models that retain their values incredibly well, which means you can get top-dollar when it’s time to sell. The same is true for the Jeep Wrangler, Subaru Forester, Honda Accord, and the others from KBB’s list over the last eight years.
You can also use this information to your advantage when it’s time to purchase your next vehicle. For example, if you’re looking to invest in a 2022 model, checking KBB’s top-ten list can give you a better idea of what models will offer the highest resale value in five years. This list includes staples like the Toyota Tundra, Tacoma, and 4Runner, alongside new additions like the Ford Maverick.
So, how will you use this data? We encourage you to take inventory of your current vehicle and get it ready to sell. But know that your homework doesn’t end there if you’re looking to get the most when you sell your car and plan for your future from behind the wheel of a newer model.