These Are the 10 Worst Depreciation Time-Bombs & 10 Cars with the Best Resale Value

Hint: If you don't want to lose a ton of cash, buy a Jeep Wrangler (surprise, surprise)

These are the vehicles to buy (or avoid) if you’re worried about depreciation.

The situation is getting slightly better, but buying a new car is still pretty much a minefield. Not only could you face down stupidly high markups on your chosen vehicle, but then you could actually lose a ton of cash over the first five years of ownership. Research firm iSeeCars put together a study on the subject and identified the ten best and worst cars for depreciation in that time period.

On average, per the study, most cars will lose a third of their value over the first five years. That amounts to about a $14,049 drift from the average MSRP, though that figure will obviously depend on how much a given car costs to buy in the first place. Over three years, most cars lost just 17% of their value, which is the smallest drop on record. Some cars even gained value over what they cost to buy new.

Look at either end of the depreciation spectrum, and you’ll see the usual culprits. Popular cars that are always in demand hold their value — like the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. Luxury limousines and more obscure vehicles, on the other hand, will lose value faster than middle-aged men lose their hairline (trust me guys, I feel your pain).

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Here are the top 10 WORST depreciating models over the first five years

These are the highest depreciators, according to the iSeeCars study. Each entry covers the percentage amount vehicles lost over the first five years, as well as how much money that model lost from its original MSRP:

  1. Ford Expedition (-50.7%, $32,674)
  2. Volvo S90 (-51.4%, $32,321)
  3. Audi A6 (-51.5%, $33,331)
  4. Lincoln Navigator (-51.9%, $41,426)
  5. Mercedes-Benz S-Class (-51.9%, $65,375)
  6. Cadillac Escalade ESV (-52.3%, $55,128)
  7. Infiniti QX80 (-52.6%, $44,265)
  8. Jaguar XF (-54.0%, $36,081)
  9. Maserati Ghibli (-56.3%, 51,168)
  10. BMW 7 Series (-56.9%, $61,923)

These are the top 10 models that BEST hold their resale value

Over the first five years, these are the cars (and one truck) that will be kindest to your wallet in terms of depreciation. Whereas you could feasibly buy a new car with the value that a Mercedes-Benz S-Class loses, say, these ones (on average) will leave you sitting pretty when it’s time to sell or trade up:

  1. Chevrolet Camaro (-20.2%, $7,981)
  2. Nissan Versa (-19.9%, $3,183)
  3. Toyota Corolla (-19.8%, $4,617)
  4. Ford Mustang (-19.4%, $7,528)
  5. Subaru BRZ (-18.2%, $5,985)
  6. Honda Civic (-16.3%, $4,237)
  7. Toyota Tacoma (-14.9%, $5,926)
  8. Porsche 911 (-14.6%, $20,634)
  9. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (-8.7%, $3,344)
  10. Jeep Wrangler 2-Door (-7.3%, $2,361)

Can you spot the trends? By and large, big and thirsty SUVs as well as high-dollar limos tend to lose the most money over the years. Popular sports cars and efficient economy models tend to lose the least, as folks will always want them. Then there’s the Jeep Wrangler, which has long been on another level in terms of resale value. Folks love them, and this study is evidence that buying one new (even with how expensive they’re getting) may not be a bad call. At least, that’s the case if all you’re focused on is five-year value.

That’s not the whole story

If you are looking to get top dollar when it comes to sell, then you know that timing is critical. On that front, the iSeeCars study revealed a surprising trend when looking at a shorter, three-year timespan. All cars fared well given the crazy state of the market, with average three-year depreciation in 2022 coming out to 16.9% (down from 23.8% in 2021).

If you played your cards right, though, you’ll find your car actually appreciated during this period. Again, these are the percentage and dollar values that certain models gained three years after their purchase date (so, if you bought new around 2019):

  1. Jeep Wrangler (+0.3%, $90)
  2. Porsche 718 Cayman (+1.8%, $1,342)
  3. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (+2.0%, $880)
  4. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (+2.5%, $883)
  5. Porsche 911 (+5.7%, $11,373)

Karl Brauer, iSeeCars‘ executive analyst, mentions why some cars are holding their values extremely well, to say the least. “”The market is pricing late-model used cars as though they were new. If shoppers can’t buy a new car, the next closest thing is a used car with low miles, thus the appreciation in value for these cars.”

While this doesn’t necessarily mean everyone should (even if they’re able) go out and buy Wranglers or 911s, it does still paint a noteworthy picture. Depreciation is real, and it’s worth thinking about when you cost out your new car purchase before pulling the trigger.