To say these have been trying times for the automotive business would be a gross understatement. Last year’s pandemic-related plant closures and dealership disruptions have since been exacerbated by the microchip shortage that has caused a nationwide dearth of inventory. And with fewer new vehicles on the lot, many buyers have turned to the used-car market, which has both caused the sheer number of models on dealers’ lots to shrink, and their values to skyrocket.
According to a study conducted by the automotive research firm and car search engine iSeeCars.com, the average five-year-old vehicle now retains 59.9 percent of its original value, compared to 50.9 percent in 2020. That means a typical vehicle that was originally priced at $45,000 a half-decade ago is worth more than $4,000 today than it would have been a year ago.
But as with any game there are both winners and losers in this regard. As always, the laws of supply and demand dictate any given model’s worth down the road, and those forces have only been exaggerated during the pandemic.
The website’s review of more than 8.2 million transactions of vehicles from the 2016 model year determined that the Jeep Wrangler is the champ when it comes to resale values, depreciating an average of just 9.2 percent over five years. That’s means a difference today of just $2,796 less than its original suggested retail price. Coming in second is the four-door Wrangler Unlimited at an average 10.5 percent rate of depreciation during the same period.
“Jeep Wranglers are known for retaining their value due to their enthusiastic fan base, as well as their durability and performance across all terrains, especially off-road,” says iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “ Jeep Wranglers also have maintained their iconic design, so even older models don’t appear dated.”
At the other end of the spectrum is the full-electric Nissan LEAF, which has lost an average 65.1 percent of its original value after five years; that comes to a knockout $23,666 punch.
“Electric vehicles like the first-generation Nissan LEAF become outdated quickly due to the rapid advancements in range and battery life, as early LEAF batteries were only expected to last eight to ten years,” Brauer explains. “Government incentives like the $7,500 federal tax credit also play a role in the LEAF’s steep depreciation, as its resale value is based on original MSRP, but real-world transaction prices when new are effectively $7,500 lower.
We’re featuring lists of the five-year old models that currently maintain the best and worst average resale values in the pandemic-altered era below.
Perhaps not surprisingly, given current consumer preferences, six of the 10 models that command top dollar relative to their original asking prices are SUVs and pickup trucks, though the remainder are red-hot sports cars that tend to be in shorter supply relative to market demand.
A second electric car, the BMW i3, runs a close second to the LEAF on the list of models depreciating the most over a five-year period. The 2016 vintage had a paltry operating range of just 80 miles on a charge. That’s just not enough for most motorists, especially when one considers that an electric car gets fewer miles on a charge in cold weather, and the battery pack’s storage capacity depletes to a certain extent as its charged and discharged over time.
Costly luxury sedans further populate the biggest losers list, which can be attributed largely to the segment’s well-documented drop in demand.
By segment, the iSeeCars.com study found that compact pickup trucks, which were few in number back in 2016, have depreciated the least over the last five years at an average 21.4 percent. Their full-size counterparts dropped 31.8 percent of their original values during the same period.
Midsize models lost the lowest average percentages in value among SUVs over five years at 39.9 percent, with full-size luxury models topping the genre at an average 53.1 percent loss.
Perhaps given the current affordability issues among both new and used models, the smallest rides on the road are holding onto their original values the best among passenger cars at an average 36.3 percent, while midsize luxury models lost the highest percentage of their original values at an average 53.6 percent.
Used sports cars continue to hold onto their values tenaciously, at an average 24.7 percent after five years on the road, with electric vehicles losing the highest percentages of their original worth at an average 53.7 percent.
You can read full statistics from the iSeeCars.com depreciation study here, which also includes a rundown of models with the highest and lowest average depreciation rates in major U.S. cities.
Vehicles Enjoying The Lowest Five-Year Depreciation Rates
- Jeep Wrangler (9.2%)
- Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (10.5%)
- Porsche 911 (12.8%)
- Toyota Tacoma (13.8%)
- Toyota Tundra (19.5%)
- Ford Mustang (21.0%)
- Chevrolet Corvette (22.7%)
- Chevrolet Camaro (23.6%)
- Dodge Challenger (24.4%)
- Toyota 4Runner (24.6%)
Vehicles Suffering The Highest Five-Year Depreciation Rates
- Nissan LEAF (65.1%)
- BMW i3 (63.1%)
- BMW 7 Series (61.5%)
- Maserati Ghibli (61.3%)
- BMW X5 (60.3%)
- Jaguar XF (59.5%)
- BMW 5 Series (59.1%)
- Audi A6 (58.2%)
- Lincoln Navigator L (57.7%)
- Volvo S60 (57.3%)