Myth: All cars are financial liabilities that heavily depreciate each year as they get older. While it’s no secret that a car’s value lowers as it ages, some vehicles manage to hold their value surprisingly well. Occasionally, a vehicle will even increase in value over time (let us know if you happen to stumble upon a 1957 Ferrari 335 S anywhere). Obviously, the Ferrari is a rare exception but there are also plenty of exceptional models out there for us average Joes (and Jills). Here are our picks for the best models that you should look out for if you plan on entering the used car market.
It’s no secret that Jeep has a cult following, and when you look at what they’ve accomplished over the years, it’s easy to see why. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited took the already timeless body of the base Wrangler and made the back seats much more accessible. The end result is a vehicle that only loses 30% of its initial value after five years on average. Not only is this thing resilient enough to go off-road with ease, but it’s easy on the wallet too. At approximately $28,000 brand new and with a lifespan of roughly 400,000 miles on average, this SUV is as sturdy and immortal as the mountains it climbs. It’s hard to argue against those numbers.
Get used to seeing Toyotas on this list. The brand consistently is awarded as one of the most reliable car brands on the market, making them a shoo-in here. The Toyota 4Runner combines this reputation with the growing demand for SUVs in the auto market. I’m no economics professor, but this sounds like a match made in heaven to me. The SUV’s rugged exterior and interior, along with a respectable V6 engine, also makes it a capable off-road vehicle. With only a 36.5% depreciation rate on average, the Toyota 4Runner lives up to its marathon status.
Besides SUVs, what else is considered tough-as-nails? You guessed it, trucks. What the Tacoma gets right is being the goldilocks of the truck market: not too big, not too weak, not too much of a gas guzzler and definitely not afraid to wander off the beaten path.. Pushing a 300,000 mile lifespan and staying under $30,000 for the base model doesn’t hurt things either. Consider this vehicle as reliable as an index fund, with only a 32% depreciation over five years.
If you’re looking for a big rig to consistently kick butt and chew bubblegum, this truck can’t chew but does the other thing pretty well. With its powerful V8 engine and hearty fuel mileage, most Tundra owners are fiercely loyal to this towing machine and will be hard-pressed to sell it off. This has made used Tundras a hot commodity. Every cowboy needs a trusty steed at his side, and if you get a chance to saddle up a Tundra at an affordable price, we’d say go for it.
Who says reliable must be boring? The Porsche 911 has been turning heads since its inception in 1963 and refused to look back since. While it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a stably priced vehicle, the modern 911 has only lost about 37% of its value on average over the span of a few years. What’s great about the 911 is that it has several different tiered trims (with the S, GTS, and beloved Turbo versions being most common). These different price brackets help keep this consistently sought out luxury vehicle a mainstay year after year. Just make sure to stick with the coupe or sedan if your primary concern is value retention, as the convertible tends to be at the 42% mark instead.
What can we say? Japan knows how to put together a vehicle. Honda is another maker that’s known for its reliability, and the Ridgeline is no exception. This mid-sized truck shares some of its DNA with a crossover and minivan, making it a smoother ride than most of its competition. Its respectable V6 engine also helps it to retain about 62% of its value over five years.
Surprise, we’ve got another Honda! This sedan combines the commuter-friendly features that a Civic provides while also bringing a larger engine to give it a little extra in the performance department. If you’re looking for a city-friendly sedan with a healthy lifespan of roughly 200,000 miles, the Accord will have you covered with only around a 40% depreciation in half a decade.
Space might be our final frontier, but the Nissan Frontier can get you where you’re going in the meantime. This truck has kept its base DNA intact for most of the 2000s and thus used car buyers know what to expect from it. This workhorse can handle itself with a nine-speed automatic transmission and V6 engine, undoubtedly playing a big role in why it only keeps a five-year depreciation of around 44%.
If you’re looking for a sportscar that brings some power to the road, while often staying under the 10K range used, the Subaru WRX might just be your car. Mixing in a Subaru’s trademark AWD to go with its turbocharged engine, this fun car makes for a great entry level into the performance-focused market, which might have something to do with the fact that it holds its value 10% higher than the average used car. Just because this Subie had a nice cameo in Tenet doesn’t mean you’ll be wishing to rewind the clock on this model.
When it comes to appearing in drag races with big stripes and loud engines, few have consistently been around the muscle car scene quite like the Dodge Challenger. Its classic and vintage-inspired body, along with a good amount of space (even in the coupe bodies), have kept this vehicle as a dream car for many teenagers and adults alike. These could all be key factors in why the Dodge challenger only loses half of its value over the span of a few years. If you’re planning on finally having one of these Americana classics for yourself, this vehicle is a respectable choice on the used market.
Everyone wants to get the most out of their investments. Hopefully, this guide will put you at ease the next time you’re looking to make a purchase with both the short and long term in mind.