There are many important factors to consider when it comes to vehicle ownership cost. The sale price is of course important, and then there is fuel consumption and maintenance costs. However, a thing that most shoppers forget is resale value. Prices of second-hand cars differ drastically, and there are many factors that affect that. But how would you know how much a certain vehicle will depreciate? Well, it’s actually difficult to know those things in advance, but brand image and reliability are always a factor. Use this list the next time you purchase a car, and we’re confident that the resale value will be high!
Compact Car: Subaru Impreza
Most compact cars are primarily designed for driving in urban areas. Not the Subaru Impreza, though. While its dimensions are similar to the Corolla and Civic, the Impreza is much more serviceable for long trips thanks to the Symmetrical Wheel Drive system. With the Impreza, you won’t have to worry about rain, snow, gravel, or even mud.
Besides, the mechanics are as reliable as ever, with the 2.0-liter boxer engine being especially good at standing the test of time. Add to that the IIHS Top Safety Pick rating and high resale value, and you have a complete package, despite the smaller dimensions.
Premium Compact Car: BMW 2 Series
While most compact cars focus on delivering more practicality, the BMW 2 Series only cares about giving the driver thrills. That’s a great thing, since the car market today is flooded with (boring) family cars.
And make no mistake, the 2 Series is a real driver’s car. The chassis gives you a hint of BMW’s “M” cars, while the engines are both strong and fuel-efficient. Besides, the cabin is a very nice place to spend time in, although only for the front passengers. Enthusiasts recognize the fun-to-drive qualities of the 2 Series, which is why it will hold its value very well in the future.
Midsize Car: Hyundai Sonata
The Hyundai Sonata was always the sensible choice in the midsize category. It had a lower cost of ownership than its competition while also being cheaper to buy. Though for 2021, Hyundai injected style in the Sonata, making it a much more interesting proposition for buyers.
The Korean sedan is still the best value in its category, but now with a more luxurious interior and overall better driving dynamics. It also doesn’t hurt that its engines are supremely efficient and the mechanics reliable. Combine all those things into an attractive body, and you get the midsize car with the best resale value out there.
Premium Midsize Car: Lexus IS
The Lexus IS has always been the dark horse in a premium midsize segment flooded with German cars. However, unlike other Lexus cars, the IS was always more interesting to look at and provided a more exhilarating driving experience. This year, Lexus took those qualities and turned them up a notch.
The 2021 IS still lies on the same platform, but the Japanese premium brand took extra measures to make it more interesting to drive. We reckon it also looks quite attractive, especially in F Sport trim. Like every other Lexus, the IS is stupendously reliable, and thanks to that, it holds its value best.
Full-size Car: Dodge Charger
The full-size category has some very sensible and convenient sedans, namely the Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, and Kia Cadenza. However, no other full-size car offers the same driving thrills as the Dodge Charger. The American sedan is a step above the average full-size sedan by offering V8 power under the hood and good driving dynamics. A mainstream BMW M5 if you’d like.
It also doesn’t hurt that it looks quite muscular on the outside, although the interior is far from nice to look at. However, enthusiasts don’t care about material quality – they care about performance. For that reason, the Charger is a wanted piece on the used-car market and holds its value very well.
Premium Fullsize Car: Audi A6 Allroad
What do you get when you take the Audi A6 sedan, turn it into a wagon, and increase the road clearance? You get the A6 Allroad, a quasi-SUV wagon that acts as a Subaru Outback in more luxurious clothing.
Outback comparisons aside, the A6 Allroad is an excellent vehicle in its own right. Inside, it’s a class above its competition in terms of quality and space. It also has a huge boot and a light-off-road capable suspension. The perfect car for overlanders with deeper pockets? It might just be. It also holds its value well, unlike most German premium cars.
Premium Executive Car: Lexus LS
Unlike its predecessors, the 2021 Lexus LS is big on style inside and outside. The low-slung body with sharp lines and sporty details make it stand out, while the interior is an exercise in Japanese artisanship. There are some things that don’t perform up to level, like the infotainment system, but there is no denying that the 2021 LS is an excellent vehicle overall.
Besides, there is absolutely no other premium executive car that will be as reliable, hybrid powertrain included. Lexus’ badge is also very desirable on the second-hand market, which is why the 2021 LS will hold its value.
Sportscar: Subaru WRX
Currently, there is no other car on the market that is as successful in blending reliability, performance, usability, and practicality in one package as the WRX does. Since its inception, Subaru’s rally special captured the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide and even served as a magnet for attracting the general public.
In its latest generation, the WRX is as good as ever. The Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive is still here, giving you dizzying levels of traction through the corners. Moreover, the 268 HP engine still has enough oomph to give you the thrills, while the 6-speed manual transmission will keep you engaged. Besides, you also won’t lose much money while enjoying driving it, since it won’t depreciate fast.
Premium Sportscar: Chevrolet Corvette
For the first time in its celebrated history, the Corvette has the engine in the middle, rather than the bonnet. Sentimental fans might not like the transition, but there is no denying that it made the Corvette a much better car to drive. And shoppers responded by waiting in lines to purchase one.
The mid-size configuration certainly helps its attractiveness, but the Corvette has always been about providing outstanding performance at a lower price. Compared to other supercars, the C8 Corvette costs three to four times less, yet it offers 95% of the speed. The low price means the supercar won’t lose much value in the long run, which is another advantage over the competition.
Small SUV: Jeep Renegade
The Jeep Renegade is a small urban SUV, yet it still manages to provide its owner with real off-road thrills. While other vehicles in this class are jacked-up versions of sub-compact cars, the Renegade is a Jeep through and through. It won’t go where the Wrangler can, but it will still go farther than the average driver could imagine.
Moreover, it looks very robust on the outside and provides its passengers with good comfort levels. The trunk area can also swallow much more cargo than you could imagine, especially given the price. As a result, the Jeep Renegade is a desirable little SUV that will also hold its value well over the years.
Subcompact CUV/SUV: Mazda CX-3
The SUV market has become so popular lately that there are jacked-up cars of all dimensions. Mazda knew that before most manufacturers and started offering the CX-3 in 2015. The subcompact SUV packs miniature dimensions outside and isn’t particularly practical on the inside. However, we reckon it could serve a young couple without breaking a sweat.
Moreover, the CX-3 is still by far the most interesting vehicle to drive in its category, and it’s not even close. The chassis responds to the driver’s input well, and the steering is very responsive and direct. Mazda’s reliable mechanics mean that it will also hold its value well over the years.
Subcompact SUV: Subaru Crosstrek
The Subaru Crosstrek might’ve escaped your radar because it’s small, but you’d be surprised by how usable it is. It’s almost exclusively the go-to vehicle for young couples that want to go on an overlanding adventure. It has enough space inside, supremely reliable mechanics, and the extremely usable Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system that gives you real off-road capabilities. It’s even fun to drive!
The best thing about the Crosstrek is that it’s not very expensive to buy, and even more importantly, it will hold its value for longer. Accordingly, it’s a no-nonsense choice for your first new vehicle.
Premium Subcompact SUV: Audi Q3
Audi now has a full range of crossovers and SUVs on offer, with the smallest one being the Q3. Well, technically the German premium brand offers the Q2 in Europe, which is even smaller, but this list focuses on cars for the North American market.
And when it comes to North America, the Q3 is probably the best premium subcompact SUV. It looks sharp on the outside, has a classy interior, and is reasonably spacious. The turbocharged engines also pull nicely, and the level of tech is as high as ever. As a result, the Q3 holds its value very well over the years.
Premium Subcompact SUV: Mercedes-Benz GLA
There is another subcompact SUV that holds its value as well as the Q3, and it comes from Stuttgart. The Mercedes-Benz GLA looks perhaps even better than Audi’s small SUV, especially in higher trims. The interior also looks like a class above, packing high-quality materials and high-end technology.
You’ll also find that the GLA is good to drive on a twisty road, and very comfortable on longer trips. The interior isn’t as roomy, but can still be useful for a younger couple. Besides, the GLA also comes with powerful and efficient engines and the Mercedes-Benz badge helps its resale value.
Compact SUV: Subaru Forester
The Forester takes over from where the Crosstrek stops by offering even more space and versatility. While some might argue about the styling, everyone will agree that the Forester is a seriously-capable compact SUV that can take you places where others can’t.
Moreover, Subaru’s compact SUV has a very spacious interior that can take your family and all of its belongings, and the ever-so-reliable mechanics the brand is known for. Besides, the Forester is a car that you can rely on in extreme conditions, including snow, ice, gravel, dirt, and mud. The high resale value is only the tip of the iceberg.
Compact SUV: Toyota RAV4
We know that there is already a compact SUV on the list, but we couldn’t omit the RAV4. Notably, Toyota’s model is very close to the Forester when it comes to resale value, which got even better after it launched the Prime plug-in hybrid model.
Overall, the RAV4 is perhaps the most accomplished compact SUV on the market today. For starters, it looks quite a bit more robust than its competition, which looks childish by comparison. Moreover, it comes with two very fuel-efficient powertrains and features Toyota’s legendary reliability. It’s also a rare sight on used-car markets – buyers don’t want to get rid of it, even though it holds value well.
Fullsize SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe
Chevrolet, as a whole, is a brand that holds value extremely well down the road, sometimes even more than Japanese competitors. The Tahoe perfectly personifies that fact – it beats the Toyota Sequoia and Land Cruiser, both popular on the used-car market.
And it’s not only the resale value that makes the Tahoe a great proposition. Chevy’s full-size SUV has a humongous interior that seats up to eight, drives comfortably and quietly, just like a premium vehicle, and can also tow large trailers. The engines and mechanics are also reliable, and the design certainly demands attention.
Midsize SUV with 2-Row Seating: Honda Passport
Honda aced some lists of the best autos for resale value in the past, and it’s still among the best manufacturers. The Japanese brand is especially popular among family buyers lately, with the Passport as the forerunner. Curiously, Honda omitted the third row in its midsize SUV, but shoppers still buy it in large numbers.
Besides, the Passport features a very spacious interior and humongous trunk, thus playing greatly with families of up to five members. It also helps that the engine is strong and fuel-efficient, and the mechanics very reliable. With all those aces up its sleeve, the Honda Passport will hold its value better than its competitors.
Midsize SUV with 3-Row Seating: Toyota Highlander
The Toyota Highlander is the embodiment of the average American family SUV. Shoppers love Toyota’s SUV for the practicality it offers, the fuel-efficient powertrains, and supremely reliable mechanics. Toyota’s excellent dealer network also plays a big part here, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that the Highlander is a complete 3-row SUV.
In the latest generation, it comes with a very fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain, and even a V6 engine, which makes us very happy. We’d even argue that the styling is very attractive, although it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Nonetheless, there is no arguing that the Highlander will hold its value better than the competition.
Off-Road SUV: Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler isn’t the answer to all questions, but it’s still one of the most accomplished vehicles on sale today. The proto-SUV continues to dazzle with its retro and robust looks and offers unparalleled levels of traction on the most demanding terrains. There is simply no place on Earth you can depict as “out of Wrangler’s league.”
Moreover, the latest generation is a much more accomplished on-road ride, with more space inside. The engines pull strongly, too, and there is even a plug-in electric version for the green-minded. Ultimately, thanks to the desirable name, its resale value is very strong.
Premium Compact SUV: Porsche Macan
The Macan successfully blends the traditional Porsche look with an SUV body, more so than its bigger brother, the Cayenne. It also drives just like it looks – there is ample grip through the corners, even at higher speeds, and the engines pull strongly forward. We can think of some cars that drive better, but not of SUVs.
Customers will be happy to learn that the engines can be efficient if driven lightly and that the interior offers a good amount of room. What’s most impressive about the Macan, though, is that it has an excellent resale value, making it a good leasing proposition.
Premium Midsize SUV (2-Row Seats): Lexus RX
Ever since the RX arrived on the premium SUV/crossover scene, people couldn’t get enough of the model. Today, it’s the bread-and-butter vehicle for the company, selling better than any other vehicle in Lexus’ lineup. And that’s not a surprise – the RX offers limo-like comfort and quietness inside, which average drivers seem to value more than dynamics.
Besides, the Lexus RX is the most reliable vehicle in its category, and the hybrid powertrain is the most efficient. Add to that an excellent resale value, and you have a premium SUV with a cost of ownership closer to a mainstream SUV.
Premium Midsize SUV (3-Row Seats): Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover always managed to combine luxury with real off-road capability, and the latest Discovery is perhaps the most accomplished such vehicle yet. Packed with a ton of technology that helps with off-road traction, the Discovery will get you where few others can and do it with style.
Moreover, you’ll be very comfortable along the way, thanks to the spacious interior and large cargo area. The third row means that you can even take your friends on the next adventure. We aren’t quite sure about the reliability, though – it was never Land Rover’s forte. However, the excellent resale mitigates that issue to some extent.
Premium Fullsize SUV: Cadillac Escalade
Cadillac borrowed GM’s architecture for the Escalade, the same one Chevy used as the basis for the Tahoe. However, while both SUVs are similar in many aspects, the Escalade is a much more stylish vehicle and one with a much higher feel-good factor.
Step inside the cabin, and you’ll know what we’re talking about. The materials are top-notch, competing with the best premium SUVs out there. There is also a lot of tech inside and ample space for you to stretch. The Cadillac Escalade does consume a lot of fuel, though, although the high resale value alleviates that issue. Besides, the V8’s thrum and pull are always enjoyable, especially in such a big vehicle.
Electric Vehicle: Kia Niro EV
Tesla literally owns the EV market, with vehicles that are simply better than the competition in terms of performance and range. However, there is an electric vehicle that unfairly flies under the radar – the Kia Niro EV.
Kia’s electric car manages to provide Tesla-level efficiency and range. Its battery is decidedly small at 64 kWh, yet it achieves a 239-mile EPA-rated. Besides, the Niro EV is one of the least expensive electric vehicles to buy, and it even holds its value well. Add to that a usable interior and strong EV reliability, and you have a zero-emission winner.
Premium Electric SUV: Tesla Model Y
The Tesla Model Y slowly overtakes the Model 3 as the best-selling electric car in the world. The reason? Well, buyers can’t get enough of SUVs nowadays. However, the story here goes even deeper. Although it packs similar dimensions to the Model 3 outside, the Model Y has a more usable interior space and very large trunk space.
In addition, all models provide enough power to scare your grandma, and the battery-only range is much longer than any other EV in the category. Being a Tesla, it is also very popular on the used-car market, helping it keep the value high.
Premium Electric Sports Car: Porsche Taycan
The Porsche Taycan is the first EV that brought the fight to Tesla’s flagship, the Model S. Porsche used all of its expertise on the electric sports sedan, and it shows in almost every measurable category. The Taycan is hyper-fast in a straight line, but it also drives much better than any EV on the market today.
Inside, the material quality is higher than any Tesla, and it’s not even close. The Taycan isn’t as spacious, though, but four passengers will be comfortable. Sadly, the Taycan carries a very high price tag, making it unattainable for most people. However, the excellent resale value is definitely a consolation prize.
Fullsize Pickup Truck: Chevrolet Silverado HD
Despite trying hard, the Chevrolet Silverado HD still can’t dethrone the Ford F-150 as the best-selling truck in the US. However, that has nothing to do with how good it is. The Silverado HD is as capable as ever, providing owners with a staggering 35,500 pounds towing capacity.
Chevrolet continues to offer powerful engines, both in gas and diesel guise. The latter is also very efficient, achieving up to 33 mpg on the highway. Besides, the Silverado HD trucks are also very capable off-roaders in the Z71 Sport Edition trim and look very “macho” on the outside.
Midsize Pickup Truck: Toyota Tacoma
The third-gen Toyota Tacoma is four-years-old but lags behind more modern rivals in driving dynamics and comfort. Not that customers care about that – it’s still by far the best-selling midsize pickup truck in the US.
And there is a perfect reason for that – the “Taco” is an extremely capable off-road vehicle with rugged mechanics and legendary reliability. Furthermore, the Tacoma packs a durable V6 engine under the bonnet. Thus, it’s the perfect vehicle for overlanding, which became very popular in recent years, especially during the pandemic. Thanks to its popularity, the Tacoma also holds its value best compared to rivals.
Fullsize Commercial Van: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is perhaps the most popular commercial van in the world – you can literally find it everywhere. There are several reasons for that, and the most important one is durability. These vans simply won’t stop working if maintained properly – the mechanics are top-notch.
Moreover, the latest Sprinter has all the safety features from Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, a lot of space inside, and powerful yet efficient engines. As a result, it’s also expensive, at least when compared to its direct rivals. However, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter will keep its value in the long run, which mitigates the issue to some extent.
Midsize Commercial Van: Mercedes-Benz Metris
The Metris is a smaller version of the Sprinter, aimed at professionals that mostly cover shorter distances and don’t carry a lot of cargo. It also has the legendary Mercedes-Benz durability, powerful and efficient engines, and it even drivers good for a van.
The passenger version (minivan) is also a good option for people that want maximum available space, but in that case, more car-like minivans, such as the Honda Odyssey, are better overall. Still, no other van can touch the hauling and towing capabilities of the Metris. It will also have an excellent resale value, unlike other vans in the category.
Minivan: Honda Odyssey
The Honda Odyssey is the most popular minivan in North America right now, and for several reasons. For starters, it has a vast cabin that can seat eight people in absolute comfort, a lot of space for cargo and smaller items. Furthermore, you can rely on the outstanding reliability and efficiency, which make ownership that much easier.
The latest Odyssey also packs a lot of safety features, making it an excellent choice for families. Add to that a strong resale value, and you have a complete package for all your family needs.
Mid-Size Sports Car: Chevrolet Camaro
The Chevrolet Camaro was once the most popular muscle car on the planet, beating its closest competitors, the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger. Today, though, Chevy’s competitor in the segment lags in terms of sales and desirability. That’s not a surprise since the brand hasn’t upgraded the muscle car or launched a special edition in years.
Despite all those things, the Camaro will hold its value very well over the years. Chevy’s badge, attractive styling, and good driving dynamics make it a desirable piece on the used market. Still, we hope that Chevrolet soon replaces it with an all-new model.
High-End Sports Car: Porsche 911
If an alien comes to Earth and asks what is a sports car, the answer will probably be the Porsche 911. Arguably the most iconic nameplate in automotive history, the 911 is a constantly-evolving sports car that provides driving thrills to drivers of all generations.
The latest model is the best yet, with outstanding driving dynamics, powerful turbocharged engines, and reliable mechanics. As a result, it’s by far the most desirable sports car on the planet, and it sells in very high numbers. In addition, most 911’s hold value outstandingly well, and with EVs taking over, the current-gen cars even have “classic” potential.
High-End Sports SUV: Lamborghini Urus
Lamborghini diehards frowned at the idea of an SUV under the “charging bull” badge, but we don’t see too many people complain today. The Urus was an instant success with shoppers – Lamborghini made more than $1 Billion on the SUV alone. And we can see why – the Urus packs some serious power under the hood, goes great in the corners, and looks aggressive on the outside.
Curiously, it also holds its value well, better than most ultra-expensive SUVs. It might be out of the reach of most people, but those that can afford it will undoubtedly enjoy owning it.
Premium Sports Car: BMW Z4
The latest-gen BMW Z4 lives under the shadow of the Toyota GR Supra, a sports car that uses the same platform and engines. However, even though the Supra is more popular, it’s the BMW Z4 that better holds its value.
Now, BMW isn’t known for reliability, but most of its cars become classics in the future, and the current Z4 will be no exception. Besides, it looks quite svelte on the outside, drives as a sports car should, and packs some serious power under the bonnet. BMW sadly confirmed that there won’t be an “M” version, but despite that, the Z4 will continue to be desirable in the years to come.
Best Mainstream Brand: Subaru
We’ll start with the best-performing mainstream car brand, Subaru, which has four models on this list. And even if some models aren’t listed here, you can expect good resale value. Subaru cars and SUVs are famous for their reliability, safety, and year-round capability. As a result, they are popular in second-hand markets and hold value.
Currently, Subaru has nine models in its US lineup, ranging from small subcompact and compact cars and SUVs, crossovers, and even sports cars. Although other brands offer even more vehicles, Subaru is the only one to offer all-wheel-drive as standard across the range, apart from the BRZ sports coupe.
Best Premium Brand: Lexus
What Subaru is to the mainstream market, Lexus is to the luxury market. Since its inception in 1989, Lexus destroyed the premium competition in reliability, desirability, and resale value. This year is no different – almost every model from the Japanese premium manufacturer holds its value better than the competition.
What’s even more impressive is that Lexus managed to strip the “reliable but boring” mantle it wore for almost two decades. Today, its vehicles are one of the most recognizable in terms of styling, and there are even some sexy sports cars on offer, including the lovely LC500.
Subcompact Car: MINI Cooper
One of BMW’s greatest acquisitions is buying the Mini brand, which still attracts many buyers across the globe. The entry-level Cooper is the key reason why the brand is so successful. The 3-door hatch packs a retro-derived styling, excellent chassis dynamics, and powerful yet efficient engines. It’s not very practical, sure, but it’s nonetheless very fun to drive.
Like most Mini cars, you need to have a deeper pocket to buy it. Fortunately, though, the Mini Cooper holds its value surprisingly well, making it a good leasing option. Besides, it won’t be hard to find a buyer when you want to sell it.