Normally, I don't like to think of cars in terms of resale value. Doing so, however, is actually a smart way to make your dollar go further. It may seem like a trivial measurement to make, but you'll thank yourself in a few years when you decide you need something new and you get that much more on your trade-in value.
Now, if you have a classic car like a vintage Dodge Viper or a Porsche 911, it's going to hold its value anyway because of its luxury status. In fact, after a certain amount of time, these cars can turn into collectibles and actually increase in value! The same can be said of many models from luxury car makers like Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz.
If you're buying vintage sports cars, however, you probably aren't concerned with saving money in the same way as those who really just need something to get from A to B. For the rest of us, here are 10 cars that don't depreciate as much as their competitors.
The Jeep Wrangler is practically the poster child for cars that don't depreciate. In my opinion, Jeep has made some questionable design decisions over the course of history, but the company's decision to maintain the iconic image of the Wrangler was, without a doubt, a smart move. The Jeep Wrangler's staying power translates to a vehicle that will maintain its value better than almost any other car or SUV on the market. While the average car loses close to 30 percent of its resale value after just one year, your average Jeep Wrangler only loses about 9 or 10 percent. To put it in a slightly different way, the average price of a 2012 Jeep Wrangler today is around 70 percent of what it sold for brand new. That means it took the Jeep Wrangler more than five years to lose as much value as the average car does in just one year.
Though none quite match the iconic staying power of the Jeep Wrangler, several SUVs from other makers do hold their value quite well. In particular, the Toyota 4Runner is a reliable and highly sought-after SUV whose resale value drops only slightly over a five-year period. Toyota will feature on this list several times, thanks to the company's tendency to produce trucks, SUVs, and cars that don't depreciate as much as their competitors. It's worth noting that the average price of a new base model 4Runner is among the highest on this list, but you will get most of that investment back when you trade it in.
Like Toyota, Honda has a reputation for reliable vehicles that hold their value well. The Honda CR-V is considered a small SUV or a crossover, and it fits sort of in-between the Jeep Wrangler and the Toyota 4Runner in terms of size and functionality. If you're looking for cars that don't depreciate in value, but the Toyota 4Runner is just too big for your needs, then the Honda CR-V fulfills that need perfectly.
In addition to SUVs, several pickup trucks also have a tendency to hold their value incredibly well. One of the most consistent is the Toyota Tundra. There are many things you probably don't know about Toyota, like the fact that the Tundra was the first North American-distributed full-size pickup truck to be produced by a Japanese manufacturer when it was introduced in 1999. Today, the Tundra remains a solid choice of vehicle for those who want to save money on their trade-in. As I've already mentioned, Toyota has a tendency to produce high quality vehicles of all sizes which retain their resale value quite well, so it should be no surprise to see the Toyota Tundra on this list.
The Nissan Frontier doesn't sound like it'd be a huge player in the pickup truck game compared to the usual suspects like Ford and Chevy. The truth of the matter, however, is that the Nissan Frontier holds a solid chunk of the market, and its resale value is remarkably consistent, making it one of the most impressive cars that don't depreciate in value. Part of this staying power is thanks to Nissan's consistency: The design of the Frontier has remained largely unchanged since the 2004 model year, which marked the beginning of the truck's second generation. Over a several year period, any Nissan Frontier from this generation will only lose about 20 percent of its original value, which is an unparalleled feat.
Compact family cars don't exactly scream "value" in the same way as a decked-out Mercedes-Benz does, but despite that (or perhaps, because of it), unassuming cars like the Subaru Impreza actually hold their value remarkably well. The Impreza line saw a major overhaul in 2012 with the addition of a hatchback variation and a four-wheel-drive option. This upgrade means that even Imprezas from five or six years ago hold their value quite well. The fifth generation Subaru Impreza debuted in 2016 with an improved engine, and it promises to have even more staying power than its predecessor.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
It may seem silly to essentially include the Jeep Wrangler twice on this list of cars that don't depreciate, but the fact of the matter is that the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has the potential for even more staying power than the classic model. Besides a couple small tweaks here and there, the obvious main difference between the two models is the addition of an extra pair of doors on the Unlimited. In today's world, the average car buyer is far more interested in the convenience of a four-door vehicle than the sleeker two-door design. That singular detail is enough to warrant the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited a spot on this list.
Toyota's Prius is one of the most famous and innovative vehicles of the modern era. Though its initial release was lackluster due to its unusual exterior design and weak engine, the Prius's unique hybrid design has become an icon among environmentally-friendly vehicles. While those early models from the 90s aren't particularly well-missed, Priuses from the model year 2009 and later tend to hold their value quite well, as the modern Prius is still one of the most energy-efficient vehicles on the market.
Subcompact cars in general hold their value extremely well compared to some other types of vehicles. This is largely thanks to the typically low average price of these small but smart cars. The Honda Fit is one of the most successful subcompact hatchbacks of all time, and with good reason. Its many useful features and economical use of interior space make for a car that is quite useful, considering the small amount of money it takes to purchase one. These features also mean the Honda Fit doesn't depreciate in value all that much. A reliable subcompact car like the Honda Fit is a great buy if you're hoping to purchase a vehicle with a considerable resale value.
The Honda Ridgeline is a unique vehicle. Its design is obviously based on a pickup truck, but the internals are more closely aligned with those of a car or SUV, prompting many to refer to the Ridgeline as a "Sport Utility Truck" or "SUT." Despite the somewhat unusual design and features, the mainstream appeal will ensure that this vehicle retains its value quite well. Most important is the Honda name, which, similar to Toyota, is a strong indicator of a reliable vehicle that will remain in demand for years after its release.