Money & Career

Best valued cars of 2012: Advice if you're in the car market

Your car's resale value can tell you a lot about the quality of your car and the manufacturer. Which cars top the list when it comes to retained value? Find out...

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My husband and I are looking for a new car — our little Toyota is getting a tad too cozy for two adults (one being a very tall man) and two small kids with car seats. There’s just not enough trunk space, so on road trips we usually end up with bags and luggage under our feet because they don’t fit in the back.

We’ve been talking a lot about what kinds of things we want from a new car, including whether we want to be minivan drivers (don’t think we’re quite there yet), whether we want an SUV and what we can afford. That covers all the bases, right?

Turns out we hadn’t thought of asking one really important question — what will the resale value be? In other words, how much will the car’s value depreciate if and when we want to sell it down the road?

Apparently we’re not alone in our rather shallow list of car criteria — too few people do their homework about a car’s resale value, according to Kathy Ward, CEO of Canadian Black Book, a Canadian provider of present and future vehicle values.

Ward says that every car devalues after you drive it off the lot, but some depreciate a lot faster than others. Understanding which cars hold their value could tell you a lot about what kind of car you’re buying and how it’s manufactured and serviced. “The reason a car keeps its value is usually because it is well built and comes from a good manufacturer that stands behind its product,” says Ward. “These are the cars people want to drive so when they come back into the system after a few years of use, people are going to want to buy it from you.”

Another factor that can decrease a car’s value over time is manufacturer discounts — all those incentives they put in to try and move cars off the lot. That devalues them because you’re buying them cheap in the first place.

So which cars top the list in terms of retaining their value over time? Canadian Black Book has named the 2012 winners of its “Best Retained Value Awards” — list toppers include cars made by Toyota, Lexus, Dodge and Honda. “These are the crème de la crème of cars in industry — they have good manufacturers that look after the people that buy them,” says Ward. 

You can read the full list below. In the meantime, my husband and I will be putting retained value at the top of our list of criteria when we pick our new car later this year (No Lexus for us, though. It’s out of our price range!).

2012 Award Winners

Sub-compact:
Honda Fit

Compact car:
Volkswagen Golf

Mid-size car: Honda Accord tied with Subaru Outback

Full-size car: Toyota Avalon

Entry luxury car: BMW 1 Series

Luxury car: Lexus GS Series

Premium luxury car: Lexus LS Series

Premium sports car: Audi R8

Sports car: Dodge Challenger

Small pickup: Toyota Tacoma

Full-size Pickup: Toyota Tundra

Minivan: Honda Odyssey

Full-size Van: Dodge Sprinter

Compact SUV: Jeep Wrangler

Mid-size SUV: Toyota FJ Cruiser

Full-size SUV: Toyota Sequoia

Luxury SUV: BMW X

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