In The Market For A Used Car? Check Out The Models With The Highest Depreciation

The average new car loan recently hit a record of $31,455 in the United States and this means are number of consumers are looking for a more affordable alternative.

A gently used car is a great option as they cost thousands of dollars less than a new model while still providing many of the same benefits. The savings vary by make and model but savvy shoppers can potentially get a deal if they shop for vehicles with high levels of depreciation.

iSeeCars recently compiled a list of the vehicles with the highest depreciation rates and they lose between 46 and 52 percent of their value after just three years. For comparison, the industry average is just 35 percent.

Unsurprisingly, luxury vehicles are among the hardest hit as the BMW 5-Series loses more than half (52.6%) its value in just three years. As a result, the average price of a three-year old 5-Series is just $30,846.

The similarly sized Mercedes E-Class was the vehicle with the third highest level of depreciation as the car loses 49.9% of its value in 36 months. Unfortunately, they’re still pretty expensive as the average price is $34,010.

Among the other luxury and near luxury models hit hard by depreciation are the BMW 3-Series (49.8%), Audi A3 (47.9%), Cadillac SRX (47.2%) and Buick Enclave (46.8%). While these models are significantly more affordable than their new counterparts, the cheapest is the Audi A3 which has an average price of $21,120.

If that’s out of your budget, there are plenty of mainstream models with high depreciation. The Volkswagen Passat loses 50.7% of its value in three years and this means the model has an average cost of just $14,906. The Ford Taurus wasn’t very far behind as it loses 49.7% of its original purchase price. However, Ford recently announced plans to eliminate the car from its North American lineup so it could become significantly more affordable in the future.

Speaking of dead cars, the Chrysler 200 was right behind the Taurus at 48.4%. The average cost on a three-year old model is now just $14,011.

Rounding out the top ten was the Volkswagen Jetta which has a depreciation rate of 48.1%. The company introduced an all-new Jetta at the North American International Auto Show earlier this year, so expect prices for older models to fall in the future.

iSeeCars also recommends value shoppers check out models such as the Mazda6 (45.9%), Ford Focus (45.7%) and Kia Forte (45.4%). Other good options include the Chevrolet Impala (44.9%) and Malibu (44.5%).

As you’ve probably noticed, virtually all of the highest depreciating models are sedans. However, that doesn’t mean crossovers and SUVs hold their value. Besides the aforementioned SRX and Enclave, other value losers include the Mercedes M-Class / GLE (46.2%), Lincoln MKC (44.3%) and BMW X5 (44.1%). On the mainstream side, there’s the GMC Acadia (43.1%), Kia Sorento (42.9%) and Buick Encore (42.8%).

Pickup trucks have the lowest levels of depreciation as they typically lose 23.3 percent of their value in three years. This means used models are relatively expensive but the ones with the highest levels of depreciation include the Ram 1500 (33.2%), Ford F-150 (32.4%) and GMC Sierra 1500 (26.7%).

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  • No surprise. Cars with the biggest depreciation are those that will be out of warranty and maintenance headaches.

    • TheHake

      A 3-year old car is rarely a maintenance headache. If they have a good service record, you can easily drive it for another 4 years before it becomes expensive to maintain.

      • Hmmm, you definitely have not owned German cars.

        • TheHake

          Uhm… my last 3 cars have been German…

          • So? Did you purchase them? What make and models? How many years, miles? These things matter.

          • TheHake

            3xVW, 1x10y.o. (did 30 000km with it in 1 year), 1×5 y.o. (did 100 000km with it in 2 years) and 1×1 y.o. (now 80 000km since I bought it in 2 years).

          • Bash

            Wow, you drive a lot.

          • TheHake

            I do. It’s mostly for work, but we do all out holidays with the car because we take the dogs with.

        • Christian Wimmer

          Been driving German cars for ages. They‘re awesome, quality and reliable cars – if you do basic maintenance and maintain them well.

          All those lazy cheapos who have issues with their expensive luxury cars have either ignored necessary maintenance or brought their car to some cheap mechanic who does more harm than good.

          If German cars were so horrible then people wouldn‘t buy them. Don‘t forget that there is a blooming second, third, fourth etc. hand market for used German cars, so clearly they‘re not the money pits that people make them out to be. Sometimes a myth is just a myth.

    • Dennis James

      Cars with the biggest depreciation are the ones that are grossly overpriced to begin with.

      • Not really. The US VW Passat depreciates over 50% and that’s a junker car and not very pricey. It’s just German.

        • Dennis James

          The Passat is even more overpriced than the other German premium cars. In my country a Passat can cost as much as a BMW 3-series. But of course, it’s relative to its true value.

    • Christian Wimmer

      Hmmm, in my country, Germany, cars like Lexus, depreciate like a rock. Nobody here wants them.

      On the other hand, E-Classes and 5ers hold their value relatively well here.

      • willhaven

        Very interesting. The opposite is true in the US where reliability is favored over brand prestige in the used car market. That being said, reliability alone will not completely negate depreciation if the brand is stigmatized (like Buick).

  • Harry_Wild

    German luxury cars are a nightmare to do repairs on. They all have proprietary tools to prohibit DIY repairs, typical maintenance items are hidden and parts are 3-4 times more then a domestic counterpart. It is not worth the cost to buy a 3 year old plus German luxury car unless you have the tools already, time and good source of parts.

    • TheHake

      Or unless you live in Germany…

  • Only in the US does a Ford commercial van depreciate less than a best selling Merc SUV…

    • Same labor costs, yet…

      Only in the US does a non-domestic manufacturer get away with slapping a massive premium in the new sticker price on what is in reality a cheaper domestically built vehicle…

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