For consumers willing to buy a vehicle slightly-used rather than brand new, the savings can be substantial, about a fifth to a quarter below the original price.
But a handful of models depreciate much more slowly, making them better buys new, according to a study from iSeeCars.com.
ISeeCars looked at more than 6 million auto sales between August of last year and Jan. 24. It compared new vehicles prices against the same models from 2016 and 2017 that had mileage within 20 percent of 13,476, the average annual miles driven on a car in the U.S. in a year.
On average, a new car cost 26.8 percent more than the same model gently-used, which translated to a price difference of $7,654 on average. But in a few cases, the savings were small enough to push the math in favor of buying new.
Toyotas and Hondas have long had a reputation for keeping their value, but the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited actually had the smallest percentage decline in value, 8.9 percent or $3,199, between new and lightly used.
“Jeep has such a loyal fan following and purists like the Wrangler,” said Julia Blackley, a spokeswoman with the Massachusetts car research and listing site.
The Toyota Tacoma lost just over a tenth of its value, or $3,320, while the Toyota 4Runner dropped 12.7 percent of $4,605. Other models that held the most value in the study were the Nissan Frontier, Honda Pilot, Chevy Colorado, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade and Subaru WRX.
At the other extreme, eight models dropped 30 percent or more in value in around a year’s time, and half were luxury brands.
“You can buy 2 or 3-year-old luxury cars for the price for an newish economy car,” Blackley said.
A one year-old Cadillac XTS sold for nearly 40 percent less than the same model new, which represented a loss in value of $20,965.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class dropped 34.5 percent or $22,919, while the Lincoln MKZ lost 33.7 percent of its value or $14,328, the Cadillac CTS shed 33.4 percent or $18.170, and the Infinity Q50 took a haircut of 32.2 percent or $14,654.
“Luxury cars tend to be leased by companies for fleet or management use and they are replaced frequently,” Blackley said.
The Jeep Compass, in sharp contrast to the Jeep Wrangler, suffered a 34.8 percent drop in value or $9,652, putting it second to the Cadillac XTS in percentage decline.
Blackley said the Compass looks and rides more like conventional SUVs and has proven less reliable than other siblings in the Jeep family.
Major design changes can also accelerate depreciation, and it is something consumer should pay attention to. The Toyota Camry, normally known for holding value, made the biggest losers list.
The 2018 model underwent a top-to-bottom redesign, which included a new platform. Lightly used Camry models are selling for 30.7 percent below the freshened 2018 models, a loss of $8,213.
Models with the smallest decline in value between new and one-year old:
|Rank (By Percentage)||Model||% Difference
New Over Used
New Over Used
|1||Jeep Wrangler Unlimited||8.90%||$3,199|