You’ll never guess what 3-year-old vehicle retains the most value

Do you own the highest-ranked used vehicle?

In their most recent Perspective report, NADA Used Car Guide analysts detailed the value performance of used 2012 model year passenger cars and light-duty trucks.

“As we sorted through the data, we discovered many clear winners and losers,” said Jonathan Banks, executive analyst at NADA Used Car Guide. “Some consumers might think a luxury vehicle is best at retaining its value after three years, but our data tells us otherwise.”

Among all 3-year-old vehicles, the 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser dominated all vehicle segments by retaining 91.5 percent of its value, while the diminutive Smart ForTwo was lowest ranked, holding only 32.5 percent of its original price. In addition to holding the highest value among the 241 vehicle models listed in the report, the FJ Cruiser saw a 37.4-percentage-point lead over the average value of a vehicle within the Compact Utility segment.

While the full listing of retention values can be found in the free Perspective Report on the NADA Used Car Guide website, the top five highest and lowest ranked three-year-old vehicles by segment are as follows:

5 Highest Ranked 2012 Model Year Value Retention Performers By Vehicle Segment

  • Toyota FJ Cruiser - Non-Luxury SUV/Truck Segment - 91.5% of Value Retained
  • Toyota Tacoma - Mid-Size Pickup Segment - 75.6% of Value Retained
  • Toyota 4Runner - Mid-Size Utility Segment - 72.0% of Value Retained
  • Ram 3500 - 1 Ton Pickup Segment - 66.1% of Value Retained
  • Subaru Impreza - Compact Car Segment - 65.7% of Value Retained

5 Lowest Ranked 2012 Model Year Value Retention Performers By Vehicle Segment

  • Smart ForTwo - Subcompact Car Segment - 32.5% of Value Retained
  • Lincoln MKZ - Compact Car Segment - 34.2% of Value Retained
  • Suzuki Kizashi - Mid-Size Car Segment - 33.5% of Value Retained
  • Chevrolet Impala - Large Car Segment - 33.6% of Value Retained
  • Suzuki SX4 - Compact Car Segment - 33.7% of Value Retained

The calculation used to determine the value retention rankings is quite methodical. According to Larry Dixon, senior market intelligence analyst at NADA Used Car Guide, “The retention calculation is a function of a three month average of NADA Used Car Guide’s most recent average trade-in value, divided by a vehicle’s average typically-equipped Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). A vehicle’s rate of depreciation, and ultimately retention, is in part a product of the level of discounting at the time of new. For this reason, MSRPs did not include any incentives or rebates available at the time of purchase.”

The full report listing all values, how the retention figures were calculated, and vehicle-specific information can be downloaded for free on the NADA Used Car Guide website.