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12 Best Resale Value Cars, 2012

Our annual round-up of the Best Resale Value cars, SUVs, crossovers, minivans, sports cars and wagons.

January 2012

An important measure of a vehicle's value -- and appeal -- is what it's expected to be worth three and five years down the road. These figures are the estimated price a dealer would pay if you traded in the vehicle, expressed as a percentage of the original sticker price. Resale values come from a complex set of calculations based in part on historical data and economic predictions, as well as competition in each automotive segment, how strong a car's brand is, and supply (including fleet and leasing sales) versus demand. To win best-resale plaudits, the model must first be selected as one of the top 25 vehicles in its category. Then we pick the vehicle with the highest three-year resale value. No model is eligible for the award if another trim level of the same model has won Best Resale in a lower-price category.

SEE OUR COMPLETE GUIDE: Best New Car Values, 2012

Cars Under $20,000: Ford Focus SE hatchback

Sticker price: $19,095

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Invoice price: $17,903

TrueCar national average price: $18,375

3-year resale value: 63%, 5-year: 45%

City mpg: 26, Hwy: 36

Part of what clinched the Best New Car award in its class for the Focus was its stellar resale values. Good looks, plenty of standard equipment and tons of cargo space in the hatchback don’t hurt either.

Cars $20,000-$25,000: Mini Cooper Countryman

Sticker price: $22,450

Invoice price: $20,275

TrueCar national average price: $22,332

3-year resale value: 69%, 5-year: 53%

City mpg: 27, Hwy: 35

With a short-SUV-style body reminiscent of a Scion xB or Kia Soul, but with the Mini's characteristically rounded features, the Countryman's introduction last year has helped reinvigorate the brand. The biggest Mini also has the highest resale value of any vehicle in our rankings this year -- worth a stunning 69% of the original price after three years.

Cars $25,000-$30,000: Mini Cooper Coupe S

Sticker price: $25,300

Invoice price: $22,840

TrueCar national average price: $25,217

3-year resale value: 68%, 5-year: 53%

City mpg: 27, Hwy: 35

New for 2012, the Mini Coupe (not to be confused with the long-standing Hardtop model) boasts a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that gets 35 miles per gallon on the highway and among the highest resale values of any vehicle (sliding in just below its sibling, the Mini Countryman).

Cars $30,000-$40,000: BMW 128i coupe

Sticker price: $31,925

Invoice price: $29,440

TrueCar national average price: $30,782

3-year resale value: 63%, 5-year: 43%

City mpg: 18, Hwy: 28

Although it's one of the littlest Bimmers, the 1-series is no slouch -- in value or on the road. Its 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine produces 230 horsepower and manages nearly 30 mpg on the highway.

Cars $40,000-$50,000: Infiniti G37x coupe

Sticker price: $41,595

Invoice price: $38,593

TrueCar national average price: $39,521

3-year resale value: 62%, 5-year: 45%

City mpg: 18, Hwy: 25

Every member of Infiniti's G series is fun to drive -- with a sporty suspension and plenty of power -- but the model that's tops for trading in is the all-wheel-drive G37x coupe.

Cars $50,000 and Over: Audi A7 Quattro 3.0 Premium Plus

Sticker price: $63,745

Invoice price: $59,344

TrueCar national average price: $61,806

3-year resale value: 60%, 5-year: 44%

City mpg: 18, Hwy: 28

New for 2012, Audi's A7 shares basic architecture, powertrain and interior styling with the A6, but the A7's hatchback styling has more cargo space -- 25 cubic feet -- and higher resale values. It rates a Worth a Look nod from Kiplinger's.

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12 Best Resale Value Cars, 2012

Sports Cars: Ford Mustang

Sticker price: $23,105 (base coupe)

Invoice price: $22,040

TrueCar national average price: $20,974

3-year resale value: 63%, 5-year: 46%

City mpg: 19, Hwy: 29

Ford's classic pony car won Best New Car last year with a redesign that added more power (305 horsepower from the 3.7-liter V6 engine) but kept fuel economy a priority. One of its shining achievements is a stellar resale value: It’ll be worth 63% of the sticker price after three years.

Small Crossovers: Subaru Forester 2.5 XT Touring

Sticker price: $30,670

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Invoice price: $28,767

TrueCar national average price: $29,259

3-year resale value: 60%, 5-year: 46%

City mpg: 19, Hwy: 24

Kiplinger's Best in Class small crossover for the second year running, the Subaru Forester has sure-footed handling with the brand's standard all-wheel drive, loads of interior space and a speedy yet thrifty turbocharged engine.

Midsize and Large Crossovers: BMW X5 35i

Sticker price: $48,375

Invoice price: $44,575

TrueCar national average price: $45,706

3-year resale value: 62%, 5-year: 45%

City mpg: 16, Hwy: 23

With seating for up to seven passengers, German-engineered driving dynamics and high resale values, BMW’s X5 has always been appealing. For 2012, more standard features are added: roof rails and a cargo cover for added utility and an iPod/USB connection and Hi-Fi sound system for added enjoyment while driving.

Truck-based SUVs: Jeep Wrangler Sport

Sticker price: $22,845

Invoice price: $22,261

TrueCar national average price: $22,295

3-year resale value: 61%, 5-year: 46%

City mpg: 17, Hwy: 21

Jeep's classic go-anywhere off-roader stays ahead of the pack on value. It offers the best mileage in its class (outside of hybrid models), with 17 mpg in the city, and tops the resale charts.

Minivans: Toyota Sienna 7-Passenger V6

Sticker price: $27,110

Invoice price: $25,138

TrueCar national average price: $25,599

3-year resale value: 56%, 5-year: 42%

City mpg: 18, Hwy: 25

Redesigned last year, the Toyota Sienna is the only minivan to offer models with a four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. It seats up to eight passengers and features seven airbags, and its 3.5-liter V6 puts out 265 horses. It narrowly edges out the Honda Odyssey for Best Resale, and it receives a Worth a Look nod.

Wagons: Toyota Prius v Two

Sticker price: $27,160

Invoice price: $25,337

TrueCar national average price: $26,732

3-year resale value: 62%, 5-year: 48%

City mpg: 44, Hwy: 40

The Prius v wagon is the new, slightly bigger sibling of the ubiquitous Prius hatchback. Starting at just $2,400 more than the hatchback, the Prius v has 55% more cargo space -- a total 34 cubic feet -- and shares the family's top-notch fuel economy and resale values.

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