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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 appealing a car's brand is, and supply (including fleet sales and leases) versus demand.
To win Best Resale plaudits, the model must first be selected as one of our top 25 vehicles in its category. From that group, we pick the vehicle with the highest three-year resale value. A model is not eligible for the award if another trim level of the same model has won Best Resale in a lower-price category.
By Jessica L. Anderson, Associate Editor
| January 2013
Resale value: 3-year: 62%; 5-year: 45%
Sticker price: $16,995 (manual sedan)
Invoice price: $16,064
TrueCar national average price: $16,672
MPG: City: 26; Hwy: 36
In addition to nabbing the highest resale value in its class, the Focus walks away with Best in Class honors just one year after its 2012 redesign. It's an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick, too.
Resale value: 3-year: 68%; 5-year: 53%
Sticker price: $24,000 (manual)
Invoice price: $21,670
TrueCar national average price: $23,094
MPG: City: 26; Hwy: 35
The original Mini Cooper ties with the Mini Cooper Coupe for the top resale value of any vehicle in our rankings. The Cooper Hardtop S has go-kart-like driving dynamics and a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that produces 181 horses (which allows the car to zip from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds), but it still gets 35 miles per gallon on the highway.
Sticker price: $25,450 (manual)
Invoice price: $22,975
TrueCar national average price: $24,500
Mini's outside-the-box styling routinely defies expectations. The Mini Cooper Coupe, introduced last year, shares the body of the Cooper Hardtop -- but adds a sloped, sporty roofline. In John Cooper Works trim, the two-seater Coupe gets from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds.
Resale value: 3-year: 61%; 5-year: 43%
Sticker price: $32,795
Invoice price: $30,881
TrueCar national average price: $30,884
MPG: City: 21; Hwy: 30
Volvo's S60 adds high resale values to its reputation for stellar safety, and this year IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick+ (a new designation that means it did well in the new small overlap test; only midsize models were tested). The 2013 model year brings more advanced technology with standard Tunnel Detection, a feature that automatically turns on your headlights when you enter a tunnel.
Sticker price: $41,195
Invoice price: $38,223
TrueCar national average price: $38,096
MPG: City: 19; Hwy: 27
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 base level G37 coupe.
Resale value: 3-year: 58%; 5-year: 41%
Sticker price: $64,695
Invoice price: $60,231
TrueCar national average price: $62,424
MPG: City: 18; Hwy: 28
The hatchback version of the A6 tops the luxury charts for resale value for the second year in a row. Though it shares powertrains with its sibling, the A7 has the edge in cargo space -- it claims 11 cubic feet more, for a total of 25.
Resale value: 3-year: 63%; 5-year: 46%
Sticker price: $22,995 (manual)
Invoice price: $21,719
TrueCar national average price: $22,367
MPG: City: 19; Hwy: 29
With a low price, respectable fuel economy and serious power (305 horses), Ford's pony car easily attains great value status. Add in a resale value of more than 60% after three years and the Mustang is a good bet. Giddyap!
Resale value: 3-year: 61%; 5-year: 44%
Sticker price: $25,995
Invoice price: $24,294
TrueCar national average price: $24,362
MPG: City: 47; Hwy: 47
Brand-new for the 2013 model year, the C-Max hybrid boasts better fuel economy than any in its class other than its plug-in hybrid sibling, the C-Max Energi, and it bests even that version's resale values. The 2.0-liter engine in combination with the electric motor puts out 188 horses, giving the C-Max performance not typically seen in a hybrid.
Resale value: 3-year: 51%; 5-year: 40%
Sticker price: $29,505
Invoice price: $27,060
TrueCar national average price: $28,303
MPG: City: 18, Hwy: 27
It might have lost the Best in Class crown this year to the Toyota Sienna, which has more horsepower and headroom and gains points for knee airbags, but the Odyssey still claims better fuel economy, more interior and cargo space, and higher resale values. It features six airbags and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
Resale value: 3-year: 56%: 5-year: 39%
Sticker price: $23,290
Invoice price: $22,051
TrueCar national average price: $21,949
MPG: City: 21; Hwy: 27
A perennial Kiplinger favorite, Subaru's Forester offers value in a no-nonsense package. All-wheel drive to take you over the river and through the woods is standard on the IIHS Top Safety Pick, as are Bluetooth and six airbags. Add the All-Weather Package ($500) on the Premium trim level for heated front seats and exterior mirrors, plus a windshield-wiper de-icer.
Resale value: 3-year: 61%; 5-year: 46%
Sticker price: $40,205
Invoice price: $37,649
TrueCar national average price: $38,563
MPG: City: 18; Hwy: 25
Though the RX's hybrid sibling, the RX 450h, walks off with Best in Class this year, chalk that up to that model's extra fuel economy and horsepower. The RX 350's 3.5-liter V6 puts out plenty of horses (270), and the car costs $6,600 less than the hybrid RX. It also nets a one-percentage-point better resale value after three years and two extra points after five.
Resale value: 3-year: 58%; 5-year: 42%
Sticker price: $23,190 (manual)
Invoice price: $22,617
TrueCar national average price: $22,940
MPG: City: 17; Hwy: 21
Jeeps set the standard for off-roading. For 2013, the timeless Wrangler features a 3.6-liter V6 that delivers 21 mpg on the highway and 285 horses, plus new front and rear seats engineered for more comfort on long hauls. On summer days, pop the top for the ultimate in fun.
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