BOSTON (MainStreet) Kelley Blue Book estimates that the average 2014 vehicle will lose some 60% of its value to depreciation over the next five years, but here's a look at some models the firm expects will drop the least.
"Consumers need to be aware that purchase price isn't the only stat they need to look at when buying a car," says Eric Ibara of KBB, which recently named 2014's Best Resale Values. "It really doesn't do any good to get a great deal on a vehicle today only to realize that your car will be worth very little five years from now."
KBB estimates that the average mass-produced 2014 vehicle will fetch only 39.7% of its original price by 2019. Ibara says vehicles that depreciate the least generally "look great, perform well and/or are built with tremendous quality."
To figure out which 2014s best fit that bill, KBB analyzed hundreds of cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles to determine winners in 22 different market segments.
Ibara says staffers started by studying millions of used-car sales from recent years to determine how various models have performed in the resale market.
Analysts factored in their personal projections of various models' futures based on test drives and subjective reviews of vehicles' looks, amenities and popularity with consumers.
Click below to check out KBB's predictions for the top performers in five of the most-popular automotive segments.
All percentage figures refer to how much of a model's original purchase price the firm predicts a given vehicle will sell for five years from now regardless of trim level. All dollar figures refer to manufacturers' suggested retail prices for each vehicle's base 2014 version.
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Best subcompact car: Nissan Versa
Estimated value after five years: 45.9% of what you paid (vs. a 39.7% industry average)
The $11,990 Versa from Nissan (NSANY) is the least-expensive 2014 on the U.S. market, but KBB expects the subcompact to retain more value after five years than any of its competitors.
Ibara says he doesn't know exactly why, given that most subcompacts "are relatively close in appeal, price and performance.
"It really just comes down to what [recent years' used-car sales figures] show," he says.
The Versa comes standard with few frills and a small, 109-horsepower engine. But a base Versa with manual transmission gets a decent 27 miles per gallon in city fuel efficiency and 36 mpg/highway, while an available continuously variable automatic transmission will boost that to 31 mpg/city and 40 mpg/highway.
Best compact car: Subaru Impreza
Estimated value after five years: 47.8% of what you paid
Ibara attributes the $17,895 Impreza's value retention partly to Subaru effectively advertising its cars' all-wheel-drive capabilities, making the line popular in cold-weather climates. "Toyota (TM) - Get Report and Honda get all of the attention [among Japanese imports], but Subaru has a very strong brand name," he says.
The expert says the Japanese automaker also carefully manages output to avoid creating a glut of its cars. "Subaru does a very good job of matching production to the demand for its products and not overproducing," Ibara says. "So [used Subarus'] values hold up very well."
Best midsized car: Honda Accord
Estimated value after five years: 46.4% of what you paid
KBB expects the Accord to hold much of its value over the next five years thanks to the $21,955 car's well-regarded 2013 makeover.
"The redesign was met with pretty warm reviews and consumers seem to like it, too," Ibara says. "It came out a lot better than the Toyota Camry's 2012 redesign, while responses to the Chevrolet Malibu's 2013 redesign were more lukewarm."
He adds that like Subaru, Honda carefully matches production to buyer demand to avoid gluts good news for 2014 Accords' future worth in the used-car market.
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Best luxury car: Audi A5
Estimated value after five years: 43.8% of what you paid
"The A5 has just been a very consistent, stellar performer in holding on to its value," Ibara says. "It has great looks and a lot of good luxury features."
Audi offers the A5 as either a $39,000 coupe or $44,500 soft-top convertible.
All models come standard with turbocharged 220-horsepower four-cylinder engines, while some versions include all-wheel drive and either eight-speed or continuously variable automatic transmissions.
Ibara says Volkswagen subsidiary Audi "hits the sweet spot" with the car, manufacturing just enough to meet demand but not so many that used A5 prices suffer. "They don't saturate the market with too much volume, and they don't have to discount the vehicle," he says.
Best sports car: Chevrolet Camaro V6
Estimated value after five years: 52% of what you paid
The Camaro V6 from General Motors (GM) - Get Report not only offers the highest expected retained value of any 2014 sports car, but also ranks No. 2 among all cars regardless of segment. Only the $51,995 Chevy Corvette scores higher (as do some non-car vehicles such as certain SUVs).
"The Camaro has been a very strong performer ever since it relaunched in 2010," Ibara says. "It's really been quite a success based on its performance and retro styling, yet it's still reasonably priced."
Starting at $23,555 for your choice of either a coupe or convertible, a base Camaro V6 comes standard with a 323-horsepower V6 engine. Or you can buy a Camaro V8 offering up to 550 horsepower and enjoy a projected 51.8% retained value after five years.
By Jerry Kronenberg