PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- If your car is an investment, buying one should be as much about the return on that investment in the long run as it is about getting from here to there now.While it's tough to think long term about an investment that depreciates in value as soon as it leaves the lot, it's not as if the value of that vehicle immediately falls off a cliff. Unless you decide to run it into the ground or buy a model not known for its longevity, there's still going to be some resale value down the road. The folks at auto pricing and valuation site Kelley Blue Book note that depreciation costs a car owner more than gas, maintenance or insurance during the first five years of new-car ownership. Kelley Blue Book has been publishing its residual value guide since 1981 and knows a thing or two about resale value. That "blue book" value used-car buyers talk about when pricing a vehicle? Yep, same company that's been handing out their Best Resale Value Awards since 2003. The 2013 model year has been extremely kind to Toyota ( TM), thought not so much to Detroit Three loyalists. Toyota and its Lexus division were named Best Brand and Best Luxury Brand, respectively, for their ability to retain their cars' value over the first five years of ownership. Despite the automaker's spate of recalls and its struggles after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Toyota took six out of KBB's 22 vehicle categories while Lexus won two of three luxury categories (the Porsche Panamera won Best High-End Luxury Car). Though Honda ( HMC) swept the small and midsized car categories and Toyota won both pickup honors, the Detroit automakers weren't completely shut out. The Ford ( HMC) Fusion Hybrid won Best Hybrid/Alternative Energy car over the Lexus ES 300h, General Motors' ( GM) Chevy Volt won Best Electric Car over the Toyota Prius Plug-In and GM's Chevy Camaro took Best Sports Car and Best High-Performance Car ahead of the Porsche Boxter and Lexus IS. There are only a handful of cars that give owners a big portion of their investment back five years later. According to Kelley Blue Book, the following vehicles are a car buyer's best chance of getting half their money back or more once it's time to sell:
Resale value retained after five years: 46.5% Meh. It's a small two-door that gets an OK combined 27 miles per gallon. So why is it expected to go like hotcakes in 2018? A relatively low buy-in price, a surprisingly roomy backseat and a look sportier than most of its pint-sized competition. Plus, that Toyota connection goes a long way when it comes to the Tc's estimated reliability.
Resale value retained after five years: 46.9% It's a bit snug for a family car, but the Civic's combined 33 miles per gallon and nearly 40 miles per gallon on the highway make it tempting for households on a tight budget. It seats five with a surprising amount of space left over, is coated in airbags to keep everyone safe and has a new display that shows fuel efficiency, music info and even family photos. The utilitarian small sedan also tends to hold up well over the years, making it a gem for used-car buyers who aren't just waiting for a far less efficient SUV to get cheaper.
Resale value retained after five years: 47% Oh, so you say this beast retains value? That's good. You should expect some equity when your car's starting price is close to that of a small house. With 383 horsepower from its 5.7-liter V8 engine, 7,000 pounds of lowing capacity, 83 cubic feet of maximum cargo space and lots of screens and heated seats, this rolling boutique hotel room has to work overtime to make up for a paltry 14 miles per gallon of fuel economy, including only 12 miles per gallon of city driving. There are city buses blessed with better mileage.
Resale value retained after five years: 47.3% This beast gets 22 miles per gallon on the highway. It gets a whopping 300 horsepower and tops out at 142 miles per hour in its base model. It comes with toys including the Porsche Communications Management system to link your various media and electronics, a rearview camera and Bose surround sound speakers. As much as the 24 cubic feet of rear space and 63 cubic feet of combined cargo space want to make the argument for this vehicle as a family hauler, it's a more of a midlife crisis with a motor. The Cayenne is Porsche's best-selling car in the U.S. by far. That's a lot of parents who just can't let their Porsche dreams go.
MSRP: $78,255 and $31,340
Resale value retained after five years: 49% The cars with the highest resale value are almost exclusively SUVs. The Land Cruiser and 4Runner are great examples of why. The 4Runner is the mix of the big school and soccer shuttle families want and the bike and kayak hauler weekend warriors crave. Meanwhile, the Land Cruiser is the most expensive Toyota available and the last in a dying breed of big, affluence-flaunting gas guzzlers. You'd think the 4Runner and Land Cruiser and their average combined mileage of 20 and 15 miles per gallon, respectively, would be in less demand after gas prices flirted with $4 a gallon last year. It turns out that used-car buyers are OK paying more at the pump if it means getting these apartments on wheels at half price.
Resale value retained after five years: 50.7% Honda's small family crossover of choice makes moms and dads swoon with its redesigned exterior, spacious interior with 70 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats down and tech toys such as its informational display, navigation and rear camera. The combined 26 miles per gallon certainly don't hurt, either.
Resale value retained after five years: 55.3% It's loud, it's not terribly reliable, it sucks up gas at a combined 19 miles per gallon and it doesn't store a whole lot unless you get the stretched-out Unlimited version. That said, nothing looks quite like it and nothing's an acceptable off-road substitute at this price. The ground clearance and four-wheel drive come in awfully handy in miserable winter weather, while that removable hardtop makes it a sweet open-air ride in the summer. Car buyers don't pick up a used version of the Wrangler because they want to truck the kids around or make grocery runs. They buy it because they want a "Jeep," and all the frivolities that go along with it.
Resale value retained after five years: 57% The Tacoma has taken this award 10 times for one big reason: You can beat the hell out of it and it'll come back for more. Durability is a big deal in the Tacoma's world, where car buyers who don't feel they need all the size and strength of a Ford F-Series or Chevy Silverado are drawn to its off-road agility, flexible cargo options and easy handling. At a combined 23 miles per gallon, the base model Tacoma gets the mileage of a small SUV without sacrificing any of its midsized truck power. When you're content with fetching big items from the hardware store or taking a yard full of leaf litter to the dump without flashing chrome or flexing muscle, this is the understated truck to buy, even if it's secondhand.
Resale value retained after five years: 63% No other vehicle comes close to the resale value of Toyota's odd-looking midsize SUV. It looks like it's getting ready to invade a country and is equipped as such. Its available four-wheel-drive system, hefty 260-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 engine and 5,000 pounds of towing capacity are beastly, while its interior is made for messy adventures. Rubber floors and water-resistant seat fabric are made to withstand mud, ash and anything else you track in. Meanwhile, it has enough gauges to make sure you never get too lost on your backwoods outings. It's an outdoor workhorse without equal, which is why buyers will still pay dearly for it after half a decade of rugged outings. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.