NADA Used Car Guide Names Top Retention Values for Cars

New report highlights value retention performance of 2011 model year mainstream, luxury, hybrid and EV cars.

McLEAN, Va. (Feb. 28, 2014) - Three-year-old cars in the subcompact segment have the highest retaining value at 54.4% of the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a typically equipped model, says the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Used Car Guide in the February edition of NADA Perspective , a monthly industry trends report. The electric vehicle (EV) segment ranked the lowest at 39.9%.

"Depreciation is often the No. 1 expense of owning a car, and understanding how a vehicle will retain its value over time should be considered," said Jonathan Banks, executive automotive analyst of the NADA Used Car Guide.

The top three performers in the subcompact segment are the Honda Fit, retaining an average value of 62.7%, followed closely by the Scion xB and Kia Soul, which averaged 60.6% and 60.1%, respectively.

The Subaru Impreza, a mainstream compact car, ranked as the highest-retaining vehicle among all classes and segments at 63.5%, while the highest retention rate for luxury cars is the Lexus IS and the Lexus CT for hybrids and EVs. The Subaru Legacy also topped the midsize car segment with a value retention rate of 60.9%.

The top three vehicles for hybrid models are the Lexus CT, Toyota Prius and Kia Optima, with average retention values of 62.4%, 54.3% and 53.6%, respectively.

"It's not surprising to see Toyota at the top of the list for hybrids," Banks added. "Toyota has been in the hybrid game for a long time now, and buyers trust its history and reputation."

The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf were the only two mass-produced electric vehicles offered for sale during the 2011 model year. The Volt's retention score of 41.6% was slightly higher than the Leaf's average of 38.2%.

NADA calculated retention figures for the most prevalent trim level of three-year-old cars. For the purposes of this report, retention is a function of a three-month average (Dec. 2013 - Feb. 2014) of NADA's average trade-in value divided by a vehicle's typically-equipped MSRP, not including any incentives or rebates available at time of purchase.