SANTA MONICA, Calif. — A data analysis by indicated that elevated gas prices have helped to drive a surge in used compact-car prices. The data also revealed that consumers paid about 10 percent more for three-year-old, used compact cars in July than in January.

Prices for this segment analyzed increased 1.6 percent over the same period in 2010, and 1.1 percent in 2008 — the last time gas prices crept over $4 per gallon.

“In 2008, consumers reacted to rising gas prices by running away from SUVs. In 2011, they reacted by running toward small cars,” said Richard Arca, used-car analyst at’s data indicated also that three-year-old SUVs experienced a small drop in price, 3.2 percent on average, from January to July. This segment demonstrated much more stability than it did in 2008 when the price of three-year-old, used SUVs dropped 23 percent during the first seven months of the year.

“This year’s pricing trends are also affected by the March earthquake in Japan, which, for some time, made it very difficult to find, for example, a new Toyota Prius or Honda Civic,” Acra said. “That created a very aggressive market for similar used models.”

The price of a new 2010 Toyota Prius bought in July 2010 depreciated just 4.3 percent after one year, while the price of a new 2010 Honda Civic depreciated five percent over the same period, according to By comparison, the average price for all new 2010 models depreciated 28.9 percent during that time.

Overall, used car prices have climbed 4.3 percent in the first half of 2011. In 2010, prices climbed 3 percent over the same period.

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