An average 2021 model-year vehicle will only retain about 40% of its original value after a five-year ownership period. - IMAGE: Kelley Blue Book

An average 2021 model-year vehicle will only retain about 40% of its original value after a five-year ownership period.

IMAGE: Kelley Blue Book

IRVINE, Calif. – Most new-vehicle shoppers have probably heard the phrase, "a car loses value the moment you drive it off the dealership lot." Yet the everyday car buyer may not be aware to what extent and how much this amount can vary from model to model. Understanding a car's resale value - what a vehicle will be worth down the line when going to sell or trade it in - can make the difference of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in the long run. To help new-car buyers shop smart, Kelley Blue Book announces the 2021 model-year brand, category and top 10 winners of the annual Best Resale Value Awards, recognizing vehicles for their projected retained value through the initial five-year ownership period.

Continuing a longstanding trend among the top 10 vehicles, trucks and SUVs dominate once again amidst high demand and relatively low gas prices.

"Shoppers who choose to buy a 2021 model from one of our Best Resale Value Brand winners can be very confident that their vehicle will retain its value well over time," said Eric Ibara, director of residual values for Kelley Blue Book. "For 2021, Toyota and Porsche, respectively, are the best vehicle brand and luxury brand in terms of the highest average projected resale value across their full lineups. Continuing a longstanding trend among the top 10 vehicles, trucks and SUVs dominate once again amidst high demand and relatively low gas prices. And interestingly, with the unprecedented events of the last year, we are seeing a slight increase in the overall average residual value for new vehicles, explained by the significantly reduced car supply as well as the market continuing to shift to SUVs, which tend to have higher resale values."

This year marks the fifth Best Resale Value: Brand win for Toyota, which previously won the same honors in 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019. For 2021, Porsche celebrates its fifth consecutive win as Best Resale Value: Luxury Brand. 

2021 BEST RESALE VALUE: BRAND

  • Toyota 

2021 BEST RESALE VALUE: LUXURY BRAND

  • Porsche

2021 BEST RESALE VALUE: BY VEHICLE CATEGORY

  • COMPACT CAR:  Subaru Impreza
  • FULL-SIZE SUV:  GMC Yukon
  • MIDSIZE CAR:  Toyota Camry
  • LUXURY SUBCOMPACT SUV:  Volvo XC40
  • ENTRY-LEVEL LUXURY CAR:  Lexus IS
  • LUXURY COMPACT SUV:  Porsche Macan
  • LUXURY CAR:  Lexus LS
  • LUXURY MIDSIZE SUV – 2-ROW:  Land Rover Range Rover Sport
  • SPORTS CAR:  Chevrolet Corvette
  • LUXURY MIDSIZE SUV – 3-ROW:  BMW X7
  • HYBRID VEHICLE:  Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
  • LUXURY FULL-SIZE SUV:  Mercedes-Benz G-Class 
  • ELECTRIC VEHICLE:  Tesla Model X
  • OFF-ROAD SUV:  Jeep Wrangler
  • SUBCOMPACT SUV:  Subaru Crosstrek
  • MIDSIZE PICKUP TRUCK:  Toyota Tacoma
  • COMPACT SUV:  Subaru Forester
  • FULL-SIZE PICKUP TRUCK:  Toyota Tundra
  • MIDSIZE SUV – 2-ROW:  Subaru Outback
  • FULL-SIZE PICKUP TRUCK – HEAVY-DUTY:  GMC Sierra 2500
  • MIDSIZE SUV – 3-ROW:  Kia Telluride 
  • MINIVAN:  Toyota Sienna

2021 BEST RESALE VALUE: TOP 10 VEHICLES

  • Ford F-Series Pickup
  • RAM Pickup
  • Ford Ranger
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • GMC Sierra Pickup
  • Toyota Land Cruiser
  • Jeep Gladiator
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Toyota Tundra

(Residual values used for award calculations are based on the 2021 model-year vehicles that appear in the January-February 2021 Publication of the Kelley Blue Bookâ Residual Value Guide. Top 10 models appear in alphabetical order.)

Many new-car buyers do not realize that depreciation often is the greatest expense incurred by drivers during the first five years of vehicle ownership. An average 2021 model-year vehicle will only retain about 40% of its original value after a five-year ownership period, meaning that a $35,000 new car today will only be worth somewhere close to $14,000 after five years. In comparison, all vehicles in Kelley Blue Book's Top 10 for Best Resale Value are projected to retain around 50% or more of their MSRP. This year's top model, the 2021 Toyota Tundra, is expected to be worth 59% of its MSRP after five years. 

Resale value for new vehicles can vary greatly. Vehicles end up with average or below-average resale values because they were produced in greater volumes than the marketplace could support. Vehicles that are projected to retain their value best hold that position because they've managed to generate consumer demand that, for a variety of reasons, is greater than the volume that was produced. A sure sign that a vehicle will likely have strong residual values is that they are typically discounted the least when new and tend to generate high levels of consumer interest. 

Now in its 19th year, Kelley Blue Book's Best Resale Value Awards are based on projections from the Kelley Blue Book®Official Residual Value Guide. Kelley Blue Book® Residual Values are established by experienced automotive analysts that review the output from statistical models built upon millions of transactions. Vehicles that earn the highest five-year residual values, expressed as a percentage of their original Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), are selected for these prestigious awards. Low-volume vehicles are excluded from award consideration, except in the electric, luxury and sports car categories.

Residual values reflect projected future auction values for vehicles in average condition with 75,000 miles at the end of a five-year lease or ownership period. Kelley Blue Book's residual values are used by manufacturers, banks, financial institutions and the automotive leasing industry. For more information about Kelley Blue Book's Best Resale Value Awards, visit https://www.kbb.com/best-cars/best-resale-value-cars-trucks-suvs/. 

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