Depreciation is the difference between what you paid for a car, and what you will ultimately get for it when you sell it or trade it in. Generally speaking, the goal is to buy a car with the least expected amount of depreciation so that you keep your losses to a minimum when you get rid of it.
Our depreciation-focused friends from CarEdge.com, an automotive research and listings site, analyze millions of records for over 200 vehicle models to determine which ones hold their values well, and which don’t. They research and display historical depreciation rates on their site, as well as give users the ability to forecast resale values using a handy car depreciation calculator. In this article, CarEdge.com shares its findings for vehicles with the worst resale value, and some vehicle owners (and dealers) are not going to be happy.
The cars on our Worst Resale Value list are those that have lost the highest percentage of their purchase price after five years of ownership. This is a list for passenger cars only – trucks, SUVs, and other vehicle types are excluded (we’ll publish separate lists for them later). Also, only vehicles on sale for the last five years are included; newer models just don’t have enough data yet to rank their depreciation accurately. Apologies in advance if you happen to find your car on our list – there’s always next time.
Hyundai’s subcompact, the Accent, won’t break the bank when you buy it, or while you own it, as its sticker price is low and repair costs are minimal. However, don’t expect much when you try to unload it, as its value will fall by over half in the first 5 years of ownership. Just remember to stick all those savings in the bank along the way, as the dealer’s trade-in offer may be just enough to get you a down payment on your next ride – and not much more. See the Hyundai Accent Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $15,888
At Year Five: $8,116
Residual Value: 47.6%
The Sentra has been around for eons, and Nissan has sold a ton of them. Over the years, the Sentra has proven to be a reliable, budget-friendly car, but it won’t do you any favors in terms of holding its value. Between the factory pumping out oodles of them, and rental car companies continually turning over their inventory, plentiful supply keeps prices low in the used market. Instead of selling it or trading it in, consider giving it as a hand-me-down to a deserving member of your family. See the Nissan Sentra Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $18,064
At Year Five: $9,133
Residual Value: 47.5%
The Kia is one of the most economical vehicles on the road, with great fuel efficiency, low maintenance, and a very affordable price tag. Unfortunately, after five years, it will also be worth the least of any vehicle on our list. A trade-in may get you two round-trip tickets to Rio, but you won’t have anything leftover for the hotel, taxis, or nights on the town. See the Kia Rio Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $15,841
At Year Five: $8,011
Residual Value: 47.1%
The Impala has had a lot of looks over its 60+ year history, and today, you’d have a tough time picking it out of a line-up. There’s nothing particularly notable about today’s Impala, and rumors have circulated that Chevy will eventually pull the plug on the nameplate. However, it forges on, and is a staple for rental companies, government agencies, and the military. If you need room for four, and styling isn’t your first priority, the Impala will get you there, but you’ll have less than half of your investment remaining after 5 years, and that’s no bargain. See the Chevy Impala Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $29,166
At Year Five: $14,106
Residual Value: 46.2%
Hondas traditionally hold their value well, and the gas-only Accord actually makes it onto our Top Resale Values list. Not the case with the Accord Hybrid, however, as most hybrids have a difficult time retaining their value, and the Accord is not immune. While hybrids may be the way of the future, their resale values leave a sting with most, and put into question the cost savings of spending less on fuel. See the Honda Accord Hybrid Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $33,135
At Year Five: $15,278
Residual Value: 46.1%
Today’s 8th generation Sonata is a technically advanced, stylish-looking car, but prior generations were real snoozers, if not downright ugly. Kudos to Hyundai for recognizing that looks matter, but buyers of previous models (as we judge here) won’t be so enthused when they learn that 55% of their purchase price evaporates into depreciation land after 5 years. Hopefully, better things are around the corner for future Sonata purchasers. See the Hyundai Sonata Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $25,599
At Year Five: $12,133
Residual Value: 45.1%
For Malibu commentary, see Chevy Impala above. Really, it’s the same story, with a different name. Like the Impala, the Malibu has been around since cars were invented. Today’s models, however, bare no resemblance to their automotive ancestors – GM just felt there was some goodwill in the name, so they said, “Let’s call it Malibu.” With the Malibu now in its 9th generation, it’s been re-invented more times than The Price is Right. But, in maintaining only 45% of its value over five years, clearly the price isn’t right. See the Chevy Malibu Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $24,008
At Year Five: $11,294
Residual Value: 44.5%
Unlike the Chevy Malibu and Impala, the Dodge Charger has maintained some of its nameplate’s roots, and offers some mind-numbing performance numbers within the model line. With its hefty horsepower engine options, the Charger has become a favorite of law enforcement, looking to outrun the bad guys. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the fastest depreciating cars on the road. So, if you want ‘fast’, be prepared for your lender to chase after you, looking for the next car payment. If you’re in luck, he won’t be driving a Hellcat, trying to track you down. See the Dodge Charger Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $39,499
At Year Five: $18,195
Residual Value: 44.2%
The Optima is a well-equipped, affordable sedan, which recently had its 20th birthday and celebrated with a redesign and new name; it's now called the K5. With a purchase price just north of $25,000, it appears to be reasonably priced. However, it’s no fun losing almost $14,000 in the first 5 years of ownership. Bells and whistles are nice, but when it comes to value retention, this Kia is definitely sub-Optima. See the Kia Optima Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $25,844
At Year Five: $11,887
Residual Value: 43.8%
The mid-sized Fusion has had a good run since 2006, but Ford has decided that the model has reached the end of its useful life. (In fact, Ford is calling it quits on all passenger cars, except for the Mustang.) With the Fusion in its last year of production, advertising and promotion on the model has come to a halt, and that’s never a good sign for resale values, as we see here. Read on, however, as it gets better – I mean worse in the Fusion world. See the Ford Fusion Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $24,626
At Year Five: $11,391
Residual Value: 43.7%
Some automotive critics call the Chrysler 300 a ‘luxury’ sedan, but that’s somewhat of a stretch in our opinion. With a starting price in the $35,000 range, the 300 is much more reasonable than some of its foreign competitors, and provides decent bang for the buck. However, it’s no luxury to lose almost $20,000 in value while you own it. The Chrysler brand has been in decline, and other than the Pacifica and Voyager minivans, the 300 is the last of a lineage, dating back to 1924. Whether or not the Chrysler brand makes it to its 100th anniversary, is a good guess, but don’t be lulled into buying a 300, thinking it will become a collector’s item. Spoiler alert: it won’t. See the Chrysler 300 Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $35,682
At Year Five: $16,212
Residual Value: 43.3%
You would assume that a sub-compact priced under $15,000 wouldn’t lose much of its value, as it doesn’t have too far to fall. However, that would be a poor assumption when it comes to the Mirage. Although adorable in appearance, its rough ride, lack of options, and paltry 78 horsepower have owners yearning for more, and not wanting another. If you absolutely have to have a new car, look away from the Mirage, and aim for something with Soul or a better Fit. See the Mitsubishi Mirage Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $14,593
At Year Five: $6,807
Residual Value: 43.2%
Toyotas are almost synonymous with value-retention. But, not so, with the Avalon Hybrid. Hybrids in general have a tough time maintaining their values, and the Avalon Hybrid shows you that even a Toyota can be tough on the wallet or pocketbook. Priced roughly $5,000 more than a gas-only Avalon, the Hybrid will fetch only about $700 more in the resale market, saddling owners with an extra $4,300 more in depreciation than a traditional Avalon. Unless you’re driving gobs of miles, the fuel savings likely won’t be enough to offset the additional loss you’ll take at trade-in time. See the Toyota Avalon Hybrid Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $39,550
At Year Five: $17,519
Residual Value: 43.2%
As we describe above with the Avalon, the Fusion Hybrid also has difficulties holding its value, even versus its gas-only cousin, which already rates poorly. Throw on the fact that the entire Fusion line is being discontinued, and you have the perfect recipe for bad resale values. On the plus side, however, if you’re looking for a slightly used sedan with decent looks, Fusions can be found in the 58% off rack, right next to the Avalons. See the Ford Fusion Hybrid Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $27,067
At Year Five: $12,090
Residual Value: 42.3%
Purchasing a new Sonic sounds a lot more exciting than buying an Aveo (its predecessor), but when it loses almost 60% of its value in the first five years, that excitement goes away quickly. Although the Sonic gets favorable reviews for its driveability and extensive list of options, it doesn’t do so well on the financial front. In fact, the Sonic boom heard at the dealership may just be you hitting the floor when you hear what you’re offered for your Sonic trade-in. See the Chevy Sonic Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $18,083
At Year Five: $8,143
Residual Value: 41.8%
Redesigning a vehicle model seldom does much for the values of the previous generation model, as the former model is now a has-been, and everyone wants bigger and better. Such is the case with the Nissan Altima, as the marketplace has said, “We don’t want the old one; we want the new one.” While on the road, the Altima competes well with the Hondas and the Toyotas, it doesn’t do so on paper, losing $3 of every $5 spent on a new one. With such poor resale values, Nissan shoppers have to be careful to think through not only the purchase price, but the residual value, as a good deal on the front end, could lead to a disaster on the back end. See the Nissan Altima Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $25,281
At Year Five: $10,785
Residual Value: 40.5%
The 500L had some great marketing behind it, with some high-powered stars endorsing and promoting it, including J. Lo, and even the Pope. However, when all the pomp and circumstance was over, you were left with a car that looked cute and fun, but didn’t live up to the hype. While lots of advertising was able to compel car shoppers to spend almost $23,000 for their 500L when new, after five years, the financial hangover has set in, and now 500L buyers are wishing they hadn’t. See the Fiat 500L Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $22,908
At Year Five: $9,982
Residual Value: 40.5%
At close to $30,000, a new electric Nissan Leaf is a far better vehicle than its predecessors. It has won all kinds of awards along the way, and until last year, was the top-selling plug-in electric vehicle in the world (since passed by the Tesla Model 3). The Leaf is eco-friendly, stylish, and its owners are generally happy they purchased one – that is, until they go to sell it. Although there may be cost savings (possibly significant) from the avoidance of purchasing gas, severe depreciation puts a sizable dent in any economic gains that may have come about from passing by the gas station. More than likely, your accountant will say, “Leaf this one alone, and look elsewhere.” See the Nissan Leaf Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $29,890
At Year Five: $11,843
Residual Value: 37.8%
While providing seemingly good value for the money, the Kia Cadenza just can’t seem to find its way. Approaching the $40,000 mark, a Cadenza is trying to compete with the likes of Lexus, BMW, and even entry-level Mercedes, and rightly or wrongly so, it hasn’t impressed – at least when it’s time to sell one to someone else. Kias aren’t known as luxury vehicles, and the resale market is reminding Cadenza owners of such, as the luxury sedan is one of the fastest depreciating vehicles on the market, and has the dubious distinction of being the third Kia on our Worst Resale Value list. See the Kia Cadenza Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $39,827
At Year Five: $15,274
Residual Value: 36.8%
The Ford Fusion Energi suffers from a trifecta of bad news when it comes to resale values. It’s being discontinued, it’s a hybrid, and its overall performance trails that of its peers. The Energi just doesn’t stack up, and its resale values reflect that. While there may be confusion and delusion over which Fusion is a better deal for your bank account, and for Earth in general, it’s difficult not coming to the conclusion that the Energi should have been kept as a concept car, unavailable to the public. See the Ford Fusion Energi Depreciation Chart.
New Price: $36,019
At Year Five: $12,474
Residual Value: 32.8%
Worst Resale Value Cars After 5 Years
- Ford Fusion Energi – Residual Value: 32.8%
- Kia Cadenza – Residual Value: 36.8%
- Nissan Leaf – Residual Value: 37.8%
- Fiat 500L – Residual Value: 40.5%
- Nissan Altima – Residual Value: 40.5%
- Chevrolet Sonic – Residual Value: 41.8%
- Ford Fusion Hybrid – Residual Value: 42.3%
- Toyota Avalon Hybrid – Residual Value: 43.2%
- Mitsubishi Mirage – Residual Value: 43.2%
- Chrysler 300 – Residual Value: 43.3%
- Ford Fusion – Residual Value: 43.7%
- Kia Optima – Residual Value: 43.8%
- Dodge Charger – Residual Value: 44.2%
- Chevrolet Malibu – Residual Value: 44.5%
- Hyundai Sonata – Residual Value: 45.1%
- Honda Accord Hybrid – Residual Value: 46.1%
- Chevrolet Impala – Residual Value: 46.2%
- Kia Rio – Residual Value: 47.1%
- Nissan Sentra – Residual Value: 47.5%
- Hyundai Accent – Residual Value: 47.6%