The Fiat 500L leads the list of vehicles that lose the most value, plunging almost a third in its first year.
One of a new car or truck’s most significant long-term ownership costs is depreciation, which is how much of its original value it loses over time. Aside from a brief period following the Great Recession when used-vehicle prices actually increased because of a serious supply shortage, new cars are almost always depreciable assets, with resale values that literally drop the minute after being driven off a dealer’s lot.
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But resale value is the proverbial dual-edged sword. To the original buyer, a car that suffers a rapid rate of depreciation means taking a major hit to the pocketbook at trade-in time, while the same model can represent a bona fide bargain to a used-vehicle shopper. Generally, a new car or truck loses around 21 percent of its original sticker price after a year on the road, but the worst offenders in this regard lose a third or more of their resale values within the first 12 months of ownership.
According to a study of over 14 million new and used car transactions recorded over a one-year period by the auto-listing website iSeeCars.com, the model that loses the largest chunk of its original worth during Year One is the Fiat 500L subcompact wagon. It loses a budget-busting 34.6 percent of its initial value as a one-year-old used car, which amounts to a net loss of $7,608 on the base Pop version.
Though it has its merits, including a spacious cabin with unparalleled outward visibility, the aforementioned 500L is not only the brand’s slowest selling model (and by a wide margin), it gets rock-bottom marks for performance and reliability from Consumer Reports.
Still, iSeeCars’ list of the 10 current models having the worst one-year resale values is populated with some otherwise desirable rides from the likes of Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar for which resale values tend to be low for reasons that not always have to do with a model’s performance or durability. Often it’s a case of a vehicle that’s stuck in its final model year before being redesigned, or one that lags in sales within a particularly crowded and competitive market segment. At that, luxury vehicles tend to inherently lose their owners more money than cheaper models simply because there’s more to drop in the first place.
Here are the 10 new cars iSeeCars determined will lose the largest percentages of their original value after the first 12 months on the road:
10. Buick Regal
One-year loss in value: 31.2%. Headed for a long overdue redesign for 2018, the current midsize Regal is capable and competent, but only sells in a relative handful of numbers; its low resale value makes it a great deal in the preowned market.
9. Chrysler 300
One-year loss in value: 31.7%. Though sales of trucks and large SUVs are on the rise thanks to low gas prices, full-size cars are becoming less popular among new-vehicle buyers. The 300 is among the best of them, with a sporty rear-drive attitude and a roomy and comfortable cabin.
8. Cadillac ATS
One-year loss in value: 31.8%. While it’s sufficiently sporty, the compact ATS lacks the brand cachet and German engineering of its main rivals, the Audi A4/A5, BMW 3/4 Series, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. On the other hand, it’s a far better bargain than any of them on the used-car lot.
7. Fiat 500
One-year loss in value: -31.9%. As a new vehicle, the 500 is a stylish and affordable alternative to a Mini Cooper, and it’s even more desirable as a used car, given its precipitous drop in resale value. The Abarth performance variant is the most fun to drive, and a pre-owned version is a bargain-priced pocket rocket.
6. Jaguar XF
One-year loss in value: 32.3%. With the newly introduced Jaguar XE compact sedan and F-Pace crossover getting all the attention, the midsize XF sports/luxury sedan is something of a forgotten model in a dwindling market segment – Jaguar sold less than 300 of them in the U.S. during May 2017.
5. Lincoln MKZ
One-year loss in value: 33.8%. Though the midsize MKZ is Lincoln’s best-selling sedan, it’s a relative laggard among luxury cars, and its resale value drops like a rock, likely furthered by fleet sales and cut-rate leasing.
One-year loss in value: 34.0%. Redesigned for 2016, the Maxima isn’t a particularly strong seller, and a dismal showing here is likely exacerbated by the deep discounts and incentives granted to clear out existing stocks during an extended model changeover.
3. Kia Cadenza
One-year loss in value: 34.3%. Low resale values arguably make this one of the best bargains as a late-model used car. As it is, the Cadenza sedan tends to fade into the background as a new vehicle at a Kia showroom, being eclipsed by the less costly and similarly sized Optima.
2. Volvo S60
One-year loss in value: 34.4%. Sales of compact luxury cars are fading as similarly sized upscale crossover SUVS take center stage at dealers’ showrooms; though S60 sedan sales are up so far this year they pale in comparison to BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class models.
1. Fiat 500L
One-year loss in value: 34.6%. Give Fiat credit in that it’s giving the 500L subcompact wagon another shot with a refreshed 2018 edition on the way. In the meantime, poor reviews and reliability reports have kept both 500L sales and its resale values to a minimum.