So you’re thinking of getting a car.
As long as it fits in your budget, all the (horse)power to you. Just don’t overlook this one critical factor — depreciation. It’s a reality of car ownership that can haunt you down the road when the time comes to trade in or sell.
But a little research can go a long way when it comes to vehicle resale value.
If you’re debating between a couple serious car contenders, you can pop the details (make and model, clicks, postal code, etc.) into Canadian Black Book’s Future Value calculator and get estimates for the car’s resale value in one to four years.
But if your car search is just getting started, consider filtering your options by retained value before browsing by other factors — especially if you’re getting a car loan. You don’t want to end up paying more on your car than it’s actually worth.
Why value retention matters
If you want to avoid sinking into negative equity and selling or trading in your vehicle at a major loss, it’s important to think about a car’s resale value now, while you’re still car shopping.
Every year for the past decade, Canadian Black Book (CBB) has identified the vehicles that retain their value the best over a four-year period and recognized them with its Best Retained Value Award.
According to CBB, the average vehicle depreciates by 30% after one year, meaning it only retains 70% of its original value (MSRP or manufacturer’s suggested retail price). But after crunching the numbers for this year’s awards, CBB found that used vehicles in Canada actually hold, on average, 50.6% of their value over four years.
Here are the 2017 winners for five of the most popular car types:
The mid-size SUV winner: Toyota FJ Cruiser
Retail retention value: 83%
Toyota ruled CBB’s mid-size SUV category in 2017, with the 4Runner and Highlander stealing both runner-up spots. But the FJ Cruiser rightfully takes the cake. The FJ Cruiser scored the highest retained value percentage in the history of the awards with a whopping 83%, which just means you shouldn’t let its unorthodox, boxy design fool you — there’s high demand for this rough and tough off-roading champ.
The sports car winner: Dodge Challenger
Retail retention value: 66%
Otherwise known as the car Walter White buys his son, Walter White Jr., in Breaking Bad. Spoiler: he blows it up in the show (aforementioned son wasn’t in it, don’t worry). But surely it’s the Challenger’s retro design and nutso fast engine options that continue to drive resale value up — not the Breaking Bad fandom. Or maybe all three helped the Challenger sweep the sports car category for six years straight.
The compact winner: Subaru XV Crosstrek
Retail retention value: 56%
At first glance, the Subaru XV Crosstrek isn’t the “compact” car winner you were expecting. It looks and acts like an SUV, but it’s smaller and much more spry. The Crosstrek’s extra height is its major claim to fame, but its excellent fuel economy, all-wheel drive, and nimble size are also favourable features — especially if you want that rugged sporty feel but actually just drive on city streets.
The luxury car winner: Audi A7
Retail retention value: 53%
With looks, speed, and performance that have been hailed as magnificent, the Audi A7 is luxurious for a reason. Drivers love to, well, drive it, praising the Audi A7 as a truly fun ride with excellent handling and a powerful 310 horsepower engine. Combine the high-end features with practicality — it’s a sedan that’s styled like a coupe and functions like a hatchback — and it’s basically every grown-up’s dream car.
The mid-size car winner: Toyota Camry
Retail retention value: 51%
The Toyota Camry is the classic family car. Your parents probably had one and if they didn’t, you definitely had a friend whose parents did and that’s the car you all hung out in. The appeal is clear — the Camry is big, comfy, and fuel efficient. Canadian Black Book says ongoing demand for used Camrys has kept its resale value up.