Vehicles that hold their value in the DC area: Wrangler is No. 1

If you buy a new vehicle, you know it starts losing value as soon as you drive it home, but some vehicles hold their value better than other ones. In the D.C.-area market, the Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited top the list of vehicles with the least depreciation.

New and used car search site iSeeCars says both models of the Wrangler have an average five-year depreciation of 31.9%.

iSeeCars analyzed more than 7.7 million new and used car sales to identify those with highest and lowest loss in value after five years.

Nationally, the Wrangler Unlimited also does best, with a five-year depreciation of 30.9%

“The Jeep Wrangler has an iconic look, and has been made for decades with that same look. That means even the newest ones don’t look that much different than the older ones and vice versa. So even a multiyear Wrangler still basically looks like a brand new version,” iSeeCars executive analyst Karl Brauer told WTOP.

The Wrangler holds onto its value because it is a niche vehicle and Chrysler doesn’t make more than the market wants, meaning there is always more demand than supply.

Big, luxury sedans are not a good long-term investment.

The cars with the largest five-year rate of depreciation nationwide are the BMW 7 Series and BMW 5 series, at 72.6% and 70.1%. The Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E- and S-Class, the Lincoln MKZ and the BMW X3 all make the top 10 for largest depreciation.

Based on the average list price of a five-year-old 7 Series when new, that translates into losing $73,686 of its original value.

Cars in general do not hold their value as well as trucks and SUVs. Premium vehicles lose their value because many luxury brand buyers do not want an older model, iSeeCars said.

The Nissan LEAF ranks third-worst for depreciation nationwide, losing 70.1% of its value over the first five years. Electric vehicles as a group tend to depreciate quickly.

“They are technology-based vehicles that appeal to technology-oriented people, and those people always want the latest technology. So once a used electric car has been out for a couple of years, it is very often considered semi-obsolete if not fully obsolete if the range and/or the features that it has are not as good as brand new versions,” Brauer said.

Other vehicles with relatively low rates of depreciation include Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Tundra, Toyota 4Runner, Porsche 911, Subaru WRX, Dodge Challenger, GMC Canyon and Nissan Frontier.

In the D.C.-area market, the average five year depreciation rate is 49.3%. Here are the vehicles that hold their value best in the Washington region:

1. Jeep Wrangler, 31.9%
2. Jeep Wrangler unlimited, 31.9%
3. Toyota Tacoma, 33.5%
4. Ford Mustang, 34.1%
5. Toyota Tundra, 35.9%

Here are are the vehicles that depreciate the fastest in the Washington region.

1. BMW 7 Series, 72.1%
2. BMW 5 Series, 71.4%
3. Mercedes-Benz E-Class, 70.3%
4. Mercedes-Benz S-Class, 68.5%
5. Audi A6, 67.6%.

iSeeCars has posted its national findings online, including the 10 lowest and 10 highest depreciating models, and 10 lowest and highest among vehicles with a new price of under $25,000, $35,000 and $50,000, as well as vehicle types, including trucks, SUVs and electric models.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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