Buying & Leasing a Car


12 Best Resale Value Cars, 2012

An important measure of a vehicle's value -- and appeal -- is what it's expected to be worth three and five years down the road. These figures are the estimated price a dealer would pay if you traded in the vehicle, expressed as a percentage of the original sticker price. Resale values come from a complex set of calculations based in part on historical data and economic predictions, as well as competition in each automotive segment, how strong a car's brand is, and supply (including fleet and leasing sales) versus demand. To win best-resale plaudits, the model must first be selected as one of the top 25 vehicles in its category. Then we pick the vehicle with the highest three-year resale value. No model is eligible for the award if another trim level of the same model has won Best Resale in a lower-price category.

SEE OUR COMPLETE GUIDE: Best New Car Values, 2012

Cars Under $20,000: Ford Focus SE hatchback

Sticker price: $19,095

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Invoice price: $17,903

TrueCar national average price: $18,375

3-year resale value: 63%, 5-year: 45%

City mpg: 26, Hwy: 36

Part of what clinched the Best New Car award in its class for the Focus was its stellar resale values. Good looks, plenty of standard equipment and tons of cargo space in the hatchback don’t hurt either.

Cars $20,000-$25,000: Mini Cooper Countryman

Sticker price: $22,450

Invoice price: $20,275

TrueCar national average price: $22,332

3-year resale value: 69%, 5-year: 53%

City mpg: 27, Hwy: 35

With a short-SUV-style body reminiscent of a Scion xB or Kia Soul, but with the Mini's characteristically rounded features, the Countryman's introduction last year has helped reinvigorate the brand. The biggest Mini also has the highest resale value of any vehicle in our rankings this year -- worth a stunning 69% of the original price after three years.

Cars $25,000-$30,000: Mini Cooper Coupe S

Sticker price: $25,300

Invoice price: $22,840

TrueCar national average price: $25,217

3-year resale value: 68%, 5-year: 53%

City mpg: 27, Hwy: 35

New for 2012, the Mini Coupe (not to be confused with the long-standing Hardtop model) boasts a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that gets 35 miles per gallon on the highway and among the highest resale values of any vehicle (sliding in just below its sibling, the Mini Countryman).

Cars $30,000-$40,000: BMW 128i coupe

Sticker price: $31,925

Invoice price: $29,440

TrueCar national average price: $30,782

3-year resale value: 63%, 5-year: 43%

City mpg: 18, Hwy: 28

Although it's one of the littlest Bimmers, the 1-series is no slouch -- in value or on the road. Its 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine produces 230 horsepower and manages nearly 30 mpg on the highway.

Cars $40,000-$50,000: Infiniti G37x coupe

Sticker price: $41,595

Invoice price: $38,593

TrueCar national average price: $39,521

3-year resale value: 62%, 5-year: 45%

City mpg: 18, Hwy: 25

Every member of Infiniti's G series is fun to drive -- with a sporty suspension and plenty of power -- but the model that's tops for trading in is the all-wheel-drive G37x coupe.

Cars $50,000 and Over: Audi A7 Quattro 3.0 Premium Plus

Sticker price: $63,745

Invoice price: $59,344

TrueCar national average price: $61,806

3-year resale value: 60%, 5-year: 44%

City mpg: 18, Hwy: 28

New for 2012, Audi's A7 shares basic architecture, powertrain and interior styling with the A6, but the A7's hatchback styling has more cargo space -- 25 cubic feet -- and higher resale values. It rates a Worth a Look nod from Kiplinger's.

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