When you're shopping for a new car, it's hard to think about selling it someday. But it makes sense. "One of the first thing many car shoppers look for is: Will this car have good resale value?" says Jesse Toprak, vice president for industry trends at the car pricing site TrueCar.com. Recently a pair of car-valuation specialists ranked 2011 models according to their resale value.
Kelley Blue Book and its web site kbb.com , known for used-car valuations, projected future market value of 2011 cars after five years. Automotive Lease Guide (ALG) projected residual values at the end of a typical three-year lease. (High residual values allow manufacturers or leasing companies to offer leases with low monthly payments.)
Subaru topped both lists as the mainstream brand with the best resale value, edging out Honda -- a brand long known to hold its value well. "The sustained high quality of Subaru's products as well as its consistent message about the benefits of all-wheel drive" have contributed to loyal customers and high resale value, says Raj Sundaram, senior vice president of ALG. The two rankings split on the top luxury brand for resale. Kelley Blue Book picked BMW, while ALG chose Infiniti.
Most models from U.S. brands continued to trail on resale except for the Ford F-series pickup (see below). The Kelley rankings also cited the Ford Taurus and Mustang and the GMC Acadia large SUV as tops in their categories. But all other ALG winners were from European or Asian companies. In the post-bailout market of today, however, Detroit based companies are trying to avoid huge price discounts and massive sales to rental and other fleets - both of which hurt resale value. (See GM IPO: What the Bailout Means for Car Buyers Today).
Despite the differing time projections, five vehicles made both the ALG and Kelley Blue Book lists as category winners. Here is a closer look at those resale stalwarts:
Honda Fit A favorite of reviewers and winner of various awards like Car and Driver's 10 Best, the Fit is praised for its high gas mileage (28 mpg city, 35 highway) and its remarkably large cargo area when rear seats are folded down. And, for a car with that kind of mileage, it is fun to drive. With list prices for various versions ranging from about $15,650 to $19,850 the Fit comes with a wide choice of options, up to and including a navigation system.
Mini Cooper Lightning-quick steering response and good power even without the step-up engine options cause reviewers to swoon over the Mini. With that performance combined with its cute profile and look-at-me paint colors, the Mini gets love from buyers too. With a price range of $19,400 up to $29,100 for a special edition, the Mini is among the priciest of small cars. But gas mileage rated at 29 mpg in city driving and 37 highway, plus that high resale value, help make loyalists willing to pay the price.
Subaru Outback Though Kelley Blue Book calls it a wagon and ALG calls it a mid-size utility, they agree that the Outback deserves the top rating. Whatever you call it, reviewers rate it a good value against competing wagons and crossovers. Like all Subarus, the Outback comes with standard all-wheel drive, equipping you well for mild off-roading or nasty weather. See Car Safety: How to Drive in Weird Weather The base four-cylinder engine is rated at 19 mpg in city driving, 27 highway (an optional V-6 is available). Its price range starts at $23,000 for the base model and climbs to $31,850 for a fully-loaded version.
Toyota Tacoma Despite competing in a category dominated by Ford and Chevy loyalists, the Tacoma more than holds its own for resale among mid-size pickups. Ranked high for manufacturing quality by the J.D. Power survey, the Tacoma sports a good list of standard convenience features. Reviewers cite its value and good-for-a-pickup gas mileage of 20 mpg city, 25 highway. Its base price of $16,365 is thrifty for this class. It ranges up to $25,735 for the best-equipped version.
Ford F-Series Super Duty Not only is the Ford F-Series the best-selling vehicle in the country, it tops both resale lists for full-size pickup. The big F-250 Super Duty work truck comes with a choice of a 6.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine or a 6.7-liter diesel -- mileage not yet rated. (Most shoppers not buying a pickup for business would take the smaller F-150). Inside, there are new 10-way adjustable seats. (Heavy-duty doesn't have to be uncomfortable.) The MSRP for this big pickup starts at $28,020 and ranges up to $34,330.
Photos courtesy of the manufacturers
More from MoneyWatch: