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Japanese automakers top best resale values for 2013 vehicles

The results are in from Kelley Blue Book and ALG; Toyota, Lexus, Honda and Acura take the top honors.

By Claire_Martin Nov 28, 2012 1:02PM
Toyota FJ Cruiser photo by ToyotaThe big winners of two newly released studies that estimate resale values are all Japanese.

Toyota -- including Lexus and Scion -- dominated Kelley Blue Book's top 10 list. The Toyota FJ Cruiser muscled out last year's overall winner, the Jeep Wrangler, as top dog with a projected 63 percent value of its original price after five years. The Wrangler was the only American car on the list, scoring an impressive 55.4 percent value.

The five-year resale value for the FJ Cruiser jumped from 50 percent last year to 63 percent this year. What explains the dramatic improvement?

Usually when a car rises (or drops) so significantly in the rankings, it's because of a redesign, says Eric Ibara, director of residual value consulting at Kelley Blue Book. Not so with the FJ Cruiser.

"There was a time when we considered [the FJ Cruiser] more of a fad or a niche vehicle, and we were forecasting below what the vehicle was bringing at auction," Ibara told MSN Autos. "Over the past year, we’ve come to the conclusion that its appeal is going to last, so we raised our forecast to be more in line with its actual performance."

Kelley Blue Book analyzes resale values for the first five years of a vehicle's life span, while Automotive Lease Guide (ALG) factors in the car's first three years on the roads. ALG's data are used by dealerships and even the automakers themselves to determine residual values and lease prices.

ALG ranked Honda as its top brand and Acura as the best luxury brand. In its evaluations of vehicles by category, midsize and compact cars were particularly competitive this year. The Honda Accord and Hyundai Elantra won top honors.

Hyundai's rise to glory has been hard-won, says ALG President Larry Dominique.

"Hyundai’s ascent as a brand is nothing short of impressive,” Dominique said in a statement. “Since 2007, when the brand ranked in the bottom quartile for residual value, Hyundai has delivered well-executed product and has kept incentives and fleet – two elements that can quickly damage residual value – in check."

In Kelley Blue Book's ranking of the top 10 vehicles overall, Toyota occupied four spots; the Scion tC and Lexus LX filled in two more spaces on the list. The Honda Civic and CR-V and Porsche Cayenne rounded out the top 10. The best brand overall was -- no surprise -- Toyota, and the top luxury brand was Lexus.

One thing Kelley Blue Book identified as a key factor in determining residual value was buyers' perceptions. "Some brands have a reputation for high resale value. Some brands have high resale value because they have a reputation for high resale value," Kelley Blue Book's report says. "While this seems like faulty logic, quite the contrary is true. Residual value projections are based on, among other things, consumers’ perceptions of long-term vehicle value."

A category that isn't faring well on the resale market, according to Kelley Blue Books' valuations, is the electric vehicle. "I was a little surprised at how tepid the response was for electric vehicles," Ibara said.

On the upswing, on the other hand, are American vehicles, specifically the Ford Fusion and Cadillac ATS. "Previously, the domestics had not been very competitive with Toyota and Honda, for example," Ibara says. "But today there are vehicles that rival some of the offerings from the Japanese automakers."

[Sources: Kelley Blue Book, ALG]
Dec 1, 2012 5:49PM
Strike the recently recalled "spontaneously combusting" Fusion from the article above.... 
Nov 29, 2012 9:41AM
they cost more initially then they should be worth more later?????  What's the big deal?  Again, shows MSN bias towards the japanese brands.
Nov 29, 2012 8:55AM

Really? Cause everyone I ever talked to has owned an FJ Cruiser considers it to be a piece of Junk..

And Honda, Really?  Honda murdered any kind of fan fare Civics had when they redesigned it to be a cheap POS a few years back, and not only that, but they let their designs and technology stagnate.  My Optima, base Model can destroy a civic SI, and it is a bigger heavier car that was desinged more for comfort than sportienss.   

Lets face reality, Japanese cars always win these things because their parts are cheaper and more available than those of american, or korean cars, not because their designs or manufacturing is somehow magically better the americans or koreans.

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