What You Need to Know About Luxury Vehicles and Resale Values
To that end, resale values may be more important in luxury cars than in any other segment of the car market. And today, wealthy buyers looking for luxury are buying more than just cars they're looking at trucks and, especially, sport utility vehicles.
As in other vehicle segments, the perceived quality of the brand makes the biggest difference in resale values. But because such a diverse group of models exists in the luxury segment, the body style is also a big factor. The vehicle with the best residual value, the Mercedes-Benz CLK320 convertible, does very well, holding as much as 65 percent of its value after three years.
Others that hold their value best overall, by far, are curvaceous sporty convertibles and coupes, such as the BMW 330 and Infiniti G35, from established luxury automakers.
|Volvo's XC90 luxury SUV is expected to be worth up to 62 percent of its original value three years from now.|
- Public perception of the quality of a brand is one of the most consistent determining factors of resale values, though it's not always related to the brand's actual quality ratings. One good example of this is Jaguar, which suffered a reputation of poor reliability for decades. Consequently, the resale values of the manufacturer's cars have still not recovered, though their actual reliability ratings are near the top of current quality surveys.
- Models with fewer options generally fare better than those with all the available amenities. Features such as all-wheel drive may add some value in the used-car market, but it doesn't recoup its original cost.
|Navigation systems can run into the thousands of dollars, but they may not be worth nearly that much when it comes time to sell.|
- The same is true for high-tech options such as navigation systems, laser-guided cruise control and built-in cell phones. Used-car buyers aren't looking for cutting-edge technology, and by the time your car is three years old, better and cheaper systems will make old technology look obsolete and sap resale value.
- Functional features such as third-row seats in SUVs, power windows and automatic transmissions enhance a vehicle's resale value. Not having certain features that are expected in a luxury vehicle, such as leather upholstery, basic cruise control and a moonroof, hurt resale value.
- Vehicles with big sales incentives tend to have lower resale values because cheaper new vehicles mean used-car buyers have less incentive not to buy new.
- The laws of supply and demand are reflected in resale-value statistics, says Matt Walker, manager of operations and marketing for ALG, with luxury cars starting at less than $40,000 and those costing more than $80,000 faring better than mainstream luxury models in between. An exception is Mercedes-Benz's midsize E-Class; its solid, long-standing reputation trumps the entry-level C-Class and high-dollar S-Class sedans.
ALG calculates residual values by tracking wholesale vehicle values, mileage and options at 97 percent of used-vehicle auctions across the United States. When certain models are redesigned, ALG adjusts its estimates.
A few ultraluxury cars, such as the Bentley Continental GT, Maserati Quattroporte and Rolls-Royce Phantom, aren't tracked by ALG because they sell in such low volumes. Surprisingly, they show up in the middle of the pack in residual values because the specialty finance companies that lease these cars estimate values conservatively in the range of 45 percent to 55 percent. But many of these models will perform better than those forecasts, says Keith Martin, editor and publisher of Sports Car Market, which tracks values of classic and exotic cars. According to Mitchell Katz at Premier Financial in Woodbury, Conn., some of these cars can be sold for a profit at the end of the lease term.