Hereís what this research group found: the average depreciation rate is 35 percent over three years, which means that a car with a retail price of $35,000 is worth about $12,250 less than the day you drove it off the lot 36 months ago. However, thatís the average.
Some cars retain their value better, based on reputation or scarcity, while others do much worse. The cars that tend to lose the greatest value due to depreciation are luxury models that are leased rather than purchased. That means that like clockwork a whole fleet of leased vehicles shows back up in the dealerships three years later.
The good news is for used car shoppers the depreciation is already calculated into the lease payments of the first owner, so neither the dealership nor the finance company comes up short in the deal. What it does mean is that you can negotiate till your heartís content on pricing, even if the dealer claims theyíre taking a hit on the car (theyíre not). Additional mileage, wear and tear, even tires that donít have enough tread or arenít equivalent to the OEM tires incur a charge to the leaser when he or she returns the car.
There are other circumstances that can result in a high depreciation rate. For example, a car model thatís been discontinued between 2015 and today will take a hit, as will a model car that was sold extensively to fleets and now the fleets are turning over their inventory.
Here are the top 10 fastest depreciating cars along with their percentage of how much value they lost in three years. Remember, the average for all vehicles is 35 percent.
2015 Buick Enclave - 46.8%
2015 Cadillac SRX - 47.2%
2015 Audi A3 - 47.9%
2015 Volkswagen Jetta - 48.1%
2015 Chrysler 200 - 48.4%
2015 Ford Taurus - 49.7%
2015 BMW 3 Series - 49.8%
2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class - 49.9%
2015 BMW 5 Series - 52.6%
With the current consumer interest in SUVs (so much so that Ford says that besides the Mustang and another model or two, it will sell only SUVs and trucks in the US in the coming years), itís surprising to see two SUVs on the list above. The Cadillac SRX and Buick Enclave, both SUVs, appear on this list, however, itís likely that those vehicles are depreciating faster than other crossovers because the SRX has been replaced by the XT5 and the Enclave was thoroughly updated for the 2018 model year.
So if you are looking for a deal on a luxury car that could have as little as 36 months of use, there are a few on this list worthy of your consideration.