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iSeeCars, a car search engine, conducted a recent study that found that, on average, a lightly-used car that is one-year-old costs 17% less than its brand-new counterpart. However, in looking at cars from Tesla to Toyota, the study found the percentage varies among different car models. Some vehicles have a price difference as small as 2.1%, while others have a difference as high as 36.4%.

Which are the best cars to buy new? Let’s look at some of the top vehicles, including the only Tesla to make the list.

The best truck and SUV to buy new

The study analyzed over 8.2 million car sales from 2018 to 2021 to determine which cars depreciated the least after three years. According to the study, the Tacoma holds its value well with a depreciation rate of 32.4% at five years, which is substantially lower than the 49.6% for all vehicles.

According to iSeeCars, the Toyota Tacoma is one of the best vehicles to buy new. It’s the top truck of seven on the list of best cars to buy new. The midsize pickup truck has been in production since 1995, known for durability and reliability.

The Tacoma also has a low overall ownership cost, taking into account fuel costs, maintenance, and repair bills. It’s popular for its off-road capabilities, rugged suspension, and higher ground clearance, making it an excellent choice for fun weekend adventures.

Meanwhile, the Kia Telluride was the top SUV on the list. First introduced for the 2020 model year, the midsize SUV became an instant favorite with its smooth ride, roomy cabin, and impressive list of standard features. The Telluride also holds its value well, with a depreciation rate of just 27.2% over five years, which is much lower than the average for all vehicles. Additionally, like the Tacoma, it also has a reasonable overall ownership cost. 

The Model 3 was the only Tesla to make the list

A red Tesla Model 3 luxury electric compact car at the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS)
A Tesla Model 3 on display | VCG/VCG via Getty Images

At the top of the list of best cars to buy new is the Tesla Model 3. The all-electric luxury sedan debuted in 2017. Since then, it’s been a hit with its stylish design, sophisticated technology, and impressive driving range. Over five years, the Model 3 depreciates by just 10.2%. Additionally, if that’s not enough, consider its strong resale value. The Model 3’s overall ownership cost is just $3,100 per year. 

The Tesla Model 3 can drive up to 353 miles on a single charge, putting it at the top of the luxury EV class. It also offers a huge touchscreen display, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and much more. 

Toyotas dominate the rest of the list of best cars to buy new

Several other Toyota models appeared on the iSeeCars list of the best cars to buy new, with three in the top 10. Two Toyota SUVs appeared on this list, with the RAV4 at No. 6 and the 4Runner at No. 14. The Toyota Tundra appeared at No. 8.

“The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid had trouble keeping up with demand even before the pandemic due to problems with the battery supply chain,” iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer explained. He said buyers are willing to pay a premium for used versions, but there aren’t many in the current marketplace.

Brauer also explained that while crossovers have overtaken traditional truck-based SUVs in popularity over the last few years, the 4Runner, with its body-on-frame configuration, has endured. He speculated that its reliability and status as one of the last midsize truck-based SUVs still available is how it has remained relevant to consumers.

Toyotas are known for retaining their resale value well. They also offer fuel efficiency, long-term durability, and reliability, making them popular choices in new and used car markets. With multiple entries in the iSeeCars study, consumers find that Toyota models offer great value and cost efficiency across several vehicle categories.

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