5 Automobiles That May Just Be Good Investments

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

The Census Bureau estimates that close to 12 million new cars were purchased during the most recently reported year. During a search for a new automobile, appearance of the vehicle, features, and mileage are often characteristics that impact a decision whether or not to buy. A measure that is often overlooked, however, is depreciation.

An automobile purchase is a sizable one. An Interest.com publication says consumers should spend around 10 percent of their monthly income on a car payment. Oftentimes, the one purchase consumers acquire that is more substantial than an automobile is a home, which is an asset that can earn equity for the consumer. With a depreciating asset being a consumer’s second largest purchase, it’s only fitting to search for a vehicle that will offer the greatest value long-term.

Depreciation is based on the vehicle’s future resale value. The lesser the percentage decline in the car’s worth over a time period, like three or five years, the better the value. You’re likely not going to earn a positive return on a car, so a reliable and economical car with low depreciation is thought to be a solid investment.

The Kelley Blue Book recently published its “2014 Best Resale Value Awards.” Using KBB reports, combined with consumer ratings, and supplemental information on performance and reliability, we ranked five vehicles that may just be good investments.

Credit: 2014 Nissan Versa

5. 2014 Nissan Versa

This car made our list because of its affordability, mileage, and its KBB spot as the best subcompact car. For those looking for something on the lower priced end, the Versa starts at only $12,780. The average customer pays between $12,606 and $17,604 for the VersaThe vehicle gets an efficient 31 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. It has a three-year resale value of around 59 percent and a five-year value of around 46 percent.

The Versa rates high in comfort and convenience, receiving an 8 out of 10 from users who reviewed the car. It receives lower ratings — 6.7 out of 10 — on interior and exterior design and overall, customers give this vehicle a solid 7.7. Is the vehicle perfect? Of course not. But for the price, it’ll do the job and the car will still retain some resale value in a few years.

KBB explains in its resale reports that, “You’ll like this car if your focus is on dollars and cents, the 2014 Versa is among the least expensive new cars to buy. It offers high fuel economy, a surprising amount of passenger room, and a comfortable ride in a car that starts under $13,000 … You won’t like this car if you desire a modicum of excitement in your economy car’s looks or driving dynamics.”

2014 Impreza
Credit: 2014 Impreza

4. 2014 Subaru Impreza

The 2014 Subaru Impreza has a starting price of around $19,000 and won the KBB resale award for best compact car. It made our list because of its price and three-year resale value. After time periods of three and five-years you will see resale values on this vehicle of around of around 64 percent and 48 percent, respectively. The Impreza receives a rating of 8.1 out of 10 from consumers.

Also efficient, this car gets 27 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. According to KBB, “if you live where snow, rain and ice are commonplace occurrences, the logical choice for compact-car shoppers is the 2014 Subaru Impreza. It offers excellent year-round traction, good fuel economy, and in WRX form, impressive performance.” On the other hand, there are better compact sedans out there in terms of gas mileage and you may have more fun driving some other cars with more features.

2014 Jeep Wrangler Dragon
Credit: 2014 Jeep Wrangler Dragon

3. 2014 Jeep Wrangler 

The Jeep Wrangler also made the best resale value list for several years in a row — 2011 through 2014. The 2012 model has a 55 percent resale value after five years; the 2013 model offers a five-year resale value of 56 percent; and the 2014 model will get you back around 59 percent in resale value.

The 2014 Wrangler gets 17 mpg city and 21 mpg highway and the starting price is around $23,000. As one of the world’s most famous off-road vehicles, the Wrangler made number three on this year’s KBB resale award’s list. Consumers gave this vehicle an overall 8.8 out of 10 and it ranks high for its horsepower.

Although the Wrangler rates high, KBB says that, “If you think a Wrangler would be a good idea for running around city streets and highways because it’s cute and has that tough image, and you don’t plan to use its off-pavement capabilities, and you like being quietly coddled on commutes, you ought to be looking at something else.”

2014 Toyota Tacoma
Credit: 2014 Toyota Tacoma

2. 2013 Toyota Tacoma

The Tacoma is another frequent recipient of the KBB resale value award. Priced at between $18,525 and $28,125, the 2013 Toyota Tacoma gets 15 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. This vehicle maintains 70 percent of its value after three years, and 57 percent of its value after five years.

This year’s recipient of the number two spot on the overall top ten list, consumers give this vehicle a 9.2 out of 10 rating, earning it the number two spot on our list as well.

KBB says the Tacoma “will do most of what the larger trucks will do, and without the bulk, fuel consumption or cost. It deservedly tops the entire segment. [However] the Tacoma is a compact pickup so, reasonably, it won’t tow or haul as much as a full-size truck.”

Toyota FJ Cruiser
Credit: Toyota FJ Cruiser

1. 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser 

The Toyota FJ Cruiser made number one on our list because it was on the KBB overall top ten list in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. This year, it topped the overall top-ten list.

With a base MSRP of $27,680 for the 2014 model, the most efficient model of the Toyota FJ Cruiser, the automatic rear-wheel-drive, gets 17 mpg city, and 22 mpg highway. For an SUV, that’s not too bad. After a period of five years, the 2014 model has a 70 percent resale value. The 2013 model has a 63 percent resale value after five years. Consumers gave the FJ Cruiser a 9.4 out of 10 rating.

According to KBB, you’ll like this car if you’re “a fairly hardcore weekend off-road warrior, the FJ makes an entirely reasonable daily driver, and you really can live with it day-in, day-out. Few others will match that blend as well.” However, you won’t like this car if fuel economy and cargo space are absolute must-haves for you or if you’re not used to driving an SUV and dealing with possible blind spots.