9 Car Features That Help Vehicles Retain Value

When auto consumers are looking at the used market, they will survey a vehicle’s reputation for durability to see what longevity they can expect, but many other factors enter the picture. In fact, with the number of available options in today’s automobiles, used car shoppers can customize nearly as much as they would shopping for a new vehicle.

For consumers buying new cars, there are numerous add-ons that research and buying site iSeeCars says will help a vehicle retain its value. Here are nine features that will help deliver a better return when the time comes to sell a vehicle.

Kia Optima sound system
Source: Kia

Advanced sound system

Stripped-down interiors might be great for a performance car, but everyday vehicles will benefit from a quality stereo system when it comes time to sell. The top-of-the-line systems may not return their value on the used market, but music lovers will get good use out of an audio upgrade and move the car to a like-minded buyer later. One example is the 10-speaker Sony Branded Audio upgrade available in the Ford Focus ($795).

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

Rearview backup camera

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will make backup cameras mandatory in all light-duty vehicles by 2018. In the meantime, this feature helps any car retain its value by providing an advanced safety feature for consumers on the secondhand market. Honda is one automaker that has rearview cameras standard in every 2015 model.

Source: Chevrolet


Hands-free conversations might still be more dangerous than no conversation at all, but Bluetooth at least allows drivers to get the phone out of their hands. Bluetooth is also the source of connectivity for audio playlists and streaming apps like Pandora and Spotify. Any car without Bluetooth these days feels dated, as it comes standard in nearly every vehicle. However, for those automobiles with it left as an option, it will be worth a seller’s investment when the time comes.

kia optima seats
Source: Kia

Heated seats

Used car consumers in cold climates naturally prize heated seats when searching for a vehicle. While this feature may not be available as an add-on in some new automobiles, new car consumers usually have the option to upgrade to a higher trim level for heated seats. Using the Honda Civic sedan as an example, a 2014 Civic Sedan EX ($21,090) does not have heated seats available. The Civic EX-L ($22,740) has heated front seats standard. This feature won’t be worth the investment in warm climates.

2013-Audi keyless entry
Source: Audi

Keyless entry

Entering and starting a car without the use of a key is becoming a common feature in vehicles — even ones outside of premium segments. According to iSeeCars, the luxury of unlocking and starting a car without the use of keys is worth the cost of the upgrade. There are many variances in smart key systems, from the Tesla Model S fob that sends the door handles outside the car to the Ford MyKey system that controls the top speed of a car when loaned to someone else.

Camaro wheels
Source: Chevrolet

Premium wheels

Upgrading standard wheels to a larger, more premium set is another way for a car to retain its value over the years. Spending thousands extra on wheels doesn’t make sense from a practical standpoint — from a style standpoint, it always make sense — but going to the next level tends to be worth it, says iSeeCars. As an example, we offer the Chrysler 200S trim of the midsize sedan. Choosing 19-inch hyper black aluminum wheels runs a new car buyer $695.

2015-challenger leather seats
Source: Dodge

Leather seats

There is no comparison between leather and cloth seats, but there are many cars that don’t give consumers the option to upgrade to leather in lower-level trims. Therefore, getting access to a more luxurious interior will cost a new car consumer. Leather’s durability and premium feel make the investment worth it in many cases. Shoddy cloth seats are no match for leather-clad vehicles on the secondhand market.

Chevy cruze auto trans
Source: Chevrolet

Automatic transmission

Manual transmissions are standard in many countries overseas, but automatic vehicles have been the norm among U.S. drivers for decades. Upgrading to automatic transmission in a 2014 Ford Focus costs $1,095 in the base trim, but the investment is worth it since it expands the pool of buyers dramatically when it is time to sell the car. Outside of sports cars, manual transmissions aren’t a desired feature for most used car shoppers.

Maxima Moonroof
Source: Nissan


No one needs to sell car consumers on the coolness of a moonroof, but this feature comes at a premium of $1,000 or more (as it would in a 2014 Ford Fusion SE). Nonetheless, iSeeCars says shoot for the moon when making this decision on a new car. The airiness and superior ventilation available with that upgrade give your car a boost at resale time. Compared to a car with a moonroof, a closed car will seem downright claustrophobic.