Don’t Buy These 5 Used Small Cars If You Care About Vehicle Depreciation

All cars depreciate because of age and wear. However, some cars hold their value better than other cars for a variety of factors. Some vehicles hold their value because of their popularity. Others hold their value because of a combination of features and reliability.  

Then there are cars that do not hold their value well. The cars may be fine, but for whatever reason, they depreciate more rapidly. The depreciation curve is especially steep for small cars, and according to iSeeCars, these five used cars depreciate the fastest.   

Mitsubishi Mirage G4

2022 Mitsubishi Mirage parked on the street
2022 Mitsubishi Mirage

Five-Year Depreciation: 32.3%

The Mitsubishi Mirage G4 is one of the cheapest cars you can buy new. It’s the sedan version of the Mirage hatchback with a conventional trunk. It’s a very small car with an underpowered three-cylinder engine with only 76 horsepower. The inside is cramped, with barely enough room for four adults. It’s also lacking in the features department and is about as basic of transportation as you can get without riding the bus.  

New, the Mitsubishi model came with a 10-year / 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year / 60,000 bumper-to-bumper warranty. The warranty may be enough to justify buying the Mirage as a new car, but as a used one, there are other better options.  

MINI Clubman 

Five-Year Depreciation: 30.6%

The Clubman occupies a strange spot in the MINI lineup. It’s bigger than the MINI coupe and smaller than the Countryman. It has a pair of hinged doors in the rear that open outward like a van. The Clubman lacks the go-car feel of the regular MINI but is more composed than the Countryman. It also skips the base three-cylinder engine, offering a choice of a 200-hp four-cylinder or 301-hp four-cylinder as part of the John Cooper Works package.   

The MINI Clubman is quick and composed with an engaging and fun personality. In John Cooper Works spec, it will scoot to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, an impressive feat for a small car. Inside, it’s roomy with accommodations for four people and a lot of features. The dashboard is unique with a round center panel and a speedometer and tachometer mounted in a pod on the steering wheel. 

Volkswagen GTI 

Five-Year Depreciation: 30.5%

Volkswagen created the hot hatch when it launched the GTI. Based on the VW Golf, the GTI combines the practicality of a hatch or small wagon with performance rivaling a small sports car. 

The GTI comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 241 horsepower. It rivals the MINI Clubman’s interior room and performance with a more conventional interior layout. Also, like the Clubman, it’s a blast to drive and offers an ideal blend of fuel economy, practicality, and performance. 

Nissan Sentra

Five-Year Depreciation: 30.0%

If there’s ever a car in the “also ran” category, it’s the Nissan Sentra. It’s a small, practical sedan with good interior room. It gets good gas mileage, and the 2.0-liter four-cylinder is reasonably peppy. Combining its middle-of-the-road performance with a smooth ride makes it competent if forgettable.  

The redesigned Sentra launched in 2020, quicking moving up the ranks until it was near the head of the pack. It offers good interior materials and a long list of standard safety features but is increasingly overshadowed again by cars that consistently lead the class like the Honda Civic and Kia Forte.   

Volkswagen Jetta

Five-Year Depreciation: 28.9%

Like the Golf it shares its platform with, the Jetta is a small sporty car from Volkswagen with a trunk instead of a hatchback. Like the Nissan Sentra, it’s a bit of an “also ran” but VW continually updates with more standard features, improved technology, and better performance.    

Inside, the VW is simple to the point of being minimalist aesthetically. It’s larger and roomier than its competitors and offers several engine choices.   

Should you buy one of these cars with high depreciation? 

The question to ask yourself is if you’re comfortable with a car that has a low resale value. Since each of these cars has higher than average depreciation, it’s likely they will continue to depreciate at a higher rate than other cars in the small car segment. If you’re the kind of person that trades in a car every few years, you may be better off getting a car that holds its value well. However, if you’re the kind of person that holds on to a car until it’s dead, these cars may be worth considering.