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Nissan has many models in its lineup, from SUVs to sedans. But as with any other automaker, some Nissan cars are more popular than others. You might think a best-seller like the Altima would also have the best resale value. But that’s not the case with Nissan’s midsize sedan.

2023 Nissan Altima cockpit
2023 Nissan Altima | Nissan Motor Corporation

Nissan recently released its latest sales figures, and overall, business is looking good for the Japanese automaker. In the first half of this year, the company sold 480,000 units under the Nissan name and its luxury brand, Infiniti. That’s a 25% increase in sales compared to last year. 

In terms of what’s selling, it’s unsurprising that the automaker’s SUVs and trucks dominate with a combined 300,000 units sold so far this year, a 36.9% gain over last year. The Rogue SUV is the best-selling Nissan model in 2023, with 147,745 units sold.

Nissan sedans have combined for 143,000 units sold so far, a modest 2.3% increase from last year. But only two models are selling well.

The most popular Nissan car is the Altima, selling 63,241 units in the first half of this year. However, that’s a 19.6% decline from 2022. The other Nissan car that’s selling well is the Sentra compact sedan. It has sold 57,455 units, a 29.5% gain from last year.

2023 Nissan Altima: The most popular Nissan car does not have the best resale value
2023 Nissan Altima | Nissan Motor Corporation

Consumers who want a roomier sedan might gravitate toward the Nissan Altima because it’s a midsize car, while the Sentra is a compact car. However, shoppers who want a sedan with good resale value should consider the Sentra instead.

J.D. Power gave the Sentra a “great” 84 out of 100 for resale value. On the other hand, the Altima got a 79, which the market research firm categorizes as “average.” 

Edmunds also estimates that the Sentra’s resale value is excellent. A new 2023 Sentra starts at about $21,295. Assuming it’s been driven for 12,000 miles, the car’s estimated resale value is approximately $20,000 if sold to a private party, regardless of the car’s condition.

Meanwhile, a new 2023 Altima starts at about $26,725. After 12,000 miles, the most popular Nissan car’s estimated value can drop to as low as $24,500 if it’s in rough shape. If it’s in excellent condition, its resale value is better, around $25,400.

This difference shows that the Sentra holds its value better than the Altima no matter its condition.

Resale value and depreciation vary depending on the car and the owner

That said, those resale numbers are just estimates. Resale value and depreciation are difficult to calculate because they vary greatly. Depreciation refers to how a car’s resale value decreases over time and with wear and tear. That’s partly why estimating a car’s future resale value or depreciation is challenging.

Ultimately, those two factors depend on how well an owner cares for their car. A well-maintained vehicle can hold its value much better than a poorly maintained one. Then there’s usage. Vehicles that aren’t driven as much don’t depreciate as much, either.

But when all is said and done, owners should be happy if their car maintains about 60% of its original value after five years.