BMW, luxury models top bargain list of high depreciating used cars after 3 years

Photo credit: Ivan Kurmyshov /

Compared to just four non-luxury market vehicles, six luxury models dominate iSeeCars’s latest list of best bargain vehicles that depreciate the most after three years on the road.

With a 52.6-percent depreciation rate, which is about 1.5 times more than average, iSeeCars ranks the $30,846 priced BMW 5 Series model the best bargain buy for a 3-year-old car.

The research firm identified 10 vehicles with depreciation rates higher than the 35-percent average that iSeeCars calculated for all vehicles nationwide.

While the average vehicle depreciates 35 percent after three years, iSeeCars identified models with highest-depreciating vehicles that lose between 46 percent and 52 percent of their value after a few years

Thought the BMW 5 series ranks No. 1, the most affordable luxury vehicle on the list is the Audi A3 subcompact sedan, according to iSeeCars.

With a depreciation rate of 47.9 percent, the Audi A3 is almost $10,000 cheaper than the BMW 5 Series at $21,120.

Meanwhile, BMW’s 3 Series ranks fourth on the list of best bargains with a 49.8-percent depreciation rate.

“Two luxury crossover SUVs, the Cadillac SRX and the Buick Enclave, make the otherwise car-dominated list in the ninth and 10th spots making them attractive options for people interested in this booming vehicle segment,” iSeeCars chief executive officer Phong Ly said in a news release. “Trucks and truck-based SUVs are known for having the highest value retention, which explains why these vehicle types are absent from the top 10 list.

“Trucks as a vehicle category depreciate 23.3 percent in three years, which is two-thirds of the 35-percent average across all vehicle segments,” Ly continued. said that it analyzed over 4.1 million car sales to determine the models with the greatest loss in value after three years.

“The rising popularity of auto leases in recent years has led to an influx of cars coming off lease, creating the opportunity for consumers to find bargains on late-model vehicles,” said Ly. “Consumers who take advantage of these best bargains can purchase a 3-year-old car for half the price of what it would cost to buy the same car new.”

When it comes to additional non-luxury options, the Volkswagen Passat priced at $14,906 on average has the second highest depreciation at 1.4 times the average rate.

“The Passat underwent a significant redesign in 2016, its first overhaul since it was introduced to the American market in 2011, to include upgrades in its safety features and infotainment technology,” said Ly. “This redesign likely lowered the demand for Passats from the previous year leading to high depreciation.”

Meanwhile, also on the list is the seventh spot VW Jetta model at an average price of $13,157.

BMW and VW are the only automakers that have two models on the top 10 list and the six imports on the list are all from Germany.

“One reason for the high depreciation of German vehicles is because of their high repair costs,” Ly explained.

The following is a list of the 10 nearly new bargain models, along with each vehicle’s current used price and depreciation rate:

Top 10 Best Bargains on Almost-New Cars



Avg. 3-Year-Old Used Price

% Depreciation


BMW 5 Series

$ 30,846



Volkswagen Passat




Mercedes-Benz E-Class




BMW 3 Series




Ford Taurus




Chrysler 200




Volkswagen Jetta




Audi A3




Cadillac SRX

$ 26,291



Buick Enclave



Additionally, among the four non-luxury models on the list, not only did the discontinued Chrysler 200 earn the sixth spot on the list, the soon-to-be-discontinued Ford Taurus model ranks fifth.

“Discontinued cars typically have lower resale values than cars still in production,” explained Ly.

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