Vehicles do not, as the common belief would have it, lose 35 per cent of their value the second they’re driven off the lot. But all vehicles, save for limited-production Porsche 918s or Lamborghini Venenos, depreciate over time — and hybrid cars are no exception. Depreciation is, of course, the hit you take when it comes time to sell your steed, the withering of the car’s value over time, use, mileage and wear and tear. It is the No. 1 cost of owning a new vehicle. After three years, some vehicles are worth half of what they cost, some far less than half. Factors such as reliability, an automaker’s reputation for quality, new models replacing older ones, performance and design all play a part in determining how value is retained, but so do pricing, incentives and production volume.
In the U.S., the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) comes up with lists of those vehicles with the slowest rate of depreciation after three years, based on trade-in values from dealers. It’s a way to gauge which cars, trucks and SUVs are solid investments, and can be a valuable tool when deciding on what to buy. According to NADA, these are the best green-car bets for various segments with the highest retained values that for the most part are higher than their gasoline-equivalent counterparts.
Despite a looming end to production, the Honda CR-Z sport hybrid features a lithium-ion battery to go with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder gas engine that produces 130 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. Pricing starts at $26,290. Three-year-old models have kept 47.9 per cent of their value, but with the end of production in sight, retained values could rise.
The fourth-generation Prius uses a 1.8-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine backed by its Hybrid Synergy Drive for 121 h.p. and fuel efficiency of 4.5 L/100 km combined. It can seat five and pricing starts at $25,995. Three-year-old models have historically kept 53.9 per cent of their value.
Toyota Camry Hybrid
Starting at $29,550, the Camry Hybrid looks nearly identical to its gasoline sibling, but is instead powered by a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder with Hybrid Synergy Drive for 200 net h.p. matched to an E-CV transmission. Three-year-old models maintain 51.9 per cent of their value.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which never needs to be plugged in, uses a 3.5-litre Atkinson Cycle V-6 plus high torque electric motor-generator and battery to deliver 280 net h.p. — 10 more than the gas model — but uses roughly 30 per cent less fuel. Three-year-old models fetch 60.8 per cent of their original value — the best on this list.
GMC Yukon Denali hybrid
Discontinued because of poor sales, the GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe siblings once came with a hybrid system since replaced by GM’s EcoTec3. While GM’s Duramax diesel might have achieved the same or better mileage as the former hybrids, those that still exist command 55.8 per cent of their original value. Imagine what a diesel Yukon would be worth.
Acura ILX hybrid
Another lost hybrid, the ILX hybrid sat very close to the Honda Accord Hybrid (also gone), which offered more room for less money. Still, if you can source an ILX hybrid or own one, expect it to be worth 50 per cent of its showroom value.
Lexus ES hybrid
Starting at $44,700, the Lexus ES 300h registers fuel economy of 5.8 L/100 km city and 6.1 highway from its 2.5L DOHC I4/electric motor that nets 200 h.p. and 156 lb.-ft of torque.
Older models still command 52.9 per cent of their initial cost.
Luxury large car
Tesla Model S
The only all-electric car on this list, the Tesla Model S has a claimed range, depending on which version you choose, of anywhere from 372 to 512 km before needing a recharge. With two motors, one in front and one in rear, the electric-powered Model S sport sedan digitally controls torque to the front and rear wheels. Used versions, according to NADA, return 56.2 per cent of the price new, currently at $86,000 (including freight.)
Luxury compact utility
Audi Q5 hybrid
The Audi Q5 Hybrid was the brand’s first hybrid to Canada and arrived with a turbo 2.0L four-cylinder matched up with an electric motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Combined output of 245 h.p. and decent fuel economy gives three-year-old models a 60.5 per cent value rating over the price of new in 2013. Hybrid Q5s currently start at $57,000.
Luxury mid-size utility
Lexus RX hybrid
Long the darling of the luxury SUV set — and a pioneer in the segment — the luxe Lexus remains one of the best resale bets around, and a good choice new since it holds its value so well. The RX 450h starts at $68,950 but should be worth at least 54.8 per cent of that three years down the road.
— Postmedia Network Inc. 2016