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Best resale value cars

After five years, most cars are worth a fraction of their original cost. These models do the best, according to Kelley Blue Book.

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- During your first few years of ownership, your biggest car-related expense isn't gasoline. Far from it. It's actually depreciation. That's the loss in a car's value after you purchase it.

The average car loses about 65 percent of its value over five years, according to the automotive pricing firm Kelley Blue Book. That means a $30,000 car will get you about $10,500 if you sell it after five years.

Gallery: Top 10 resale value cars

The cars that hold their value best lose about half their value over 5 years, according to Kelley Blue Book. For a $30,000 car, that would get $15,000 for it after five years. That's $4,500 more than you would get for the average car.

That's assuming, of course, that these cars are kept in good condition and not driven more than about 15,000 miles a year.

Depreciation isn't something most buyers even think about when shopping for a new car. Customers are beginning to look at those numbers, though.

"I think they're catching on, I really do," said Jack Nerad, managing editor Kelley's KBB.com Website.

Honda and its Acura luxury brands tied for having the best overall predicted resale value retention over five years, according to Kelley Blue Book.

Two factors that drive resale value are a car's perceived quality - the better a car seems to hold up over time, the better it's value will hold up - and scarcity.

Quality is the biggest reason that Honda vehicles do so well in retained value, said Nerad.

"Honda has the reputation of being very, very well built," said Nerad.

Scarcity and desirability help explain why cars like the Pontiac Solstice appear on Kelley Blue Book's Top Ten list for best overall predicted resale value.

The Solstice, made by General Motors, ranked last among sports cars in a recent Consumer Reports analysis of "predicted reliability." It's a very desirable car, though, with a lot of emotional appeal and few similarly-priced alternatives.

In selecting the top ten cars, Kelley Blue Book excluded low-volume specialty vehicles and vehicles with a base sticker price of more than $60,000.

Options can also have a big influence on a car's eventual resale value, said Nerad. Particularly in luxury cars, buyers shouldn't skimp on options like CD changers, parking sensors, navigation systems, leather interiors and active cruise control.

"Vehicles that are painted in odd colors and vehicles that have been overly personalized will be desired by a smaller group of people down the road," Nerad said. "That will negatively effect their resale value."

Gallery: Top 10 resale value cars

Category winners:

  • Sedan: Acura TSXexternal link
  • Coupe: Honda Civicexternal link
  • Convertible: Mini Cooperexternal link
  • Wagon: Volkswagen Passatexternal link
  • Hatchback: Mini Cooperexternal link
  • Luxury: BMW 5-seriesexternal link
  • Pickup: Toyota Tacomaexternal link
  • SUV: Acura MDXexternal link
  • Minivan: Honda Odysseyexternal link
  • Hybrid: Toyota Priusexternal link
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