Toyota Tundra
Toyota Tundra. Click image to enlarge


Originally published on February 24, 2012

By Greg Wilson

Last week, J.D. Power and Associates released their 2012 Vehicle Dependability Study, a survey of 31,000 U.S. owners of 2009 vehicles who reported their vehicle’s reliability history after three years of ownership. About the same time, the Canadian Black Book and Automotive Lease Guide Canada released their annual surveys on vehicles with the best resale values after three and four years.

Given that reliability and the cost of ownership are two of the biggest concerns for new and used car buyers, we thought it would be interesting to cross reference the most reliable vehicles with those vehicles that have the best resale values.

Though depreciation is the single biggest cost of owning a new vehicle, many new car buyers overlook this when purchasing a new car. A new vehicle can depreciate 40 to 60 per cent in three years and the difference between a car with a strong residual value and one with a poor residual value can means thousands of dollars in the owner’s pocket when it comes time to sell or renew the lease. When leasing or financing, a car with a lower predicted residual or trade-in value will cost more in monthly payments and be worth less at the end of the lease.

As most new vehicles have complete bumper-to-bumper warranties ranging from three to five years, reliability issues during that time aren’t likely to cost the owner a lot of money. However, the hassles associated with vehicle problems and loss of use of a vehicle while servicing is done is a major inconvenience, and a waste of time when, more than ever, time is money and/or time you could have spent doing something you’d rather be doing.

So which vehicles are likely to be the most trouble-free and bring in the best price at trade-in time? We took the 17 vehicle category winners in the Canadian Black Book’s 2012 Best Retained Value Awards: these are 2008 model year vehicles that retained the highest percentage of their original MSRP after four years; and Automotive Lease Guide’s annual Canadian Residual Value Awards top three vehicle winners in 19 vehicle categories: these vehicles are forecast to retain the highest percentage of their MSRP after a three-year period for luxury vehicles, and four years for mainstream vehicles.

We cross-referenced them with the top three winners in each of the 14 vehicle categories surveyed by J.D. Power and Associates in their 2012 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. J.D. Power’s survey measures problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old (2009 model-year) vehicles.

We also cross-referenced them with Consumer Reports’ list of recommended vehicles. To earn a “Recommended” designation, CR’s vehicles must have performed well in CR’s tests, have average or better reliability, and, if crash-tested, provide good overall crash protection based on CR’s composite of insurance-industry and government crash tests. As well, they must not have tipped up in the government rollover test.

Interestingly there were only three vehicles on the Canadian Black Book’s best retained value list that matched J.D. Power’s most reliable vehicles list: the Toyota Avalon, Toyota Tundra, and Honda Odyssey. The Canadian Black Book list had more in common with Consumer Reports’ recommended list, where common winners included the Dodge Challenger R/T, Honda Fit, Honda Accord, Lexus LS, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Tundra, Toyota Sequoia, Toyota Tacoma, Subaru Outback and Volkswagen Rabbit (Golf).

When comparing Automotive Lease Guide’s best residual value winners with J.D. Power’s most reliable vehicle’s list, there were four vehicles in common: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Tundra, Toyota Camry and Honda CR-V. ALG’s list, when compared with Consumer Report’s recommended vehicles, produced a longer list: Audi A3, Honda CR-V, Infiniti EX35, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Maxima, Subaru WRX and STi, Subaru Outback, Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Tundra, and Volkswagen Rabbit (Golf).

Excluding the duplicates, that’s a total of 19 vehicles that have been judged to have the excellent resale values and a high standard of reliability. Interestingly, there was only one vehicle common to all four surveys: the full-size Toyota Tundra pickup truck, which incidentally, is built in San Antonio, Texas!

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