The best cars to sell, and the worst cars to buy right now as used car prices continue to rise

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Vehicles with highest price hikes in June bring sticker-shock to consumers, present lucrative trade-in opportunities

A 2020 Nissan Leaf. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Used car prices in June increased an average 32.7%, or $7,583, over the past 12 months, compared to most years when year-over-year prices remain constant
  • Used cars increased as much as 48.1%, lowest price change was 11.4%
  • Sports cars and pickup trucks had the highest price increases, which makes them the worst vehicles to buy and the best vehicles to sell
  • Small SUVs, hatchbacks, and minivans only saw minor price bumps

Used car prices continued to rise in June in the wake of the global microchip shortage as restricted new car supply has led to fewer people trading in their used cars. This combination of diminished supply and increased demand has caused used car prices to soar.

According to iSeeCars.com’s latest analysis of over 1.9 million used car sales in June, used car prices increased 32.7 percent, or $7,583, compared to the same period the previous year. This comes after a 26.4 percent year-over-year increase in May and a 16.8 percent year-over-year increase in April.

“The microchip shortage has brought historic used car price increases, so much so that some lightly used cars are more expensive than new models,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “While used car prices are expected to remain elevated for the foreseeable future, we are waiting to see if prices are going to keep rising or if they will start to decline towards pre-microchip shortage levels.” 

Although the average used car has significantly increased in price, iSeeCars’s analysis also found some vehicles have lower-than-average increases, making them smart buys for consumers who can’t wait for prices to drop. “While these used models are more expensive than they were a year ago, they haven’t been as drastically impacted by price hikes,” said Brauer.

Top 10 Used Cars With the Greatest Price Increases 

The top ten vehicles with the greatest price increases have price changes from 1.2 to 1.5 times the average vehicle’s price increase, and are primarily luxury cars, sports cars, and pickup trucks. “These used vehicles have proven to be appreciating assets over the past year — a circumstance not typically associated with used cars,” said Brauer. “Shoppers interested in these vehicles should consider holding off on purchasing them, while consumers who have these vehicles in their garage and are willing to part with them can take advantage of significantly higher trade-in values.”

Top 10 Cars with the Greatest Price Increases (YoY) – iSeeCars June 2021 Study
RankUsed VehicleAverage Used Car Price (June 2021)$ Price Change from June 2020 % Price Change from June 2020 
1Nissan LEAF$20,015$6,50148.1%
2Mercedes-Benz G-Class$158,835$50,27146.3%
3Chevrolet Camaro$36,163$11,24245.1%
4Lincoln Navigator L$66,508$20,39244.2%
5Ram Pickup 1500$40,200$12,01642.6%
6Lincoln Navigator$65,236$19,41142.4%
7Audi A5$44,376$13,07641.8%
8GMC Sierra 1500$47,791$13,96341.3%
9Ford Mustang$36,476$10,65641.3%
10Chevrolet Spark$13,892$4,01540.6%
Average$30,766$7,58332.7%

The vehicle that has the greatest price increase is the Nissan LEAF, which has risen in price by 48.1 percent since June 2020. “While used car prices for all electric vehicles have increased in recent months, the dramatic increase for used Nissan LEAF prices could be attributed to the 2018 model, which featured a significant bump in EV range, performance improvements, and an exterior facelift, and which only just entered the market this year in substantial numbers,” said Brauer. 

Ranked second is the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, which increased by 46.3 percent or $50,271. “The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is an opulent off-roader and a status symbol that has soared in popularity, with 2020 as its best sales year to date,” said Brauer. “Its demand has outpaced supply in recent months, leading buyers to the used car marketplace where they are willing to pay a premium, especially for the range topping G550 4X4² that was only available on 2017 and 2018 models.”

Two classic American sports cars make the list, the third-ranked Chevrolet Camaro and the ninth-ranked Ford Mustang. “These sports cars are aspirational cars for many consumers, and even with a price increase, they are still relatively affordable compared to other vehicles in the segment,” said Brauer. “Sports cars surged in popularity during the pandemic as drivers sought fun cars to combat boredom, and since they aren’t practical purchases, people are likely more willing to pay a premium for them in the used car marketplace.”

Two pickup trucks make the list including the fifth-ranked Ram Pickup 1500 and the eighth-ranked GMC Sierra 1500. “The shortage of new truck inventory in the wake of the microchip shortage, and the growing popularity of pickups, has led to heightened demand and scarce supply in the used car marketplace,” said Brauer. “Additionally, people who require trucks for work are more likely to pay a higher price.”’

Two similar American large SUVs make the list including the fourth-ranked Lincoln Navigator L, which is the longer wheelbase version of the sixth-ranked Lincoln Navigator. “The Lincoln Navigator was fully redesigned in 2018, which was its first full redesign in over a decade,” said Brauer. “With these redesigned models coming off-lease for the first time in 2021, and as the luxury full-size SUV market has boomed, buyers may be willing to pay more for these in-demand vehicles than they were for older versions.” Another luxury car redesigned for 2018, the seventh-ranked Audi A5 small sedan, also made the list. “The Audi A5 is one of the priciest vehicles in its class, but it’s also one of the sportiest, so drivers are willing to pay more for these cars, especially the later redesigned models.” 

Rounding out the list on the other end of the price spectrum is the tenth-ranked Chevrolet Spark, with an average used car price of $13,892. “The Chevrolet Spark’s main appeal is its low price point, making it attainable for new drivers and those looking for cheap transportation, even with a big bump in prices over the past year,” said Brauer. 

Top 10 Used Cars With the Smallest Price Changes 

The top ten vehicles with the smallest price differences have changes from 0.3 to 0.6 times the average vehicle and include a mix of vehicle types. “Consumers who are in the market for a used car should consider these vehicles, which include a mix of vehicle types and price points, all of which have not been as drastically impacted by price hikes,” said Brauer. 

Top 10 Cars with the Smallest Price Increases (YoY) – iSeeCars June 2021 Study
RankUsed VehicleAverage Used Car Price (June 2021)$ Price Change from June 2020 % Price Change from June 2020 
1Mercedes-Benz GLC$33,936$3,86711.4%
2Volvo XC90$37,099$4,68112.6%
3Audi SQ5$40,028$5,76814.4%
4Subaru Crosstrek$21,570$3,27115.2%
5Audi Q7$37,616$6,32416.8%
6Tesla Model S$52,771$9,24017.5%
7Hyundai Accent$11,505$2,01917.5%
8Audi A7$38,755$6,83617.6%
9Mazda CX-3$17,057$3,07418.0%
10Mitsubishi Outlander$16,618$3,03118.2%
Average$30,766$7,58332.7%

Four luxury SUVs make the list including the first-ranked compact Mercedes-Benz GLC, the second-ranked midsize Volvo XC90, the third-ranked compact Audi SQ5, and the fifth-ranked midsize Audi Q7. “The Mercedes-Benz GLC and the Audi Q7 are among the highest-rated vehicles in their classes, but they are also among the most expensive, which could explain why their price increases are lower than competitive models,” said Brauer. “The Volvo XC90 is another quality vehicle with advanced technology, but its aging design doesn’t stand out in the competitive luxury midsize SUV segment.”

Three small SUVs make the list including the fourth-ranked subcompact Subaru Crosstrek, the ninth-ranked Mazda CX-3, and the tenth-ranked compact Mitsubishi Outlander. “The Subaru Crosstrek and Mazda CX-3 subcompact SUVs are among the best vehicles in their class, while the Mitsubishi Outlander was redesigned for 2022, making older versions less desirable,” said Brauer. “Luxurious and larger SUVs are the most in-demand used vehicles right now, meaning these less popular vehicles haven’t had the same price hikes, making them affordable options for drivers who want a reliable SUV.” 

The Tesla Model S ranks sixth. “The once high-demand Tesla Model S has declined in popularity thanks to more affordable Tesla models like the Model 3 and Model Y, both of which cost far less than the used Model S, even when purchased new,” said Brauer. 

Rounding out the list are two sedans on the opposite ends of the pricing spectrum: the seventh-ranked Hyundai Accent subcompact car and the eighth-ranked Audi A7 large sedan. “Despite its favorable ratings, the Hyundai Accent has steadily declined in sales each year since 2016,” said Brauer. “The Audi A7 was redesigned for the 2019 model year, reducing buyers’ willingness to pay a premium for dated 2018 models.”

Used Car Price Changes By Body Type

iSeeCars compared used car pricing by body type against the overall average of 32.7 percent.

Used Car Price Changes in June 2021 Compared to Last Year, by Bodystyle – iSeeCars Study
Bodystyle% Change from Last Year$ Change from Last Year
Coupe41.3%$12,705
Convertible40.9%$12,885
Pickup38.6%$11,440
Sedan33.7%$5,989
Overall Average32.7%$7,583
Wagon30.4%$6,849
Minivan29.4%$6,463
SUVs26.8%$4,097
Hatchback26.3%$6,849

Every vehicle segment increased significantly in price compared to last year, but coupes increased the most, followed by convertibles and pickups. “The shortage of new pickup trucks has forced buyers to buy used versions, and many buyers are willing to pay a premium because they need trucks for work purposes,” said Brauer. “Demand for sporty convertibles and coupes outpaces what’s available in the used car marketplace, and dealers don’t have to be as competitive with pricing because buyers of these kinds of cars may not be as bargain-conscious.”

Wagons, minivans, SUVs, and hatchbacks also increased in price, but at a rate that is below the 32.7 percent average. “Minivans have declined in popularity,  contributing to their lower-than-average price increases,” said Brauer. “While large SUVs and many luxury SUVs are in high-demand, lower-priced small SUVs aren’t rising in price, which leads to the lower-than-average price increase for the entire segment. As for hatchbacks and wagons, consumers who want the extra cargo space offered by this body style are likely choosing SUVs instead.”

“The current state of the used car market presents a selling or trade-in opportunity for consumers who may have one of the most in-demand luxury SUVs, sports cars, or pickups” said Brauer. “While waiting to make a used car purchase is probably the smartest decision, there are some models that won’t provide as much sticker shock as the average used vehicle.”

More from iSeeCars.com:

Methodology

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 1.1 million used car sales from model years 2016 to 2020 in June 2021, and over 800,000 used car sales from model years 2015 to 2019 in June 2020. The average listing prices of each car model were compared between the two time periods, and the differences were expressed as both a percentage difference from the 2020 price as well as a dollar difference. Heavy-duty vehicles, low-volume vehicles, vehicles discontinued as of the 2021 model year, and vehicles with fewer than 4 of the 5 model years for each period were excluded from further analysis.

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is a car search engine that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, like the iSeeCars free VIN check reports. iSeeCars.com has saved users over $303 million so far by applying big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of new cars and used cars.

This article, Best Cars to Sell, Worst Cars to Buy Right Now As Used Car Prices Continue to Rise, originally appeared on iSeeCars.com.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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