Summary

  • The average car loses 22.5 percent of its value after 3 years, but yellow cars only lose 13.5 percent, which equates to saving more than $3,000 compared to the average vehicle
  • Yellow, beige, orange and green cars all lose less than 20 percent of their value
  • Gold, brown and black cars drop the most in value, losing over $10,000 after 3 years 

A vehicle’s color can impact its value by up to $5,000, according to new research by iSeeCars.com. This year’s study compared pricing data for over 1.3 million 3-year-old used cars to determine the impact of color on resale value. 

“Yellow cars continue to represent the greatest disparity between how many are produced and how many people want one,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “While not many people want a yellow car, there are clearly more people who want one than exist, which is why yellow performs so well on the secondary market. The same can be said of orange and green, colors you don’t see often but are obviously in higher demand than supply.”

Vehicle Depreciation by Car Color

Yellow cars hold their value best, depreciating 60 percent less than the average vehicle. The study found that the average vehicle loses 22.5 percent ($9,674) of its value after 3 years. But yellow cars only lose 13.5 percent ($6,588). This means a yellow car can save owners – or cost buyers – more than $3,000 versus the market average. Other above-average colors for value retention include beige, orange, green, red, white, and blue .
Vehicle Depreciation by Color - iSeeCars Study
Rank Color 3-Year % Depreciation $ Difference from MSRP Compared to Overall Avg.
1 Yellow 13.5% $6,588 0.6x
2 Beige 17.8% $8,411 0.8x
3 Orange 18.4% $7,023 0.8x
4 Green 19.2% $8,719 0.9x
5 Red 20.6% $8,538 0.9x
6 White 21.9% $9,695 1.0x
7 Blue 22.0% $9,216 1.0x
8 Gray 22.5% $9,425 1.0x
Overall Average 22.5% $9,674
9 Purple 22.7% $8,840 1.0x
10 Silver 23.2% $9,218 1.0x
11 Black 23.9% $10,867 1.1x
12 Brown 24.0% $10,305 1.1x
13 Gold 25.9% $11,546 1.2x
Yellow also led the iSeeCars’ 2022 Car Color Depreciation study. Orange ranked second last year, but slipped to position three in 2023, displaced by beige – which moved up from position 9 a year ago on the strength of its performance in the truck segment.

“Buyers looking for more mainstream colors that still perform well in retaining value should consider red and white,” said Brauer. “These colors aren’t as extreme as yellow or orange, likely making them more palatable to the average consumer.”

“Notice how two of the most popular colors, silver and black, rank near the bottom of the list,” said Brauer. “Many consumers and dealers likely consider these colors ‘safe’ in terms of widespread acceptance, but they're too common to help a car hold its value.”

Car Color Depreciation by Vehicle Segment 

The ranking of colors and resale shifts when broken down by major vehicle types. iSeeCars analyzed the impact across the six major vehicle categories. 

“It’s interesting to see how color rankings change across vehicle segments, reflecting the shift in preference based on the type of vehicle someone is buying,” said Brauer. “Even more interesting is the consistently low ranking of supposedly popular colors like black and silver.”

SUVs: Yellow Is the Best Color for SUV Resale Value

Yellow retains the top ranking for resale value in the SUV category, followed by green, orange, and purple. These are not common colors on SUVs, helping the few that are painted these shades be seen as rare and more valuable to buyers seeking them. Silver, black and gold remain at the bottom of the list, with blue tying the segment average at 24.8 percent in lost value. 

“SUVs make up the bulk of new vehicle sales, so it’s not surprising to see their color ranking closely match the overall market. But purple managed an upward move from 9 to 4, while blue fell below the segment average,” said Brauer.

SUV Depreciation by Color - iSeeCars Study
Rank Color 3-Year % Depreciation $ Difference from MSRP
1 Yellow 9.1% $4,500
2 Green 20.4% $8,807
3 Orange 21.1% $7,490
4 Purple 22.5% $9,699
5 Red 23.3% $9,870
6 Beige 23.7% $13,120
7 Gray 24.3% $10,617
8 White 24.5% $11,438
SUV Average 24.8% $11,171
9 Blue 24.8% $10,767
10 Silver 25.2% $10,693
11 Black 26.0% $12,461
12 Brown 26.3% $11,399
13 Gold 27.2% $12,233

Pickup Trucks: Beige Scores Big With Off-Road Truck Buyers

Beige isn’t the most exciting color, but it has been associated with special off-road trims on multiple truck models in recent years. These include the Jeep Gladiator Mojave and Toyota Tacoma TRD. Both of these trucks hold their value well in any color, with beige and tan models likely doing even better, pulling up the average for this color in the truck segment.

“Black and silver once again perform below average in the truck segment, but it’s surprising to see silver – one of today’s most popular colors – come in dead last,” said Brauer.

Truck Depreciation by Color - iSeeCars Study
Rank Color 3-Year % Depreciation $ Difference from MSRP
1 Beige 7.9% $3,640
2 Orange 10.9% $4,993
3 Green 11.6% $6,189
4 Brown 13.2% $6,932
5 Gray 15.1% $7,411
6 White 15.1% $7,545
Truck Average 15.6% $7,786
7 Black 16.1% $8,232
8 Red 16.1% $8,114
9 Purple 16.2% $8,553
10 Blue 16.3% $8,184
11 Silver 16.5% $8,042

Sedans: Brown Moves From Zero to Hero in the Sedan Category

Brown is almost the worst color for resale value across all vehicle types (only gold is worse), but it’s top dog in the sedan category. Why? Brown is a conservative, non-flashy color that blends in and doesn’t make any waves, which apparently makes it popular with buyers in this category.

“Brown is far less impactful than yellow and, like yellow, it’s not a color most people associate with strong demand. But also like yellow, there are fewer brown sedans in the market than buyers who want one,” said Brauer.

Sedan Depreciation by Color - iSeeCars Study
Rank Color 3-Year % Depreciation $ Difference from MSRP
1 Brown 16.8% $5,292
2 Red 17.4% $5,542
3 Orange 18.8% $7,048
4 Blue 18.9% $6,545
5 Beige 19.3% $7,782
6 Green 20.1% $9,976
7 Yellow 20.4% $7,821
Sedan Average 20.9% $7,353
8 White 21.0% $7,656
9 Silver 21.2% $6,745
10 Gray 21.3% $7,339
11 Black 22.6% $8,459
12 Gold 23.3% $10,015
13 Purple 24.6% $7,265

Convertibles: Yellow Is Popular With the Drop-Top Crowd

Yellow is not a subtle color, which is probably why so many convertible owners value it. As with its top ranking across all vehicle types, there are probably not many convertible buyers who really want a yellow ragtop, but there are more of them than there are yellow convertibles in the market, making it the top color for soft top buyers looking to retain vehicle value.

“Convertibles suggest a carefree take on life and what’s more carefree than driving a yellow car?” said Brauer.

Convertible Depreciation by Color - iSeeCars Study
Rank Color 3-Year % Depreciation $ Difference from MSRP
1 Yellow 15.0% $23,496
2 Orange 22.1% $29,249
3 Blue 23.4% $21,394
4 Green 24.5% $21,449
5 Red 25.6% $16,196
Convertible Average 26.7% $19,580
6 White 27.0% $19,056
7 Gray 27.3% $19,205
8 Black 27.5% $19,991
9 Silver 30.1% $19,082

Coupes: Yellow Is Also the Top Resale Value Color for Coupe Buyers

Everything that applies to convertible buyers is true for coupes too. In fact, the top five colors are the same for both vehicle types, though the order is slightly different. Both put yellow and orange in the first and second spot, then blue takes third for convertibles versus red for coupes. Then it’s green and red for convertibles, and blue and green for coupes. All of those colors are above average in retaining their respective segment’s resale value.

“Much of the coupe rankings closely mirror convertibles, but this is the only segment where white, another popular color across all vehicle types, lands at the bottom of the ranking for retaining resale value,” said Bauer.

Coupe Depreciation by Color - iSeeCars Study
Rank Color 3-Year % Depreciation $ Difference from MSRP
1 Yellow 5.6% $6,107
2 Orange 8.1% $4,810
3 Red 8.8% $5,275
4 Blue 10.4% $6,432
5 Green 10.9% $6,497
Coupe Average 12.2% $7,296
6 Gray 13.2% $7,900
7 Silver 13.4% $7,909
8 Purple 13.5% $5,611
9 Black 13.5% $7,899
10 White 13.8% $8,117

Minivans: Minivan Buyers Go Green…and Brown

Green has apparently experienced a renaissance in consumer car color preference, as it’s above average in resale value retention across all vehicle types and within each major vehicle segment. But it’s only the top-ranked color in one segment: minivans. "Green barely edged out brown with minivan buyers, again suggesting the conservative earth tone matches the minivan demographic, just as it does with sedan shoppers," said Brauer.
Minivan Depreciation by Color - iSeeCars Study
Rank Color 3-Year % Depreciation $ Difference from MSRP
1 Green 19.8% $9,132
2 Brown 20.8% $9,357
3 Blue 30.3% $13,030
4 White 30.3% $12,538
5 Purple 31.5% $13,193
Minivan Average 33.6% $14,311
6 Gray 34.5% $14,936
7 Red 35.5% $15,149
8 Black 36.0% $15,608
9 Silver 36.0% $15,393
“Like the shades themselves, our Car Color Study is never dull,” said Brauer. “Every year consumer preferences shift, as reflected in the ever-shifting order of resale value retention for different colors. But one component remains consistent – common colors like black and silver are never the best for resale value retention. There are just too many cars available in those colors to elevate resale value.”

Methodology

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 1.6 million model year 2020 used cars from August 2022 through May 2023. The MSRP of each car was adjusted for inflation to 2023 dollars and then compared to the car’s list price. The data were then aggregated by car color and bodystyle.

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is a data-driven car search and research company that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, including the iSeeCars VIN Check report and Best Cars Rankings. iSeeCars has saved users over $417 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.