New Cars Most Owners Give Up Within the First Year

By Julie Blackley

In a new study, automotive research firm and car search engine iSeeCars.com found that while only 3.4% of new cars are resold as used within the first year of ownership, German and British luxury vehicles are given up much more frequently.

iSeeCars.com analyzed more than 46 million individual new car sales and determined how many of those new cars were resold as used within the first year with at least 1000 miles on the odometer.  The results show that the top 10 models are given up more than 2.5 times the average vehicle.

Eight of the top 10 models are from luxury brands, with an even split from German and British automakers. Nissan, which has two models in the top 10, stands out as the only non-luxury automaker making the list.  

New Cars Given Up Most Often Within the First Year of Ownership
Rank Model % Resold As Used Within the First Year
1 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 12.4%
2 BMW 3 Series 11.8%
3 Land Rover Discovery Sport 11.8%
4 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 10.9%
5 MINI Clubman 10.7%
6 BMW X1 10.4%
7 BMW X3 9.0%
8 Nissan Versa Note 9.0%
9 Jaguar XF 8.8%
10 Nissan Versa 8.7%
Average for all cars 3.4%
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Earning the top spot is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class compact executive car, with 12.4 percent of its new cars resold on the used car market within the first year, which is 3.7 times the average for all vehicles. Fellow German automaker BMW has the most models on the list with three including the second-ranked 3 Series, the sixth-ranked X1, and the seventh-ranked X3. “Despite the popularity of these vehicles, they generally have below-average reliability ratings from Consumer Reports, which could contribute to why owners get rid of them so quickly,” said iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly. “Another possible explanation is that BMW and Mercedes offer incentives to their dealers to buy new cars to use as loaner vehicles, which are then sold as used when they are still under a year old. In turn, this boosts the brand’s new car sales and introduces current customers to new models when they bring in their vehicles for service.”  To remove obvious instances of this practice, known in the industry as “car punching,” iSeeCars excluded vehicles from the analysis with less than 1,000 miles on the odometer.

The four British luxury vehicles that make the list include the third-ranked Land Rover Discovery Sport, the fourth-ranked Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, the fifth-ranked MINI Clubman, and the ninth-ranked Jaguar XF. “The Discovery Sport and the Range Rover Evoque each have poor projected reliability ratings from J.D. Power, which could contribute to why owners would want to give them up,” said Ly.  "Meanwhile, Jaguar is notorious for having high operating costs, which may cause new car owners to give up their cars soon after purchase. However, the automaker has fought to improve that perception by recently decreasing prices and adding free scheduled maintenance for new cars.” The MINI Clubman subcompact SUV rounds out the British luxury vehicles making the list. “The MINI Clubman is the most expensive vehicle in its class and has one of the lowest fuel-economy ratings, so drivers might opt to trade it in for something more efficient that is lower priced,” added Ly.  

Rounding out the list are the eighth-ranked Nissan Versa Note hatchback and its sedan counterpart, the tenth-ranked Nissan Versa. “As both are among the lowest-priced cars in their segments, the Versa and the Versa Note do not have any of the latest standard safety features beyond the rearview camera and have basic no-frills interiors,” said Ly. “Drivers may opt for rival vehicles with more safety features or for a vehicle with a more stylish interior.”

Brands Owners Give Up in the First Year

iSeeCars analyzed the data to determine which car brands owners are most likely to give up within a year of ownership.

iSeeCars - Car Brands Given Up Most Often Within the First Year of Ownership
Rank Make % Resold As Used Within the First Year
1 BMW 7.9%
2 Porsche 7.6%
3 Mercedes-Benz 7.4%
4 Land Rover 6.5%
5 Jaguar 6.4%
6 MINI 6.2%
7 FIAT 5.2%
8 Audi 5.1%
9 Nissan 5.0%
10 INFINITI 4.7%
11 Maserati 4.3%
12 Ram 4.1%
13 Dodge 4.1%
14 Acura 3.9%
15 Mitsubishi 3.8%
16 Cadillac 3.8%
17 Volkswagen 3.7%
18 Jeep 3.6%
Average for All Vehicles 3.4%
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Eighteen makes are given up within the first year at an above-average rate. Echoing the trend of the overall list, the top 10 makes that are given up most often are European luxury brands with seventh-ranked FIAT and ninth-ranked Nissan as the non-luxury exceptions. INFINITI, Nissan’s luxury extension, joins Nissan to account as the only two Japanese automakers on the top 10 list.

“As a brand, FIATs are plagued by the reputation of being unreliable and the FIAT 500 has been a mainstay on unreliable vehicle lists by  JD Power and Consumer Reports,” said Ly. “Similarly, Nissan regularly finishes near the bottom for Consumer Reports brand reliability rankings and models like the Pathfinder and the Sentra consistently earn the lowest possible scores for owner satisfaction ratings.”

SUVs Given Up Most Often Within the First Year of Ownership

iSeeCars examined the list to determine which SUVs are most often given up by their owners within the first year of ownership.

iSeeCars SUVs Given Up Most Often Within the First Year of Ownership
Rank Model % Resold As Used Within the First Year
1 Land Rover Discovery Sport 11.8%
2 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 10.9%
3 BMW X1 10.4%
4 BMW X3 9.0%
5 Porsche Cayenne 8.7%
6 Mercedes-Benz GLA 8.5%
7 Nissan Rogue Sport 8.1%
8 Mercedes-Benz G-Class 8.1%
9 Mazda CX-3 6.3%
10 Porsche Macan 6.3%
Average for All SUVs 2.7%
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While the top four SUVs also appear on the overall list, six additional SUVs are at least two times more likely to be given up within the first year when compared to the average for all SUVs. “As a segment, SUVs have the lowest percentage of vehicles given up within a year at 2.7 percent,” said Ly. “This shows that consumers are generally happy with their SUVs, which is reflected by the growing popularity of the SUV segment.”

Two Porsche SUVs make the list including the fifth-ranked midsize Cayenne and the ninth-ranked compact Macan. “Both of these vehicles are among the priciest in their vehicle segments, but lack the cargo capacity of their rivals,” said Ly. “In addition to the upfront added cost of purchasing the vehicle, the Cayenne draws criticism for its high cost of ownership and maintenance, while the Macan is among the worst in its class for fuel economy. Owners might opt to trade these vehicles in for something that is less expensive to maintain that offers more space.”

A pair of Mercedes-Benz models also make the list including the sixth-ranked GLA subcompact SUV and the eighth-ranked G-Class large SUV. “The GLA earns low Consumer Reports owner satisfaction ratings, which could be because of its cramped back seats and lack of cargo room,” said Ly. “Meanwhile, the G-Class offroad vehicle is difficult to handle, uncomfortable to drive and has below-average fuel economy, so drivers may opt for a more practical vehicle.”

A pair of non-luxury subcompact SUVs round out the list with the seventh-ranked Nissan Rogue Sport and the ninth-ranked Mazda CX-3. “Continuing the trend of Nissans being given up within a year, the Nissan Rogue Sport has had below average Consumer Reports owner satisfaction ratings since its introduction to the market for the 2017 model year,” said Ly. “The vehicle doesn’t stand out among its competitors due to its slow acceleration and dated infotainment system, and it is also among the more expensive vehicles in its class. Meanwhile, the Mazda CX-3 is among the most top-rated vehicles in its class, but has a cramped back seat and limited cargo room.”

Light-Duty Pickup Trucks Given Up Most Often Within the First Year of Ownership

iSeeCars further analyzed the data to determine the pickup trucks that owners are most likely to give up within one year of ownership.

iSeeCars Light-Duty Pickup Trucks Given Up Most Often Within the First Year of Ownership
Rank Model % Resold As Used Within the First Year
1 Nissan Titan XD 7.9%
2 Nissan Titan 7.6%
3 Nissan Frontier 5.3%
4 GMC Canyon 4.8%
5 Toyota Tacoma 4.7%
6 GMC Sierra 1500 4.6%
7 Ram Pickup 1500 4.1%
8 Chevrolet Colorado 4.1%
9 Toyota Tundra 3.9%
Average for all Light-Duty Pickups 3.9%
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The top three trucks that owners are most likely to give up within a year are all Nissan models including the top-ranked Nissan Titan XD, the second-ranked Nissan Titan, and the third-ranked Nissan Frontier. “The standard full-size Titan and its larger XD variant do not measure up to their rivals in terms of towing capacity and hauling, which suggests that owners might turn them in for something more rugged,” said Ly. “The compact Frontier has the same shortcomings for hauling and towing while also having the worst fuel economy in its class.”

Sports Cars Given Up Most Often Within the First Year of Ownership

Further examining the list, iSeeCars examined the new sports cars that owners are most likely to give up within a year of purchase. As a vehicle segment, 6.1 percent of sports cars are given up in the first year of ownership, which is more than any other vehicle segment.

“One of the defining qualities of sports cars is that they are not practical,” said Ly. “People might decide that they want a more fuel-efficient vehicle that is more suitable for daily driving.”

iSeeCars Sports Cars Given Up Most Often Within the First Year of Ownership
Rank Model % Resold As Used Within the First Year
1 Nissan 370z 7.8%
2 Porsche 911 7.1%
3 Chevrolet Corvette 6.4%
4 Dodge Challenger 6.4%
5 Ford Mustang 6.3%
6 Chevrolet Camaro 6.1%
Average for All Sports Cars 6.1%
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The Nissan 370z earns the distinction of the new sports car the most drivers give up within a year. “While sports cars are typically not fuel efficient, the Nissan 370z is less efficient than most of its competitors and has scarce storage space,” said Ly.

Ranked second is the Porsche 911. “Although Porsche 911 achieves some of the highest ratings in its class, it is known for having extremely high ownership costs, which might lead to people giving it up for a more practical vehicle,” noted Ly.

Vehicles Given Up Most Often Within the First Year of Ownership by City

Further analyzing the list geographically, iSeeCars identified the vehicles that owners give up most often within a year in the top 20 most populous cities.

iSeeCars Cars Given Up Most Often Within the First Year of Ownership by City
City Vehicle % Resold Within First Year
Atlanta, GA Mercedes-Benz C-Class 33.7%
Boston, MA-Manchester, NH Mercedes-Benz C-Class 15.1%
Chicago, IL Mercedes-Benz C-Class 16.9%
Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH BMW X3 10.0%
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX Mercedes-Benz C-Class 11.1%
Denver, CO BMW 3 Series 15.1%
Houston, TX Mercedes-Benz C-Class 16.4%
Los Angeles, CA BMW 3 Series 13.9%
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL Mercedes-Benz C-Class 13.6%
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN Mercedes-Benz C-Class 18.6%
New York, NY Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 14.7%
Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL BMW 3 Series 15.8%
Philadelphia, PA BMW 3 Series 15.3%
Phoenix, AZ Mercedes-Benz C-Class 25.7%
Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA Mercedes-Benz C-Class 20.1%
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 13.3%
Seattle-Tacoma, WA BMW X3 18.5%
Tampa-St Petersburg (Sarasota), FL BMW 3 Series 12.3%
Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD) Mercedes-Benz C-Class 20.7%
 

Similar to the national list, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the vehicle given up most often within a year across 10 cities.

“Consumers may not be aware that these vehicles that are practically new can be found in the used car marketplace and can present incredible savings opportunities,” said Ly.  “While some of these vehicles have below-average reliability and owner satisfaction scores, other vehicles like the Mazda CX-3 are ranked highly in their class and might have been given up because they didn’t align with a person’s lifestyle. It’s important that consumers do their research beforehand to see if there are any underlying quality issues with these cars and to decide whether these are truly good deals.”

Methodology:

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 46 million individual new car sales from model years 2014-2017 in July 2013 through December 2018. It identified, using each car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), whether the car was then re-listed between four months and a year of its sell date on the used car market and then sold. Used cars with fewer than 1000 miles, models not in production as of the 2018 model year, heavy-duty trucks and vans, and low-volume models were excluded from further analysis.  

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is an online car search engine helping consumers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, like the iSeeCars VIN check report. iSeeCars.com has saved users over $180 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 cars and thousands of dealers. Based in the Boston area, iSeeCars.com was founded by former TripAdvisor and SAP executives determined to improve the car shopping experience for consumers

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