Best Used Cars to Trade-In and Buy Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Julie Blackley

  • Average vehicle increased in price by 4.1 percent in August over July according to iSeeCars latest analysis of almost 1 million used car sales, yet some used cars decreased in price
  • Price increases could mean top dollar for trade-ins, while decreases could mean deals for car shoppers
  • Consumers can swap their vehicles to reduce monthly automotive expenses
  • Sports cars and luxury cars make up top 10 list of cars with greatest price increases, while economy cars and sedans saw greatest declines
Used car prices increased in August over July as a result of heightened demand and a shortage of new car inventory from coronavirus pandemic-related production interruptions. According to iSeeCars.com’s analysis of nearly 1 million used car sales in July and August, used car prices in August saw an average increase of 4.1 percent or $941 compared to July. 

Some vehicle segments had higher price increases than others--namely luxury cars and sports cars--while economy cars and sedans saw price decreases. 

“Dealers don’t need to be as competitive with the pricing of luxury and higher-priced vehicles because shoppers at these price points likely aren’t as bargain-conscious as those looking for more affordable and practical used cars,” said iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly. “Subcompact cars are the lowest-priced used cars available, so it’s likely that shoppers interested in these vehicles are looking for a deal.”

iSeeCars determined the cars with the highest and lowest increases or decreases in prices. “Regardless of the cause for the price changes, the cars with the greatest differences present great opportunities for consumers,” said Ly. “The cars with the biggest price increases likely mean higher trade-in values for consumers with these cars, while cars with the smallest price increases are savings opportunities for those looking to purchase a used car in today’s market.”

Used Vehicles With the Greatest Price Increases

The top ten vehicles with the greatest price increases have increases ranging from 1.7 to 2.2 times greater than the average vehicle, and are made up of sports cars and luxury SUVs and cars. 
Used Vehicles With the Greatest Price Increases - iSeeCars Study
Rank Used Vehicle Average Used Car Price (August 2020) $ Price Difference from July to August % Price Difference from July to August 
1 Dodge Challenger $32,163 $2,667 9.0%
2 Land Rover Range Rover Sport $51,502 $4,226 8.9%
3 Volvo S60 $23,105 $1,829 8.6%
4 Lexus RX 350 $35,055 $2,707 8.4%
5 Land Rover Discovery Sport $28,839 $2,121 7.9%
6 BMW 4 Series $28,064 $2,050 7.9%
7 BMW 7 Series $45,213 $3,209 7.6%
8 Volvo XC60 $29,011 $2,042 7.6%
9 Ford Mustang $28,715 $1,940 7.2%
10 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque $29,866 $1,961 7.0%
Average $23,705 $941 4.1%
The Dodge Challenger is the used car with the greatest price increase, with a 9 percent increase from July to August. A second popular sports car, the Ford Mustang, ranks ninth with a 7.2 percent increase. “The Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger are the best-selling sports cars in the United States, and used car shoppers are willing to pay a premium for these in-demand vehicles,” said Ly.

A mix of SUVs and sedans from luxury automakers comprise the remainder of the list, with Land Rover accounting for the most models with three including the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, the Land Rover Discovery Sport, and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. They are joined by Volvo and BMW, which both have multiple models on the list. “Consumers are likely drawn to the prestige of these vehicles and may be less price sensitive even though Land Rovers are notorious for below-average reliability scores and high ownership costs, and BMWs and Volvos have above average ownership costs as well,” said Ly. 

While these vehicles have increased in price, they can still benefit the bottom lines of consumers. “Although you might not find a deal if you are looking to purchase these vehicles, you are likely to get more money if you are trading these cars in,” said Ly.

Vehicles with the Greatest Price Decreases

Despite the overall trend of vehicle prices increasing in August compared to July, some vehicles saw price decreases. 
Used Vehicles With the Greatest Price Decreases - iSeeCars Study
Rank Used Vehicle Average Used Car Price (August 2020) $ Price Difference from July to August  % Price Difference from July to August 
1 Chevrolet Sonic $10,463 -$243 -2.3%
2 GMC Yukon XL $42,317 -$811 -1.9%
3 Chevrolet Spark $9,839 -$185 -1.8%
4 Ford Fusion Energi $16,844 -$313 -1.8%
5 Ford Ecosport $17,409 -$199 -1.1%
6 Mazda Mazda6 $16,704 -$188 -1.1%
7 Porsche 911 $132,704 -$1,453 -1.1%
8 Hyundai Elantra GT $13,906 -$150 -1.1%
9 Lincoln MKZ $22,513 -$241 -1.1%
10 Nissan Altima $15,339 -$124 -0.8%
Average $23,705 $941 4.1%
The vehicles with the greatest price decreases are a mix of different types including four midsize sedans, two subcompact cars, one compact hatchback, one subcompact SUV, one sports car, and one full-size SUV.

The vehicle with the greatest price decrease is the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact car, which is joined by a second Chevrolet subcompact car, the Chevrolet Spark in third. “These vehicles target bargain-conscious consumers as two of the lowest-priced vehicles available,” said Ly.                                

The four sedans that make the list include the fourth-ranked Ford Fusion Energi hybrid, the sixth-ranked Mazda 6, the ninth-ranked Lincoln MKZ, and the tenth-ranked Nissan Altima. “The declining popularity of the segment and the emergence of more affordable small SUVs have lessened the demand for these sedans, so dealers are more likely to provide discounts,” said Ly.

Two SUVs on both ends of the spectrum make the list: the second-ranked large GMC Yukon XL and the subcompact Ford Ecosport. “The pandemic has brought a shift to smaller used SUVs as shoppers are looking for more practical vehicles, which suggests the demand is lower for supersized expensive SUVs like the GMC Yukon XL,” said Ly. “However, the small Ford Ecosport does not rank as highly as its competitors, so the demand isn’t as high for this vehicle and consumers who do want the vehicle are likely looking for a deal.”

Standing out on the list is the seventh-ranked Porsche 911 sports car, which costs an average of $132,704. “Porsche retains its value better than most expensive sports cars, which makes it a very expensive option for buyers looking for a used car,” said Ly. “Given that the demand is not high because buyers who can afford a used version are likely to buy a new vehicle, dealers are less likely to raise the prices.”

Used Car Price Analysis: Most Popular Vehicles

iSeeCars looked at the 25 most popular vehicles based on new car sales from 2019, and seven vehicles had price increases greater than the 3.7 percent average for the group.
Used Car Price Analysis - Top 25 Popular Vehicles - iSeeCars Study
Rank Popular Vehicle Average Used Car Price (August 2020) $ Price Difference from July to August % Price Difference from July to August
1 Ford F-150 $34,452 $1,923 5.9%
2 Toyota Tacoma $31,477 $1,673 5.6%
3 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 $32,609 $1,656 5.3%
4 Ram Pickup 1500 $31,079 $1,552 5.3%
5 GMC Sierra 1500 $36,462 $1,538 4.4%
6 Toyota 4Runner $33,783 $1,329 4.1%
7 Jeep Grand Cherokee $28,529 $1,058 3.9%
Popular Vehicle Average $23,391 $835 3.7%
8 Toyota Corolla $14,689 $514 3.6%
9 Jeep Wrangler $28,466 $982 3.6%
10 Toyota Highlander $29,515 $970 3.4%
11 Subaru Outback $23,239 $762 3.4%
12 Ford Explorer $26,387 $810 3.2%
13 Toyota RAV4 $21,429 $656 3.2%
14 Subaru Forester $20,700 $614 3.1%
15 Honda CR-V $22,081 $641 3.0%
16 Honda Civic $16,678 $426 2.6%
17 Toyota Camry $18,574 $459 2.5%
18 Honda Accord $19,343 $475 2.5%
19 Ford Escape $17,392 $421 2.5%
20 Hyundai Tucson $17,760 $420 2.4%
21 Mazda CX-5 $20,682 $462 2.3%
22 Ford Fusion $15,698 $286 1.9%
23 Chevrolet Equinox $17,998 $261 1.5%
24 Nissan Rogue $17,784 $198 1.1%
25 Nissan Altima $15,339 -$124 -0.8%
The top five vehicles with the greatest price increases are pickup trucks, led by the first-ranked Ford F-150 and followed by the second-ranked Toyota Tacoma, the third-ranked Chevrolet Silverado 1500, the fourth-ranked Ram Pickup 1500, and the fifth-ranked GMC Sierra 1500. “The Ford F-150 is the best-selling new and used pickup truck, so the popular vehicle is in high-demand in the used market,” said Ly. “There was a shortage of new pickup trucks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to an increased demand for used versions of these trucks.”  

The additional popular vehicles with above-average price increases include the sixth-ranked Toyota 4Runner and the seventh-ranked Jeep Grand Cherokee. “The Toyota 4Runner is a rugged truck-based SUV that is priced like a luxury car with an average price of $33,783, so it attracts buyers who are willing to pay a premium for its reliability and utility,” said Ly. “The Jeep Grand Cherokee is among the more expensive cars in its class with higher trims that attract luxury shoppers who may not be as deal-conscious as shoppers looking for more practical SUVs.” 

The remaining popular vehicles all have price increases that are below average, with the exception of the Nissan Altima that has a price decrease. “This shows that popular vehicles have not had as significant price increases due to the higher supply of these cars,” said Ly.

Used Car Price Analysis: SUVs

iSeeCars analyzed the SUV segment and found that the average price increase was 4.1 percent, which is equal to the average price increase across all vehicle segments. 

SUVs with the Largest Price Increases

iSeeCars identified the top 15 SUVs with the greatest price increases.
SUVs with the Largest Price Increases - iSeeCars Study 
Rank SUV Average Used Car Price (August 2020) $ Price Difference July to August % Price Difference July to August
1 Land Rover Range Rover Sport $51,502 $4,226 8.9%
2 Lexus RX 350 $35,055 $2,707 8.4%
3 Land Rover Discovery Sport $28,839 $2,121 7.9%
4 Volvo XC60 $29,011 $2,042 7.6%
5 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque $29,866 $1,961 7.0%
6 Porsche Macan $46,148 $2,881 6.7%
7 Porsche Cayenne $51,856 $3,198 6.6%
8 Lincoln Navigator $47,990 $2,918 6.5%
9 Volkswagen Tiguan $19,679 $1,129 6.1%
10 BMW X3 $29,021 $1,662 6.1%
11 Audi Q7 $39,637 $2,229 6.0%
12 Audi Q3 $25,328 $1,372 5.7%
13 Lexus GX 460 $38,930 $1,960 5.3%
14 BMW X1 $23,936 $1,145 5.0%
15 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited $35,230 $1,543 4.6%
SUV Average $25,063 $980 4.1%
 

The top five SUVs appeared on the overall list of used vehicles with the greatest price increases, and the remaining 10 are predominantly luxury SUVs with the exception of the ninth-ranked Volkswagen Tiguan and the fifteenth-ranked Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

“The Volkswagen Tiguan is among the highest-priced cars in its class with prices comparable to luxury vehicles in its segment, and it also has poor fuel economy” said Ly. “The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is a popular car that is priced like a luxury car and holds its value better than any other vehicle, so consumers aren’t expecting a deal when they shop for a used one.”

The remaining luxury SUVs on the list have average used car prices ranging from $25,238 for the Audi Q3 subcompact SUV to $51,856 for the Porsche Cayenne midsize SUV. “The luxury cars on this list are mainly among the more opulent vehicles in their class with higher than average ownership costs, which suggests that their buyers forgo practicality in favor of owning a prestigious luxury vehicle,” said Ly.

SUVs with the Smallest Price Increases

iSeeCars also identified the top 15 SUVs with the smallest price increases, which for eight vehicles were decreases over their July prices.
SUVs with the Smallest Price Increases - iSeeCars Study
Rank SUV Average Used Car Price (August 2020) $ Price Difference July to August  % Price Difference July to August 
1 GMC Yukon XL $42,317 -$811 -1.9%
2 Ford Ecosport $17,409 -$199 -1.1%
3 Kia Sorento $18,786 -$125 -0.7%
4 Kia Niro $17,954 -$108 -0.6%
5 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport $14,457 -$58 -0.4%
6 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross $16,489 -$65 -0.4%
7 Kia Sportage $16,872 -$35 -0.2%
8 Subaru  Crosstrek $21,729 -$18 -0.1%
9 Nissan Kicks $17,397 $37 0.2%
10 Buick Enclave $25,929 $144 0.6%
11 Volvo XC90 $37,769 $233 0.6%
12 Cadillac Escalade ESV $49,415 $379 0.8%
13 Mitsubishi Outlander $16,842 $131 0.8%
14 Ford Edge $22,868 $185 0.8%
15 Hyundai Santa Fe $21,839 $190 0.9%
SUV Average $25,063 $980 4.1%
 

Of the 15 SUVs that saw either a decrease in price or the lowest increase in price, nine are compact or subcompact SUVs. “These vehicles are affordable entries into the SUV market because they offer limited to no frills,” said Ly. “The consumers interested in these lower priced cars are likely deal-conscious so dealers keep their prices competitive.”

The SUV with the largest price decrease is the GMC Yukon XL, which is joined by a second extended length SUV, the Cadillac Escalade ESV. “These SUVs are popular livery vehicles, and demand for these cars is drastically lower as a result of the pandemic,” said Ly.

Used Car Price Analysis: Pickup Trucks

iSeeCars examined the pickup segment, which as a vehicle category, has the highest percent increase at 5.9 percent.
Used Car Price Differences: Pickup Trucks - iSeeCars Study
Rank Pickup Truck Average Used Car Price (August 2020) $ Price Difference from July to August  % Price Difference from July to August 
1 Nissan Titan $32,651 $1,924 6.3%
2 Ford F-150 $34,452 $1,923 5.9%
Pickup Truck Average $32,422 $1,792 5.9%
3 Toyota Tundra $36,541 $2,011 5.8%
4 Toyota Tacoma $31,477 $1,673 5.6%
5 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 $32,609 $1,656 5.3%
6 Ram Pickup 1500 $31,079 $1,552 5.3%
7 GMC Sierra 1500 $36,462 $1,538 4.4%
8 GMC Canyon $28,453 $1,192 4.4%
9 Nissan Frontier $22,761 $937 4.3%
10 Nissan Titan XD $34,797 $1,432 4.3%
11 Chevrolet Colorado $26,661 $1,039 4.1%
12 Ram Pickup 1500 Classic $30,173 $1,091 3.7%
13 Ford Ranger $32,283 $1,163 3.7%
14 Honda Ridgeline $30,922 $668 2.2%
The pickup truck with the greatest price increase is the Nissan Titan, which saw a 6.3 percent price increase in August over July. “The full size Titan sells in lowest volume compared to its competition, so there isn’t a high number in the used car market,” said Ly. “It was redesigned in 2017, so buyers are likely attracted to having a modern-looking truck despite the fact that it doesn’t have as favorable reliability ratings as other full-size pickups.” Meanwhile, the Nissan Titan XD, which is a heavier duty version of the Titan, saw a below-average price increase at 4.3 percent. “The Nissan Titan XD slots between light- and heavy-duty pickups, so demand may not be as high for this niche model.”

Ranked second is the popular Ford F-150. “The Ford F-150 has had a thirty-year reign as the best-selling vehicle in America thanks to its capability as a work truck,” said Ly. “The shortened supply of new versions of this vehicle increased its already high demand for used models.” 

The Honda Ridgeline is the pickup with the lowest price increase at 2.2 percent. “The Honda Ridgeline is built on a crossover platform and doesn’t have the hauling and towing capability of trucks that are designed as work trucks,” said Ly.

Geographic Analysis

iSeeCars analyzed the data geographically to see which metropolitan areas had the highest average used car price increases in August over July 2020.

Used Car Price Increases: Ranking of the Top 20 Metro Areas

iSeeCars looked at the top 20 metropolitan areas to see which areas had the biggest increase in price in August 2020 over the previous month.
Used Car Price Increases, August 2020 - iSeeCars Study
Rank Metro Area Metro Avg % Diff Metro Avg $ Diff
1 Los Angeles, CA 6.1% $1,345
2 Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH 5.8% $1,147
3 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL 5.5% $1,155
4 Houston, TX 5.5% $1,247
5 Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA 5.3% $1,146
6 Tampa-St Petersburg (Sarasota), FL 5.3% $1,092
7 Atlanta, GA 5.1% $1,131
8 Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD) 5.0% $1,064
9 Boston, MA-Manchester, NH 4.6% $1,023
10 Chicago, IL 4.5% $1,008
11 Philadelphia, PA 4.4% $962
Overall Average 4.1% $941
12 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA 4.2% $922
13 Phoenix, AZ 4.2% $909
14 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 3.7% $882
15 Detroit, MI 3.4% $747
16 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 3.1% $705
17 Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL 3.0% $575
18 New York, NY 2.4% $569
19 Denver, CO 1.9% $444
20 Seattle-Tacoma, WA 0.0% -$7
 Los Angeles was the metro area that had the highest price increase at 6.1 percent.  Seattle was the only major metro area that didn’t see an increase with used car prices remaining constant in August over July. “This suggests that Los Angeles consumers are interested in used luxury cars, which have the largest price increases,” said Ly. “Car prices may have remained constant in Seattle because there isn’t as much of a demand for used cars or because drivers are interested in more practical vehicles.”

Used Car Pricing: Ranking of the Top 50 Metro Areas

iSeeCars also analyzed the used car price increases in the 50 largest metro areas in August compared to July 2020. 
Used Car Sales in Top 50 Metro Areas, May 2020 - iSeeCars Study
Rank Metro Area % Change from Last Year % Change from Previous Month
1 Nashville, TN 9.8% $2,082
2 Greensboro-Winston Salem, NC 9.7% $1,965
3 Baltimore, MD 7.1% $1,412
4 Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), NC 6.7% $1,406
5 Charlotte, NC 6.1% $1,277
6 Los Angeles, CA 6.1% $1,345
7 Portland, OR 6.0% $1,292
8 Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH 5.8% $1,147
9 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL 5.5% $1,155
10 Houston, TX 5.5% $1,247
11 Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA 5.3% $1,146
12 Tampa-St Petersburg (Sarasota), FL 5.3% $1,092
13 Atlanta, GA 5.1% $1,131
14 Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD) 5.0% $1,064
15 Jacksonville, FL 5.0% $1,001
16 Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM 4.8% $1,099
17 Boston, MA-Manchester, NH 4.6% $1,023
18 Memphis, TN 4.5% $921
19 Chicago, IL 4.5% $1,008
20 Philadelphia, PA 4.4% $962
21 San Antonio, TX 4.4% $964
22 Las Vegas, NV 4.4% $835
23 Birmingham, AL 4.3% $908
24 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA 4.2% $922
25 Phoenix, AZ 4.2% $909
26 Harrisburg-Lancaster-York, PA 4.2% $973
27 Milwaukee, WI 4.1% $896
Overall Average 4.1% $941
28 Columbus, OH 3.9% $774
29 Greenville-Spartanburg, SC 3.9% $867
30 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 3.7% $882
31 Oklahoma City, OK 3.7% $804
32 Detroit, MI 3.4% $747
33 Austin, TX 3.3% $704
34 Cincinnati, OH 3.1% $625
35 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 3.1% $705
36 San Diego, CA 3.1% $599
37 Indianapolis, IN 3.0% $646
38 Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL 3.0% $575
39 Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News,VA 2.6% $479
40 New York, NY 2.4% $569
41 Fresno-Visalia, CA 2.3% $433
42 Pittsburgh, PA 2.3% $488
43 Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, MI 1.9% $427
44 Denver, CO 1.9% $444
45 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL 1.9% $363
46 St. Louis, MO 1.8% $406
47 Hartford & New Haven, CT 1.6% $327
48 Kansas City, MO 0.9% $194
49 Salt Lake City, UT 0.1% $17
50 Seattle-Tacoma, WA 0.0% -$7
The metro area that saw the greatest increase in prices is Nashville at 9.8 percent. “This shows that there is greater demand than supply for used cars in the Nashville area,” said Ly.

During the used car buying process, it's important for consumers to do their research before visiting car dealerships. “While used car prices have risen overall, some vehicles defied this trend and decreased in price to provide deals for consumers,” said Ly. “Conversely, if you are trading in your vehicle, you will likely get top dollar for the vehicles that have the highest price increases.”

Methodology

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 500,000 used car sales from model years 2015 to 2019 between July 1st and July 17th, 2020, and over 400,000 used car sales from the same model years between August 1st and August 17th, 2020. The average listing prices of each car model were mathematically modeled and compared between the two time periods, and the differences were expressed as both a percentage difference of the price in July as well as a dollar difference. Heavy-duty vehicles, models no longer in production prior to the 2020 model year, and low-volume vehicles 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 VIN check reports. iSeeCars.com has saved users over $244 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.