Five Cars That Lose Value Fast

August 9, 2010

Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia have made giant strides in recent years.  Some of their 2010 and 2011 cars are among the best they've ever made, and are rated near the top of TheCarConnection's lists for best family sedans and small crossovers. It's showing in their sales numbers--the companies kept growing, in fact, while nearly every other car brand watched sales plummet in 2009.

That hasn't always been the case, and while the Koreans' reputation for building quality cars is rising quickly, some models have been left behind in the accompanying sales bonanza.  Some budget models, designed mostly to undercut competitors' prices, remained on dealership lots for both companies through the first half of this year despite big incentives and the newfound brand luster. When analysts from Kelley Blue Book sat down to calculate the five 2010 cars expected to have the worst resale value in five years, they singled out one Hyundai and four Kia vehicles.

What goes into the calculus for the KBB list? Depreciation is already the most significant cost associated with any new car purchase, and these vehicles far exceed the industry average. Every vehicle on the list is expected to lose at least 80 percent of its value in five years.

There is hope, however.  Several of the cars on the list are due for a significant redesign in the next two years, and if what we've seen with recent new designs like the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima are any guide, they won't stay on this list for long. For those tempted by a model on the list, with more concern for resale values, we've provided an alternative that makes just as much sense:

2010 Hyundai Azera

2010 Hyundai Azera

Hyundai Azera

The worst performer on Hyundai's list is the large Azera, a competitor for the Toyota Avalon and not a bad car--just one wedged hopelessly between the great new 2011 Sonata and the more seductive Genesis. We think it appeals to sedan shoppers on a budget who value comfort and interior space above all else--and if that description applies to you, the Azera has a great value proposition. If the looks and handling dull your senses, you might want to just cross the Hyundai showroom and look at the 2011 Sonata.  It's one of the most spacious cars in the mid-size class, is available very well-equipped for under $20,000, and will hold its value better in the long run.

Side Exterior View - 2009 Kia Amanti 4-door Sedan

Side Exterior View - 2009 Kia Amanti 4-door Sedan

Kia Amanti

Kia isn't even producing the Amanti anymore.  It was a lackluster performer with odd proportions.  Its main charm was its price tag -- it was one of the only ways to get into a large car for around $25,000.  Large sedan shoppers still don't have many options in this price range, but a lower trim-level 2010 Ford Taurus doesn't cost much more.  It will hold its value better over time, and be a more enjoyable car to drive.

2010 Kia Optima

2010 Kia Optima

Kia Optima

The Optima, according to our review, is aimed "at families who really want a new car despite a tight budget."  There isn't much else to recommend it, but several new cars are available in its price range that will hold their value better and be a lot more comfortable, attractive and fun.  For shoppers who need a mid-size car and have less than $20,000 to spend, we'd recommend that excellent 2011 Hyundai Sonata (which the new 2011 Optima is closely related to), the Ford Fusion (which is often under $20,000 with the heavy incentives Ford has offered on it throughout 2010), or an unusual choice for those who love to drive and can afford a little bit of a depreciation hit -- the Suzuki Kizashi.

2010 Kia Rio

2010 Kia Rio

Kia Rio

The aging Rio, our review notes, has "had essentially the same interior and exterior design since the 2006 model year."  Kia won't get around to a meaningful update until the 2012 model year, under the company's current plans, so that's unlikely to improve anytime soon.  Those shopping in the sub-$12,000 range have limited options, but before putting down money on a Rio, you might want to look at the Nissan Versa.  It holds its value better, and offers a spacious interior and surprisingly comfortable seating on a tight budget.

Angular Rear Exterior View - 2007 Kia Rondo 4-door V6 Auto EX

Angular Rear Exterior View - 2007 Kia Rondo 4-door V6 Auto EX

Kia Rondo

The unusual Rondo offers a lot of space in a small footprint, and for a bargain price -- but not much else.  There is, however, a better choice winner in the Rondo's unusual proto-minivan category -- the spacious, fun-to-drive Mazda5.  It nearly matches the Rondo's price, and outclasses it in every way, including resale value.

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