How Honda keeps its resale values high.
John Goreham's picture

Honda's Solid Value Retention Is No Accident

Lightly used Honda Civics, Pilots, HR-Vs, and CR-Vs are not that great a bargain compared to buying a new model. The interesting part is Honda intended it to be that way. Here's how Honda keeps its used car values so high.

Recent data from spurred Torque News to do a handful of stories highlighting which vehicles are better to buy new rather than lightly used, and which models have a very high depreciation and therefore make sense to buy used to save money. We reached out to Honda and asked why its models lose so little of their value in the first two years of ownership. Here's what we found out.

- Related Story: Thinking of Buying A One-Year Used Honda Civic, HR-V, or CR-V? Read This Before You Do

First, Honda is unlike Toyota, GM, Ford, and the FCA Brands in a critically important way. That is commercial sales. Honda's automotive division does not solicit business from rental car conglomerates, and other types of fleets. That does not mean Honda won't let a dealer sell to its local or state government, of course it will, and those dealers can also sell to any fleet they wish. However, unlike the other big players, Honda's corporate arm isn't behind the scenes developing "rental fleet trims" and devising fire-sale price structures for 25,000 units of one model on one purchase order from Hertz. This plays a role in keeping the used population of Hondas not just under control in terms of numbers, but also quality. We homeowners take better care of our cars than we do our rental cars and work cars.

Next up are the giant rebates from manufacturers to dealers. Simply put, Hondas can earn an honest price and don't need five or ten thousand dollars of incentives to keep them moving off the lots and into our driveways. Honda has sales promotions, but by comparison to its peers in recent years, the incentives at Honda have been under control. Contrast this with the now common practice other automakers have devolved into of selling full-sized pickups with $10,000 of "cash on the dash." A new vehicle sold at a reasonable price means that the one or two years used models demand an honest price sale as well. A new vehicle discounted $10K before an owner walks in the door to negotiate means used models are worth a lot less.

best cars to buy new

Instead of "cash back" Honda tends to offer incentified leases and low-APR financing to close honest deals with homeowners. If we didn't have iSeeCars' data to back up the results, this might all sound like speculation, but the numbers speak for themselves. Fully half of the affordable models on iSeeCars' top-ten list of highest value retention models are Hondas. And that's no accident.

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