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Used Toyota Prius Prices Declined More Than Most Vehicles During Market Disruption

The Toyota Prius has a relatively low depreciation from new prices, but in this unusual market period, used Prius prices are showing signs of softening.


A new study by iSeeCars that compares the used prices of models against themselves one year earlier has found that the Prius is among the top-ten used vehicles in terms of price declines. This, during a period in which many used cars have actually risen in value due to COVID-19-related vehicle shortages and market interruptions. For those shopping for a used Prius, this is good news.

Toyota models often top the list for best retained value and lowest depreciation overall, and many Toyota models also rank highly in their segments. The Toyota Tacoma, for example, is a perennial overall winner, and the 4Runner often ranks on the podium among SUVs. The Prius does well in terms of retained value, meaning that used Prius cars are a bit more expensive than a vehicle with a lower retained value. That can make Prius cars seem a bit pricey for used car shoppers. Of course, factor in reliability and fuel savings, and the Prius begins to edge out the other cars its size in overall value.

The iSeeCars study is unusual. It does not compare new prices to used. Rather, it looked at the overall average of a model’s used car prices in 2019 and then compared that same model to itself for 2020’s prices. Many vehicles, like the GMC Sierra and Dodge Charger, saw increases in value in the comparison.

This is attributed mainly to the unique market conditions caused by the pandemic and business closures. “Demand for sports cars outpaces what is available in the used car marketplace, and dealers don’t have to be competitive with pricing because buyers of these kinds of cars may not be bargain-conscious,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “Pickup trucks have soared in popularity and sales remained steady even during the pandemic, which shows that people may need pickup trucks for work and are willing to pay top dollar.”

The Prius earned the tenth-place slot for vehicles that saw the greatest declines in values using the comparison. Although the decline was small, just $194, by comparison to the average increases of $2,193, the Prius is a vehicle that more used shoppers may find an affordable purchase right now.

iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer commented on why he thinks the Prius has become a bit more affordable over this period, saying, “The Toyota Prius has been declining in sales as other Toyota hybrid models, like the Camry and the RAV4 have soared in popularity.” It is hard to argue against this logic. The RAV4 Hybrid has been selling at an amazing rate and the RAV4 Prime is selling out before inventory arrives at the dealers.

Those who want a reliable, affordable, high-value car with surprising cargo capacity and top safety scores would do well to give the Toyota Prius a look during this unusual period of hot used car sales.

View the full study at the feature page.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin