Looking for a return on your investment? Here's what to buy today so you benefit down the line.
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When purchasing a new car, potential resale value is often front of mind for buyers.

Given the average vehicle age in Australia is 10.2 years, no matter how much you love your latest purchase, there's a high chance you'll be looking to sell it in a decade's time for a newer model – if not sooner.

This is where making the right decision today will pay off down the line. But what, exactly, constitutes the "right decision" when it comes to resale value?

According to Vic Moor, Manager of NSW, ACT and Queensland for new and used car data company Glass's Guide, there are a few key factors that can ensure a car's popularity on the used car market.

"Japanese and Korean brands have all traditionally had good resale values," Mr Moor explains.

"People are moving away from sedans in droves and that’s reflected now in the used car market without a doubt – SUVs and utes are now more popular."

"Low-kilometre cars are always better than high-kilometre cars and I’d personally try to sell before 60,000km are clocked up," Mr Moor adds.

And finally, "High fuel consumption figures and being out of warranty are also factors," he says.

To get even more specific, we tapped Mr Moor and some of Australia's other leading used car valuers, used car wholesalers, auction houses and used car sale sites for answers.

What are Australia's top-selling used cars?

To get a well-rounded picture of Australia's used car market, we spoke to representatives from Glass's Guide, car valuation site RedBook.com.au, new and used car marketplace Pickles and Western-Australia-based used car warehouse Westside Auto Wholesale.

We asked each of these outfits for their lists of the most in-demand models on the used car market as of April 2020.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Toyota models dominated every list, but a number of other models were mentioned multiple times – we have marked those identified by more than one company with an asterisk.

Of course, past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future performance, so make sure you always do your due diligence before purchasing a car.

Here are the most popular used car models according to used car dealers, in alphabetical order (models mentioned more than once marked with an asterisk):

* Asterisks denote models popular across multiple used car vendors.

What are the brands with the best resale value?

"We tend to find what is popular with new car trends is also in very high demand in the used car market," explains Brendon Green, general manager of motor vehicles at Pickles.

"So the likes of Toyota, Mazda, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia and Subaru are all in high demand at the moment."

Ross Booth, general manager of RedBook.com.au, concurs that the brands that tend to hold their value in the used car market "have built up trust over many years", also citing Toyota, Mazda and Subaru as market leaders.

"From a luxury perspective Porsche and Land Rover are the leaders, with Tesla the clear leader in electric vehicles," Mr Booth adds.

As for the brands that don't perform as well on the used car market, Mr Booth says these tend to be "newer challenger brands out of China, brands that have recently left the market like Infiniti, or brands that have entered, left and then re-entered such as SsangYong".

CJ Jayasinghe, CEO of Westside Auto Wholesale, adds Ford, Mitsubishi and Australian-built Holdens are all top-performers, while European and prestige brands have proven less popular amongst Westside Auto's used car buyers in recent months.

What are the most popular body shapes on the used car market?

"Medium SUVs and compact SUVs, small passenger hatchbacks and sedans, light commercial vehicles (4x4 utes and 4x2 utes and vans) and light prestige are definitely ‘on trend’ at the moment," says Mr Green of Pickles.

Mr Booth adds that from a size perspective, passenger vehicles are getting larger, "with the smaller micro segment declining rapidly".

"Utes are getting larger with a market opening up for larger utes such as the Ram, while the SUV market is expanding by the number of entrants and sizes, in particular with smaller SUV segments becoming available over the last couple of years," Mr Booth says.

"From a general perspective, SUVs retain their used values stronger than passenger vehicles."

Similarly, Mr Green says SUVs and 4x4 utes account for "nearly 60 per cent" of Pickles' sales.

Which engine types have the best resale value?

"Historically, petrol engines have retained their values the best, followed by diesel, hybrid and electric vehicles," Mr Booth says.

"It does depend on the segment, as diesel engines are still very strong for heavy-duty purposes such as carrying goods or towing, however, in passenger vehicles there has been a noticeable drop in passenger diesel cars.

"In the last couple of years, hybrid used values have improved closer to ICE, as the technology and pricing differentials improve."

Mr Green says Pickles still sells plenty of petrol vehicles, but "diesel light commercial vehicles and SUVs are very popular, along with hybrids".

"In the Hybrid range, it's largely Toyota Camry, Corolla and RAV4 that buyers are seeking. We are seeing a few electric vehicles, but they are yet to come back in any great volume," he adds.