(iSeeCars) – A car’s color can help or hurt its resale value, according to a recent analysis by iSeeCars.com. After comparing prices of more than 650,000 recently sold three-year-old used cars, iSeeCars determined the average three-year vehicle depreciation rate by car color.
“A vehicle’s color is among the primary considerations after shoppers have decided on a make and model,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “With depreciation being the largest cost of vehicle ownership, consumers should carefully consider their color choice–especially if they plan on selling their vehicle.”
Vehicle Depreciation by Car Color
Bold colors tend to hold their color best, while common colors depreciate at a rate close to average.
Vehicle Depreciation by Car Color (ranked by lowest to highest % depreciation) – iSeeCarsRankColor3-year % Depreciation$ Difference from MSRPCompared to Overall Avg1Yellow4.5%$3,1550.3x2Orange10.7%$3,8250.7x3Purple13.9%$5,4610.9x4Red14.0%$5,3990.9x5Green14.0%$5,5960.9x6Blue14.3%$5,5821x7Gray14.3%$5,6351x9Beige14.4%$5,9601x10Silver14.8%$5,4991xOverall Average15.0%$6,0961x11White15.5%$6,4901x12Black16.1%$6,9931.1x13Gold16.7%$6,7191.1x14Brown17.8%$7,6421.2x
Overall, yellow is the vehicle color that holds its value best, depreciating 70 percent less than the average vehicle. “Yellow is among the least popular car colors with the lowest vehicle share and is commonly a color for sports cars and other low-volume vehicles that hold their value relatively well,” said Brauer. “Because yellow vehicles are so novel in the secondhand marketplace, people are willing to pay a premium for them.”
Orange ranks second as the color that holds its value best. “Like yellow, orange comprises a small overall share of vehicles and is most often found on low-volume sports and muscle cars,” said Brauer. “Orange is such a novel color that it is often the choice for popular special edition vehicles, like the 30th edition Mazda MX-5 Miata and the 2023 Toyota GR86 Special Edition, which are typically limited production vehicles.”
The paint colors with the highest depreciation—gold and brown—also have low market share, but depreciate far worse than average. “Rarity alone does not equal value. If a color doesn’t resonate with enough used car shoppers it will hurt resale value, even if it’s uncommon,” said Brauer.
White, black, gray, and silver, are the most popular car colors and depreciate at a rate close to average. “Many consumers choose these grayscale colors not because they like them, but because they assume everyone else does,” said Brauer. “Because these are the most common colors they aren’t in short supply, and choosing these colors won’t help or hurt resale value much.”
Beige, a relatively uncommon car color, also depreciates at a rate close to average, while four jewel tones – purple, red, green, and blue – hold their value better than average. “Although the term ‘beige’ has become synonymous with boring, it encompasses a spectrum of hues from off-white to a light brown and stands out in a parking lot while still being a neutral color,” said Brauer. “Red, green, and blue fare slightly better than average because they are slightly more novel than grayscale colors and allow drivers to stand out without having to choose a flashy, obscure color.”
Car Color Depreciation by Vehicle Segment:
Because car color depreciation varies by vehicle type, iSeeCars analyzed the depreciation of each car color within the major vehicle segments.
SUV Depreciation by Color
When examining the SUV segment, iSeeCars found that the color that holds its value best is yellow, while beige depreciates the most.
SUV Depreciation by Color – iSeeCarsRankColorAverage 3-year % Depreciation$ Difference from MSRP1Yellow-2.7%-$1,4372Orange11.5%$3,6353Green15.3%$5,6954Gray15.8%$6,3665Red15.8%$6,0786Purple15.9%$6,0667Blue16.1%$6,4968Silver16.4%$6,343SUV Average16.6%$6,9499White16.9%$7,37410Beige17.8%$7,52911Black17.8%$7,98712Gold18.6%$7,32313Brown19.4%$8,326
Similar to the overall list of colors across all vehicle types, flashy, uncommon colors are the lowest-depreciating colors for SUVs, with yellow SUVs actually appreciating in value after three years and orange and green having the lowest depreciation. “The Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited comprise the vast majority of mainstream yellow SUVs and these popular vehicles have been selling at prices above MSRP, even after three years of use,” said Brauer. “Similarly, the Subaru Crosstrek, which holds its value exceptionally well, comprises a large share of orange SUVs while the value-retaining Subaru Forester accounts for a large share of green SUVs.”
Pickup Truck Depreciation by Color
For pickup trucks, beige retains value the best while brown depreciates the most.
Pickup Truck Depreciation by Color – iSeeCarsRankColorAverage 3-year % Depreciation$ Difference from MSRP1Beige3.8%$1,6572Orange8.6%$3,6803Gray10.7%$4,8394Blue10.9%$5,0215Brown11.6%$5,628Pickup Truck Average11.7%$5,4196Silver11.9%$5,3617Black12.1%$5,7688White12.2%$5,5779Red12.5%$5,92110Purple12.7%$6,15812Yellow14.6%$6,68113Green14.6%$7,310
All pickup truck colors depreciate less than the average vehicle given the popularity of trucks, and beige is the color with the lowest depreciation. “Toyota introduced a ‘quicksand’ beige hue which was exclusive to its TRD Pro off-road editions in 2016 before becoming available on all of its pickups in 2017,” said Brauer. “Toyotas represent the vast majority of available beige pickups and their stellar value retention help beige trucks maintain their value.”
The next lowest-depreciating pickup truck color is orange. “Orange tends to hold its value well across all segments because it is a novel color,” said Brauer. “In the case of the Ford Ranger, shoppers are willing to pay extra for the paint color as it costs an additional $595.”
Sedan Depreciation by Color
Purple holds its value the best in the sedan segment, while black is the highest-depreciating.
Sedan Depreciation by Color – iSeeCarsRankColorAverage 3-year % Depreciation$ Difference from MSRP1Purple10.7%$4,0532Red11.9%$3,5653Green12.8%$5,5154Orange12.9%$4,2295Silver13.1%$3,9276Blue13.3%$4,3457Beige13.4%$5,0108Gray13.8%$4,5369Gold13.9%$5,091Sedan Average14.0%$4,70810White14.4%$5,04011Brown14.6%$5,27812Black15.5%$5,666
For sedans, purple is the lowest-depreciating color followed by red. “This again proves that even in a relatively conservative vehicle segment there’s enough demand for flashier colors to give purple and red an advantage in resale value,” said Brauer. “Purple is one of the least common colors in the sedan segment, and the popular Dodge Charger contributes to the favorable resale value of purple sedans.”
Convertible Depreciation by Color
For convertibles, bright colors retain the most value while neutral colors depreciate the most.
Convertible Depreciation by Color – iSeeCarsRankColorAverage 3-year % Depreciation$ Difference from MSRP1Yellow11.2%$11,6662Green11.7%$7,7663Orange13.0%$8,1614Blue13.2%$8,1065Red14.5%$7,727Convertible Average15.8%$9,8546Gray16.2%$9,3607White16.2%$10,5238Silver16.3%$10,5879Black17.3%$11,358
Yellow is the lowest-depreciating color for convertibles, a category that holds its value relatively well due to its low production volumes. “Within this category yellow is the best color for retained value, likely because it’s common for Porsche models and the Chevrolet Corvette, which all hold their value well,” said Brauer.
Conversely, the common grayscale colors have the highest depreciation within the convertible segment. “People who buy sports cars want to stand out, which makes more common colors less appealing,” said Brauer.
Coupe Depreciation by Color
The coupe segment is largely made up of sports cars and muscle cars, which contribute to lower-than-average depreciation for the vehicle category.
Coupe Depreciation by Color – iSeeCarsRankColorAverage 3-year % Depreciation$ Difference from MSRP1Orange5.6%$3,2532Purple5.7%$2,4723Red6.6%$3,2394Blue6.9%$3,5565Green7.0%$4,4266Yellow8.0%$7,084Coupe Average8.5%$4,5507Gray8.7%$4,3118Silver8.9%$5,4919Black9.2%$4,88810White10.3%$5,667
As a segment, coupes across all colors hold their value better than the average vehicle. “Coupes are most often purchased rather than leased because they attract car enthusiasts who want to keep them,” said Brauer. “As a result, the supply is low and the demand is high for used versions, with all colors depreciating less than the average vehicle.”
Orange, which is a common color for sports cars and muscle cars, is the lowest-depreciating color for coupes “Classic American sports cars that hold their value well including the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Chevrolet Corvettecomprise the majority of the overall share of
orange coupes,” said Brauer. “
Minivan Depreciation by Color
In the minivan category, blue is the lowest depreciating color, while brown depreciates the most.
Minivan Depreciation by Color – iSeeCarsRankColorAverage 3-year % Depreciation$ Difference from MSRP1Green13.9%$6,0342Brown14.6%$6,3253Blue16.2%$6,9174Purple17.2%$7,4695Silver17.4%$7,4606Gray17.5%$7,499Overall Average18.4%$7,9897White18.6%$8,2418Black20.6%$9,0659Red21.0%$9,155
Minivans as a whole depreciate more than the average vehicle. Green is the lowest-depreciating color for the segment. “Minivans are a sensible vehicle choice, so purchasing a less-common color can make it a more exciting purchase,” said Brauer.
When selecting a vehicle, it’s important for consumers to understand that color choice is more than just a cosmetic decision. “A car’s color affects its value, which is especially important for drivers who plan on turning in their vehicle after a few years,” said Brauer. “While bolder or less common hues may seem like they would hurt a car’s resale value, there are many instances where the opposite is true.”
iSeeCars.com analyzed over 650 thousand used model year 2019 cars sold between August 2021 and May 2022. The MSRP of each car was adjusted for inflation to 2022 dollars, and then compared to the average list prices of the used cars. Data were aggregated by car color and body style.
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 free VIN check and Best Cars rankings. iSeeCars.com has saved users over $341 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.
This article, Car Color and Its Effect on Value, originally appeared on iSeeCars.com.