Used car price increases were down ever so slightly in March

Let’s call this a silver lining that’s only about four percent silver — but still, it’s something. According to a study of used car prices by iSeeCars, average prices for secondhand vehicles ranging from one to five years old fell in March by $600. Instead of the average price for this subset of used cars being $35,029, as it was in February, the average price in March was $34,429. Nevertheless, this meager silver sheen is still wrapped around a big cloud. The year-on-year increase in March 2022 compared to March 2021 is down from the same year-on-year jump in February; the average cost of a used car only went up 30.4% over March 2021, whereas it had gone up 35.0% in February. But that means the same vehicle cost $8,032 more last month than it did in March 2021. One step forward, eight miles back.

Remember when the onset of The Great Recession made the formerly niche Toyota Prius a gotta-have-it addition to the garage? The ongoing grind of Covid, microchip scarcity, supply chain issues, long wait times for new cars and depressed inventories for new and used cars have done the same for bodystyles and powertrains with generally tepid-at-best market response in the U.S. The 10 used cars with the greatest price gains are hybrids, electrics, subcompacts, and hatchbacks. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid led the way with a 63.9% leap over last March, costing $9,991 more in March 2022. Hybrids in general were up 40.5%, electrics up 36.3%. Even the Mitsubishi Mirage made the list, asking $4,431 more than last year, a 42.6% rise. The only outlier was the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, up 48% over last year to an average of $220,826 thanks to customers not wanting to wait a year for delivery.

At the other end, crossovers and SUVs, coupes, and pickup trucks posted the smallest price gains. Digging into the numbers shows there are relative bargains to be had, the emphasis on “relative.” The top 10 vehicles with the smallest bumps are mostly already expensive, like the Jaguar F-Pace at number four and Porsche Macan at number six, or not exactly popular, like the Nissan Titan, which makes the list twice in regular and XD guises. And those bumps still aren’t small, ranging from 9.0% for the Maserati Levante to 16.9% for the Ford Mustang.

Check out the full breakdown at iSeeCars. It’s not much for a chink in the armor of oppressive inflationary news, maybe more of a scratch, but we’ll take all the scraps of hope we can get.

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