Canadian Black Book is pleased to present the winners of our 2012 Retained Value Awards. This year we examine 2008 model year vehicles, now four years old, in seventeen categories. The awards are calculated by looking at the 1 January 2012 Canadian Black Book values and comparing them to the original MSRP of the vehicle. Prizes are awarded to those vehicles that hold the highest percentage value of the original MSRP.

2012 Best Retained Value - Sub-compact car

Honda Fit*

After establishing itself globally as a space and fuel efficient vehicle, the Fit was launched in Canada for 2007. When it comes to cubic litres of space per dollar there are not many other vehicles which can compete with the Fit. It is fitted with so-called MagicSeats, rear seats that flip and fold like origami creating space that seems to swallow more people and cargo than is imaginable in a sub-compact. Add to that a fizzy little engine that never feels like its 1.5L size in part because of the Fit's light weight. That engine and lightness also help give it excellent real-world fuel efficiency and pert ride and handling characteristics. This combination of attributes adds up to a vehicle that people are looking for as a used vehicle helping to keep its values strong enough to land at the top of the sub-compact car list this year.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Compact car

Volkswagen Golf*

The engineering prowess of the Germans is on display here in what would otherwise be an unassuming family hatchback. That prowess helps make the Golf one of the best-selling vehicles of all time in the world. There is that trademark Teutonic "thunk" when you close the door giving you a first impression of high quality. Run your hand over the dash and you won't find cheap-feeling materials or uneven gaps, only well screwed together pieces that feel like they will outlast Gibraltar. There is also the trademark German driving experience, even if the ride is softened a bit for us North Americans, it still encourages you take the off-ramp or your favourite corner with a little extra verve. Let's not forget it is the only car in the class, save for its sister the Jetta, to offer a Diesel and as a result genuinely great fuel efficiency. The trifecta of quality, fun-to-drive, and everyday thriftiness make for a highly sought after compact and the best at holding its value in its class.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Mid-size car

Honda Accord

Co-Winner

Runner-up

Honda's second oldest nameplate in Canada is the Accord and over the years it has appeared various "best of the best" lists. When you examine its merits there is no real surprise why it makes those lists. Begin with Honda's sterling reputation for durability, add in styling that, while not flashy, doesn't go out of style and respectable performance and you get a car that offers a lot things to a lot of people. The sedan version provides plenty of space and good cargo capacity. The couple sacrifices some of the space for more style, typical of any coupe. The quality of the interior is a strongpoint and it is logic and functional. Both the four-cylinder and the V6 offer power and efficiency, but if you want a bit of sleeper, look for the V6 with manual transmission combination and have a little fun with your daily commute. It offers a very nice imitation of the Acura TL. Again, no surprise to see the Accord at the top of the list.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Mid-size car

Subaru Outback*

Co-Winner

Runner-up

Making its third consecutive appearance on the top of our mid-size segment the Outback continues to prove it offers what Canadians are looking for in a car. Rugged styling, loads of space thanks it being a wagon, and all-wheel-drive for those snowy roads we all encounter in our great country. Subaru also brings along its deserved reputation for building quality goods and that is proven by the number of older Subarus you still see roaming the streets. Many enthusiasts love to hear the unique "boxer" four-cylinder burbling away at higher RPMs but in everyday driving you'd be hard pressed to notice and these engines are famed for travelling for ages without complaint. For the past few years Subaru has been working hard to become more of a mainstream brand after catering to a group of hard-core loyalists for years and it is working because as evidenced by its win here - people like the Subaru Outback.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Full-size car

Toyota Avalon*

Back with its third straight win in the full-size segment, the Toyota Avalon exemplifies what people are looking for in a large family car. Passengers, front and rear, are welcomed with plenty of space to stretch out in and comfy seats that help long trips feel shorter. The ride is pillowy, maybe not what you want for blasting down a twisty road but not many full-size car drivers blast anywhere so not a concern. The instruments are clear and concise and the dash lay-out is a model of clarity. Being a Toyota there is an expectation of quality and here the Avalon provides. It is interesting to see a Japanese company that really delivers what many American companies are moving away from in favour of the de rigeur "European driving feel" - a comfortable, competent sedan that caters to the road trip. Not many Avalons make it onto the roads each year making them a rare sight, that scarcity and the other attributes mentioned above help make it a three-time winner.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Entry Luxury Car

BMW 1 Series

When you start with styling that channels the iconic BMW 2002 coupe of the 1970's you are off to a good start. The 2002 offered a lively driving experience and reasonable price tag that opened the German driving experience to many drivers. The 1 Series revives that thinking. If the option list was skipped and you could survive with the 128i, no hardship, it was a bit of a bargain all things considered. It offered the same engines of its bigger 3 Series brothers and all of the BMW driving experience. To many drivers the 128i with a stick was one of the purest BMWs offered because of its relatively light weight and gutsy engine. Enthusiast drivers are rewarded with a chassis that provides great feedback on exactly what is happening. With the "robotization" of cars today many driving fans missing that interaction, well the 1 Series might be the car for them. Inside it might be blacker than some would like but it is built with mostly expensive-feeling material and good deal of craftsmanship. With so much going for it we can easily understand why there is demand for the 1 Series as used car helping it hold its value well making it a resale champ.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Luxury Car

Lexus GS Series*

Runners-up

A luxury car can be defined in many different ways. Some people equate luxury to performance, to others, it is how well they are cossetted by a car, for some it's how many new gadgets are packed into the car, or D, all of the above. The GS offers plenty of these desirable features wrapped in a package that may not set hearts racing but will remain attractive for many years to come. The GS 460 with its robust V8 offers plenty of performance under that ageless exterior so you might be less likely to draw the attention of the local constabulary if don't realise how fast you were travelling down the highway. You may find yourself travelling a little too quickly because of the legendary Lexus quietness inside. On the inside styling is on the safe side but the peerless build quality of the GS Series is unimpeachable. Rear-wheel drive was standard on the GS 350 and 460 but an all-wheel-drive version of the 350 was available. Considering all of the positives the GS possesses no surprise to see edge the competition in this very crowded luxury car segment.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Premium Luxury Car

Lexus LS Series*

The LS Series is back at the top of the premium luxury podium for 2012 after winning the same award in 2011. The nature of the LS is isolating the outside world from its occupants who you can easily imagine are coming from tense boardroom negotiations or on their way to an evening at the opera house. This is where the LS really delivers, there are few other cars so quiet you can forget there is an outside world. The suspension absorbs imperfections in the road delivering a ride that furthers the feeling of luxury. There is also plenty of high-tech features incorporated but in an unobtrusive manner - don't want to add to that boardroom stress. For the green exec there was also an LS 600h - a V8 hybrid version that replicated the performance of a V12 along with claims of V6 efficiency. The LS is the meeting point of many of the qualities that define luxury, making it a desirable pre-owned buy helping it to maintain value well, pushing it to back-to-back CBB award wins.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Sports Car

Dodge Challenger

Runners-up

Maybe it is the due to the fact that the baby-boomer generation is starting to retire with some change in their jeans propelling the current crop of muscle car revivals. The Challenger is definitely part of the genre, cribbing many of its lines from Mopars of old. Later joined by V6 and a smaller V8, 2008 saw only the full-blown SRT8 version sold. Definitely the Challenger of choice for enthusiasts, it came with 425 horsepower from a 6.1L Hemi to get the adrenalin pumping. Compared the original muscle cars this today's have much better handling and while not as nimble as a Miata, the Challenger handles itself quite well. There was a limited number of Challengers sold in 2008, in fact they all came with numbered plaques on the dash - maybe a collector's item in the making. This could be one of the reasons it tops the list of best sports cars for 2012 but it could also be because it is just a plain hoot to drive.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Premium Sports Car

Audi R8

Every once in a while comes a car that has it all, the R8 is one of those. When it launched there was a huge buzz about it. The looks were pure super car with its unique "Sideblade," the normally colour-contrasting panel behind the doors and transparent cover showing off the mid-chassis mounted V8. There was no shortage of stares from onlookers, at once admiring and envious for those who drove one. The all-aluminium chassis provided a light but rock solid foundation that had was blessed with a suspension set-up that provided a ride that let you be comfortable when not attacking the bends, something it was equally able to do. Inside, Audi did what Audi does best, taking the finest materials and combining them with a design that makes other manufacturers lose sleep. Aluminium, carbon fibre, Alcantara, leather, you name the exotic, luxurious item and it was present and tastefully so. Pin the throttle and the barking V8 quickly had you forgetting about the material and thinking about how you were going to stay out of jail. In this segment, most of the offerings are desirable pre-owned buys but this year it is the R8 that pulls in the win, deservedly so.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Compact SUV

Jeep Wrangler*

There aren't many other vehicles in the world that have a pedigree like the Wrangler, it traces its roots back over 60 years and remains true it go-anyway ancestors. Today's offering is decidedly more comfortable that a 1940's Willys luxuries such as windows and a heater, along with available navigation, leather seats and other modern touches. With its 2007 redesign came too the possibility of four doors, this has increased the desirability of the Wrangler tremendously. The additional functionality the extra doors bring is welcome whether or not you are loading your family or your Labrador. The extra length doesn't prevent the Wrangler from passing Jeep's famed test over the Rubicon trail, making it "Trail Rated." Anyone who has had the opportunity of going off-roading in a Wrangler or any of it forebears will understand what a beast it is at eating up the trails. Huge fun, everyday usability, and modern conveniences are all present and help propel the Wrangler to the head of the small SUV class for the second straight year.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Mid-size SUV

Toyota FJ Cruiser*

The FJ Cruiser is another vehicle making its return to our awards list this year as repeat winner. The FJ is a unique choice in the mid-size segment working with underpinnings familiar to other Toyota offerings and adding an angular, purposeful-looking exterior with interior that looks like it could be hosed out after banging through the trails. On-road it gives you a flavour of its off-road nature, something that is desired by the crowd in the market for this kind of vehicle, they would hate it if it was Lexus-quiet inside. The FJ offers useful small rear-hinged doors just behind the front doors, similar to those on an extended-cab pick-up they create a huge opening for people or cargo. The hunkered down view from inside really suits the character of the FJ and gives the driver the sensation of sitting inside a much more menacing truck. Off-road capability is real and there are plenty of videos online of drivers putting their FJ in places most owners wouldn't dream of going. The unique charm of the FJ, its practical side, and small numbers sold marry to create a vehicle that make it a desirable used vehicle pushing it to the top of the mid-size SUV list again.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Full-size SUV

Toyota Sequoia*

Threepeat is one of those made-up words that have trickled into our daily parlance and it describes the Sequoia, a three-time winner in this segment. The Sequoia is the SUV sister of the Toyota Tundra pick-up, which appears on this list as well, and offers all of the Tundra goodness and adds space for eight. The Sequoia is a favourite among the horsey set and skiing families because of its tremendous ability to haul people and things. The trailering capacity is massive and when taken in the Platinum trim offers all the luxury features you can imagine. Its manners on the road will surprise many because it disguises it truck roots very well but, you will never forget you are driving a big vehicle, though not a turn-off for those in this market. The Toyota heritage, its capability, and pleasant driving experience help the Sequoia maintain its value helping it earn its threepeat.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Luxury SUV

BMW X6

When the X6 first appeared for the 2008 model year it was, to say the least controversial and it had one of our staffers red-faced at the Detroit auto show after inadvertently telling then chief BMW designer Chris Bangle point blank he "didn't really like it." Two lessons there, first, look before you speak and second, don't judge the proverbial book by its cover. The X6 has gone on to sell strongly relative to the size of the market for luxuriously priced SUVs in Canada. It handles much better than it should for such a tall vehicle, exhibiting all of the "BMW-ness" one would expect. It also has real street presence and it has mellowed over the years, now not startling as it once was. Inside there is a cabin with the balance of style and luxury that BMW is renowned for and a ride so hushed that it makes the programmable speed warning a very useful tool. The X6 really has proven that being a pioneer and in this case, still the only offering of its kind can pay dividends. The evidence of that is the X6 earns top spot in the very hotly contested luxury SUV.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Minivan

Honda Odyssey*

For the third year Honda takes top spot in the minivan ranks. Minivans are much maligned but the segment is still a strong scene in Canada. We love them because they offer big value - loads of space for reasonable cash, we are a practical lot. The Odyssey has never been the least expensive minivan to buy new, nevertheless Honda sells plenty of them and their owners are rewarded at the end of their ownership with strong resale values. Honda's fabled reputation for designing and building vehicles that stand the test of time is one of the reasons for certain but, the Odyssey is loaded with family-friendly features that make it attractive new or used. Honda also manages to keep the handling relatively lively, for a van. The V6 pulls strongly and is reasonably fuel efficient. There are plenty of crevices for stashing stuffed animals and empty drink boxes and third row seat folds into the floor. The Odyssey, like most minivans, an unsung family hero and manages to do it all well enough that it is sought out by second-hand shoppers pushing it to the top of the list of minivans for 2012.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Full-size Vans

Dodge Sprinter*

If there was another label for this segment it would be workhorse. Regardless of the brand these vans generally go into service for the express purpose of being workhorses and the Sprinter is the top of ranks for a third straight year. The Sprinter embodies the true spirit of the workhorse, it can be found in many forms, it seems to run forever with few complaints, and it soldiers on when others have caved. Only offered as a Diesel it was born with an indestructible nature that Europeans have known about for many years. The Sprinter also came will a relatively high starting price but anyone who paid the price has been repaid handsomely when selling their van second-hand or trading it in. The Sprinter's hardworking nature and longevity among other traits have pushed it to the top of the list for a third straight year.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Small Pick-up

Toyota Tacoma*

The Tacoma is another of our three-time winners this year. Building a reputation like the Tacoma's is not easy, it takes decades. The Tacoma is known for providing many, many years of service ask anyone who has one they likely confirm its nearly indestructible nature. Reliability is one of Toyota's cornerstones and it exemplified in the Tacoma. Offered in several configurations from a four-cylinder two-wheel-drive up to V6 crew cabs it offers something for most truck buyers who don't need a full-size truck. It will pull most weekend toys without any complaints and can be loaded up on those trips to the garden centre or home improvement store too. Handling is definitely truck-like but that should be expected and the interior is definitely workaday but ruggedly so and well built. The biggest problem reported with the Tacoma as a used vehicle is trying to find one - they don't gather any dust on dealers' lots. Buying a Tacoma isn't exactly an investment but as far as vehicles go, it is about as close as it gets.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

2012 Best Retained Value - Full-Size Pick-up

Toyota Tundra*

Back on our list for the third consecutive year the Tundra proves that has what it takes to make it a desirable used truck. In a segment that has stronger loyalty than political parties, the Tundra has a very strong following but has also pulled in a good number of former domestic truck buyers. It may have a slightly smaller offering of engine and bodystyle combinations when compared to its domestic pick-up brethren but it does not seem to make an impact on value. The configurations it does offer more than adequately covers the typical desires running from affordable regular cab 4X2 to the limo-like CrewMax variants. Its engines are potent giving great performance and pulling power so even "real truck guys" will not lack for grunt. Being a Toyota it brings a tradition of quality and durability promising many thousands of kilometres of trouble-free driving, hauling, and all the other things a truck buyers expects.

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* Indicates top 3 finish in 2011

Many Seek recognition, some earn it

Past Winners

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