November 15, 2015 - 12:01 am ET
Neal Wheat, used-car manager at Gloucester Toyota in Gloucester, Va., tried to buy a 2008 FJ Cruiser at an auction about three weeks ago.
But he was outbid by another dealer who was willing to shell out $18,000 for the 8-year-old, 87,000-mile off-road vehicle -- a price Wheat estimates is about 60 percent of its new-vehicle sticker price.
"It's crazy," he said of the off-the-chart values of the off-road SUV. He hasn't had one on his lot in over six months.
"It's a [body-on-frame] SUV, which nobody makes anymore. Dodge Durango went to a unibody; the Ford Explorer went to unibody; they're all car-based SUVs. The Toyota 4Runner and Jeep Wrangler are the only ones that are truck-based anymore."
Toyota dropped the quirky-looking, rock-crawling FJ Cruiser from its lineup last year. FJ Cruisers were low-volume sellers during the vehicle's one generation -- 2007-14 model years -- and are now scarce, hot and high-priced, dealers and industry analysts say.
Toyota sold about 20,000 FJ Cruisers a year on average and about 222,000 all told in the United States.
NADA Used Car Guide data said a base, typically equipped 2012 FJ Cruiser, which had a sticker price of $27,840, had an average trade-in price of $25,275 from August through October 2015 representing 90.8 percent of its sticker price.
That retention is one of the -- "if not the -- highest recorded among non-collectible models" tracked by the company over the last decade, said NADA Used Car Guide analyst Larry Dixon. It's also way ahead of the nearest competitor, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport, in the same three-month period. That vehicle, typically equipped, had an average trade-in value of $18,413 or 68.1 percent of sticker.
Dixon said used cars and trucks overall are on pace to depreciate about 14 percent this year.
Depew: The timing is good.
Dave Depew, corporate manager of fleet, Toyota certified used vehicles and Toyota Rent a Car, called the FJ Cruiser "iconic". He said the company knew its resale values were good, "but we didn't know they were that good."
Timing for the vehicles is good, too, he said. "We ended production a little over a year ago. The light-truck market is so good right now. People that really want FJs have to get them in the used-vehicle market."
Otto Belovich, owner of Traverse City Toyota in Traverse City, Mich., has two FJ Cruisers on his lot: a 2007 with 141,601 miles listed for $16,950 and a 2014 with 28,061 miles listed at $35,985.
"It's unbelievable how much money they are worth," Belovich said.
According to Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com, a 2014 FJ Cruiser's sticker started at "a little over $27,000"; a loaded 2014 model topped "at around $36,000." Automotive News' sibling publication Autoweek reported in October 2006 that the 2007 FJ Cruiser's base sticker was $22,555.