Playing well in the used-car arena are entry-level small and midsize cars and upper midsize cars, says Ricky Beggs, managing editor at Black Book, a used-car value guide.

“These more stable units all fall into the very affordable price levels for more conservative-conscious consumers,” he says.

Also retaining strong residual values are fullsize SUVs and pickup trucks, ironically branded as undesirables when fuel prices exceeded $4 a gallon in the summer of 2008.

“One reason those big vehicles are doing well at auction is that manufacturers have pulled back production,” says Jonathan Banks, executive automotive analyst for the National Automobile Dealers Assn.'s NADA Used Car Guide.

“Before, you'd see hundreds of Ford Expedition SUVs going through the lanes. Now, you're seeing dozens,” he says.

Vehicles that are barely used, particularly '10 models, pose the toughest sales challenges at auctions, says Beggs. “The close proximity of monthly payments between a slightly used car and a similar new car presents concerns to the used-car buying dealer.”