10 Car Models With the Highest Resale Value: You'll Never Guess What's No. 1!

Let me plant this scenario in your head, as I'd bet this has happened to a majority of you reading this right now. I'll admit, it's happened to me. Here's the scenario:

You're at the car dealership, and you've picked out the car of your dreams, or perhaps something to get you from point A to B and/or handle that new addition to your family. You discuss financing options with the dealership and pat yourself on the back for negotiating a notable reduction in price from where you started. By at this point in time, you're quite proud of yourself. You drive the car off the lot and feel like a victor for what might be days or weeks.

Then, one sunny afternoon (or since I live in Seattle, stormy winter's night) while checking the resale value of your car online, you realize that with just a couple thousand miles on what is essentially your brand-new vehicle it's worth thousands, or perhaps even tens of thousands of dollars, less now than what you paid for it just months prior.

This is the plight of the new car purchaser. Consumers can certainly trade down to used cars for a cheaper sticker price, but they'll often pay the penalties of buying as-is with no warranty and could be in line for a number of repairs. If these same consumers choose a new vehicle, their warranty will cover a number of repairs and maintenance options, but they'll deal with their vehicle immediately depreciating once they drive it off the lot.

What the new car purchaser would really prefer to do is find that common ground between buying a new car and not having it depreciate rapidly over time. Unfortunately, the average new car in 2014 is expected to lose 60% of its original value after five years. Thankfully, we have Kelley Blue Book to help us out.

10 car models with the highest resale value
Kelley Blue Book recently released a report detailing 10 car models that hold the highest resale values after the five-year mark. According to its figures, all 10 of these car models maintain at least half of their original value after five years. As a car enthusiast, perhaps nothing surprised me more than what car model held the No. 1 spot!

By understanding which models deliver the best resale, we not only can make smarter decisions as consumers, it could point to which vehicles are likely to drive automakers' sales higher moving forward.

Here are the 10 car models with the highest resale values (all models are 2014).

10. Dodge Challenger: resale value at 36 months (60.8%) / 60 months (50.5%)
Behold the ongoing rebirth of the American muscle car! Because of consumers' seemingly insatiable appetites for horsepower at the moment, seeing the Dodge Challenger squeak in at No. 10 isn't a surprise in the slightest. The Challenger is maintaining high interest among consumers for its reasonable price point -- ranging from a tad over $26,000 up to nearly $46,000 -- and heart-pumping 305 to 470 horsepower. An aggressive, sleek look coupled with unbridled power should keep Challenger sales rolling strong in 2014.

Source: General Motors

9. Chevrolet Silverado 1500: resale value at 36 months (59%) / 60 months (50.6%)
What a difference a remodel can make for General Motors' (NYSE: GM  ) Chevy Silverado. It's been roughly eight years since the vehicle has had a major redesign, but it's clear from initial sales of the vehicle that GM has had trouble simply keeping up with demand. Although sales have stagnated over the past two months, as Foolish auto analyst John Rosevear pointed out, the average number of days a Silverado sits in a car dealership's lot before being sold is lower than both of its major domestic rivals. That proves the demand is there and gives us a primary reason Silverado's resale value is so high.

8. Honda CR-V: resale value at 36 months (63%) / 60 months (50.7%)
Why Honda Motor (NYSE: HMC  ) ? Simple: reliability. Consumer perceptions can go a long way to boosting the value of a vehicle in the auto sector, and Honda vehicles exude the idea of being economical, maintaining good gas mileage, and requiring less long-term maintenance relative to their peers. The CR-V is the perfect blend of the above, blending the space of an SUV into a compact form, while still providing reasonable gas mileage and the expectation of years of drivability without issues.

Source: Josh on Flickr

7. Chevrolet Camaro: resale value at 36 months (63.7%) / 60 months (51.9%)
Have I mentioned that Americans are really fascinated with the resurgence of the American muscle car? Perhaps no vehicle has captivated the attention of consumers than the Chevy Camaro, which is the best-selling muscle car -- topping Ford's (NYSE: F  ) Mustang and the Dodge Challenger -- since 2009. In 2013, the Camaro nosed out the Mustang for the top spot in muscle-car sales and actually left the Challenger eating its dust. With extremely reasonable price points and an engine that cranks out 323-580 horsepower depending on what model you choose, the Camaro's future and its resale value looks bright.

6. Toyota Tundra: resale value at 36 months (63.7%) / 60 months (52.3%)
We have to jump all the way up to the No. 6 spot to see our first appearance of a Toyota (NYSE: TM  ) vehicle -- but here's a hint: You'll get used to it! The Tundra is a bit of a curious case, as it's not even close to being among the top 20 vehicles sold. Instead, Ford's F-Series pickups, the Chevy Silverado, and the Dodge Ram run circles around the Tundra in terms of total units sold. What's curious is that it holds the most superior resale value of the bunch, likely having to do with consumer perception of its superior reliability, as well as the fact that it can actually come with a number of equipment add-ons that can give it an edge over its peers.

5. Chevrolet Corvette: resale value at 36 months (67.5%) / 60 months (53.5%)
Surprise! Americans like muscle cars! General Motors is surprisingly cleaning up on this Kelley Blue Book list, but it does have a major redesign of the Chevy Corvette to thank for that.

Source: Michael Gil, Wikimedia Commons

In years past, you pretty much had to sign over your first born to park a Corvette in your driveway. But the redesign, which comes complete with a new hydroformed aluminum chassis, can be had for a bargain-basement $52,000 MSRP and delivers 455-460 horsepower. As long as longtime Corvette enthusiasts don't balk at the stylistic changes, there's a good chance the Corvette will remain on this list for some time to come.

4. Toyota 4Runner: resale value at 36 months (66.6%) / 60 months (56.2%)
Sometimes minimal change is for the best, as we see with the No. 4 spot on Kelley Blue Books' resale value list with the Toyota 4Runner. It's been four years since there's been a major resdesign of the 4Runner, and this appears to be one of those situations where the automaker says, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it!" The 4Runner relies on consumers' perception of reliability for the Toyota brand and the fact that few midsized off-road capable SUVs remain on the market.

3. Jeep Wrangler: resale value at 36 months (70.3%) / 60 months (59.1%)
In addition to unbridled horsepower, the resale value of genuine off-road vehicles is unparalleled with the Jeep Wrangler. This is the second year in a row the Wrangler has held the No. 3 spot, and it's the highest-ranked American-made brand on the list. With genuine off-road-capable vehicles becoming difficult to come by these days as automakers move more toward luxury features, the Wrangler is likely to remain on this list because of this niche aspect.

2. Toyota Tacoma: resale value at 36 months (73.7%) / 60 months (61.9%)
Yet again, another Toyota vehicle in the top six! Like the previous Toyota models, the historic reputation of Toyota is what appears to drive the value of these vehicle down at a much slower pace over the long term. With few frills added, the Tacoma is simply a reliable midsize truck that consumers can drive the wheels off of without worrying too much about repairs or gas mileage.

And the No. 1 vehicle for best resale value is ...

1. Toyota FJ Cruiser: resale value at 36 months (81%) / 60 months (70%)

Source: Toyota

That's right ... the FJ Cruiser. Perhaps one of the odder-looking vehicles on the road takes the best resale value yet again and clinches Toyota the position as top dog for resale value in the U.S. The FJ Cruiser's leading resale value comes from a combination of unique styling, which simply has no comparison, as well as its ability to successfully navigate off road. Being able to combine city and utility functions into a unique body styling earns the FJ Cruiser the honor of America's best resale value vehicle.

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  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 3:26 PM, southernshark wrote:

    None of these have the highest resale value. This article is misleading. These may retain the highest portion of their "new" value but none are going to resale for more than a 5 year old Ferrari or Bugatti, for example.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 4:01 PM, 96redse5so wrote:

    You really have no idea how this works, do you. Resale sale should not even be in the top ten of factors the average person should take into account when buying a new car.

    First, only a fool or someone with cash to burn should be planning on selling a new car before they even buy it.

    Second, you have a lot more leverage to buy a car at a great price if you choose one that's less popular - one that the dealer wants to clear off the lot to make room for more popular or more profitable models. Do you think you're gonna negotiate a great deal on an FJ Cruiser?

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 4:07 PM, 96redse5so wrote:

    The last new car I bought was a manual transmission Camry. It's resale value was laughable, but that was irrelevant to me as I generally keep cars for ten years or more.

    I estimate I got the 5 speed for about $2800 less than a comparable automatic Camry, because I had all the bargains power for a car that nobody else wanted.

    I also know that people got great buys on Aztecs precisely because of the lackluster interest and exceptionally low resale value.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 4:07 PM, speculawyer wrote:

    Where is the Tesla Model S on that list? It has been selling used at higher prices than new since there is such high demand.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 4:21 PM, Curmudgeon1973 wrote:

    In the car leasing business, that number is the residual value. The higher the residual, the lower the payment. It is a very important number for both the lessor and the buyer. The buyer needs to know that his car will be worth more at trade-in time or in the event of a total loss. A car should never be considered an investment, unless you bought it at Barrett-Jackson. They are rapidly depreciating assets. Whatever can be done to retard that depreciation will have a positive outcome at resale time.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 4:33 PM, 96redse5so wrote:

    Really, curmudgeon? You'd pay thousands more upfront for a vehicle, because you'll be able to recoup a fraction of that when you go to sell?

    And this article was advice for the "new car purchaser." If you're purchasing a new car, I'm not sure if you're too interested in residual values on a lease.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 4:36 PM, petecrayton wrote:

    The difference between the best and worst is not worth buying a car with which you would not be happy. Leasing with 0 down and no trade would reveal the difference in $ per month, otherwise there are too many factors in a purchase involving a trade and incentives to give resale much credence. As long as the depreciation does not outrun the value of your payments for too long, then you are good since it is not an investment and you will never have any real equity unless you have bought a collectors vehicle. I think year old, low miles cars are a good bet because you still have 2 - 4 years of warranty and most everything built today will go 60k without an oil change.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 4:43 PM, Dewd wrote:

    why do you buy a car worried about the resale? Depreciate it. Besides, it is a consumable, drive it and then buy a new one.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 4:50 PM, 18RC wrote:

    American cars continue to be unreliable, bank account busting nightmares to keep running and that's why their resale value is the worst. Toyota trucks have been #1 in reliability and durability for 40 years and the American car companies don't even attempt to match the Asian automakers in reliability and durability

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 4:58 PM, Curmudgeon1973 wrote:

    96 - your logic escapes me. It's not about how much you spend, it's about spending it wisely. Understand that the residual/resale % is a direct reflection of the marketability of that particular model when you're done with it. A lower resale percentage means a higher rate of loss through depreciation. I don't understand why you or anyone would not think that to be an important consideration. While no one in their right mind considers an automobile to be an investment, consideration should be given to the rate of depreciation, regardless of whether you lease, finance, or pay cash.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 5:32 PM, carguy4life wrote:

    A few people have questioned why you should purchase a vehicle with a higher resale value, and recommend choosing a less popular, or less expensive car than some of these. What makes these cars retain their value is the key. In the case of the Toyotas, for example, they depreciate less because they generally require less maintenance over the long haul. Better reliability, less costly parts, and better fuel efficiency also help. Remember, price is what you get (and what sits in your driveway). But cost to own is what you really pay. So its the factors behind the higher resale value that make most of these vehicles a better buy in the long run.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 5:51 PM, 96redse5so wrote:

    Curmudgeon, you completely missed the point. You'll most certainly pay a lot more up front if you're looking for a popular car which is generally what a car with a higher resale value is.

    If we both buy similar cars, but I pay $1000.00 less up front because I'm buying a less popular model, what difference does it make in ten years when we both go to sell the cars?

    And if you're the type that trades in your car for new one every couple of years, then more power to you, but you're just not a very wise consumer.

    Me, I'm primarily looking for a decent, safe, reliable vehicle. Popularity and potential resale value are pretty low on my list of priorities..

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 5:54 PM, 96redse5so wrote:

    Exactly, car guy. I'll pay more for a safe, reliable, economical car, but not because I'm calculating how much I'll eventually be able to sell it for. That's not relevant to me.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 5:58 PM, 96redse5so wrote:

    I'll take a Subaru forester any day over a jeep wrangler. I don't care if the resale value after five years is zero.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 6:59 PM, jasmith909 wrote:

    The Toyota FJ Cruiser does not have "unique styling, which simply has no comparison". It's a poor man's Range Rover. Looks just like a cheap, scaled-down version.

    @96redse5so You claim that those who trade in their cars every couple years or so aren't "wise" consumers. What is a wise consumer in your eyes? Someone who owns the same boring car for 20+ years and never changes it up? That's what I'd call a non-consuming consumer, bordering on communist. It's far wiser to sample as many cars as you can throughout your limited lifespan, if you actually like driving cars. If you don't, that's another story, but if you're a "car guy", you shouldn't shortchange yourself like that. Because it's a lot more fun to do it that way. I think you mistake wise for miserly. If I bought some kind of boring, "reliable" Japanese eco-box and drove it for the rest of my life up to 800k miles, it would be incredibly boring, and I'd regret it. And in my book, that's an extremely unwise way to live.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 7:33 PM, archerLA wrote:

    Uh, this article fails to list the real #1: TESLA MODEL S. Resale values are up to $30,000 OVER MSRP. It truly is the most desirable car, along with safest, most innovative, and technologically advanced.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 7:45 PM, monkeyfurball wrote:

    Great article. The top 5 vehicles have been on that list for years. I just bought a 2014 Wrangler and one of the first things I looked at was resale value. I keep my new cars about 6 years, so it's important to me. We also have a Honda CRV. Once again I look at resale value before buying. They hold value extremely well. I've owned a Tundra and a Tacoma also. I remember the Tacoma. Bought it brand new for $10k. Had it for 10 years and about 100k miles. On trade, they gave me $8k for it.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 7:52 PM, monkeyfurball wrote:

    Some of you griping about a Tesla holding its value. FALSE. No hybrid holds it's value compared to the top 10 on this list. And that includes the Tesla after 5 years. That's what the list is anyway--5 years from KBB. Sorry Tesla lovers. Do some research.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 7:59 PM, mrgreenjeans wrote:

    FJ cruiser? No-way those look so cheap

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 8:06 PM, EdwardInFlorida wrote:

    @monkeyfurball. It was here on this website where an article was published about two weeks ago on Tesla cars selling USED for MORE than mew. Not all mind you but mint condition Model S Signature and Roadster Sports selling for over MSRP. You ought to take your own advice and do some research.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 8:12 PM, cheapshotrebate wrote:

    I can't think of a better way to make money vanish than purchasing a new car from a dealer

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 8:24 PM, Harley17 wrote:

    We have always purchased our Toyotas & Hondas used with as much as 70K on them. My Son was broad-sided in 2011 totaling his 2000 Honda Civic with 130K on it. We paid 5K for it in 2009. Our insurance company cut us a check for $5500. Plus because of how well it was built, my Son and his passenger walked away without a scratch. We currently own a 99 Toyota 4Runner, a 2008 Honda Civic and 2-2000 Honda Civics. All have stood up well, still look good are paid in full. THE SMART WAY to buy a vehicle today is to let someone "who gets bored" easily, buy it new and take the depreciation so that I don't have to pay it. We buy our cars and trucks keeping in mind that we will be keeping them until they die. We take good care of them and they keep on running. My last 4 Runner had 317K on it. Sold it for $2K. Bought my 1999 for 15K with 43K miles on it. Original list price new was 27K. This is not for everyone but it has worked well for us and without having car payments the extra money was used to pay our home in full while being in our 40's.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 9:12 PM, shesalloverit wrote:

    Right out of college, I worked at a auto dealership and learned a lot.

    Rule #1, go to an independent trusted mechanic that has decades of experience, buy them a cup of coffee, and ask about reliability and maintenance costs of different models of a style/genre of car you are looking for e.g. 4 door mid-size sedans.

    Rule #2, never buy a car that isn't at least 2 years old, and no more than 5 years old, and never buy one with more than 30K miles, and always pay to transfer any OEM drive-train warranty if available, but NEVER a third party warranty.

    Rule #3. Buy the one that has a great track record, but the least popular appeal. I have owned 3 Ford Taurus vehicles built since 1996. All were low mileage, all ran flawlessly to well over 100K miles (still driving one), with not one drive-train failure. (use full synthetic oil from day one)

    Rule #4. After finding two or three cars you would buy, start negotiating on the Friday morning of the last week of the quarter, and let them know you will pay with cash. Know your trade/resale/loan values (your local bank can provide) prior to negotiating, push the price to trade value, and always be willing to walk. Trust me, if you get up, and walk and the manager knows you have the cash to buy that pig on his lot, they will come after you and you will get a good reliable car at a great price. If they try to put document fees, ADP, prep or any other bogus charges on. Walk again. They'll come after you.

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 9:21 PM, jimmychurch wrote:

    Article is just pain wrong in the way they put this info together. The only used jeep I would buy would have been driven in WWII

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 9:44 PM, BIGSHCLUNK wrote:

    I'm in the automotive field ,Kelly's for people at the grocery store. I know of no dealers that use Kelly's

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 10:03 PM, DigitalSmokes wrote:

    the lowest priced 2011 Kia Optima within 100 miles of me is priced at 79% of what I paid for mine new....not pays to not pay list price

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2014, at 7:51 AM, texas2888 wrote:

    @ speculawyer, Has the Tesla been around 5 years? Tell me you're not a real lawyer!!!

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2014, at 7:56 AM, ohiodale wrote:

    I owned a 2007 Ford Mustang GT and after 5 years I sold it to a dealer for 65% of what I paid for it. The dealer sold it for 76% of what I originally paid for it. Since this accured after I owned the car for 5 years the Mustang would easily be the number one on this list. I am not saying the Mustang should be number one for best resale value, I am saying this artilce is not accurate. I would go by my real life experience before believing any article. Remember these articles are written just to get people to read them, nothing else.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2014, at 1:42 PM, Makingthebacon wrote:

    Do some research yourself "monkey fur ball", a Tesla is NOT a hybrid, but rather a pure electric vehicle. (BEV - Battery Electric Vehicle) Sorry dumba$$.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2014, at 2:47 PM, frazierstrutzel wrote:


  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2014, at 3:08 PM, PS75425 wrote:

    Do we actually buy cars because of their resale value??? ... Because if we did ... then maybe NOT buying one would return 100% of its value (you don't lose any money) ...

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2014, at 3:40 PM, morg777 wrote:

    There's a reason Chevy had the slogan "Like A Rock" and that was to describe the depreciation that a new car takes the instant you drive it off of the lot. I've only bought one new car my entire life, a 2012 Shelby Mustang, and that is definitely a long term keeper! Otherwise I buy used Fords that still have a lot of life in them, but let someone else take the depreciation. Most modern vehicles are reliable if you take care of them. I have had Chevies, Fords and Kias and just did routine maintenance and never had an issue. My sister prefers Chevies and can't keep one running reliably, because she can't maintain the cars appropriately. Shouters like Fraizer who don't like a certain brand will overlook their preferred brand's faults and play up the problems that their disfavored brand may have.

    My all time cheapest car was a 1999 Ford Crown Vic, retired from the Portland Police with 150,000 on the odometer. Spent money on new brakes and tires, oil changes and other basic maintenance, and never had an issue in over three years. Not bad for a $500 purchase!

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2014, at 11:37 PM, KarlosEnrique wrote:

    The #2 Toyota Tacoma description states owners don't "have to worry about gas mileage".

    Actually small trucks are not at all fuel efficient. Ford and Dodge both discontinued their "small" trucks because their initial cost, and their fuel consumption were only slightly better than full sized trucks which are far more capable in terms of capacity and towing ability.

    I got rid of my Tacoma with 4 cylinder engine because the best mpg it achieved was only 23. My F150 does 21 regularly, is far more comfortable, and can tow whatever I hitch to it.

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2014, at 6:41 AM, clutch58 wrote:

    Used Teslas sell for higher prices than new Teslas because fools have to jump on the bandwagon. I got some used trash bags for sale-any wannabe Tesla lovers interested?

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2014, at 4:00 PM, cdoorman wrote:

    Not really a lot of "cars" here. Vehicles yes, but most are SUV's and Pickups.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2014, at 4:14 PM, mtxjohn wrote:

    Honda has the #1 resale hands down. They also are the most reliable brand, with Polk research just naming them as such for having 75% of their vehicles purchased in the past TWENTY FIVE years still on the road. I'm calling "BS" that dodge or chevy has the best resale because those companies produce garbage. The Corvette is a collector car so it really shouldnt even be considered. I just got dumber reading these comments-except for curmudgen 1973 most are nonsense. If you invest-you should have a brain-one that works with numbers. Depreciation will add to your cost per mile. I would never buy an ugly or unpoplular car to save a few pennies on the front end because good luck unloading it and you live with an ugly car. Stupid. Your best bet if resale is all you care about is buy a import rebadged as a domestic and buy used. I bought a 3 year old chevy prism (corolla) with 26k miles for $5700, drove it for over 100k more and sold it for $4,000. That is resale my friend. It has been replaced by a gorgeous, fast, and economical acura rsx-s which I paid 14k for with 33k miles and now has 197,000 miles and Ive no intention of selling it anytime soon.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2014, at 4:21 PM, mtxjohn wrote:

    Import cars generally depreciate 11-12%, per year. thats all you really need to know. That's 11-12% per year from the previous years value, not from the new value obviously. Example-Honda accord. Sticker price 25,000. Y1 value 22,000, Y2 19,360, Y3 17036, Y4 14992, Y5 11610, Y6 8990.

    The days of a car losing 20 or 30% of its value are long gone. Just try to buy a 1 yr old Honda for that discount. it cant be done. Dealers will charge near full price, and individuals who financed the car generally are upside down because they spent the first year in payments paying off financed sales tax, dealer addons, warranties, etc.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2014, at 4:40 PM, sj4 wrote:

    Just looking at resale value is shortsighted. If you get a 'good' sale price on your used car but it cost you an arm and leg in insurance, gas, maintenance, etc. that is a false economy. Total cost of ownership is the way to determine what a car will really cost you.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2014, at 4:43 PM, sj4 wrote:

    Here is a link to one of many sources for a 5-year Cost of ownership.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2014, at 6:17 PM, badnicolez wrote:

    The FJ will more than make up for its good resale value in fuel consumption. Those things are gas hogs and get ridiculously bad mileage.

    I bought my second AWD CR-V last year. My first one went more than ten years and 160,000 miles and still ran perfectly when I traded it in, with very little work needed other than regular maintenance. Plus they get decent gas mileage.

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2014, at 7:22 PM, adatherton wrote:

    Excluding classics like the Ferrari Enzo, which appreciate, the car with the best resale value in the world is the classic Land Rover Defender. First produced in 1951, over 75% of production is still on the road. Don't know about the US, but depreciation in the UK is less than 5% a year.

    And regarding status, the Queen of England drives one.

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A Fool since 2010, and a graduate from UC San Diego with a B.A. in Economics, Sean specializes in the healthcare sector and in investment planning topics. You'll usually find him writing about Obamacare, marijuana, developing drugs, diagnostics, and medical devices, Social Security, taxes, or any number of other macroeconomic issues.

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