The average price of a used car reached a record $16,800 in 2014, signaling a solid resale value for the next generation of post-lease models.
The used car market got a boost from "certified pre-owned" models that are usually vehicles that come off a lease and are reconditioned by dealers.
"We fully expect CPO popularity to continue throughout 2015 because many leased cars are being returned in excellent shape and lightly used cars are being traded in at faster rates than in previous years," said Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell, as quoted by the Free Press.
In 2014, American dealerships sold 2.3 million CPO vehicles, which compares with 1.53 million five years earlier.
The Edmunds report found that the 2002 Honda CR-V and the 2004 Toyota Prius sold quickly on used-car lots last year.
"In the lower end of the used-car price range, vehicles that lean towards practicality tend to move off of dealers' lots the quickest," the report said. "As we move upward in price range, the demand for vehicle utility increases with light trucks being the quickest sellers."
Cheap gas prices helped boost sales for older models, with vehicles between 11 and 16 years old accounting for almost one in every seven used vehicles sold. When consumers didn't have to worry so much about the cost of fuel, they could opt for less fuel-efficient vehicles, a group that rose 13.6 percent in sales for the year.
Another factor in the older-vehicle market's rise could be an increase in subprime car loans since those borrowers usually purchase older vehicles, Melinda Zabritski, director of automotive credit for Experian, told the Free Press.
Used vehicle prices will probably stay strong for a while and then settle down in the long term, she said.
"You've got a combination of rising prices coupled with an increase in the end-of-lease returns so we're probably going to see used prices leveling off," Zabritski told the Free Press.