2011 Toyota Prius

If you’ve been eying a used hybrid or fuel-efficient small car, now is the time to buy, while declining gas prices have consumers less concerned with saving money on fuel. As this concern lessens, so does demand for efficient used vehicles, which is leading to a decline in their average retail value.

A recent report by the National Automobile Dealers Association indicates that prices for used small and midsize cars and hybrids will be $300 to $900 less in June than in May. For example, the average price of a 2009 Honda Civic is expected to be $600 less in June than it was in May, while a 2011 Toyota Prius is expected to be $900 less expensive. According to NADA Senior Analyst Jonathan Banks, “Rapid depreciation for hybrid vehicles is not uncommon after surging gasoline prices reach a peak and then begin to quickly fall.”

2009 Honda Civic

Fuel prices are nearly 20 cents less than they were a month ago, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, with the national average cost of regular unleaded fuel currently at $3.61 per gallon. This is a major shift from earlier in the year when many analysts predicted that gas prices would reach at least $4 per gallon this summer.

But while prices of used fuel-efficient cars may be declining compared with last month’s prices, they still remain high. The Detroit News says that strong demand last year for popular vehicles “has resulted in fewer off-lease vehicles returning to the market and fewer trade-ins.” The publication also says that since fewer Americans purchased new vehicles between 2009 and 2011, there are less vehicles on the used market as a whole.

Shopping for a hybrid or another new vehicle? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new car by checking out this month’s best car deals. You can also find the best local prices in the area by using our Best Price Program. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.