The Consumer Reports Best Value Cars
Minivan/Wagon - Toyota Prius v
MSRP: $26,650 - $30,295
Invoice: $24,809 - $28,202
Fuel Economy: 44 mpg City, 40 mpg Highway
The Prius v is essentially a bigger Prius, so it's not really surprising that this hybrid made the list. In spite of a recent setback in safety -- the Prius v received a "poor" rating on the IIHS small-overlap front crash test -- Consumer Reports says that this wagon is still a great value for your dollar.
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The Toyota Prius is the best value for your dollar, according to Consumer Reports, taking over the No. 1 spot from the the Honda Fit hatchback, which has held the honor for the past 4 years.
"There are plenty of less expensive cars," said Consumer Reports in a post on its website. "But they can't match the Prius for its comfortable ride, competent handling, roomy interior, excellent reliability, and, of course, its great fuel economy."
Consumer Reports evaluated more than 200 cars and determined the Best Value vehicle by weighing cost, benefit and risk. The cars that were determined to be the best values had a low cost of operation, good reliability and good performance in testing.
The publication noted in its study that a less expensive car does not necessarily make it a good value, which is why the Prius, which starts at $24,200, beat out the many cars that have lower MSRPs.
Consumer Reports admitted that the Prius isn't going to get your adrenaline pumping, but overall, it's a very smart buy.
"The Prius may not be the most exciting vehicle to drive, nor the cheapest to purchase, but it's extremely reliable, roomy, rides well, gets great fuel economy, and is inexpensive to operate," said Rik Paul, the publication's automotive editor, in a statement.
The Prius wasn't the only car recognized by Consumer Reports as being a good value. Click on through to see the others.
Small Sedan - Toyota Corolla
MSRP: $16,230 - $18,230
Invoice: $15,338 - $16,896
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg City, 34 mpg Highway
Consumer Reports admits that while the Toyota Corolla is "rather bland," they consider it a good small sedan. The car comes with a quiet 1.8-liter engine, and Consumer Reports considers it to give a comfortable ride with secure handling.
"The interior is put together well, although hard plastic panels and trim are abundant," the magazine said in a brief review of the car. But the car got 32 mpg in their tests, making it "one of the most frugal among non-hybrids or non-diesel sedans."
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Family Sedan - Toyota Camry Hybrid
MSRP: $26,140 - $27,670
Invoice: $24,049 - $25,456
Fuel Economy: 43 mpg City, 39 mpg Highway
The Toyota Camry Hybrid, with its refined interior, good driving dynamics and great fuel economy, was deemed the best value for the Family Sedan category.
Though Consumer Reports testing found its MPG to be slightly lower than the EPA estimate (38 mpg compared to 40 mpg), the publication still found fuel economy to make the Camry Hybrid a great value.
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Upscale Sedan - Acura TSX
MSRP: $30,510 - $39,150
Invoice: $28,719 - $36,715
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg City, 31 mpg Highway
Consumer Reports says the TSX is fun to drive, given "its smooth-revving engine, slick transmission and agile handling." But its steering isn't precise enough for the magazine, making it less sporty than other cars.
The car gave Consumer Reports 25 mpg from its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The car lets in a lot of road noise, and its tight suspension makes it bumpy at slow speeds. Still, at $30,510 for the base sedan, it hits the magazine's best values list.
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Luxury Sedan - Cadillac CTS
MSRP: $38,905 - $51,650
Invoice: $36,765 - $48,809
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg City, 27 mpg Highway
Consumer Reports had almost nothing negative to say about the Cadillac CTS, which starts at $38,905 but can run as high as $63,215. The magazine said the 3.6-liter V6 model they tested was "smooth and refined," and came with quality interior materials.
"The cabin is quiet and the front seats are comfortable, but the rear seat is snug," they wrote. On the downside, the V8 engine has below-average reliability, but the V6 engine gets average to above-average marks.
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Sporty Car - MINI Cooper
MSRP: $19,500 - $24,950
Invoice: $17,550 - $22,455
Fuel Economy: 29 mpg City, 37 mpg Highway
Despite the fact that Consumer Reports found the audio and climate controls confusing in the MINI Cooper, they seemed to love the way it drives. The car "is fun to drive with its agile handling and quick, precise steering, however the ride is choppy," the magazine wrote.
The magazine got 29 mpg to 33 mpg, depending on the version of the car. They liked the base four-cylinder engine, but seemed to prefer the turbocharged engine in the Cooper S, calling it "more powerful and [having] a great exhaust note."
But, Consumer Reports noted, the S versions have below average reliability scores, while the non-S versions have been average or better.
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Small SUV - Honda CR-V
MSRP: $22,795 - $28,795
Invoice: $21,413 - $27,030
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 31 mpg Highway
The Honda CR-V has been a longstanding favorite with critics and consumers alike. With a low MSRP, solid fuel economy and great reliability, the CR-V certainly has the formula to make it a great value for car buyers.
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Midsize SUV - Toyota Highander
MSRP: $28,870 - $39,250
Invoice: $26,358 - $35,836
Fuel Economy: 20 mpg City, 25 mpg Highway
Consumer Reports says the Highlander "has a cushy ride, comfortable cabin and smooth powertrain," making it one of the magazine's best-value vehicles.
The second row is roomy, Consumer Reports notes, but the third row is tight. The Highlander gets about 18 mpg when equipped with the 3.5-liter V6, and the hybrid version gets an impressive 27 mpg. The steering is a little loose for Consumer Report's tastes, but overall handling is sound and secure, they said.
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Large/Luxury SUV - Lexus RX 350
MSRP: $39,310 - $47,000
Invoice: $36,754 - $43,945
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg City, 25 mpg Highway
Although it didn't perform as well as the larger and more expensive Lexus RX 450h, the RX 350 was still determined to be a great value by the publication.
The luxury crossover has a smooth ride, well appointed interior, respectable fuel economy numbers and legendary Toyota reliability.
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