• Image Credit: Ford

We at AOL Autos don't often like to just pass on the results of quality studies that others do without putting in our own analysis.

After all, there are many different arbiters of quality: Consumer Reports, J.D. Power and Associates, etc. One such firm that measures both quality and value is Strategic Vision, a San Diego based research firm that has an interesting approach to measuring both value and quality of the cars, SUVs and pickups that you can research on AOL Autos.

When measuring what the firm calls Total Quality, Strategic Vision surveys consumers about both what they love about their car and what they are complaining about. When measuring Total Value, the firm focuses its questions to car buyers on factors such as warranty, technical innovation, standard equipment and fuel economy. Each attribute is weighted appropriately as the data dictates.

We like Strategic Vision's approach very much, and when we saw so much overlap between quality and value in the two studies, we thought we should point it out to you. Our list here offers the absolutely best value and best quality combined. Click through to our individual make-and-model pages if you are in the market and want to see what the best deals are from the dealers near you.

  • Image Credit: Mazda

6. Mazda CX-9

MSRP: $29,725 - $35,125
Invoice: $28,125 - $33,230
Fuel Economy: 17 mpg City, 24 mpg Highway

The CX-9 is a stylish entry in the category best known for replacing old truck-based SUVs, as well as, in many buyer's hearts, the minivan.

Along with the Nissan Murano, the CX-9 is perhaps the niftiest riding vehicle in the category. The 3.7-liter engine is a shade more powerful than the others in this group, which helps.

Research the Mazda CX-9
Mazda CX-9 Photos & Information
Mazda CX-9 Specs
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5. Chevrolet Traverse

MSRP: $29,660 - $41,035
Invoice: $28,177 - $38,983
Fuel Economy: 17 mpg City, 24 mpg Highway

The Chevy Traverse did not make into the top-five of both studies, but it did make into the five best based on Total Quality.

The Traverse is what we call a full-size crossover as it will carry up to eight passengers, and is based on a front-drive car platform, not a rear-drive truck chassis.

Chevy is excelling at producing very nice interiors on its family vehicles, and Traverse is a fine example of the improvement. This family hauler also has top safety scores, which gives peace of mind on top of knowing you bought one of the highest quality/best value vehicles in the category.

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Chevrolet Traverse Specs
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  • Image Credit: Toyota

4. Toyota Venza

MSRP: $27,700 - $38,870
Invoice: $25,346 - $35,371
Fuel Economy: 20 mpg City, 26 mpg Highway

The Venza scored high in both of Strategic Vision's studies. It's no wonder as it is based on what is maybe Toyota's best quality and most reliable platform -- the same one that serves as the under-pinning of the Camry sedan and Highlander crossover.

The Venza comes in either a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter V6. It is available in only automatic transmission, which is the norm in this category.

Like the Camry, it is never going to get your blood going as far as a driving experience. But it is a very handy package, with styling that doesn't make it clear whether it is a crossover SUV or wagon. Whatever you want to call it, though, it delivers a lot of quality and value.

Research the Toyota Venza
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Toyota Venza Specs
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  • Image Credit: Nissan

3. Nissan Murano

MSRP: $29,960 - $40,560
Invoice: $27,601 - $37,349
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg City, 24 mpg Highway

The Murano is a bit of a sleeper in the crossover category, but not in the Strategic Vision studies where it scored third for total value and quality.

The Murano probably has the most expressive and even divisive styling in the category except maybe for the Flex.

Interior materials and layout are very good in the Murano, and it has lots of backseat room and a smooth ride. Road manners are also very strong. Overall a very enjoyable vehicle to drive every day.

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Nissan Murano Specs
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  • Image Credit: Honda

2. Honda Pilot

MSRP: $28,620 - $40,970
Invoice: $26,179 - $37,444
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg City, 25 mpg Highway

The Honda Pilot reeks of competency. It's not going to make your blood rush. But you can feel the quality in Honda's no-drama, super reliable 3.5 liter V6 engine.

The Pilot also strikes a great balance between value and quality as it scored the number-two position in both of Strategic Vision's studies.

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Honda Pilot Specs
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  • Image Credit: Ford

1. Ford Flex

MSRP: $30,885 - $43,850
Invoice: $29,110 - $40,891
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg City, 25 mpg Highway

The Ford Flex is the undisputed number-one crossover as it topped both of Strategic Vision's most recent studies. The Flex comes in both five-seater configuration and seven-seat.

The retro-ish styling is not for everyone. But our editors have raved about the Flex as an alternative to a minivan, as well as maybe the best family-trip car on the market today. Get it equipped with Ford Sync and this could be your family's ride for many years to come. Among our favorite features are the cooling seats and the in-car cooler.

Research the Ford Flex
Ford Flex Photos & Information
Ford Flex Specs
Ford Flex Local Dealer Price Quote

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