The 2012 U.S. News Best Cars for the Money Awards help you navigate a confusing automotive market by identifying cars that hit quality and value from all sides. The awards combine the U.S. News Best Cars rankings with five-year total cost of ownership data from TrueCar.com. The award-winning vehicles have the best combination of praise from car reviewers, lower upfront costs and lower long-term ownership costs than their competition. The winners aren’t just good cars or good values. They’re both.

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Affordable Compact SUV (2 Row) - Chevrolet Equinox
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Affordable Compact SUV (2 Row) - Chevrolet Equinox

MSRP: $23,530 - $30,970
Fuel Economy: 32 mpg Hwy, 22 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $23,196

The Chevrolet Equinox is a competitively priced mid-sized SUV that offers exceptional versatility, distinctive design and high practicality. The Equinox is available in four trim levels, LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ, and can be had in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The standard drivetrain is a 2.4-liter direct injection four-cylinder and six-speed automatic transmission.

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Affordable Compact SUV (3 Row) - Toyota RAV4
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Affordable Compact SUV (3 Row) - Toyota RAV4

MSRP: $22,650 - $28,650
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg Hwy, 22 mpg City

The Toyota RAV4 is one of the compact SUVs that created the class. It has become bigger in recent years and includes more outstanding features that make it an even more useful family vehicle. The RAV4 seats five and has an available third-row seat (that folds flat into the cargo floor) that increases its capacity to seven. The RAV4 is a four-door, compact sport utility vehicle, available in three trim levels: Base, Sport and Limited.

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Affordable Large Car - Ford Taurus
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Affordable Large Car - Ford Taurus

MSRP: $25,555 - $38,155
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg Hwy, 18 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $24,287

The Taurus is Ford's flagship that offers full-size car interior dimensions, luxury car interior quietness, a top safety rating as well as advanced technology, to give it's owners confidence on the road. The front-wheel or all-wheel drive Taurus is powered by a 263-hp 3.5-liter direct injection V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission with the option of steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

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Affordable Large SUV - Chevrolet Suburban
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Affordable Large SUV - Chevrolet Suburban

MSRP: $41,995 - $57,890
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg Hwy, 15 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $39,186

The 2012 Chevrolet Suburban retains the same maximum-size virtues that have made it a bestseller for so many years. It remains the first choice for anyone who needs to haul six or more people plus their cargo. The Suburban 1500 is available in LS, LT, and LTZ trims in both two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. It can seat up to nine passengers in its three rows of seats.

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Affordable Midsize Car - Ford Fusion
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Affordable Midsize Car - Ford Fusion

MSRP: $20,200 - $29,100
Fuel Economy: 32 mpg Hwy, 22 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $25,620

Attractive and purposeful, the Ford Fusion is a top choice among midsize sedans. The Fusion is available in four trim levels, the S, SE, SEL, and Sport; offers three engines, as well as front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the Fusion has something for everyone. The powerteams are a 175-hp 2.5L four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, a 240-hp 3.0L V6 with a six-speed automatic transmission, or a 263-hp 3.5L V6 with a six-speed automatic transmission with the Sport trim.

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Affordable Midsize SUV (2 Row) - Ford Edge
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Affordable Midsize SUV (2 Row) - Ford Edge

MSRP: $27,770 - $38,960
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg Hwy, 19 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $25,620

The Ford Edge is a five-passenger crossover sport utility that answers the call for a roomy vehicle with utility and style. It isn't a truck. Nor is it a minivan. Yet it's more than a car. The Edge is powered by a 285-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine, while the Edge Sport adds a 305-hp 3.7-liter V6; both engines use a six-speed automatic transmission, the Sport adds steering wheel shift paddles. Available on the SE, SEL and Limited trims is a 237-hp 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine which boasts enhanced fuel economy.

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Affordable Midsize SUV (3 Row) - Mazda CX-9
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Affordable Midsize SUV (3 Row) - Mazda CX-9

MSRP: $29,725 - $35,125
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg Hwy, 17 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $27,490

The Mazda CX-9 is a stylish alternative for those that need the versatility of a mini-van but desire the looks of a modern SUV without rugged off-road capabilities. With seating for seven and an attractive design the CX-9 certainly fits the bill. The CX-9 is available in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive in one of three models: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring.

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Affordable Small Car (Compact) - Chevrolet Cruze
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Affordable Small Car (Compact) - Chevrolet Cruze

MSRP: $16,800 - $23,190
Fuel Economy: 36 mpg Hwy, 25 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $16,662

The Cruze is Chevrolet's newest entrant in the highly contested compact sedan segment. It is based on a global platform that has been refined for America with an emphasis on fuel economy. The Cruze features two new small-displacement four-cylinder engines; a 140-hp 1.4-liter turbo, or a 138-hp naturally-aspirated 1.8-liter. Depending on trim, a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels.

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Affordable Sports Car - Mazda MX-5 Miata
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Affordable Sports Car - Mazda MX-5 Miata

MSRP: $23,470 - $28,950
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg Hwy, 22 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $21,811

The Mazda MX-5 Miata, is a convertible sports car that is sleek, capable, well-engineered, delightful, and fun. The MX-5 Miata roadster comes in two basic configurations: a soft-top or a power retractable hardtop. Three transmissions are offered, a five-speed manual, a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

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Compact Pickup - Toyota Tacoma
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Compact Pickup - Toyota Tacoma

MSRP: $16,875 - $27,835
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg Hwy, 20 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $16,312

The Tacoma is Toyota's compact pick-up truck offering - just the right size for all but the most serious contractor. Toyota Tacoma is available in Regular Cab, Extra Cab (extended cab) and Double Cab (crew cab) body styles, in either two or four wheel drive. Regular and Extra Cabs come with six-foot beds; Double Cabs have the choice of a shorter five-foot bed or a standard-size six-footer.

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Affordable Small Car (Subcompact) - Ford Fiesta
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Affordable Small Car (Subcompact) - Ford Fiesta

MSRP: $13,200 - $17,500
Fuel Economy: 38 mpg Hwy, 29 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $12,585

The Ford Fiesta is a sub-compact, front-wheel drive, five-passenger car. Available in four- and five-door bodystyles, the current benchmarks for the sub-compact segment are being tested by the Fiestas styling, comfort and luxury features, technology, and overall practicality. The Fiesta is offered in three trims, S, SE, or SEL. Power comes from a 119-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

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Full Size Pickup - Ram 1500
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Full Size Pickup - Ram 1500

MSRP: $21,820 - $46,270
Fuel Economy: 20 mpg Hwy, 14 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $18,007

The RAM 1500 offers bold styling with an aggressive "grille-forward" design, interiors with premium materials and innovative features, and big power from a choice of engines, making it ideal for work and play. The RAM 1500 provides something for everyone with the choice of three cab styles (regular, Quad and Crew cabs), three wheelbases, 4x2 or 4x4 drive types, and 3.7-liter V6 or 4.7-liter V8 or 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engines.

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Hatchback - Ford Fiesta
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Hatchback - Ford Fiesta

MSRP: $13,200 - $17,500
Fuel Economy: 38 mpg Hwy, 29 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $12,585

The Ford Fiesta is a sub-compact, front-wheel drive, five-passenger car. Available in four- and five-door bodystyles, the current benchmarks for the sub-compact segment are being tested by the Fiestas styling, comfort and luxury features, technology, and overall practicality. The Fiesta is offered in three trims, S, SE, or SEL. Power comes from a 119-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

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Hybrid SUV - Lexus RX 450h

Hybrid SUV - Lexus RX 450h

MSRP: $45,235 - $46,825
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg Hwy, 32 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $44,214

The Lexus RX 450h is the newest version of the first full hybrid luxury utility vehicle. This crossover is impressively smooth, comfortable, responsive in all driving situations and flexible when it comes to hauling people or cargo. As a full hybrid, the RX 450h can operate in electric only, gas engine only, or combine the power of both. The 3.5-liter V6 gas engine and electric motors provide a combined 295-hp.

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Luxury Compact SUV - Audi Q5
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Luxury Compact SUV - Audi Q5

MSRP: $35,600 - $43,000
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg Hwy, 20 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $35,208

The Audi Q5 provides the versatility of an SUV with the driving characteristics of a sport sedan, with the goal of being the sportiest in its class. The Q5 is powered by either a 211-hp 2.0T four-cylinder or a 3.2-liter FSI V6 engine, the 2.0T gets an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic, while the 3.2 is bolted to a six-speed Tiptronic automatic.

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Luxury Large SUV - Cadillac Escalade
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Luxury Large SUV - Cadillac Escalade

MSRP: $63,170 - $82,495
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg Hwy, 14 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $61,392

The Cadillac Escalade is a large, luxurious SUV that delivers performance and style. Classy and powerful, it looks great for a night on the town or can haul everything needed for a weekend getaway. Available as a 4x2 or 4x4 the Escalade is powered by a 403-hp 6.2-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management and E85 compatibility, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

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Hybrid Car - Ford Fusion Hybrid
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Hybrid Car - Ford Fusion Hybrid

MSRP: $28,700
Fuel Economy: 36 mpg Hwy, 41 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $27,283

The Ford Fusion Hybrid offers buyers an earth-friendly alternative to regular mid-size sedans. Its hybrid system shines with reduced emissions and increased fuel economy, while still providing all the normal useful mid-size sedan features. The Fusion Hybrid uses a 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine in combination with an electric motor powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery.

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Luxury Midsize SUV - Lexus RX 350
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Luxury Midsize SUV - Lexus RX 350

MSRP: $39,075 - $40,475
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg Hwy, 18 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $37,126

The Lexus RX was one of the first sedan-based, luxury utility vehicles, and it remains one of the best. This crossover is impressively smooth, comfortable, responsive in all driving situations and flexible when it comes to hauling people or cargo. The RX 350 is powered by a 270-hp 3.5-liter V6 with a six-speed automatic transmission delivering performance, and fuel efficiency. It is available with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

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Minivan - Mazda5
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Minivan - Mazda5

MSRP: $19,625 - $24,025
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg Hwy, 21 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $18,062

Mazda's subcompact crossover is tiny yet versatile, seating up to six passengers or hauling just about any shape cargo thanks to its two rows of folding seats. The Mazda5 is basically a mini-minivan, with sliding doors and a vertical liftgate out back, in addition to styling reminiscent of minivan. Offered in Sport, Touring, or Grand Touring trims, it's powered by a 2.5-liter, 157-hp, four-cylinder engine with available six-speed manual (Sport only) or five-speed automatic.

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Off-Road SUV - Jeep Wrangler
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Off-Road SUV - Jeep Wrangler

MSRP: $22,045 - $29,995
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg Hwy, 17 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $21,503

The Wrangler is one of the most fun-to-drive, off-road-capable Jeeps ever made. For open-air driving at the beach, on the trail or even the just on the street, the standard soft top can be folded down or the available hard top can be taken off, the doors can be removed and the windshield can be folded down. The two-door Wrangler is configurable in either Sport, Sahara and Rubicon trim with standard four-wheel drive. A 290-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine is new for 2012.

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Upscale Midsize Car - Buick Regal
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Upscale Midsize Car - Buick Regal

MSRP: $27,055 - $34,835
Fuel Economy: 31 mpg Hwy, 19 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $25,464

The Regal is Buick's mid-size sport sedan, featuring sleek, aggressive styling, a high level of standard equipment, and impressive attention to detail. It seats five passengers in comfort, while providing responsive handling and a dynamic, yet refined, ride. The front-wheel drive Regal is available in three variants: Base, Turbo and GS. Available four-cylinder engines feature direct fuel injection, and include a 182-hp 2.4-liter, 220-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged and a 270-hp 2.0-liter High Output turbocharged.

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Upscale Small Car - Volkswagen GTI
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Upscale Small Car - Volkswagen GTI

MSRP: $23,995 - $30,595
Fuel Economy: 31 mpg Hwy, 21 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $23,176

The iconic Volkswagen GTI was arguably the first "hot hatch" when VW made a small hatchback fun to drive, now in its sixth generation, the GTI still lives up to the original's sporting intentions. The GTI is available as a two-door or four-door, with a 200-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and the choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox

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Wagon - Subaru Outback
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Wagon - Subaru Outback

MSRP: $23,295 - $31,695
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg Hwy, 19 mpg City

Average Base AOL Autos Best Deal Price: $22,361

The Outback is now in it's fourth-generation of what Subaru likes to call the world's first sport utility wagon. The Outback is available with a 170-hp naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder with a six-speed manual transmission (or optional six-speed CVT), or a 3.6-liter six-cylinder with a five-speed automatic transmission.

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