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Purchasing a new vehicle is one of the largest purchases many Americans make. And with current average car prices surging past $48,000, it can feel tempting to look at price alone to save money. But a cheap car is not necessarily a good deal. A cheap car may come with costs that rack up during your years of ownership, such as higher fuel costs, expensive repairs and pricey insurance.
While you should avoid purchasing a cheap-but-unreliable car, it also isn’t fiscally wise for most people to dole out extra cash for a luxury vehicle with all the newest features. We’ve researched which vehicles on the market carry the most value for what they offer. This will mean money saved down the road and a better overall ownership experience.
Best midsize cars
A midsize car boasts more trunk space and legroom for both passenger and driver than a sedan. The top midsize vehicles have a balance of space and ease of driving by offering an ample interior and an overall size that’s still manageable. Winning in this category, the Honda Accord ranks second in the category in J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study and is known for its advanced technology. For its middle-tier price point, the Kia K5 boasts a sleek design and great tech options. And the least expensive on the list, the Ford Fusion, offers responsive handling and style.
Prices here and throughout the article are sourced from Consumer Reports’ average retail price data. They reflect either 2022 models or, in the case of discontinued models, the most recent model year.
|Best value midsize cars||Price|
Best SUVs and large vehicles
While large SUVs come with a higher price tag, you get what you pay for. The winners for the best large vehicles seat up to eight passengers and are built with the latest technology. So, while this vehicle segment tends to be more expensive, you can still find good value from a pricier option.
The Chevy Tahoe ranks first, accordion to J.D. Power, and wins a perfect reliability score from Consumer Reports. Next comes the Ford Expedition for its high towing capacity and lower price tag. Finally, the classic Chevy Suburban ranks high for its cargo space and strong engine.
|Best value SUVs and large vehicles||Price|
Best midsize SUVs
A midsize SUV offers rugged durability while not being too large to manage. Scoring these vehicles proved to be more of a challenge.
Although our top picks received high marks from Kelley Blue Book, the Santa Fe beat out the others for its gas mileage and advanced tech. The CX-9 followed close behind with its comfortable ride and easy handling. Finally, the Blazer ranked for its reliability rating and user-friendly infotainment system.
|Best value midsize SUVs||Price|
|Hyundai Santa Fe||$26,525|
Best midsize pickup
The classic pickup has received some major upgrades over the past few years. Drivers getting the behind the wheel of a midsize pickup can benefit from a safe ride, towing muscle and easier handling than a bigger truck.
The Toyota Tacoma takes gold for its dependable nature and slow depreciation. Following close behind, the Ford Ranger boasts quick acceleration and towing ability of up to 7,500 pounds. Finally, the Chevy Colorado offers a smooth ride and advanced tech for a slightly lower price tag.
|Best value midsize pickups||Price|
The minivan is no longer just the perfect car for parents. Modern minivans boast the latest tech packages and extra space. Choosing the best minivan for your money requires weighing aspects like space, dependability and safety.
The Honda Odyssey ranks first for its accessible price tag and its high safety ratings. The Kia Sedona and hybrid Toyota Sienna follow close behind, scoring for their powerful handling and fuel efficiency, respectively.
|Best value minivans||Price|
Best hybrids and EVs
The landscape for eco-friendly vehicles has dramatically grown over the past few years in accessibility and affordability. Check out the top options and consider a green auto loan to finance with extra discounts. While hybrid vehicles can be more expensive, the cost per drive can save you money in the long run.
Our first-place winner, the Toyota Prius, boasts a perfect reliability rating from Consumer Reports and an easy drive. Next, the Honda CR-V offers more space than the others and high marks for its fuel economy. Finally, the hybrid Sorento has high safety ratings and a sleek interior.
|Best value hybrids and EVs||Price|
|Honda CR-V Hybrid||$26,975|
|Kia Sorento Hybrid||$28,475|
|Hyundai Ioniq 5||$37,575|
Compact cars are widely known for easy commuting and top-notch parking privileges. But the best compact cars on the market also boast good fuel economy and some extra legroom. The winners in this category ranked based on their dependability scores and ease of driving.
J.D. Power ranks the Toyota Corolla as one of the most dependable compact options, and it snagged near-perfect ratings from Consumer Reports and Kelley Blue Book. Slightly higher in price, the Honda Civic offers high fuel economy and large passenger space. On the less expensive end, the Kia Forte boasts a quiet interior and an extensive list of tech features.
|Best value compact cars||Price|
According J.D. Power’s reliability rankings, Kia took first place among mass-market brands, while Lexus was the top premium pick. Although most drivers have an affinity towards one brand over another, apart from dependability, this ranking is scored based on problems per 100 vehicles. Land Rover and Lincoln were the two least-dependable brands on the market, with over 250 problems per vehicle, according to J.D. Power.
|Best brands||Price range|
|Lexus||$35,000 to $90,000|
|Kia||$25,000 to $51,000|
|Buick||$17,000 to $60,000|
|Chevrolet||$22,000 to $79,000|
Vehicle ranking was based on a combination of industry report findings and vehicle price. This gives a firm idea of the value that each vehicle holds based on industry standards and the price-to-purchase ratio.
Cars are scored on a three-point scale from J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. This study aimed to determine which vehicles over the past year offered drivers the best quality. Although not every vehicle falling into the top five spots was a winner from this report, it was a large determining factor.
We also factored in Kelley Blue Book’s expert rating based on a five-point scale. Finally, we added Consumer Reports’ five-point reliability. These combined factors were then scored with the price of each vehicle to help us choose the top five vehicles for each style.
The bottom line
Vehicle value is based on a range of factors. Are there constant trips to the mechanic or poor gas mileage? While questions like these are important when determining which vehicle is right for you, the best way to choose your car is based on how much you’re comfortable spending and your needs. Take advantage of the above scores when it comes time to purchase your next vehicle.