Analysis of performance, reliability, and owner cost finds small cars and family sedans deliver the most bang for the buck
YONKERS, N.Y., Jan. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite the influx of new vehicles into the small- and budget-car marketplace, the Honda Fit remains on top in Consumer Reports list of best value small cars. The Fit also re-emerged as the best overall value among some 200 different vehicles that were analyzed.
"A low price doesn't necessarily make a car a good value," said Rik Paul, automotive editor at Consumer Reports. "A cheap vehicle can wind up costing you more money over time or can be disappointing down the road. We think real value is what you get for your money."
Consumer Reports mined its performance, reliability, and ownership cost data to calculate value scores for some 200 different vehicles ranging from small cars like the Honda Fit to luxury sedans such as the Jaguar XJL.
Scores were calculated based on the five-year owner cost for each vehicle along with Consumer Reports road-test score and the organization's own predicted-reliability. Five-year owner cost estimates factor in depreciation, fuel costs, insurance premiums, interest on financing, maintenance and repairs, and sales tax. Depreciation is by far the largest owner-cost factor. In short, the better a car performs in Consumer Reports road tests and reliability ratings, and the less it costs to own over time, the better its value.
Overwhelmingly, the best values come from Japanese automakers, including most of the top models in each category. Of the 48 best values in Consumer Reports lists, 34 are from Japanese brands. Six models come from European brands (mostly Volkswagen), five come from American ones (mostly Ford), and three are from South Korean automakers.
In all, 11 different categories of vehicles were evaluated including small cars, family sedans, upscale and luxury sedans, sporty cars, wagons, minivans, small SUVs, midsized SUVs, large and luxury SUVs, compact pickups, and full-sized pickups. Within categories, models are ranked by value score, above or below the average.
Overall the report finds that small cars and family sedans provide the best value. In addition to the Honda Fit, the Toyota Prius hybrid, diesel-powered Golf TDI (with manual transmission), Scion xD, and Toyota Corolla also made Consumer Reports list of best values in the small car category. Most scored at least twice as high as the average model and higher than any other model in Consumer Reports' analysis. Even the lowest-scoring small car, the Chevrolet Cruze, is close to average in overall value.
Best Value Small Car: Honda Fit
Worst Value Small Car: Chevrolet Cruze 1LT