Buying a new vehicle is one of the biggest purchases many Americans make. And with power average car prices rise past $40,000, it can be tempting to only look at the price to save money. But a cheap car isn’t necessarily a good deal. A cheap car can come with costs that add up during your years of ownership, such as higher fuel costs, expensive repairs and expensive insurance.
While you shouldn’t buy the cheapest car to save money, for most people it doesn’t make sense for most people to spend extra money on a luxury vehicle with the latest features. Instead, research which vehicles on the market have the most value for what they offer. This means you will save money later and get a better overall ownership experience.
While a classic sedan doesn’t have much of the space that an SUV or midsize sedan can offer, they are a reliable and classic option for drivers of all ages. The top three winners in the category rank for their award and combined high ratings among experts. The Chevrolet Impala takes the gold medal for affordable sedans and large cars. It ranks first in JD Power’s 2022 reliability study and has a near-perfect Kelley Blue Book (KBB) rating. It is best known for its comfortable ride and large trunk. The Avalon and Chrysler 300 follow closely and both receive high ratings from Consumer Reports and receive special recognition for their spacious interiors.
|Best value sedans||Price|
Best Medium Cars
A minor upgrade from the size and space of a sedan – a mid-sized car offers more boot space and legroom for both passenger and driver. The top-class medium-sized vehicles strike a balance between space and ease of use with a spacious interior and an overall size that is still manageable. Winning in this category, the Sonata takes first place with JD Power and is known for its exceptional fuel efficiency. For its mid-range price range, the Camry offers driver assistance and great tech options. And the least expensive on the list, the Legacy has high safety ratings and a great resale value.
|Mid-size cars with the best value||Price|
Best Mid-Sized SUVs
A mid-sized SUV offers the best of both worlds when it comes to rugged durability, while not being too big to manage. Scoring these vehicles proved more challenging, although they all received high marks according to Kelley Blue Book, the Santa Fe beat the others for its gas mileage and advanced technology. The Outback followed closely with its available roof and luggage options and comfortable ride. Finally, the Murano scored for its safety rating and strong engine.
|Mid-size SUVs with the best value for money||Price|
|Hyundai Santa Fe||$27,200|
The minivan is no longer just the perfect car for parents. Modern minibuses have the latest technical packages and extra space. When choosing the best minivan for your money, you should consider aspects such as space, reliability and safety. The Sienna dominates the road when it comes to top minivans. JD Power is one of the best minivans and has excellent fuel economy. The Carnival and Odyssey closely track the scores for handling and powertrain usability, respectively.
|Dodge Grand Caravan||$29,025|
Best Hybrids and EVs
The landscape for environmentally friendly vehicles has grown enormously in recent years in accessibility and affordability. Check out the top options and consider financing a green car loan with additional discounts. While hybrid vehicles can be more expensive, the cost per trip can save you money in the long run. Our first-place winner, the Insight, offers an easy ride and high miles per gallon. Next, the RAV4 has a perfect Consumer Reports score and more space than the other category winners. Finally, the cheapest option, the Kona, has a powerful turbo engine and a fun design.
|Best Value Hybrids and EVs||Price|
|Toyota RAV4 Prime||$38,800|
Compact cars are widely known for their easy commute and excellent parking privileges. But the best compact cars on the market also have good fuel economy and some extra legroom. The winners in this category won based on their reliability scores and ease of driving. JD Power ranks the Corolla as the most reliable compact option — along with KBB and Consumer Reports giving near-perfect ratings. The Elantra is comparable in price and offers an extra turbo engine and a practical driving experience. The cheapest winner, the Impreza, shows off an advanced infotainment system and fast steering.
|Compact cars with the best price||Price|
Best SUVs and Suburbs
While large SUVs have a higher price tag, you get what you pay for. The winners for the best large vehicles can accommodate up to eight passengers and are built with the latest technology. So while this vehicle segment tends to be more expensive, you can still get a good price from a more expensive option. Although it is the most expensive, the expedition ranks highly according to Kelley Blue Book and has a towing capacity of 6,000 pounds. Next, the Tahoe is known for its spacious interior and extreme towing capacity, and is a great choice for drivers looking to spend less. Finally, the Yukon ranks highly according to JD Power and allows for a variety of trim upgrades.
|Cheapest SUVs and Suburbs||Price|
According to information gathered by JD Power in its 2022 US Dependability Study, Genesis brand vehicles ranked highest among premium vehicles, while Kia ranked first among mass market brands. While most drivers have an affinity for one brand over another beyond reliability, this ranking is scored based on problems per 100 vehicles. Land Rover and Ram rounded out the list with over 250 issues per vehicle – two of the least reliable brands on the market according to JD Power.
|Best brands||price range|
|kia||$17,490 to $52,590|
|Buick||$25,595 to $43,995|
|Hyundai||$20,200 to $48,740|
|Toyota||$19,925 to $53,050|
The vehicle ranking was based on a combination of findings from industry reports and vehicle price. This gives a good idea of the value each vehicle has based on industry standards and the price-to-purchase ratio.
Specifically, cars are scored on a three-point scale of JD Power’s 2022 US Vehicle Dependability Study. This study aimed to determine which vehicles of the past year had the longest lifespan for drivers. While not every vehicle that made the top five was a winner from this report, it was used as a big determinant.
Together with JD Power, Kelley Blue Book’s expert rating based on a five-point scale was added to the calculation. Finally, the Consumer Reports five-point scale for vehicle reliability was added. These combined factors were then scored against the price of each vehicle, choosing the best five vehicles for each style.
it comes down to
The value of a vehicle is based on a series of factors. Are there constant trips to the mechanic or poor gas mileage? While questions like these are important in determining which vehicle is right for you — including color, make and model — the best way to choose your car is based on how much you spend and what that cost per trip is. Take advantage of the above scores when it’s time to buy your next vehicle.