DETROIT (WWJ) - Toyota Prius has been named by Consumer Reports as the best overall value for the automotive dollar in its annual Best New-Car Value analysis.
The Prius has the right combination of performance, reliability and low estimated ownership costs of $.49 cents per mile — less than half that of the average car, to unseat the perennial pack leader Honda Fit. The Fit as has held the best new-car value title for the past four years.
In creating its annual Best and Worst New-Car-Value list, Consumer Reports mines its performance, reliability, and owner-cost data to calculate a value score for some 200 different vehicles ranging from small cars like the Prius to luxury sedans such as the BMW 750Li.
Toyota and Lexus models placed at the top of six of the 10 categories that Consumer Reports analyzed. The automaker’s hybrid cars, in particular, represent excellent values overall, with great fuel economy and reliability along with low depreciation working in their favor. Toyota hybrid models topped three of the categories and placed second, behind the non-hybrid version of the same model, in an additional category.
“The Prius may not be the most exciting vehicle to drive, nor the cheapest to purchase, but it’s extremely reliable, roomy, rides well, gets great fuel economy, and is inexpensive to operate, ” Rik Paul, automotive editor at Consumer Reports, said in a release.
The 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. 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. The five-year owner cost estimates factor in depreciation, fuel, insurance premiums, interest on financing, maintenance and repairs, and sales tax. Depreciation is by far the largest owner-cost factor.
The 10 vehicle categories Consumer Reports included in the analysis include small hatchbacks, small sedans, family sedans, upscale sedans, luxury sedans, sporty cars/convertibles, wagons/minivans, small SUVs, midsized SUVs, and large/luxury SUVs.
“Some consumers seem to mistake size for value, buying their cars by the pound. But our data shows that rarely pays off. Price and fuel economy are the most important cost factors, and that’s where small cars have a big advantage,” Paul said.
Consumer Reports analysis shows small cars provide the highest value on average than any other car category, and large and luxury cars and SUVs deliver about 25-percent below-average value. Even the worst small cars tend to deliver about average value, and the best large SUVs and luxury cars rate about average. Usually family sedans deliver value that is 50 percent above the average vehicle. Notably, only one car in this category, the Chrysler 200, rates below average.
Best Value Small Hatchbacks: Toyota Prius Four
Worst Value Small Hatchbacks: Ford Focus SE
Best Value Family Sedan: Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
Worst Value Family Sedan: Chrysler 200 Limited (V6)
Almost every category Consumer Reports evaluated contained good values, even if they’re not the cheapest vehicles to own. For example, the Lexus RX 350 is a luxury SUV that costs almost $50,000 to purchase and is relatively expensive to operate, at 93 cents a mile. But it has an excellent reliability history and offers a lot for the money in terms of features and performance, making it stand out against its competitors.
Best Value Large /Luxury SUV: Lexus RX 350
Worst Value Large /Luxury SUV: Nissan Armada Platinum
Consumer Reports analysis shows that for shoppers seeking space and good value, should consider a wagon, minivan, or small SUV. All three categories offer better-than-average value. The best is the fuel-efficient Toyota Prius V, which offers almost twice the value of an average car, with lots of room, above-average reliability, and very low owner cost, at just 51 cents per mile. And the small Mazda 5 minivan isn’t far behind.
Best Value Minivan/Wagon: Toyota Prius V Three
Worst Value Minivan/Wagon: Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L
Best Value Small SUV: Honda CR-V EX
Worst Value Small SUV: Mini Cooper Countryman S