Consumer Reports Names Toyota Prius Best New-Car Value for Second Year in A Row

Imperial, California - Consumer Reports finds the Toyota Prius to be the best overall value for the automotive dollar and the Nissan Armada the worst in its annual Best New-Car Value analysis.

This is the second straight year that the Prius has topped CR’s best-value list, which highlights the cars that give you the most bang for your buck. The popular hybrid has the right combination of performance, reliability and low estimated five-year ownership costs of 47 cents per mile. Last year, the Prius unseated the perennial best-value leader, the Honda Fit. The Fit had held the best new-car value title for the previous four years.

The Armada, a large SUV that gets only 13 mpg overall and scored poorly in Consumer Reports’ annual reliability survey, costs a hefty $1.20 per mile, according to CR’s analysis. 

Toyota and Lexus models placed at the top in three of the 10 categories that Consumer Reports analyzed—with the Prius taking top overall ranking and emerging in first place in the Compact/Subcompact Cars category. The Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited is the top-scoring vehicle in the Large Cars group and the Lexus ES 300h is the top model in the Luxury Cars category.

Vehicles from Subaru and Mazda were also standouts in the analysis; each automaker had vehicles that topped the rankings in two categories. The Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium was the top-scoring vehicle in the Midsized Cars category and the Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium scored best among Small SUVs. The Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand ranked first overall in the Sports Cars/Convertibles category while the Mazda5 Grand Touring was best in the Wagons/Minivans group.

In creating its annual Best and Worst New-Car Values list, Consumer Reports mines its performance, reliability, and owner-cost data to calculate a value score for more than 200 different vehicles ranging from small cars like the Hyundai Accent and Honda Fit to luxury sedans such as the Cadillac XTS and BMW 750Li.

“The Prius’ 44 mpg overall is the best fuel economy of any non-plug-in car that Consumer Reports has tested,” said Consumer Reports Automotive Editor Rik Paul. “Though it’s not particularly cheap to buy, the Prius’ depreciation is so low that it costs less to own over the first five years than its initial MSRP. We call that a bargain.”

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 score from the latest Annual Auto Survey. 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 this analysis: Compact/Subcompact Cars, Midsized Cars, Large Cars, Luxury Cars, Sports Cars/Convertibles, Wagons/Minivans, Small SUVs, Midsized SUVs, Luxury/Large SUVs, and Pickups.

“Just because a car is cheap to buy doesn’t mean it’s a good value. The Nissan Versa Sedan, for example, is one of the least expensive cars that Consumer Reports has tested,” Paul said. “For about $1,500 more, we’d go with a Honda Fit, which is fun to drive, cheaper to own, more reliable, and provides almost twice the value.”

Here’s a look at the winners and losers in each of the categories:

  • Compact /Subcompact Cars: Best, Toyota Prius Four; Worst, Volkswagen Beetle 2.5L

  • Midsized Cars: Best, Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium; Worst, Nissan Altima 3.5 SL

  • Large Cars: Best, Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited; Worst, Ford Taurus Limited

  • Luxury Cars: Best, Lexus ES 300h; Worst, BMW 750Li

  • Sports Cars/Convertibles: Best: Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring; Worst, Chevrolet Camaro convertible 2SS (V8)

  • Wagons/Minivans: Best, Mazda5 Grand Touring; Worst, Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L

  • Small SUVs: Best, Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium; Worst, Ford Escape SE (1.6T)

  • Midsized SUVs: Best, Nissan Murano SL; Worst, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara

  • Luxury/Large SUVs: Best, BMW X1 xDrive28i; Worst, Nissan Armada Platinum

  • Pickups: Best, Honda Ridgeline RTS; Worst, Ford F-250 Lariat (6.7L V8)

No matter what type of car consumers are looking for, Consumer Reports value analysis will help shoppers get the most for their money. To learn more, visit: www.ConsumerReports.org starting December 17 or pick up the February Issue of Consumer Reports Magazine.

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.  Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

Additional information