Dec 16, 2008

US News Names 2009 Best Cars for the Money

Magazine partners with IntelliChoice to come up with 14 vehicles that will help you stretch your dollar.

Stretch Your Dollars

It’s always important to make your dollar go further, no matter what you’re buying. But when you purchase a big ticket item like a new vehicle, every percent you save is not just pennies or dollars; it can mean hundreds or even thousands of dollars in your pocket. That’s why the latest “Top” vehicle list from US News seems so timely to us here at Auto Credit Express.

To compile their list, U.S. News took their car rankings and combined this list with ownership data from IntelliChoice. The data includes a target price that consumers can expect to pay for the vehicle as well as their 5 year total cost of ownership data that’s reported by vehicle owners.

Here is what U.S. News had to say about the report:

“The auto industry has clearly been among the hardest hit by the economic downturn, but let’s not forget that car buyers are also struggling to make sense of a tumultuous market,” said Chad Smolinski, Vice President of Rankings & Reviews for U.S. News. “The Best Cars for the Money list recognizes vehicles that can be the most rewarding for car shoppers - namely those that win the most praise and offer the most compelling overall value.”

IntelliChoice had this to say about the list:

“Knowing the latest incentives, rebates, fuel costs, and projected resale values is as valuable and necessary as knowing a fair purchase price,” said James Bell, Editor of “Combining this information with editorial rankings provides a strong guidepost for those looking to purchase in today’s rapidly changing auto market.”

Here is what we say:

Picking out a car based on an IntelliChoice ranking is a little like asking for car buying advice from your accountant. You will undoubtedly be pleased with your bottom line during the vehicle’s ownership, but you might find the rest of your experience lacking. But if you combine this information with another metric – the overall driving experience as well as the style and substance of a vehicle – such as the 2009 Car Rankings by U.S. News, you should end up with a more well-rounded choice.

So if you’re looking for entertaining as well as bottom-line friendly vehicles, the folks at U.S. News hereby present the Best Cars for the Money award vehicles in 14 categories (along with a few of our comments):

Subcompact Cars
Honda Fit
(Comment: The benchmark of small cars, the second generation Fit also made Car and Driver Magazine’s 10 Best List as well)

Compact Cars
Hyundai Elantra
(Comment: The Elantra is a bit of a surprise, since the Honda Civic and Mazda3 are better performers and also hold resale value better)

Midsize Cars
Toyota Camry (includes Camry Hybrid)
(Comment: The best selling midsize sedan in the U.S., although the Camry has had recent issues with quality)

Full Size Cars
Toyota Avalon
(Comment: Although a bit bland for sporting tastes, the Avalon is best in class for quality and resale value)

Upscale Cars
Lexus ES
(Comment: It’s Lexus’ version of the Camry with wood, leather, and the great Lexus service experience)

Luxury Cars
Lexus GS (includes GS Hybrid)
(Comment: The GS offers a great ownership experience wrapped in bland styling. While not as much fun to drive, the hybrid will at least make you feel green.)

Sports Cars
Mazda Miata
(Comment: Although originally designed with the Lotus Elan in mind, the Miata has become a classic 2-seater in its own right.)

Compact Crossovers/SUVs
Mazda Mazda5
(Comment: Based on the Mazda3 platform, the 5 is one of the most spacious and versatile vehicles, for its size, available in the U.S.)

Midsize Crossovers/SUVs
Toyota Highlander (includes Highlander Hybrid)
(Comment: A bit bland, the Highlander seats 7 and has better –than-average resale value.)

Luxury Crossovers/SUVs
Lexus RX (includes RX Hybrid)
(Comment: Based on a front-wheel-drive platform, the RX delivers a car-like ride and Lexus quality and reliability.)

Full Size SUVs
Chevrolet Tahoe (includes Tahoe Hybrid)
(Comment: Given current rebates and incentives, the Tahoe is not only one of GM’s better vehicles, it’s also a relative bargain right now.)

Toyota Sienna
(Comment: Along with the Honda Odyssey, the Sienna is at the top of the not-so-mini-anymore minivan class.)

Compact Pickups
Toyota Tacoma
(Comment: The Tacoma is the Toyota of compact pickups. Enough said.)

Full Size Pickups
Chevrolet Silverado
(Comment: The Silverado is something of a surprise on this list, as the new Ford F-150 would seem a better choice.)

The Bottom Line

While many of these vehicles hardly fall into the “frugal” category, they are all among the best buys in their respective segments and certainly represent good values for your vehicle dollar.

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