Consumer Reports asks owners every year in the annual Owner Satisfaction survey which cars won—or broke—their hearts. This year, they also asked whether owners thought their cars delivered value for the money. The important distinction here is that there are some cars that owners were quite satisfied with, such as the Tesla Model X, but they were disappointed in the value proposition. Here, they present satisfaction with the value of their 1- to 3-year-old vehicles.
Best Value Subcompact Car: Toyota Prius C
This smaller, less expensive alternative to the regular Prius feels like a Spartan subcompact, but with a hybrid powertrain. Its 37 mpg makes the Prius C one of the most frugal vehicles we’ve tested, and its 43 mpg overall is just 1 mpg less than the previous-generation Prius hatchback. Its tiny dimensions make it a natural for urban driving. Reliability is above average, but the Prius C scored too low to be recommended. Worst Value: Nissan Versa Note
Used car dealerships can tout the “owner love” of these vehicles in advertising campaigns. The latest AudienceSCAN study found 15% of Americans are in the market for used vehicles during the next 12 months.
Best Value Compact Car: Hyundai Elantra
The redesigned 2017 Elantra is relatively roomy, is sparing with fuel, and features intuitive controls. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder returned an excellent 33 mpg overall in our tests but delivers leisurely acceleration and buzzes unpleasantly as revs increase. Worst Value: Fiat 500L
Used Car Shoppers will be interested especially in these rave reviews. According to AudienceSCAN research, they are 24% more likely than average shoppers to drive compact or economy cars.
Best Value Midsized Car: Kia Optima
Kia’s recently redesigned Optima midsized sedan packs a lot of substance and value. It drives nicely, with a firm yet absorbent ride and responsive, secure handling. At around $26,000, the EX trim features comfortable leather seats, automatic climate control, a roomy rear seat, and heating for the seats and steering wheel. The controls are very intuitive to use. Low-positioned dash vents are our only gripe. The latest version of Kia’s UVO touch-screen infotainment system works with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A hybrid is also available. Worst Value: Chevrolet Malibu
The value the Elantra and Optima give owners can be a strong pull for Used Car Shoppers. According to AudienceSCAN data, 25% of Used Car Shoppers took action after hearing radio spots in the past month. This is an opportunity to sing the praises of these brands to those looking for high value.
Best Value Large Car: Chevrolet Impala
Our top-scoring large sedan, the Impala is roomy, comfortable, quiet, and enjoyable to drive. It even rides like a luxury sedan, feeling cushy and controlled. The full-featured cabin stays very quiet and features a sumptuous backseat. Recent updates include the addition of Apple CarPlay capability and wireless cell-phone charging. Worst Value: Nissan Maxima
Best Value Luxury Compact Car: Buick Regal
This well-honed and satisfying sports sedan has a European feel, thanks to its Opel roots. It is the antithesis of the whitewall-tired Buick of old. With its agile handling, quick steering, and a taut, steady ride, the Regal is one of Buick’s best offerings. Worst Value: Infiniti Q50
Dealers can emphasize the brands they have on their lots with banner ads. According to AudienceSCAN research, 24.5% of Used Car Shoppers took action after seeing them in the past month.
Best Value Luxury Midsized/Large Car: Hyundai Genesis
Part of the launch of Hyundai’s upscale brand is the renaming of existing models. Previously known as the Hyundai Genesis, it is now called the G80. For about $10,000 less than competing midsized luxury sedans, the G80 delivers just about every feature and luxury attribute a buyer could imagine. Worst Value: Cadillac XTS
Best Value Sporty Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata
The fourth-generation Miata remains true to Mazda’s original formula of a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive roadster. Quick and precise steering delivers sublime back-road handling, even though some body roll is noticeable. Flipping the convertible top open or closed is a breeze. Worst Value: BMW 2 Series