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Buying & Leasing a Car

10 Best Values in New Car Models, 2012

Our annual round-up of the best new sedans, sports cars, small, mid-size and large crossovers and wagons.

New designs and redesigns bring a breath of fresh air with each new year. Usually you pay a premium for these newly minted models. Not this year, however. When we asked CarBargains, the buying service of the nonprofit Consumers' Checkbook organization, to help us shop for our Best New picks, they found seven were selling at or below invoice price. Winners are chosen based on performance, value and safety, plus our own driving impressions. NOTE: There were no new truck-based SUVs or minivans this year.

SEE OUR COMPLETE GUIDE: Best New Car Values, 2012

Cars Under $20,000: Ford Focus

Sticker price: $19,095 (SE hatch)

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Invoice price: $17,903

TrueCar national average price: $18,375

3-year resale value: 63%, 5-year: 45%

City mpg: 26, Hwy: 36

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Ditching the drab exterior and ho-hum interior of the previous-generation Focus, the redesigned model exudes style inside and out. It boasts more legroom than any vehicle in its class, and the hatchback has a cavernous 24 cubic feet of cargo space. It also earns Best Resale plaudits.

Cars $20,000-$25,000: Subaru Impreza

Sticker price: $22,845 (2.0i Limited hatch)

Invoice price: $21,732

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TrueCar national average price: $22,343

3-year resale value: 59%, 5-year: 43%

City mpg: 27, Hwy: 36

Subaru’s lowest-price car proves that all-wheel drive doesn’t have to cost you a bundle. A low sticker price is matched by high resale values and stellar fuel efficiency -- up to 36 miles per gallon on the highway. Surefooted handling comes baked in.

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Cars $25,000-$30,000: Toyota Camry Hybrid

Sticker price: $26,660 (LE)

Invoice price: $24,589

TrueCar national average price: $25,847

3-year resale value: 57%, 5-year: 43%

City mpg: 43, Hwy: 39

The redesigned Camry features a revamped hybrid system, boosting both power and fuel efficiency. The new 2.5-liter engine puts out 200 horsepower when combined with the electric motor and gets 41 miles per gallon (on the LE) in combined city and highway driving -- 24% better than the previous model.

Cars $30,000-$40,000: Volkswagen Passat TDI

Sticker price: $30,265 (SE w/Sunroof & Nav)

Invoice price: $29,056

TrueCar national average price: $29,484

3-year resale value: 54%, 5-year: 38%

City mpg: 30, Hwy: 40

Although it takes styling cues from last year’s Jetta, the all-new Passat has an aura all its own. As clean-cut as a new recruit on the inside, it has ample room for passengers and cargo. The only diesel powertrain in the midsize segment, it gets 40 miles per gallon on the highway and has torque to spare.

Cars $40,000-$50,000: Audi A6

Sticker price: $42,575 (2.0T Premium)

Invoice price: $39,657

TrueCar national average price: $41,211

3-year resale value: 55%, 5-year: 39%

City mpg: 25, Hwy: 33

Behind the wheel of the redesigned A6, you’ll sit in the lap of luxury, surrounded by technology. Safety gets a boost with standard knee airbags, plus optional rear side airbags and collision-warning system. Getting 33 miles per gallon highway, the A6 also wins Most Fuel-Efficient.

Cars $50,000 and Over: Porsche Panamera Hybrid

Sticker price: $95,975

Invoice price: $86,295

TrueCar national average price: $93,057

3-year resale value: 53%, 5-year: 38%

City mpg: 22, Hwy: 30

With a 380-horsepower supercharged engine and a zero-to-60 time of just 5.7 seconds, Porsche’s Panamera Hybrid might be the fastest, most fun fuel-sipper out there. Capable of operating in electric-only mode at speeds up to 46 miles per hour, it gets 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

Sports Cars: Porsche 911 Carrera

Sticker price: $79,950 (base model)

Invoice price: $71,870

TrueCar national average price: $77,852

3-year resale value: 61%, 5-year: 43%

City mpg: 20, Hwy: 26

The seventh-generation 911 gets a smaller engine but puts out more power -- 350 horses. Start/stop technology that shuts down the engine at stoplights and when you’re cruising downhill on the highway improves fuel economy about 15% over the previous model. The new Carrera features a new seven-speed manual that’s a first for passenger cars and makes it even more fun to drive.

Small Crossovers: Honda CR-V

Sticker price: $24,355 (LX AWD)

Invoice price: $22,721

TrueCar national average price: NA

3-year resale value: 51%, 5-year: 40%

City mpg: 22, Hwy: 30

Honda’s fourth-generation CR-V wraps classic value in an updated exterior and boasts more of everything -- power, gas mileage, cargo space and standard features. The interior is more functional than ever, including one-touch fold-down rear seats, a standard rearview camera and Pandora radio.

Midsize and Large Crossovers: Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Sticker price: $51,365 (ML350 BlueTec)

Invoice price: $47,831

TrueCar national average price: $49,046

3-year resale value: 54%, 5-year: 36%

City mpg: 20, Hwy: 27

For 2012, the redesigned M-Class gets a more rugged exterior and a sleeker, sedan-style interior, with lots of technology. Attention Assist reminds drowsy drivers to take a break, and an iPad docking station can take care of rear-seat entertainment.

Wagons: Toyota Prius v

Sticker price: $27,160

Invoice price: $25,337

TrueCar national average price: $26,732

3-year resale value: 62%, 5-year: 48%

City mpg: 44, Hwy: 40

Betting on the runaway success of the Prius hatchback, Toyota morphs it into a wagon for 2012. It gets 44 miles per gallon in the city (and wins Most Fuel-Efficient wagon). The Prius v can also brag about having topnotch resale values and the cargo space of a small SUV.