Buying & Leasing a Car

How We Choose the Best New Car Values

A guide to our annual Best New Car Values rankings.

We pick Best in Class and Best New winners based on performance, value and safety. Half the score is awarded for value, including resale, fuel efficiency, front and rear legroom, headroom, and cargo space (trunk space or the space behind the second-row seats in a wagon, crossover or minivan). Sedans are ranked within price categories. Crossovers, minivans and wagons aren’t broken out by price, so we also score on a scale that rewards lower prices.

A vehicle’s safety (represented by crash-test ratings and features such as airbags) counts for one-fourth of the total score, and performance for 10%. The remainder of the score derives from our impressions while test-driving the cars. We assess design and comfort as well as dashboard layout.

Another measure of a vehicle’s worth is its resale value three and five years down the road. These figures, supplied by Kelley Blue Book, are the estimated price that a dealer would pay if you traded in the vehicle, expressed as a percentage of the sticker price.

We show five-year total ownership costs, also supplied by Kelley Blue Book, which take into account the out-of-pocket costs such as fuel, insurance and service costs, as well as the car’s loss in value. We also break out serv­ice costs, which are an estimate of maintenance and repairs over five years.

Finally, we choose the most fuel-efficient vehicles based on annual fuel costs, using gasoline prices of $3 for regular, $3.35 for premium and $3.75 for diesel, and assuming 15,000 miles of driving each year.

__________________________________

All data in our tables was supplied by Kelley Blue Book. Here’s an explanation of prices:

Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price: The Kelley Blue Book® Fair Purchase Price for new cars is generally the midpoint of the Fair Market Range. It is Kelley Blue Book's estimate of what a consumer could reasonably expect to pay in during the period between December 19, 2014 through January 15, 2015 for a new vehicle with standard options, excluding taxes, title and fees. It's based on actual new-car transactions, plus data from other reliable third-party sources as well as market conditions.

MSRP: The MSRP, or Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, is the price set by the manufacturer and does not necessarily reflect the price actually paid by consumers in your area. The MSRP shown here includes destination and freight charges but excludes services and handling fees and state and local tax, title and license fees.

Invoice Price: Dealer invoice represents the dealer’s cost for the vehicle only and doesn’t include any of the dealer’s costs for advertising, selling, preparing, displaying or financing the vehicle.

©2015 by Kelley Blue Book Co, Inc., ©2014, 12/19/14 – 1/15/15 Base Edition. All rights reserved. Kelley Blue Book assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions.

Most Popular

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?
spending

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?

The cost of a gallon of gas is heading back toward its March highs. What’s driving the resurgence, and will gas prices go down anytime soon?
May 23, 2022
Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
Retirement Income Shouldn’t Depend on the Market; It Should Depend on Math
retirement planning

Retirement Income Shouldn’t Depend on the Market; It Should Depend on Math

The math isn’t as tough as you might think. It all starts with dividing your assets into three different buckets.
May 23, 2022

Recommended

Car Prices: They're Way More Than Meets the Eye
Brandon Copeland

Car Prices: They're Way More Than Meets the Eye

Atlanta Falcons linebacker and Kiplinger contributing editor Brandon Copeland illustrates how car prices are far more than meets the eye.
May 11, 2022
High Gas Prices with The Kiplinger Letter’s Jim Patterson
cars

High Gas Prices with The Kiplinger Letter’s Jim Patterson

Why are we paying so much more at the pump? How long will it last? What can you do? Plus: Congress is making changes to retirement-savings rules again…
April 5, 2022
How to Get a Car Deal in This Market
Buying & Leasing a Car

How to Get a Car Deal in This Market

Low inventories mean it’s hard to haggle on price, but you can still negotiate on financing when shopping for a new or used car.
March 28, 2022
Gas Prices Around the World
Budgeting

Gas Prices Around the World

You might be feeling pain at the pump, but it could be worse; gas is a lot more expensive in some other countries.
March 16, 2022