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.
Source: Data comes from TrueCar.com (opens in new tab)
Cars Under $20,000: Ford Focus
Sticker price: $19,095 (SE hatch)
Invoice price: $17,903
TrueCar national average price: $18,375
3-year resale value: 63%, 5-year: 45%
City mpg: 26, Hwy: 36
Ditching the drab exterior and ho-hum interior of the previous-generation Focus, the redesigned model exudes style inside and out. It boasts more horsepower than most vehicles 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
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.
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.
More From Kiplinger
SLIDE SHOW: Best Resale Value Cars
SLIDE SHOW: Best in Class Car Values
SLIDE SHOW: Most Fuel-Efficient Car Values
TOOL: Our 2012 Vehicle Rankings
Watching Your Energy Bills? Smart Meters vs Regular Meters
Some people like seeing how much energy they use, but not everyone likes smart meters.
By Ben Demers • Published
Black Friday Store Hours Still Early at Some Retailers
Miss kicking it old-school by shopping at the crack of dawn on Black Friday? These stores are opening their doors early.
By Bob Niedt • Published
Car Buying in a Topsy-Turvy Market
You need a new car? Good luck with that! What should you do? We've got some answers.
By Katherine Reynolds Lewis • Last updated
10 Things to Know About Hurricane Insurance Claims
Becoming a Homeowner Hurricane damage? Know what’s covered, what isn’t, and how to make the most of your policy if you need to file a claim.
By Kimberly Lankford • Published
The Most Expensive Natural Disasters in U.S. History
Economic Forecasts Wind, water, fire and drought have all wreaked havoc on the United States. What’s been the worst?
By David Muhlbaum • Last updated
Watch Out for Flood-Damaged Cars from Hurricane Ian
Buying & Leasing a Car In the wake of Hurricane Ian, more flood-damaged cars may hit the market. Car prices may rise further because of increased demand as well.
By Bob Niedt • Last updated
Car Buyers: The 3-Day Grace Period Is Just a Myth!
Buying & Leasing a Car Many car buyers think they have three days after making a purchase to return a car. Here’s where they’re going wrong, and what they should do instead to get a decent used car.
By H. Dennis Beaver, Esq. • Published
PODCAST: Car-Buying in an Inflated Market with Jenni Newman
Buying & Leasing a Car With cars both scarce and expensive these days, what to do if you want – or need – a new ride? Car-buying strategist Jenni Newman of Cars.com shares some tips. Also, more on the magical 9% savings bond.
By David Muhlbaum • Published
Amazon Prime Day 2022: Some of the Best Deals from Kiplinger Editors
Amazon Prime Amazon Prime Day is here. We’ve identified some great values on products and services, a number of which we’ve used ourselves.
By the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance • Last updated
The "Real" Cost of Buying a Car
Brandon Copeland Atlanta Falcons linebacker and Kiplinger contributing editor Brandon Copeland illustrates how car prices are far more than meets the eye.
By Brandon Copeland • Published