U.S. News and World Report puts together its list of Best Cars for the Money with a range of criteria. The magazine analyzes “every published, credible review of a given model” to establish consensus opinion, then it judges that against hard specs like cargo room, fuel economy, and reliability ratings. So instead of looking for the lowest price in a segment, the magazine looks for vehicles with excellent assessments and ownership experiences, as well as competitive pricing. Here’s U.S. News’ list, with Autoblog’s take on the choices along with links to deeper coverage of each model:
Best Subcompact Car Value: Hyundai Accent
What Autoblog said: Remarkably well equipped for its size and surprisingly spacious inside, the engine gets a little buzzy when you wring it out but the four-cylinder is eager and gets the promised 40 miles per gallon on the highway.
Best Compact Car Value: Kia Forte
What Autoblog said: Deserves more praise than it gets, with styling cribbed from the excellent Stinger GT sport sedan, excellent materials in the cabin, great gas mileage, and a stout warranty.
Best Midsize Car Value: Toyota Camry
What Autoblog said: After breaking free of its drab roots, the Camry found its personality just as almost all the competition disappeared. More stylish than ever, with a better interior, optional all-wheel drive, and a terrific hybrid option.
Best Large Car Value: Toyota Avalon
What Autoblog said: Surprisingly engaging, loads of space and comfort, cabin quality rivals real luxury brands. But you’ll have to act quickly – this one goes out of production at the end of 2022.
Best Hybrid/Electric Value: Toyota Corolla Hybrid
What Autoblog said: No longer just an appliance, the best-selling nameplate in the world is a little more stylish, a little nicer inside, and a little more fun to drive. Borrowing the Prius powertrain makes it impressively quiet, and we beat the EPA-estimated 52 mpg combined without trying.
Also check out: The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, rated at 58 mpg combined.
Best Subcompact Crossover Value: Kia Soul
What Autoblog said: One of the best choices in a segment the Soul arguably created, its combination of value, space, driving dynamics and distinctive character make it stand out in an increasingly large crowd.
Also check out: The Soul doesn’t offer all-wheel drive, so if that’s important, have a look at the Hyundai Kona, which is engaging but not so spacious inside, or the Mazda CX-30 for its ritzy interior, sleek styling and budget-Porsche driving dynamics.
Best Compact Crossover Value: Honda CR-V
What Autoblog said: Checks all the objective, practical, sensible-shoes boxes, with a family-friendly back seat, massive cargo area, strong and efficient engines, well-balanced driving dynamics, competitive pricing, good safety ratings, and well-regarded reliability.
Best 2-Row Crossover Value: Honda Passport
What Autoblog said: Basically a Toyota 4Runner for those willing to sacrifice extreme capability for better efficiency and on-road handling, but who still want huge cargo room, the redesign finally gives the Passport the looks to match its mission statement
Also check out: The Ford Edge isn’t exceptional at anything, but it’s smooth, quiet, and exceeds expectations. The Jeep Grand Cherokee isn’t cutting edge, but nicer inside, and a legend in the segment for a reason.
Best 3-Row Crossover Value: Kia Sorento
What Autoblog said: Has an attractive cabin with high-quality materials and easy-to-use tech, its slightly smaller size compared to segment competitors makes it more manageable to drive. Third row is best used on rare occasions, though.
Also check out: The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a little larger than the Sorento, one of the most composed drivers in the segment, and gets 35 mpg combined. The larger Ford Explorer is the king of the segment, with even more space and trim variety.
Best Hybrid/Electric Crossover Value: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
What Autoblog said: New SE Hybrid trim provides the sportier driving and looks of the XSE Hybrid at a lower price, the full-fat RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid is terrific and boasts the longest pure-electric range in the segment.
Also check out: The Honda CR-V Hybrid is large and versatile with an excellent powertrain, the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid has even more cargo room (at the cost of having no spare tire) and tons of tech for the price.
Best Minivan Value: Honda Odyssey
What Autoblog said: A touch down on fuel economy against competitors, the Odyssey is the ultimate piece of parenting gear that puts kid care and parental convenience ahead of everything else.
Also check out: The Kia Carnival, formerly known as the Sedona, brings SUV styling, a mountain of technology, and more luxury than anyone would expect. The Chrysler Pacifica still casts a huge shadow over the segment Chrysler created with a supple ride, tasty interior, Stow-n-Go seats, and all-wheel drive.
Related: Best cars to buy new, not used