For the second consecutive year, the Toyota Prius liftback topped Consumer Reports magazine's annual list of vehicles giving buyers the best bang for their automotive buck. The hulking Nissan Armada SUV was judged the worst value.
Consumer Reports said the Prius had the best combination of reliability, resale value, fuel economy and driving performance of the cars measured by the magazine.
The five-year ownership cost of the hybrid amounts to 47 cents per mile. The Armada, by comparison, will set its owner back $1.20 a mile. It gets only 13 mpg overall and scored poorly in Consumer Reports' annual reliability survey.
"The Prius' 44 mpg overall is the best fuel economy of any nonplug-in car that Consumer Reports has tested," said Consumer Reports automotive editor Rik Paul. "Though it's not particularly cheap to buy, the Prius' depreciation is so low that it costs less to own over the first five years than its initial MSRP."
Indeed, inexpensive cars didn't always fare well in the Consumer Reports assessment.
"Just because a car is cheap to buy doesn't mean it's a good value. The Nissan Versa sedan, for example, is one of the least expensive cars that Consumer Reports has tested," Paul said. "For about $1,500 more, we'd go with a Honda Fit, which is fun to drive, cheaper to own, more reliable, and provides almost twice the value."
The Fit scored second to the Prius in the magazine's compact/subcompact car category; the Versa scored near the bottom of the pack. The Volkswagen Beetle with the 2.5-liter engine scored the lowest.
A summary of Consumer Reports' best and worst vehicles in some major categories:
Large car: Best: Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited; Worst: Ford Taurus Limited.
Luxury car: Best: Lexus ES 300h hybrid; Worst: BMW 750Li.
Sports car/convertible: Best: Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring; Worst:Chevrolet Camaro convertible 2SS with V-8 engine.
Wagon/minivan: Best: Mazda5 Grand Touring; Worst: Chrysler's Town & Country Touring-L
Small SUV: Best: Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium; Worst: Ford Escape SE with 1.6-liter, turbocharged engine.
Midsized SUV: Best: Nissan Murano SL; Worst: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara.