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When you need a new car, it’s tempting to buy the cheapest one you can. As long as a car gets you from point A to point B, the thinking goes, it’s good enough. Though there is some truth to that argument, it doesn’t take the full picture of owning and living with a car into account. That car with the super-low price tag might be a bear to insure. It might leave you with hefty repair bills, or it might guzzle gas. 

That car might not meet your daily needs either. Your family may hate being crammed in its small back seat, it might not have all the cargo space you need, or its harsh ride or underpowered engine might turn your commute into a slog. That cheap car may also lack the latest safety equipment, and while it’s true that you can drive without a suite of in-car connectivity apps, they do make finding your way a lot easier and the trip more pleasant. 

Finding the balance between a good car and a cheap car is where the Best Cars for the Money awards come in. The awards cover 11 different automotive classes. The winners have the best combination of quality and value in their respective classes, so they’re all good cars that are also good long-term deals. 

How We Measured Quality

To measure a vehicle’s quality, we use the overall score from the U.S. News Best Car rankings. A model’s overall score in our vehicle rankings isn’t based on the opinions or tests of U.S. News editors. Instead, we collect and analyze every published, credible review of a given model to get the consensus of the automotive press on things like how well a car drives, how comfortable its interior is, and how well its connectivity and tech features work. We combine that analysis with safety and reliability data to get a numerical overall score, which we use to measure quality in the Best Cars for the Money awards.

How We Measured Value

The actual cost of a car is much more than just the final negotiated price. A car has significant ongoing costs, like repairs, fuel, and insurance. To measure the kind of value a car offers, we start with real-time transaction prices reported by our partner TrueCar. We then combine that information with five-year total ownership costs from Vincentric. Those two measures together provide a car’s value score for the Best Cars for the Money.

See the photo gallery of the winners »

The Winners: SUVs and Minivans

The Winners: Cars

Winning Trends

Kia won the most awards of any brand, winning four in all. The Kia Soul won the Best Subcompact SUV for the Money for the fourth year in a row, and the Kia Sorento won the Best 3-Row SUV for the fourth consecutive year as well. The Kia Forte won Best Compact Car for the Money for the first time, and the Kia Sedona won Best Minivan for the Money for the second time. 

Toyota took home three awards, including two for hybrids. The Toyota Corolla Hybrid won Best Hybrid or Electric Car for the Money, and the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid won Best Hybrid or Electric SUV for the Money. The Toyota Camry won Best Midsize Car for the Money for the third consecutive year and the seventh time since the awards began. 

The Honda CR-V won the Best Compact SUV for the Money award for the fourth consecutive time and seventh time overall. Honda notched another win with the Honda Fit, which won Best Subcompact Car for the Money for the sixth consecutive year and eighth time overall. 

Chevrolet won one award, with the Impala winning Best Large Car for the Money. It’s the Impala’s fifth time winning that award. The Hyundai Santa Fe won Best 2-Row SUV for the Money; it’s the fourth time the Santa Fe has won a Best Car for the Money award. 

2020 Best Cars for the Money

  • Honda Fit: Best Subcompact Car for the Money
  • Kia Forte: Best Compact Car for the Money
  • Toyota Camry: Best Midsize Car for the Money
  • Chevrolet Impala: Best Large Car for the Money
  • Toyota Corolla Hybrid: Best Hybrid and Electric Car for the Money

2020 Best SUVs for the Money

  • Kia Soul: Best Subcompact SUV for the Money
  • Honda CR-V: Best Compact SUV for the Money
  • Hyundai Santa Fe: Best 2-Row SUV for the Money
  • Kia Sorento: Best 3-Row SUV for the Money
  • Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: Best Hybrid and Electric SUV for the Money

2020 Best Minivan for the Money

  • Kia Sedona: Best Minivan for the Money

See winners from previous years: 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019

5-year total cost of ownership data provided by 
Average price paid data provided by TrueCar™

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