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2021 Best Cars for the Money

Staring down the price tag of a new car can be a scary thing. When you’re about to spend thousands of dollars, it’s tempting to save money by going for the car with the lowest price. As counterintuitive as it sounds, however, that cheap car can end up costing you in the long run. The low price tag might conceal high insurance costs, constant expensive repairs, or hundreds spent every month at the gas station. 

Even worse, you might buy a cheap car only to find you don’t actually enjoy owning it. It might lack the space your family needs or the power to handle your highway commute. It may not offer the safety features that can lessen your chances of being in a collision. It could also lack the connectivity features to help you navigate and to keep you and your family informed. 

You don’t need to buy the cheapest car to save money, nor do you have to splurge on a luxury car to get the features, performance, and comfort you want. The Best Cars for the Money awards find the balance between cars that focus on value and cars that provide excellent ownership experiences. The awards cover 11 different automotive classes, and the winners have the best combination of quality and value in their respective classes. They’re not just good cars, they’re also good deals over the long haul. 

How We Measured Quality

To measure a vehicle’s quality, we use its 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 opinion 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 fuel economy, cargo space, and 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 its price tag, or the final price you negotiate with the dealer. Every car has significant ongoing costs, like repairs, fuel, and insurance. To measure the kind of value a car offers, we start with five-year total ownership costs from Vincentric. We then combine that information with real-time transaction prices reported by our partner TrueCar. Those two measures together provide a car’s value score for the Best Cars for the Money.

See the photo gallery of the winners »

 

Winning Trends

Toyota won the most awards of any brand, with four wins. The Toyota Corolla Hybrid is the Best Hybrid or Electric Car for the Money, and the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the Best Hybrid or Electric SUV for the money. The Toyota Avalon is the Best Large Car for the Money, and the Toyota Camry is the Best Midsize Car for the Money.

Kia earned three awards. The Kia Sorento is the Best 3-Row SUV for the Money, while the Kia Soul is the Best Subcompact SUV for the money. The Kia Forte is the Best Compact Car for the Money. 

Honda also won three awards. The Honda CR-V won the Best Compact SUV for the Money award for the fifth consecutive time and eighth time overall. The Honda Odyssey is the Best Minivan for the Money, and the Honda Passport is the Best 2-Row SUV for the Money. 

Hyundai won one award: The Hyundai Accent is the Best Subcompact Car for the Money. 

2021 Best Cars for the Money

  • Hyundai Accent: Best Subcompact Car for the Money
  • Kia Forte: Best Compact Car for the Money
  • Toyota Camry: Best Midsize Car for the Money
  • Toyota Avalon: Best Large Car for the Money
  • Toyota Corolla Hybrid: Best Hybrid and Electric Car for the Money

2021 Best SUVs for the Money

  • Kia Soul: Best Subcompact SUV for the Money
  • Honda CR-V: Best Compact SUV for the Money
  • Honda Passport: 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

2021 Best Minivan for the Money

  • Honda Odyssey: Best Minivan for the Money

See winners from previous years: 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

 

5-year total cost of ownership data provided by

Average price paid data provided by TrueCar™