By on April 28, 2015

The Caravan on Main Street

“What’s the best car right now?”

This question is the bane of existence for any automotive journalist. Not only is there no answer for this particular line of questioning, the inquirer is also looking for validation on their decision to buy a Honda Civic. Then you’re required to explain “it’s about your needs” and the best car is probably one costing more than the inquirer can afford. However, if your need is to have a really annoying CVT wedged in a cramped two-door coupe that can only be driven by those under 5’10” when equipped with the optional sunroof – well, they’ve hit the nail on the head.

But, what about best value for money vehicles on the market?

Everyone can argue about value and they typically do. Yesterday was a good example of that with the “garbage can full of pistons” X-Type. Even if you can pick one up for $3,000 or less, you’re committing to a lifetime of possible expensive issues dependant on its level of care from the five previous owners who’ve cut and run. You’re typically better off in the long run with a Toyota Corolla with twice the mileage costing twice as much. There’s something to be said for ease of maintenance and a trouble-free mind whenever you pull onto the freeway.

But, when it comes to best value – at least in my eyes – you can’t beat the Dodge Grand Caravan.

It’ll seat seven people in relative comfort and comes with “tailgate seating” for those times at the beach or while actually tailgating. Take out the seats and it can be used as a plywood transportation mobile or makeshift roadside tent if you have a blow up mattress. You can option all sorts of nifty storage solutions: Stow-and-Go, fold-flat seats, etc. Oh, and the base model? 283-hp V6 engine for under $20,000 if you play your cards right while haggling. Catch a Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram dealer on a bad month while the mothership is throwing cash at these things and you can score one for under $17,000.

What say you, Best & Brightest? What’s your pick for best value vehicle on sale right now?

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209 Comments on “QOTD: What’s the Best “Bang For Your Buck” Vehicle on Sale Right Now?...”


  • avatar
    cholero

    The minivan is indeed an incredibly practical vehicle. I’d go with the Honda or Toyota personally but to be fair the price difference you pay for increased reliability may tip the value scales in favor of the Dodge. Still, for overall value I’d say the best thing going today is a Tesla Model S. The total cost of ownership over a five year period is actually about the same or less as a top of the line Honda Odyssey (http://www.teslacost.com/) and the jaw-dropping, nay insane performance combined with over the air updates future proof this car make it an incredible value.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      I think the entire discussion about value for the product puts the Dodge right there.
      I cannot think of enough things that can go wrong on the Dodge vs others to make these worth the extra thousands.
      And MPG and everything combined make this the best.

      The ONLY way they get around many USA cars vs the most adored by Internet Experts is the most hated argument I ever hear…RESALE value!!!!

      The misleading way most cars get moved to the top of any BEST list is IF this ridiculous number comes into play.
      They might as well call it the IMAGE or PERCEIVED VALUE number/factor. Maybe the IDIOT CONSUMER PERCEPTION point.
      Unless you ever try to sell you car, this has no place in the true benefits and quality of a car. It has nothing to do with any car’s performance or quality.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Resale value is the one index that helps every new car owner. If you’re the type that trades every couple years, you’ll save thousands. If you’re into leasing, you’ll save thousands. If your car is wrecked, you won’t be left upside down on a loan or unable to come up with a down payment. If you keep your cars from showroom to salvage yard, you’ll realize the advantages in quality and durability that established that high resale value in the first place. You’re arguing against gravity.

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      The Chrysler van does seem like a very good deal. The wife has been talking about a van. Besides one Ford, I’ve always had Hondas, Toyotas, Mazdas, and Subarus.

      I’m REALLY not a Chrysler fan, but would consider a Caravan because it seems like a damn good deal.

      The big question for me is, for roughly the same price, used Sienna or brand new Caravan? How good is the new engine/transmission in the Chrysler? The Sienna powertrain has been around forever and is Toyota whereas the Caravan’s powertrain is relatively new and is a Chrysler (yikes?).

      I really prefer new vehicles, but also don’t want to be making trips to a dealership. Brand new Chrysler or used Toyota? Hmmm.

      • 0 avatar
        Toy Maker

        Oh the topic about Caravan / T&C powertrains:

        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ttac-readers-call-town-country-troubles/

        If link doesn’t work you can search for TTAC’s own post titled ” Town & Country Troubles ” from Dec 2014.

        I’d love a Caravan too, but losing half my precious day offs at the bodyshop / on the hwy is something I’d like to avoid.

        Having said that it would still be on my short list of Best-Bang-For-Buck new car. As long as I factor in the extended warranty. (And carry a bicicyle in the trunk at all times?)

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      No doubt about it – the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Chrysler T&C. Dirt cheap, quality vehicle – and even has had a 0% 72 month payment plan.

      Sienna and Odyssey are tens of thousands more and will never return the difference in prices regardless of how long you keep it. You are literally throwing away your money on those two. There is no way they are worth double the price!

      Minivans are by far the best bang for your buck, and US brands are superior to the imports with so many oldster Boomers nostalgic over their Civics, Corollas and Camrys. Toyota and Honda are fleecing our seniors.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        For new, I agree. I’d get the extended warranty for T&C/caravan and I’d go T&C and just demand money off or tell them you’re going to go talk to Toyonda. Used its Sienna FWD but you have to be careful on acquisition costs because dealers like to bend over the general public on minivans when all minivans *inc Toyota Sienna* take a nice hit because used minivans are assumed to be destroyed by children on the block and require additional reconditioning costs.

      • 0 avatar

        The only way I would go Sienna is if I absolutely must have an all-wheel drive minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        “… so many oldster Boomers nostalgic over their Civics, Corollas and Camrys.”

        Ha ha ha! Name one.

        I’m nostalgic over old Chevys, Chryslers & Fords. That’s why I happily drive a Chevy!

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        When speaking of minivans, not sure how the claim “US brands” can be made unless you’re counting Dodge and Chrysler as separate.
        Does Ford make a Transit variant for passengers?
        The real best value (since VanillaDude is back) is a used conversion van. Nooooooobody wants one of those, but if you’re buying your car by the pound it doesn’t get any better!

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Ford makes a passenger version of the big Transit. It’s called the Transit Wagon. The version I want costs $40K, has the 3.5TT, limited slip, leather, privacy glass, and looks awesome. Now I want to get it vinyl wrapped with a dragon or tiger.

        • 0 avatar
          ponyboy69

          Used conversion van: The cheapest way to find out what meth smells like.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          All the Transits arrive in the US ready for passenger car use. The rear seats and equipment are stripped from the car at the port in Baltimore, and sent to Ohio to be shredded.

          It’s a means to dodge the chicken tax.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            He’s talking about the big Transit, not the Transit Connect. The Transit is made in Kansas City.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    If you can avoid dipping into the options list too much, the Jeep Wrangler (at a typically advertised $19,995CDN) is a pretty fantastic deal. I mean, it has approximately no features, but it’s also the cheapest convertible on the market, and also the cheapest way to get a V6 and manual. It’s got nothing on the Grand Caravan for practicality, but it’s cheap for an enthusiast-friendly vehicle.

    On the note of the Caravan, you’re looking at about $25k to get the full Stow-N-Go, as the $20k ones have the old middle bench seat. Still solid value though.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      “it’s also the cheapest convertible on the market”

      I agree with you about the Wrangler’s value proposition, but I think the Smart convertible and Fiat 500c are cheaper.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Forgot about those – you’re right, they should both come in under $20k as well. So, “one of the cheapest convertibles on the market?”

        • 0 avatar
          GoesLikeStink

          Got my 500c for 18K even. Cheapest new convertible. In 2008 I had a dealer willing to take $15200 on a new Wrangler Unlimited. It was manual, 2 wheel drive and yellow. I wanted a 4 door convertible. Also Chrysler was in bankruptcy. If my wife did not get laid off I would probably have bought it and been abel to sell it for the same or more today. By the way she now drives a Caravan.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Base trim Jeeps are like unicorns in most US markets. Cheapest new 6-sp Wrangler in 50 miles is $29K. Jeep Wrangler is becoming more similar to the pickup truck market everyday. Counterproductive options and refinement added to the cabin so the manufacturer can add $5,000-$10,000 in profits on the sticker.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The best bang for the buck vehicle? For me, the most metal for the money, IF it’s a car you actually WANT.

    Choose what ever is the best vehicle for your needs, regardless of what others and CR may say. YOU are the one who’s going to drive, maintain and pay for it, not someone else.

    I chose the Impala in 2012. Why? Because I actually WANTED to own one. I like the style beginning with the 2006 model, and the rentals I had up until the time were great, and when I had an opportunity to buy an LTZ at an incredible discount, why not?

    I’m probably in the serious minority here, but as I have said over and over, I’m a cruiser, not a “driver”, and a combination of age, an eye issue and a very long commute, it’s been the perfect car for me. Plus, I have a history of driving and owning Impalas and other Chevy full-size cars, so that’s a major factor as well.

    Are there better cars I could have chosen? Perhaps, but I didn’t want an Accord, Camry or Altima, and if any other model than the eco was available on a Malibu at the time, I may have gone down a size and chose one of those, instead.

    Hey, I’m a Chevy guy at heart, and they have been good, reliable cars for me, but I don’t buy used & abused junk, either. I’ll take the depreciation hit, thank you – it works for me.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    With my circumstances (married, no kids) my opinion isn’t going to be a pick for someone with ankle biters crawling everywhere.

    For a new car I’d say it’s a power and fun to $ ranking. Meaning Mustang, Chevy SS, Focus ST, WRX. Storage space and practicality isn’t my top priority.

    Of course, a used car is always best bang for the buck. And for power + fun – price you’d be hard pressed to find something better than a low mile GTO. Yes it has its flaws, all cars do, but its are at least fairly easy to address, very well known, and nothing too serious. Plus you can always find one with all the issues already addressed for not much more than one that isn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      For used performance cars, there’s a plethora of sub-$10k RX-8s calling my name, beckoning me to make a questionable decision.

    • 0 avatar
      wstarvingteacher

      After a number of new cars which became worthless for trade in after 3-4 years we have decided used cars are smarter. My current ride is a 4runner. I think I paid more than I should but got the Toyota dependability. I’m well aware that the B&B seem to think that driving a Toyota means I have no soul but I work with this truck. The study on durability done by Steve Lang tells me I should expect a long vehicle life. I think that nothing that falls apart is a good value so expect I will go Toyota from now on unless something really seems good. At my age this is possibly my last truck.

  • avatar
    Hoodedhawk1

    I have a hard time arguing with your logic, especially for the practicality and function. To get in the base Honda or Toyota van, its going to take an additional $7500-10000 and that’s a wad of money over the lifespan of a vehicle. I’m willing to take a few pot shots for driving a Chrysler/Dodge for $160 bucks a month. I do think there is some logic in buying an XL or XLT F150 crewcab pickup. It has a similar functionality to the van but I can also tow a boat or camper and drive on fairly rough roads without complaint. I’m a big guy so I fit in the truck and I get with 3 mpg of the Chrysler mpg numbers. I paid $28,000 for my XLT 4×4 which was discounted about $13,000. I vacillate between vans and trucks so I like your choice and I throw the F150 out there as a good alternative.

    • 0 avatar

      Pickups are easily #2 in my books. For what you get in return – especially the roomy SuperCrew models – it’s easy to see why people buy them as family haulers.

    • 0 avatar
      ballyRB

      How heavy is your boat? The Caravan can still tow 3,600 lbs…

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        It always amazes me when the folks around here who almost never use their trucks for “truck stuff,” give the reason of “I need to tow sometimes” when vehicles like the un-loved Dodge Durango are a) excellent, and b) tow 6,000+ pounds in even the lowest end of configurations, while being widely available in the low to mid 20’s used and getting 20+ MPG in mixed driving rather consistently.

        I wish more folks realized you don’t need a five-figure towing capacity or a V8 to tow, at all.

        • 0 avatar
          Hoodedhawk1

          You are right. I owned a Durango and I liked it. It towed my camper at the time just fine. I’ve also towed with a Jeep Liberty, a Dodge Caravan, a Honda Element, and two Toyota Siennas. The difference between all of the SUV/minivan combos I’ve owned and the F150, is I don’t have to worry about anything when I attach my camper or my boat to the F150. The other vehicles were always a science experiment making sure I didn’t overload the trailer or overload the vehicle to keep the weight properly distributed and within the boundaries of the weight specifications of each vehicle. There were a number of times I had to leave stuff I wanted to bring behind because I was way over the safe range, even using the more liberal European weight parameters. The camper I now tow is well over the weight requirements of anything a minivan can pull, plus once I load my family and other gear, we are well over 8000 pounds. A properly equipped Durango could do it, but a Durango similarly equipped like my F150 isn’t the easiest thing in the world to find with the appropriate towing equipment (cooling and rear gearing). Maybe people are poorly informed about the towing capabilities of minivans, SUVs, and other vehicles, but it doesn’t take much of a trailer to exceed the capabilities of most of these vehicles, especially if the vehicle is not properly geared and has adequate engine and transmission cooling. Add towing through the mountains and I’d much rather be towing with an F150 than any of the other alternatives.

          • 0 avatar

            I normally think that full-sized BOF SUVs are overrated, but if you’re going to seriously tow things, there’s no real substitute for a BOF SUV or full-sized truck…especially because a lot of people will stress a car to within a few pounds of its rated tow weight limit, and I’d prefer to have more margin than that.

        • 0 avatar
          smartascii

          This is a little bit of a fallacy. Yes, you can tow 6,000 lbs. But in order not to overload the car itself, you can only do that with 5-700 lbs on board to allow for a 10-15% trailer tongue weight. If you put four average Americans (1000 lbs) plus luggage, gear, camping detrius, etc. (300 lbs) in a lowest-configuration Durango, you have 30 pounds of payload left, per Dodge, which means that your trailer has to weigh 300 lbs. or less so that the tongue weight doesn’t push you over your max payload.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Note that sensible people who don’t hate their drivetrain try to limit – especially on non-towing-designed rigs – their load to maybe 2/3 of the “rated” amount.

        I wouldn’t tow more than maybe 2,500 pounds with a Caravan *I* owned.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Agreed Dodge.. Maxima 2014 with 10K shaved off? You’d have to look to discontinued models.

    It certainly isn’t the current crop of small cargo vans…

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      I mean, if we’re talking about big/humorous discounts, I posted some amusing photos on the TTAC Facebook page a week or two ago of a local (Wisconsin) GM dealer selling $50-55k Cadillac CTS’ for $10,000 under invoice (i.e. around 40 grand), and an ELR with just under $35,000 off MSRP.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Whatever you’re already driving, especially if it’s long paid for and Japanese.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Obviously this depends on what you need out of a car, but if you’re talking low-end budgets and mid-size sedans, and you care more about space and feature set than raw feel, I’m pretty pleased with my ’15 Sonata. There were a bunch of other cars that were better in any given area: The Fusion handled better; the Optima looked better; the Mazda was more fun. But my must-have list included heated seats and at-least-passable audio, and it just wasn’t possible to get those things in the competition without spending at least $5000 more. Maybe if I’d had a month or two to wait for the right example to show up in a dealer lot.

    I ended up with a car that’s solid, has leather/heated seats/BLIS/cross traffic/keyless prox entry/remote start (from ANYWHERE via cell phone)/upgraded sound/8″ touch w navigation (that doesn’t suck too horribly) for $21k. And it had the cheapest insurance rates among the lot of them.

    For the life of me I can’t imagine how they’re doing it.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      While the look of the sixth-gen Sonata was polarizing, this new re-design is just flat-out boring to me. Hyundai feels like they were trying to emulate Ford’s front end design, or something, to bring the Sonata in line with it’s corporate cousin the Sante Fe, and it just doesn’t do it for me.

      I’m also surprised to hear of the price you paid, given that Hyundai seems to be slowly climbing the pricing ladder.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      I just spent a week in a ’14 Sonata rental. It had 56K miles and it was my first time driving a Hyundai. In general, I was impressed. The drivetrain was quite good, the ride and comfort was very good and the electronics (aside from the mediocre speakers) worked well. The only caveat was that the interior hadn’t held up all that well, showing signs of wear. I can definitely see why this car is so popular. Highway driving (70mph, A/C on) gave me an actual 32mpg (the info center said 35). Overall, I got about 27mpg in a mix of highway and suburban Florida driving.

      But for absolute value for money, I have to agree with the choice of the Caravan. It can do what no sedan can do and the price is exceptional.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        bunkie, I was a big fan of the ’00-era version and then nearly wrote Hyundai off after spending an hour in a similar-gen Sonata to the one you drove; that I bought a ’15 after that experience highlights the recent improvement.

        tuffjuff, I agree that the styling is neither here nor there. It wasn’t a deal-killer, but it’s not something I have a terrible urge to polish and photograph when the light is nice. In a way, though, that only emphasizes how impressive the raw value is; Hyundai managed to sell me a car based entirely on rational evaluation of its qualities. Not the, “Damn, it looks like an Aston!” of the Fusion, or the, “This is a lot quicker than anything else on my list” of the heavily-discounted Optima SX Turbo. They just made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. That’s pretty tough to do with cars.

  • avatar
    deanst

    The best value today are hybrids. Nobody wants them so you can pick up something like a C-Max for the same price as an Escape. The Escape will cost 50% more to fuel, which even at today’s low gas prices is a nice bonus you get for free.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      We were considering a C-Max – you can get a loaded 2013-2014 CPO SEL here in the midwest for $20k – but then we watched the crash test videos…

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        It got an acceptable in the small overlap and good everywhere else. I wouldn’t call the C-Max unsafe, but I’m glad my wife totes our daughter around in her tank based MkT.

        • 0 avatar
          tuffjuff

          I believe the overlap test is the one we saw, and it wasn’t pretty. You’re going to miss a leg or part of your hip or something, after getting into THAT kind of an accident in the C-Max.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yeah it wasn’t good. Most of the smaller vehicles didn’t do well on that test either. Things like that make me question if I can keep it for 10-12 years. I don’t have any concerns otherwise. I just hit 40K miles last week, and it’s been the best ownership experience out of any car I’ve owned.

          • 0 avatar
            tuffjuff

            Oh, it’s a fantastic car at a fantastic price. The ONLY reservation I had for putting my significant other in one to commute to and from work, was that here in Wisconsin, a relatively substantial percentage of people drive body on frame SUV’s or trucks (whether they need the capability or EVER use it is an entirely different discussion…), and I’m not about to let a 6,000+ pound piece of metal that some soccer mom doesn’t fully understand how to drive, plow into my SO in her 3,500 pound C-Max.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I completely understand your concerns.

            I’m the one that drives the C-Max so I worry less. I also live in a borderline urban area. If I was commuting in a rural area, I might change my tune. On my way to work today, I didn’t get above 40 MPH.

          • 0 avatar
            Zackman

            One of our neighbors has a C-Max, and for the life of me, I see nothing remotely attractive about it. I suppose the gas mileage is the selling feature, and that’s a valid reason these days.

            Theirs is stealth/invisible silver. Maybe if it were red I would find it appealing.

            Everything is beautiful in its own way…

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I don’t find the C-Max to be a particularly good looking vehicle. It gets very good gas mileage, is nice to drive, is easy to get kids in and out of, and has an open, bright cabin. The Ford hybrid system has also proven to be very reliable.

          • 0 avatar
            tuffjuff

            @Zackman

            It gets pretty good mileage, and the inside is miles ahead of even a loaded up Prius/Prius V. The interior is very upscale Ford Focus/Escape, which is a good thing, particularly if you’ve seen Toyota’s seat and other interior design choices of the Prius.

    • 0 avatar
      Smythe

      Yeah C-Max love. I leased one for my wife a few months ago. Shopped it against the Prius V, RAV4, Escape, and…CX-5? It really won hands down from me and from her. For the price, the content, the drive, it really was the best. Not too big, not too small (unless you get the plug-in, which has no cargo) for what we need. You can get it with all kinds of goodies (including panoramic sunroof, power rear hatch, and auto parking…but not memory driver’s seat). We have a kid coming, so we were sure to throw a stroller and stuff in it…no problem. I came home from Lowe’s with three shelving units in the back the other day. I get 40-50mpg (she averages 39.5 around the city without driving “correctly”). It’s not slow and ugly (subjective) and terrible inside like a Prius.

      And then of course there’s the price. We got a new 2014 SEL (leather, navigation) for the leasing equivalent of like $22k. Sure, the resale will be awful, but that’s a big part of why I chose to lease. There’s no way this thing is worth the $15.k residual they gave me in three years. I’ll take it.

      Oh, and as for the crash ratings, I think they had just changed the testing parameters when it received that score, and It scored the same or better as a Prius or RAV4. I mean, it’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and the crash test says “There’s a low risk of any injury in this front overlap collision,” despite how the photos look. But here I am defending a small car’s crash ratings, so…I’m going to go do something different. Love the C-Max so far though. And in the age of cheap gas, love the price of a hybrid vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Mine will be 3 years old in September. I am guessing that it’ll be worth about $12K-$13K. Right now private party is at about $15K.

        • 0 avatar
          Smythe

          IIRC they gave me a 52% residual on about $29.5k MSRP. I figured by then, our family will have grown, hybrid technology will have advanced, and I’ll just be interested in the next cool “bang for the buck” vehicle (read: minivan). Bottom line is that my wife loves the C-Max. She was coming from an older Acura TL, so maybe she would have liked anything. But I think it’s an underappreciated, value-for-the-money auto. Done and done.

  • avatar
    PeterKK

    Think you nailed it. The oft maligned minivan sells so well for many good reasons.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    Minivan deals are the best deals on the most all around useful design. I had THREE Chrysler minivans at ONE time, once. Still have a 96 that purrs like a kitten.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Wish there still were an SWB option like the old Voyager/Caravans. Nearest things now are the Transit Connects and NV200s. I guess the Promaster City is one, too, but it’s got obvious problems with its provenance.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    If only they made minivans I didn’t absolutely hate to look at. The new Kia Sedona (?) looks pretty good but it looks like it’s gonna be pricey as hell. I might have to relive my high school days and submit to a Nissan Quest. At least with that I can throw some parts at it.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    Opening the field up a bit, I’d argue there are two clear bargains in the sports car arena: the C7 Vette and the GT3. The C7 is cheap for what it offers performance-wise and what it compares to. And it has that slick removal roof. The car is cheap for what it offers, but if you get a year old Vette with practically no miles, you can save yourself an additional $10,000.

    The GT3 is a track focused Porsche which again compares favorably to cars costing much more. Unlike most other Porsches, the GT3 comes standard with most of what you want in such a car. The final kicker is the low depreciation of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Allow me to add another. The Viper. Punches way above it’s weight, looks great inside and out, and the fifteen grand reduction in price puts it where it should’ve been in the first place.

      As a bonus, you won’t see Vipers nearly as often as you would vettes.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The C7 offers unbelievable performance for the money, and a fine interior. Not Porsche quality, but 80% there for less than half the money. That such overall versatility is available for a car with such high handling limits is nothing short of an engineering marvel. Shortcomings? Of course. The SMC body panels may save weight but don’t provide the stiffness of sheetmetal and that shows up in headlight jitter over big bumps. Paint quality is not bad but not exemplary by any means. And I have seen some early build models with less than perfect panel fits though that seems to have been corrected. So, I would have to say not only a “best bang for the buck”, but one of the best, period. And those that are garage queens hold their value remarkably well.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    If we’re talking new:

    Honda Accord Sport 6spd. My friend just bought one in the Boston MA area for $20,800 plus TTL after a lot of pretty brutal negotiations and 2 dealers fighting over him. Incredible motor, awesome gearbox, fantastic MPG, excellent interior roominess and ergonomics and sightlines, good dynamics. The return of “Hondaness” to Honda IMO. Drive it for 10 years with (probably) no issues aside from warped brake rotors then sell it for a mint.

    Honorable mention: 2015 Camry LE. Can probably be bought for $18k right now with little or no haggling. If you just want a CAR, this is it. Quiet, competent, comfortable. Still port injected unlike the Accord so even more chances of driving for a decade with no unexpected repairs. Again, will still be worth a lot when it comes time to sell down the line.

    Nissan Sentra S. Perfect, value priced commuter than can still fit car seats and has a good sized trunk. Very good real world efficiency, no anticipated reliability woes especially if you buy the 6spd stick shift ($13,5k: has A/C, cruise, power accessories). CVT might not be a great idea in an area with a lot of mountain driving, but otherwise no issues with this low torque, lightweight car.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    Best bang for your buck are the two used vehicles I recently purchased.

    First was a 2011 Town and Country, Touring L w/ DVD and second row heated captains chairs, and power third row. $18,500 certified w/ 32k miles. Add 2k for a *Lifetime* Maxcare warranty (I did btw). Chrysler backed and covers a ridiculous list of stuff that will most likely break during ownership.

    The other was a 2012 VW Beetle Turbo, 6MT w/ performance suspension. 13k out the door VW certified with 33k miles.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      Wow! The price on that Beetle is fantastic. That’s a poor-man’s GTI substitute right there.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      The local dealer here gives you a lifetime warranty on the drive-train if the car was bought with under 90k miles and if they do the tire rotation and oil changes. They get you in and out pretty quick and the prices are about the same as any other quick lube place. Unless you buy the car new then for the first 5 years you drive in and let them do their stuff and sign a paper and leave no money due. At least that was the deal we got.

  • avatar
    vvk

    I guess it all depends on what kind of “bang” you are looking for :-)

    Since my requirements in a family car are four doors, rear wheel drive and a manual transmission, I think BMW 320i with Sport package is the best bang for your buck.

  • avatar
    85lynx

    Used Chevy Volt. Resale values are in the tank. Very nice car to drive, extremely reliable and low maintenance, ridiculously low operating cost.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      My thoughts exactly. Used dealers are practically begging people to take them away. So long as you’re comfortable with also getting hosed on later resale, they’re a fantastic bargain.

      Down the line a few years I see the Kia K900s carrying some truly catastrophic depreciation into the used lots. Assuming they hold up as well as their Equus/Genesis cousins, it’ll be a monster in the bang-for-the-buck category.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Too many qualifiers to claim any one vehicle is the absolute best. But to be quite blunt, a full-sized pickup truck is NOT the logical choice for anyone who doesn’t absolutely need its load and towing capacity, despite its popularity as a family and sports car.

    My own pick would be the Fiat 500 for multiple reasons.
    * Incredible fuel mileage for a non-hybrid; exceeding 40mpg on the highway and low-to-mid-30s for mixed suburban driving. I still manage 28mpg even in inner-city situations.
    * Remarkable performance for its size: At half the price of BMW’s Mini, it’s a go-kart. Quick and agile in traffic and quite capable of getting out of its own way and the way of other, inattentive drivers.
    * Surprisingly roomy for a single or childless couple: drop the back seats and you can make a Costco run, taking a month’s worth of supplies and still have room left over. My wife and I bowl and we each have three-ball roller bags. They not only fit, but there’s enough room to fit an additional pair of two-ball rollers on the floor and tons of towels on top of them. It’s a lot more space than you would expect.

    No, it’s not a pickup truck and no, you can’t go to the DIY store and carry home a stack of lumber. On the other hand, it carries enough paint cans to paint your home inside and out along with all the associated hardware–including the multi-fold, eight-foot ladders. It just takes a little intelligent packing. For being such a tiny car, it’s remarkably versatile.

    You want an SUV? Consider the Jeep Renegade. I plan to trade my Jeep Wrangler on one if the Renegade proves as good as the Cherokee has so far.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> u can’t go to the DIY store and carry home a stack of lumber

      Thule makes a roof rack for the 500 that will hold 130 lbs, so you can get a limited amount of home center lumber capability if you want. I’ve been using a roof rack with load attachments to get around small car cargo limitations for years now.

  • avatar
    mikey

    For me. If I was buying right now ? I’d go for the 15 Impala LT with a V6, but the price is a little high. So I would pick a nicely optioned 15 Malibu. I know I can get a pretty fair deal, on a Bu.

    Now if I went for the slightly impractical, personal choice? The 2015 Mustang has my attention. There again, the dealers are not offering too much of a discount. I like the Wrangler, and I see some pretty nice prices being offered. But I would be worried, that the novelty would wear off.

    Anyway, I’ve probably bought my last car. However I still like to look, and dream.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      As long as you keep the abuse to a reasonable minimum, Wranglers just don’t depreciate all that much. TheI four door models seem to go up in value in some cases….

      I did the double swap last month, picked up an accord and a wrangler and ditched my frontier. Thus far, my family really loves the jeep, I would not want to drive it everyday, but popping the lids off and crusing home after work oddly adds some enjoyment to the end of the day. Even with the V6″ they are slow, gets decent mpg 20 or so and with the MT could almost qualify as fun. Just be vigilant while driving to work with your morning Joe….the ride is just a notch below Lexus….(sarcasm)

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    If you are looking for horsepower per dollar value, look for a Chrysler 200 or Dodge dart with that same engine.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I thought the only engine they shared was the 180-something hp 2.4 4-pot that makes the 200 one of the slowest midsizers and the Dart about as quick as a Jetta when it was running the 2.5 5-cylinder.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    New or used?

    28CL has a list of used car value buys.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m always pushing:
      MY10-12 Lincoln Zephyr (prefer FWD)
      Anything with a Buick 3800.
      Clean Z-body Saturns through MY02.

      I think I’m gonna start pushing:
      MY13-14 Buick Verano.
      MY10-13 Volvo S60.
      MY09 Ford Taurus/Merc Montego FWD only
      MY09ish to MY13 Lincoln MkEdge (CD3)
      Possibly the Volt.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I would add 08-09 Taurus. The renamed Five Hundred version with the 3.5L and 6 speed automatic instead of the 3.0L and CVT. The Mercury Sable version works as well.

        You edited it and beat me to it!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I retroactively added it under ones I might think about due to these facts.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The problem I have with the MKX as a used buy, is that it typically has a much higher price than the MKZ. The market seems to value them higher. It’s still a good value, and you get the 3.7L.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            There is a steep drop between the Flex SEL and the MkFlex “4D SUV” (no trim name?) as Manheim calls it, but at Titanium they are a near even money. Whats in Titanium that’s not in SEL? Didn’t SEL used to be the we’re serious loaded trim?

            MY12 Lincoln MkFlex FWD

            04/02/15 NASHVILL Lease $29,000 15,975 Above DKBLACK 6G A Yes
            04/16/15 SO CAL Lease $27,000 19,787 Above MAROON 6G A Yes
            04/21/15 SO CAL Lease $27,600 22,726 Above RED 6G A Yes
            03/31/15 OHIO Lease $25,500 22,974 Avg BLACK 6G A Yes
            04/22/15 CEN FLA Lease $23,800 24,587 Avg BLUE 6G A Yes
            04/09/15 TAMPA Lease $24,800 24,903 Avg WHITE-JZ 6G A Yes
            04/01/15 DFW Lease $28,900 27,095 Above UG-WHITE 6G A No
            04/06/15 GEORGIA Lease $26,300 28,437 Above RED 6G A Yes
            04/21/15 FT LAUD Lease $25,900 30,380 Avg WHITE 6G A Yes
            04/07/15 OHIO Lease $21,700 31,496 Avg DKBLACK 6G A Yes
            04/10/15 FT LAUD Lease $20,100 31,520 Avg GRAY 6G A No

            MY12 Ford Flex Titanium FWD

            01/08/15 SO CAL Lease $26,600 43,913 Above WHITE 6G A No
            01/08/15 SO CAL Lease $24,800 43,963 Avg WHITE 6G A Yes
            01/14/15 DALLAS Regular $23,200 37,834 Avg SILVER 6G A Yes
            01/15/15 SO CAL Lease $22,600 47,497 Avg BLACK 6G O Yes
            02/24/15 FT LAUD Lease $21,100 44,040 Below PEARL 6G A Yes
            02/25/15 DETROIT Regular $27,300 25,004 Above BLACK 6G A Yes
            04/23/15 PHOENIX Regular $17,700 98,532 Below RED 6G A No

            MY12 Ford Flex SEL FWD

            04/08/15 DETROIT Factory $21,100 18,593 Avg GREEN 6G A Yes
            04/08/15 NASHVILL Lease $23,900 19,979 Above WHT PLAT 6G A Yes
            04/09/15 DFW Regular $22,100 20,409 Avg UH-BLACK 6G A Yes
            04/16/15 DFW Lease $21,000 21,745 Avg RZ RED 6G A Yes
            04/01/15 NEWORLNS Regular $22,200 22,061 Avg PLUM 6G A Yes
            04/23/15 SO CAL Lease $22,900 24,664 Above SILVER 6G A Yes
            04/16/15 NJ Lease $19,700 27,235 Avg DKBLUE 6G A Yes
            04/16/15 SO CAL Lease $23,200 27,348 Above BLACK 6G A Yes

            EDIT: I meant Edge originally not Flex, Flex is D2/3 not CD3. Let me crunch Edge and get back to you.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yeah the MkT comes in two trims: MkT or MkT Ecoboost. Well there is the Town Car livery trim, but I’ve never seen one at a dealership.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Extra clean the SEL vs the Lincoln still has a few thousand dollar disparity.

            MY12 Ford Edge SEL 3.5 V6

            04/20/15 GEORGIA Lease $23,700 9,750 Above LTBROWN 6G A Yes
            04/16/15 CHICAGO Lease $19,500 14,928 Avg BLUE 6G A No
            04/22/15 PITTSBGH Lease $21,500 15,442 Avg SILVER 6G A Yes
            04/10/15 FT LAUD Lease $21,000 17,376 Avg MDWHITE 6G A Yes
            04/19/15 SO CAL Lease $19,900 18,631 Avg GRAY 6G A Yes
            04/24/15 PA Lease $22,700 19,465 Above LTWHITE 6G P Yes
            04/09/15 SO CAL Lease $22,200 21,139 Above WHITE 6G A Yes
            04/23/15 DFW Lease $20,000 21,459 Avg UJ-GREY 6G A Yes
            04/09/15 SO CAL Lease $21,300 21,534 Avg SILVER 6G A Yes
            04/16/15 TAMPA Regular $22,200 22,410 Above RED 6G A Yes
            04/22/15 NASHVILL Regular $22,250 22,621 Above BLACK 6G A Yes
            04/23/15 TAMPA Lease $22,200 22,953 Above GRAY 6G A Yes

            MY12 Lincoln MkEdge FWD V6

            04/02/15 NASHVILL Lease $29,000 15,975 Above DKBLACK 6G A Yes
            04/16/15 SO CAL Lease $27,000 19,787 Above MAROON 6G A Yes
            04/21/15 SO CAL Lease $27,600 22,726 Above RED 6G A Yes
            03/31/15 OHIO Lease $25,500 22,974 Avg BLACK 6G A Yes
            04/22/15 CEN FLA Lease $23,800 24,587 Avg BLUE 6G A Yes
            04/09/15 TAMPA Lease $24,800 24,903 Avg WHITE-JZ 6G A Yes
            04/01/15 DFW Lease $28,900 27,095 Above UG-WHITE 6G A No
            04/06/15 GEORGIA Lease $26,300 28,437 Above RED 6G A Yes

            Which appears to continue with the cars out of factory warranty. Nm I can’t recommend it then.

            Lincoln

            04/01/15 NASHVILL Lease $25,500 36,112 Avg WHITE 6G A Yes
            04/02/15 CHICAGO Lease $21,600 37,691 Avg BLACK 6G A Yes
            04/15/15 TAMPA Lease $24,400 38,032 Avg WHITE-JZ 6G A Yes
            03/30/15 PA Regular $21,000 41,501 Avg BROWN 6G P Yes
            04/16/15 CHICAGO Lease $22,200 42,626 Avg BLACK 6G A Yes

            Ford

            04/07/15 GEORGIA Regular $20,100 43,970 Avg BLACK 6G A Yes
            04/07/15 CHICAGO Lease $21,000 33,401 Avg SILVER 6G A Yes
            04/07/15 CHICAGO Lease $20,100 42,187 Avg GREY 6G A Yes
            04/08/15 PITTSBGH Lease $19,400 37,221 Avg LTWHITE 6G A Yes
            04/08/15 PA Lease $17,000 52,515 Below SILVER 6G P Yes
            04/08/15 KC Lease $19,900 33,317 Avg WHITE 6G A Yes

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        For 08 and 09, it was the Sable – Montego went away after the 07MY.
        Are you SURE you wanna recommend the S60? They never seem to age to well; always worn out looking.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Maybe if they go through Sixt for 90K they get all used up, but here is the thought on S60:

          -Depreciates very quickly as does S80, so a two MY old one can be had for what a four MY old Lexus might be offered from a depr standpoint.
          -Production figures for US are something like a 5:1 ratio vs S80, so much more plentiful than its cousin car.
          -MY10 introduced S60 to the P3 EUCD derived platform, not the circa 1998 P2 it used through MY09.
          -Platform at MY10 was already four years old and proven having been introduced with S60 in MY06.
          -Base motor for MY10-14 is a carryover 2.5 I5 Turbo.
          -SAFE.
          -Made either in Sweden or Belgium.
          -High build quality and materials.
          -Reasonable reliability.
          -Not a theft target.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Good points! I still think I’d rather have the 4 year old Lex.

            -Much nicer dep.
            -Safe.
            -Larger engine/power for sure.
            -Very reliable.
            -Theft not a concern in many areas.

            My other issue with the S60 is it still looks a lot like it has for a decade, so they seem older than they are. It’s also hard to find one optioned the way you’d like used, because unlike (for example) a Lexus where only a couple things are optional – on a Volvo everything is optional.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You pay out the rearend for the privilege of Lex used, the point is getting a deal and buying something of quality for less.

            “My other issue with the S60 is it still looks a lot like it has for a decade, so they seem older than they are”

            That’s part of the appeal, things like visibility come standard. In addition these things will last if one actually follows the maintenance schedule. Granted you can beat a Lex and it will come back vs this which may not, but again you pay dearly for that privilege. Volvos that come through are generally loaded I’ve never really seen a decontented one so I’m not sure what is standard and what are options.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Good point, bang out of buck is not the Lexus thing. That’s the Toyota equivalent model thing.

            But then I can argue that a V6 Camry is a lot more car and much more reliable than the S60, and more bang for buck in the way of reduced maintenance requirements.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @CoreyDL

            Camry XLE costs more with similar mileage and age (but it is also bigger and offers the upgraded motor vs the base Volvo). I think at even money yes the Camry blows the S60 out of the water for the long term holder, but for less money you get nice features on the Volvo.

            MY12 Camry V6 XLE

            03/30/15 PA Lease $17,700 28,241 Avg BLACK 6G A Yes
            03/30/15 OHIO Lease $18,900 21,940 Above WHITE 6G A Yes
            03/30/15 OHIO Lease $18,800 33,375 Above LIGHT BL 6G A Yes
            03/30/15 OHIO Lease $18,400 36,924 Avg ATTITUDE 6G A Yes
            03/30/15 OHIO Lease $18,100 24,937 Avg SILVER M 6G A Yes
            03/30/15 OHIO Lease $17,800 42,800 Avg BLACK 6G A Yes
            03/30/15 OHIO Lease $17,000 40,664 Avg GREY 6G A Yes
            03/30/15 MILWAUKE Lease $18,600 32,008 Avg GREEN 6G A Yes
            03/30/15 MILWAUKE Lease $16,600 55,292 Avg WHITE 6G A Yes

            MY12 Volvo S60 I5 turbo FWD

            04/23/15 RIVRSIDE Lease $17,500 23,276 Above SILVER 5GT A Yes
            04/15/15 NASHVILL Lease $15,200 23,652 Avg BLACK 5GT A Yes
            04/16/15 PA Regular $17,600 24,140 Above WHITE 5GT Yes
            04/15/15 NASHVILL Lease $14,900 24,521 Avg WHITE 5GT A Yes
            04/17/15 PA Regular $17,000 25,568 Avg GREY 5GT Yes
            04/13/15 ORLANDO Lease $13,900 25,610 Avg SILVER 5GT A No
            04/15/15 NJ Lease $15,700 25,638 Avg BLUE 5GT A Yes
            04/16/15 PA Lease $17,750 25,641 Above WHITE 5GT P Yes
            04/15/15 NASHVILL Lease $15,200 26,181 Avg BLACK 5GT A Yes

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        What about the Regal GS? They seemed to be overpriced at 40 grand new. Autotrader has two year old models in the mid 20’s and I’m sure some negotiation will further drop the price. And being the top of the line Regal, they’re loaded with just about every option and Buick has been getting high praise from consumer reports for the last few years.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          My beef with Regal is:

          -Its an Opel, not a Buick. So if you’re a fan of say VWs in terms of drive/packaging this is for you. If you’re a fan of Buicks or other generic GM, this is not for you.
          -Substandard backseat and trunk space.
          -Lack of V6 turns me off.
          -Engine and other reliability issues were prevalent in MY11 (when the cars were built by Opel and shipped over).
          -Future resale even for the second hand buyer is questionable. Granted something like the Lincoln Zephyr has a similar issue but it is at its heart a CD3 Fusion. Regal is a German car at its heart and is only comparable to an Opel of which is not identifiable to the avg buyer.

          http://www.carcomplaints.com/Buick/Regal/2011/engine/

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I thought the V6 from the LaCrosse was available in the higher trims of the GS, and only learned it wasn’t earlier this year when I was looking up stuff about Ventiports and checked the Regal.

            That car is too expensive and too heavy not to have a V6 option. It really is a looker, but the price and space (and similar size to the Verano) is a turn off.

            They want Lexus money for them, and they cant hack it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Which is why the drop is so high and why this gentleman was thinking hmmmm when he say them at the local BPG in the 20s CPO. This was a model which did not need to happen, esp in light of Verano. I suspect it happened just to milk Opel’s sunk costs in platform and for MY11 assembly.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        The Veranos drop quickly in value. Used ones seem to be available for just a bit more than the equivalent Cruze.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Exactly. When they first came out they were holding their value very well (I imagine due to used demand) but after a year they returned to reality. Verano is a buy over Cruze all day long due to the better motor alone (proven N/A 2.4 vs blah 1.8 or turbo fail)

      • 0 avatar
        Skink

        Just curious; what’s wrong with the AWD Taurus/Montego? Thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Ok we have to do a reset here, and stop this names mixup.

          05-07 years are Five Hundred and Montego. They have a CVT which is a time bomb and you want to avoid them. I believe the former Taurus was also sold in 05, as a fleet special only. Those are pretty terrible as well, but not for the same reasons.

          08-09 are the Taurus and Sable. They have a 6-speed auto and are much improved in most ways.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Five Hundreds and Montegos have the Aisin 6 Speed in FWD models. The Freestyle had the CVT on both FWD and AWD models.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ah, that’s my mistake then. They’d probably be okay with the FWD version – but still stuck with the 3.0 versus the much better 3.5 in the 08+.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The 3.5L is so much better than the 3.0L. It’s only 40 HP or so of difference, but it feels like 100.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Skink-

          28 belives, and he’s probably correct, that AWD complicates things and will lead to higher ownership costs.

          What I will tell you as an owner of an AWD equipped Ford/Lincoln vehicle that was purchased used is replace the PTU fluid. The PTU sends the power to the rear wheels in Ford AWD vehicles. If you can get the dealership to do it before you take delivery, do it. Many of those vehicles also had leaky PTU seals and gaskets, so make sure they were changed per the TSB.

          • 0 avatar
            Skink

            Thanks, bball. I’ve been looking at the ’08-’09 Taurus/Sable AT AWD as a winter DD. Looking for AWD with low ‘jump-in’ rear seat height for my senior hounds. On paper, they look good, what with their S80 shared platform/bits.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Correct, but in the case of Five Hundred/Montego the AWD had a specific transmission Corey referred too that likes to fail at or around the 60K mark.

            Bball likes the newer Ford AWD systems and truthfully I am not up on them to say otherwise. But what I will say is attaching a rear differential and different transmission to a FWD model is cheap VOODOO on the part of the mfg and you will pay in the end. I have seen many a Volvo XC70/V70 with a broken half shaft to the rear diff in their voodoo AWD, the car still drives but the rear wheels won’t ever turn and it still gets 13-15mpg as if they were turning.

            Additional: Just yesterday we saw the Jag X-type with a broken differential link (or whatever it was) and the owner was going to be out 3600 just to fix it. The X-type was a Ford Mondeo reskin with AWD voodoo done for the US market, the Mondeo being a FWD Euro spec car. Jaguar offered the X-type in Europe with FWD and a diesel, but for the US it was made AWD in order to give Jaguar 1. something unique in its lineup to sell and 2. offer the faux luxury of AWD. Now any first time buyers who purchased a Jag and kept it get burned and Jaguar has permanently lost them as customers just so then Ford could move some Mondeo volume and not spend money developing a true AWD car. Stupid.

            I’m not an AWD man due to the added costs in fuel and tires, but I will say I respect the heck out of Subaru because the whole platform is built around the longitudinal AWD system. FWD cars are NOT built for this, it is an afterthought and it defeats the purpose of the FWD packaging by putting a big console and drivetrain hump down the center of FWD car. The OEMs do it because it is CHEAP for them from an economies of scale standpoint to throw another 2K in parts on it and make a little more on you while competing with the two true AWD marques of Audi and Subaru and offering people who can’t drive in winter the faux “safety” of AWD.

            REPENT YE SINS.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            You will know if you have a PTU leak because it is a smell most foul. Ford says it’s a fill for life thing, but there is only a few onces of fluid in there. On the Flex/Explorer/MkT/Edge/MKX, I would change at 75K miles or so. On a sedan, probably around 100K miles. If you buy it used, you might as well just do it because it only cost like $250-$300 to change it and the trans fluid.

          • 0 avatar
            Skink

            28, I have great affection for the Subaru AWD system. I own a 2014 Forester, and it has been tremendous through two Midwest winters. Not a big fan of the 4 speed auto in older Subarus so am looking elsewhere. Point taken on the suboptimal adaptation of transverse fwd to awd. Is that not what appears in current Escape, CR-V, RAV-4 and Equinox in that class?

            If the topic is new car values, I would recommend the Forester. Purpose-built awd, great visibility, great fuel economy, crash test winner, CR winner, low depreciation. No, it doesn’t have the lame faux-wedgy beltline of the Escape or RAV-4. Its more of a pair of sensible shoes. And it has a yawning, huge moon roof big enough for Chris Christie. Real, perforated insert leather seats vs vinyl for the Toyota. And the CVT works just fine.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Subaru is an excellent value for AWD and great resale to boot. Buying used Subaru actually doesn’t even make sense because of it. If a buyer wants AWD, that’s my first recommendation.

            “Is that not what appears in current Escape, CR-V, RAV-4 and Equinox in that class?”

            Correct hence my jihad against it. I like to think Toyonda realizes their customers expect to beat on their products and figured out ways for their voodoo to not doom the car when the AWD specific maintenance is not followed but I really don’t know. What really makes more sense is a true driver initiated 4×4 system (like on a truck) but this won’t work as an add on FWD bread and butter platforms which is what mfgs like.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        @28

        That year Zephyr/first gen MKZ can be had for dirt cheap, and the things are gorgeous and surprisingly modern inside. The Verano and Regal remain ridiculously under-appreciated vehicles and as a result can be had for a steal (really, any Buick that isn’t the Enclave, has that problem), and while casually looking at the $18-22k market in Wisconsin the other day, I found FOUR Volts, all loaded up, all CPO with low mileage and all under $20,000. Color me surprised!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          MY10-12 Zephyr is a lock with the 3.5 and excellent interior content, I don’t like the earlier ones because for some years they used a 3.0L and the styling looks too close to the Milan for my tastes. They beefed up the styling for MY10-12.

          Regal I weighed in on above, between the two I’ll take Verano. 3800 W-body Lacrosse/G-body Lucerne are obvious recommendations, the Ep II Lacrosse is prob not a bad buy I don’t know much about them. I would not recommend Enclave due to issues with the platform and high(er) cost of acquisition due to used demand (subprime?).

          I have to do some more research on Volt to determine long term reliability before I can recommend it, but any EV right now is going to be a steal. I like Volt because of its additional motor for range anxiety and because people aren’t buying them after the lease hence the glut, my concern is going to be battery life and battery replacement costs.

      • 0 avatar
        MPAVictoria

        Great list. I would add the Buick Lacrosse and the Taurus X (NOT the Freestyle with its CVT) as well.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        After all this 28 days Zephyr/gen1 MKZ pushing, I finally looked them up and looked at some cars.com ads. Well I’ll be darned, that is a really nice looking car! The interiors on the 2010+ really do look very acceptable, with only a few obviously cheap Fusion bits. Beefier Aisin TF80 transmission with the 3.5 rather than the worrisome 6f35. I wonder how they do on MPG? It’d be a heck of a comfy commuter.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think we’re only talking about new today.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    What a great question. The advancement in quality across the board makes this a fun exercise. I agree 100% with the bulk of the post mentioned. As noted in previous posts, I regularly rent Chrysler T&C from National. Many of my coworkers ask why? They opt for the base Altima or some bean can of the ilk.
    Why? Leather, heated seats in most cases, leather wrapped steering wheel, XM, easy to navigate system for Bluetooth and what have you, exceptional MPG for the size, plenty of power and up right seating, and man is it quiet. The used rental rocket van can be had with light miles, and loads of options for under 20k all day long. Is it your dream car, most likely not, will your friends drool with envy…probably not. Will it give you ten years of family hauling service with medium use and marginal maintenance, yes. Will it eat a tranny? Most likely, they are not that expensive.

    Second: Volt. Too much technology for too little money at this point. If, and I mean IF, it matches your driving habits most of the time, 40 miles per day, this is by far the most efficient use of your money. You are insulated from fuel spikes, and are not penalized by having to drive some loud earth friendly bean can with zero driving dynamics. Again, is it your dream car, most likely not. It is very hard to argue with the general reviews of owners who have them and love them. Would I buy it new, no. Second hand, all day long.

    Third: rental rocket Camry. Need anyone say more. Again, sub 20k you get a nice car that is proven to be as reliable as the sunrise in the east. Again, would I buy it new. No chance, ever.

    Fourth: which I can say I put my money where my mouth (fingers?) is…used accord coupe with a MT. Paid well less than 10k, car has just under 80k on it now. Fun to drive, great mpg, easy to park and supposedly dead reliable. It is my first Honda purchase so we shall see. I am betting that I will be fine though. I figure I can put 30k on it in two years of driving and sell for slightly less, I figure $500, than I paid for it provided I don’t get hammered with the obligatory spring CO hail storm (out of garage space, so this one goes outside…the other cars are way more important to me). I give the hail a 50/50 chance of spoiling the fun.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Caravan.
    Mazda3.
    FiveHundred…with 3.5.
    Mazda6 wagon.
    Subaru Outback.

  • avatar
    MPAVictoria

    A CPO Volvo S80. You will not find a nicer car with a better warranty for under $30,000.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with this, although for MY15 Volvo switched motors on the FWD model to their new I4 (T5 as they call it) but kept the long serving 3.2 I6 for AWD. I would recommend avoiding the new motor in its first model year.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I have serious questions of the reliability of the S80. It seems to be one of those “always something wrong” sort of cars that Volvo is known for post-1998.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Supposedly, SUPPOSEDLY the post 08 or so second gen S80s are solid reliability wise. Get a basic FWD 3.2L I6 variant and it probably won’t cause too many problems. I like how understated they are: substantial looking without being a total boat. My issue with them (not having driven one), is apparently they don’t ride that well, a lot of impact harshness going over rough roads. What’s the point of buying a comfy cruiser like this if it doesn’t ride nice?

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          My problem there is, when you go for the FWD base 3.2, you don’t have -that- nice of a car. It won’t have many options, it won’t be quick, and it doesn’t have AWD.

          If I want a FWD V6 D platform car, I may as well get a Sable then. It’ll be a lot cheaper to service and more reliable, and have a larger engine and 6 speeds versus 5. Probably rides better too.

          So WTH!

          • 0 avatar
            MPAVictoria

            The 2007 and later S80 has 6 speeds. And you can get the 3.2 pretty well loaded. Mine has everything I wanted except the xenon headlights and you can get those I believe if you really want.

            /Of course I am going to like the car though. I bought one! :-)

        • 0 avatar
          MPAVictoria

          Hmmm. Mine has the regular suspension and the 17 inch wheels and I love the ride. Solid without being harsh. Much better than my G8 or the S60 that I test drove. Of course ride is very subjective.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Avoid any S80 prior to MY04/05 unless its free, motor, auto trans, and computer issues abound. The platform switched to EUCD in MY06 and things got dramatically better which is/was reflected in resale.

        @gtemnykh

        My experience is more with the P2 and earlier Volvos, but I think the newer ones are tuned for European roads and don’t do as well on the craters of USA. There are probably fixes for this in the aftermarket but I’m not sure.

      • 0 avatar
        MPAVictoria

        Well mine only has 28,000KMs which is still far too soon to judge but so far it has been rock solid. Plus I am pretty active on the forums and in general people seem to have had pretty good experiences. No major problems or weird gremlins. I am hoping it will turn out to be a reliable car. Especially after the disaster my, much loved, Pontiac G8 was.

        • 0 avatar
          don1967

          For my recent purchase it was a toss-up between a lightly-used Chrysler 300C or Volvo S80. Both are substantial, under-appreciated cars with outrageous first-year depreciation. In the end I chose the Volvo’s higher-end finish and long CPO warranty over the Chrysler’s yee-haw factor. But either one is a bargain compared to a similarly-priced new midsizer.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I hereby nominate as best new bang for buck:

    Chrysler 300!

    Since bang for buck doesn’t care about prestige or your perceived credit score. You get a large RWD car with a comfortable ride and a big interior, and a nice 6-cylinder engine, for not a lot of money at all.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    The best value to me is the used car that is in the sweet spot of its depreciation curve. It helps if it has some interesting options or accessories too, options that usually do not increase the resale price, so you basically get them for free. Example:

    New 2015 Honda Accord EX-L: MSRP 36,000 CAD including taxes; let’s say 32,000$ OTD
    Used 2012 Honda Accord EX-L with 36000 KM: 23,000$ including taxes

    9000$ is quite a substantial savings for what is essentially the same car (just a previous gen) with barely any mileage. You know that Accord will reach 200000 KM easily too. That’s personally how I measure value. I’m not in the business of contributing to a manufacturer’s margins, I’m trying to get the best value for my family. To this average worker in a one income family, a clean, reliable used car is the way to go.

    If I DID have to buy new though, then a base Honda Odyssey (LX) would be my choice.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      Great question by the way!

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Agree with finding that sweet spot. At some point almost all cars cross that line between being used and used-up. If you find a nice, clean, low mileage example right on the edge of falling out of favor or becoming too old you’ve scored. My wife’s ’08 Volvo C30 is a prime example. New this car was pushing $30K, but 3 years later it could be had for only $18K. Because hot hatch and Volvo are two words that are normally not in the same sentence this car wasn’t popular (in the US). It has several reliable Ford/Volvo bin parts so its a good entry level luxury vehicle, like an Acura or Buick but 100X better looking.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I can’t speak for Canada but the way the auction works is its all about model year, warranties, financing, and condition on the block – mileage is *irrelevant*. The best buy will be with no to avg miles, be two three model years old, near/out of the factory warranty period, BUT not be a shop queen out of warranty.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Bargains are, as always, hitting them where they ain’t. Trucks and SUVs are red hot right now. Economy cars, even more so hybrids, aren’t.

    Base Grand Caravans are a lot of car for the price even at sticker which nobody has ever paid.

    The new Sonata is a flop, the dealer has row upon row of them for 6-7K off sticker. It’s no Accord but when you can have the DCT turbo edition for $18,000 before taxes it doesn’t have to be.

    Scion, dead brand walking, J VIN Toyotas for 17 and change.

    Cars.com is loaded with 2014 Regals which have been sitting on the lot for 6 months now. If you can’t get 8K off sticker there you’re doing something wrong.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    I’m no Toyota fan boy. But, Camry LE for $15,500 and Prius 2 for $19,500 are damn good deals.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Where are there new Camries for $15,500? Not calling you out per se, hell I might buy one if I can get it that cheap!

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Mike Erdman Toyota Merritt Island Fl. They are now $19000, I guess it was just a special last week. A couple Toyota dealers in Central Florida were advertising $15900 for Camry the past couple weeks. And Clermont Toyota in Florida has Prius for $20,000.00 The specials jump around a lot. I think the Prius is better deal. Prius 4 is going for around $25000.00 also a great deal. Those prices are better then used.

  • avatar
    matador

    How much money do you have?

    Not much (Say $2500)- Get a 1990s Buick LeSabre
    A little more (Say $5000)- A 1998-2004 Audi A6 with the 2.8. They’re more reliable than the other engines, but still suffer from the used German luxury car pricing.

    Or, a fleet-owned W-Body Impala.

    A nice chunk of change- The Dodge Grand Caravan (And most other minivans), along with pretty much any recent Lincoln or Cadillac….

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “A little more (Say $5000)- A 1998-2004 Audi A6 with the 2.8.”

      I’m sorry, you’re recommending a 10-15 year old A6 to people on a budget? The A6 was consistently ranked among the LEAST reliable German cars of the period, and the LEAST reliable Audi aside from an allroad with air suspension. I know you have a low mile one that you love, but you need to quit spreading this bad recommendation.

      $5k A6’s are nobody’s friend, and especially not poor people with only that much to spend.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Not much (Say $2500)- Get a 1990s Buick LeSabre”

      The Church approves.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Dear God, the Audi is terrible advice. I had a 2002 Passat V6 wagon, which in those years was literally a stretched A4. Magnificent car in so many ways, but operating costs were unbelievable – I would routinely rack up four-figure shop bills, no thanks to that oil-oozing 2.8. Premium German cars are durable, not reliable. There’s a difference. If you put the money in – lots of it – they will go forever and feel as tight as the day they were born. My new Ford, conversely, is reliable, but probably not durable — huge gaps where wet leaves blow into the engine compartment and are trapped inside the fender, less torsional rigidity brand new than the B5.5 had after a decade.

  • avatar
    TW5

    The Nissan Versa Note and Nissan Sentra are the best new car values on the market, and, if you’re patient, you’ll find an odd trim or base MT model for $3,000-$4,000 of MSRP. Sub-$13,000 OTD for a new Note or sub-$15K for a new Sentra. People complain about the interior, but who in their right mind buys an econobox for the interior appointment?

    Nissan also offers the best bargains for mid-size pickups and mid-size SUV’s. Frontier and Xterra are priced well below the rest of the market. Six-cylinder Crew Cab Frontier S for $22,000? Xterra Pro-4x costs less than a base-trim Toyota 4Runner? Only Nissan seems to care about delivering good bang-for-buck in the market for new cars. Everyone else is just overpricing their base-trims to make their fully-loaded trims look relatively cheap, but I guess that’s what you get to do when the factory is running a full capacity, and you can’t keep your inventory stocked.

    If you need AWD, Subaru is the only place to find a real bargain. Despite incredible demand, XV and Forester in Premium trim (lowest trim) can be sneaked off the lot for a little under $25K after TTL.

  • avatar

    Off least Chevrolet Volt.

  • avatar
    fr88

    In my biased opinion, there is only one choice in a “best buy” new car purchase – a Dodge Charger SXT. Why? It is a REAR WHEEL DRIVE sedan with none of the penalties of the Asians (FWD, 4 cyls, CVT’s, styling that is dull or disastrous depending on brand, full retail pricing, etc.) or the Germans (expense, maintenance, expense, maintenance), but has many of the benefits of both: Low operating costs and outstanding fuel economy like the Asians, a world class V6 engine and the world’s best transmission like the Germans, world’s best touchscreen interface U-Connect, and an upgraded version of a Mercedes chassis that imparts a solidity the Asians can only dream of. Plus, your friendly local Dodge dealer will be eager to knock $$$ of the window sticker of this all American icon getting you out the door with a loaded up version for the low $30K’s. Plus, it is the same car save for trim as a Chrysler 300 which costs thousands more when similarly equipped. Such a deal!!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Attractive yes I agree, but what are resale and reliability?

      • 0 avatar
        fr88

        Reliability of my 2012 Charger SXT has been stellar. Zero trips to the dealer, only oil changes and tires needed in 50K miles. Don’t much care about resale – nothing out there I would enjoy driving more at the same price point, so I will be keeping this one for quite a while. Resale, the Asian cars have a lock on that, but who cares? Just makes a used Charger that much more compelling as a best buy purchase.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’m going to wait until Alex’s ’15 Charger RT review later in the week to give the cliffnotes “Reader Review” on my ’14 RT.

        However I will say resale is okay assuming you got the big upfront discounts but my reliablilty and build quality has been disappointing for a brand new vehicle.

        It is also by a decent margin the most.cost-effective way to get a V8 sedan right now.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Is the Infiniti G37 (or whatever it got rebadged to) still being sold? I remember it was being sold unmodified for another 1-2 years while the new Q’s take hold. They are:

      – low-$30k (sometimes even under if negotiated aggressively)
      – RWD
      – 7-sp auto (not sure if manual is available anymore)
      – 330 HP, with driving dynamics often compared to BMW 335i
      – Just a notch below Lexus in reliability according to truedelta
      – Good resale

      But I agree that the Dodge is an awesome “equivalent car” deal if you wanted a 300. Same with the 3-row Durango.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    best bang for buck? honestly, on paper … C7 Stingray. You’d need to drop near $200k on anything else that comes even close.

  • avatar
    kobo1d

    I’ve seen brand new Dodge Grand Caravan AVPs advertised at 16k. I’m not sure if it’s one of those shady dealers that does something like subtracting an expected down payment or something, but regardless that’s an insane value if it’s even close to that.

    Performance bang for the buck is Mustang. You can get a 2013 V6 for 15k or a 2013 GT for 23k and both will embarrass anything else at that age / price point.

    All things considered, a newish Toyota Camry is also a spreadsheet champion. Cheap to buy and cheap to own, relative to performance and capability.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Loaded Cadillac ATS 2.0T (4 cylinder for emphasis) at $50,000 for non V-Sport version, which has less interior space and trunk than a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, will be less reliable than a used Jaguar, and will depreciate to 25% of original purchase price within 3 years of purchase.

    p.s. New Cadillac CT6, a BMW 7 Series “fighter” at approx 70k, will have that same 2.0T engine as standard (of the world).

  • avatar
    MPAVictoria

    It is threads like this that make me wish TTACs would stick to talking about CARS and leave politics for the rest of the internet. Instead of 200 comments full of fighting we get to have 200 comments of great advice and interesting ideas. People who I think are absolute morons (and worse!) when it comes to politics are pretty sharp when it comes to cars. So why don’t we focus on the reason we all come here?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    “Bang for the buck” depends on what “bang” is.

    Low-cost, dead reliable transportation? Prius or Prius C, depending on just how much penalty-boxiness you’re willing to endure.

    Space and versatility? That boring Chrysler minivan you’ve got up there.

    Driving fun? Probably a Mustang GT non-Premium, subject to serious challenge when the Alpha Camaro comes out.

    Impress the neighbors? Either a lease-special 528i or X3 xDrive28i, or a Grand Cherokee in a high enough trim level to have nice wheels and some chrome.

    Outdoor sports junkie? Either a N/A Forester or a Wrangler 4-door, depending on just how far off the road you go.

    Tow a giant trailer? Silverado or Ram HD diesel, whichever has more cash on the hood.

    Yet “bang” for most consumers isn’t just one of these things, it’s a combination of all of them. Right now if I were asked what the best-value car for my personal needs would be, the answer would be a Honda Accord Sport or a Subaru Forester Premium.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    2000-ish Nissan Pathfinder. Half the cost of a comparable 4Runner with 2X the miles and 90 percent of the ‘Runner’s goodness.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Not bad, although I’d replace pathfinder with Montero Sport. Aside from the “0% down” first owners that basically damned these to a life of abject neglect right from the showroom floor, they’re very capable and under-appreciated trucks. Pathfinders of that era, along with all nissans really, rust as bad as Mazdas. There was a recall for suspension mounting points rusting through, and most of the ones I see have pretty big holes rotted through under the fender flares.

  • avatar
    e30driver

    I was recently shopping for a new commuter, and surprised myself by choosing a 2015 200C. Loaded up with features like radar cruise control, ventilated seats, laminated glass, etc. for about $22k (about $10k under MSRP) without much haggling. About the same price as a bare bones Accord Sport, which I feel has a depressingly cheap feeling interior.

  • avatar
    STRATOS

    The cheapest Caravan is the best value because it is always discounted.I have reservations about the paint used on those models .There does not seem it has as much of it,compared to their more expensive models.It seems vapor thin and dull.Some cars really do have cheap factory paint.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Absolute fun for the dollar: Fiat 500 Abarth. Dealers have been known to let them go at $16k new.

    Absolute performance for the dollar: C7, nothing further need be said.

  • avatar
    Mackie

    Versa Note, hands down. Say what you want about it, but you get the most for your money here. Not exactly thrilling to drive but that’s not a priority for people looking for value. I think Nissan put a lot of thought into delivering the features that matter the most. You may not get a squishy dashboard, but you will get some decent tech and a spacious interior.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      What’s funny is that if you drive a Note SL to meet your friend who bought a new BMW 5-series, he’s going to have trouble pointing out features that your car doesn’t have.

      “It has Bluetooth streaming audio!” So does the Note
      “It has a Nav system!” So does the Note
      “It has heated seats and a bunch of cameras to help me park!”

      And so on. Not to say the 5 isn’t a nice car–it’s one seriously sweet ride–but luxury cars no longer have a huge feature count advantage over cheaper cars.

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    I’m going to go with the McLaren P1. It will never depreciate. Truly the best bang for the buck :)

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/mclaren/news/mclaren-p1-the-first-car-that-will-never-depreciate/

  • avatar
    Shawnski

    Ecoboost Mustang – looks, handling, speed, nice interior, decent FE. Non-Premium can be haggled between $25 and $28.5k depending on options…a bargain for its content!

  • avatar
    Fred

    Yea I’m late to the party, but for new cars look for the less popular models or those that are soon to be updated. To that end my choice would be the Audi A4, especially if you can find a low end manual, which according to cars.com lists one at $35,758

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