It appears that the derailed auto industry is back on track following a long period of reorganizing, redesigning and rebuilding. So says Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, which today revealed the best car values in its new 2011 Car Buying Guide.
The publication named winners in 11 categories, ranked by price, performance, safety, roominess and driving impressions. Top picks this year in the car and SUV categories include some smaller, more fuel-efficient models, many of which retail at attractive, affordable prices.
Hyundai took the prize for best new car in both the under $20,000 and the $20,000 to $25,000 categories with its Elantra and Sonata, respectively. The Kia Optima scored big in the $25,000 to $30,000 range, and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid ran with the best new car award for cars between $30,000 and $45,000.
The report also revealed the best in class, most fuel-efficient, and cars with the best resale value in each price category. Not surprisingly, hybrids outranked gas-powered models as the most fuel-efficient cars in most categories, and two Audis scored best resale value in the mid-price range: the A5 2.0T Quattro Premium and the S5 Quattro Premium Plus.
The Kiplinger press release and pictures of four of the winners follow.
Washington, DC (January 27, 2011)—After a long period of rightsizing, rebuilding and, in the case of General Motors, repaying government loans, the auto industry is back on track. Today Kiplinger’s Personal Finance reveals the best values in its comprehensive 2011 Car Buying Guide—available online now at www.kiplinger.com/links/carguide and in the March 2011 issue on newsstands February 8. With sortable online data for more than 1,000 cars and SUVs, the annual buyers’ guide names winners in 11 categories, ranked by price, performance, safety, roominess and driving impressions.
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance top picks for 2011:
- Best New Car: Hyundai Elantra ($15,550, GLS manual)—Compact no longer equals econobox. The Elantra is built with midsize interior space, heated mirrors, and available Bluetooth, rearview camera and heated seats—in both rows. It boasts more power and better fuel efficiency (40 mpg on the highway) than the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
- Best in Class: Volkswagen Golf ($18,735, 2dr manual)—Winning this category’s Best in Class award for the second year in a row, Volkswagen’s Golf features classic German driving dynamics at an easy-to-take price. Redesigned for 2010, the Golf boasts plenty of power, high resale values and a full complement of standard safety features. The four-door is an IIHS top safety pick.
- Most Fuel-Efficient: Honda Insight ($18,950)
- Best Resale Value: Scion xB ($16,720, manual)
- Best New Car: Hyundai Sonata ($24,865, SE 2.0T)—No longer content to be a faceless member of the midsize class, the new Sonata dons sculpted lines and an aggressive stance more apropos of luxury models. Nixing a six-cylinder engine from the lineup, Hyundai added a speedy turbocharged four-cylinder and a hybrid for 2011.
- Best in Class: Toyota Prius II ($23,810)—A Best New Model winner in 2010, Prius tops the competition with class-leading fuel economy, loads of cargo room, and low service and insurance costs. Toyota just introduced a wagon to the Prius family for the 2012 model year, and a plug-in version is on the way, too.
- Most Fuel-Efficient: Toyota Prius II ($23,810)
- Best Resale Value: Mini Cooper Clubman ($21,800, manual)
- Best New Car: Kia Optima ($25,190, EX 2.0T)—The Optima asserts itself as a high-content, high-value player. A Top Safety Pick, it features sporty design, a comfy, classy interior and plenty of upscale amenities. You can opt for either a hybrid or one of two direct-injection four-cylinder models.
- Best in Class: Honda Accord EX V6 ($27,830)—Driving away with Best in Class for the fourth year in a row, Honda’s best-seller is renowned for reliability. The V6 is powerful—it puts out 271 horses—yet thrifty. The Accord features ample interior space and a comfy ride in addition to a full complement of standard safety equipment.
- Most Fuel-Efficient: Lexus CT 200h ($29,995)
- Best Resale Value: Subaru Impreza WRX ($26,220)
- Best New Car: Lincoln MKZ Hybrid ($35,180)—In a bold move, Lincoln gave the hybrid variant of the MKZ the same price tag as the gasoline-engine model, sidestepping the average hybrid price premium of $5,000. With 41 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway, it takes the cake for near-luxury fuel efficiency, too.
- Best in Class: BMW 335d ($44,825)— For the second year in a row, BMW 335d earns Best in Class, delivering top-notch resale values and sporty driving dynamics combined with serious torque to send you speeding off the line. It also gets nearly 30% better fuel economy on the highway than the gas-engine 335i.
- Most Fuel-Efficient: Lincoln MKZ Hybrid ($34,180)
- Best Resale Value: Audi A5 2.0T Quattro Premium ($37,375, 2dr manual)
$45,000 and Over
- Best New Car: Infiniti M ($58,775, M56)—Bells and whistles are a given at this price point, but the M wows with high resale value, low insurance and service costs, and reasonable miles per gallon for such serious power (420 horses on the M56). Optional blind-spot intervention will steer you back into your lane should another car be in your way.
- Best in Class: Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTEC ($51,775)—Redesigned last year, the ninth-generation E-Class sedan only gets better with a turbocharged diesel engine. The 3.0-liter V6 puts out 210 horses and develops 400 pound-feet of torque—numbers guaranteed to blow your hair back. Plus, the BlueTEC model pushes fuel economy to 33 mpg on the highway to win Most Fuel-Efficient honors.
- Most Fuel-Efficient: Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTEC ($51,775)
- Best Resale Value: Audi S5 Quattro Premium Plus ($55,175, 2dr)
- Best New Sports Car: Ford Mustang ($30,495, GT manual)—The classic pony car nails value almost as well as it nails your back to the seat with a new 412-horsepower engine. High resale value, low service and insurance costs (for a sports car) and decent fuel economy–26 mpg on the highway–meet a modest price.
- Best in Class: Porsche Boxster Spyder ($62,150, manual)—After a two-year hiatus, the Boxster once again tops its Porsche brethren (Cayman won last year, and the 911 Carerra the year before that). The Spyder trim is new for the two-seat convertible—it’s the lightest Porsche on the road and has more power and better fuel economy than the Boxster S trim. But incredible handling and a wallet-friendly price (for a Porsche) are all vintage Boxster.
- Most Fuel-Efficient: Hyundai Genesis 2.0T ($23,050, manual)
- Best Resale Value: BMW M3 ($57,575, 4dr)
- Best New Small Crossover: Kia Sportage ($20,990, LX)—the second-generation Sportage is wrapped in sporty new sheet metal and gets a boost in cargo room as well as a more powerful engine. But it delivers better fuel efficiency, at 31 miles per gallon on the highway. Plus, you still get a five-year warranty and the full line of safety equipment.
- Best in Class: Subaru Forester 2.5XT Premium ($27,720)—Kiplinger’s 2009 Best New Crossover returns to win Best in Class, boasting agile handling, high resale values, loads of cargo space and an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick.
- Most Fuel-Efficient: Ford Escape Hybrid ($30,715)
- Best Resale Value: Honda CR-V LX ($22,475)
Midsize and Large Crossovers
- Best New Crossover: Ford Explorer ($30,995, V6 AWD)—America’s favorite SUV is reborn in a crossover body for 2011. The V6-powered version gets 20% better fuel economy and starts at $1,100 less than the outgoing model; an optional four-cylinder EcoBoost engine improves mileage by 30%. It earns a Top Safety Pick, too.
- Best in Class: Mazda CX-9 Sport ($29,930)—The biggest of Mazda’s bunch, the seven-seat CX-9 rises to the top again (it won Best in Class plaudits in 2009). The 2011 has more power, more rear legroom and even more cargo space than class standouts Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, and it comes with three years of roadside assistance.
- Most Fuel-Efficient: Lexus RX 450h ($44,110)
- Best Resale Value: BMW X5 xDrive35d ($52,175)
- Best New SUV: Infiniti QX56 ($58,800)—All-new all over, the second-gen QX56 raises the bar for full-size luxury SUVs. Slightly bigger this year, it delivers more horsepower (400), more towing power (up to 8,500 pounds) and better fuel economy (20 mpg on the highway).
- Best in Class: Chevrolet Suburban 1500 LS ($41,875)—Suburban’s low service and insurance costs and a reasonable starting price for a hauler that seats nine earns it top honors. The 5.3-liter V8 puts out plenty of power and has the lowest annual fuel cost for a V8 in the segment. Cargo space is a whopping 90 cubic feet. Like several of the winners list here, it’s also one of Kiplinger’s 10 Best Cars of the Past Decade.
- Most Fuel-Efficient: (tie) Cadillac Escalade Hybrid ($74,790), Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid ($51,685), GMC Yukon Hybrid ($52,150)
- Best Resale Value: Lexus GX 460 ($53,220)
- Best New Minivan and Best in Class: Honda Odyssey ($28,580, LX)—The Odyssey ditches the Mom-mobile image and adds edge for 2011. The perennial Kiplinger’s favorite returns to Best in Class status and sweeps awards in its category, winning Best New Minivan, Best Resale and Most Fuel-Efficient. Better driving dynamics and interior design are icing on the cake.
- Most Fuel-Efficient: Honda Odyssey LX ($28,580)
- Best Resale Value: Honda Odyssey LX ($28,580)
- Best New Wagon: Acura TSX ($31,820)—Acura’s luxury sport compact goes wagon for 2011, and it’s not just another grocery-getter. With 32 cubic feet of storage space behind the second row, TSX will take you and your stuff where you need to go in style. The peppy 201-horsepower four-cylinder engine gets a respectable 30 mpg on the highway.
- Best in Class: Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited ($29,220)—Stylish design, strong resale values and heaps of utility propel this all-wheel-drive wagon to the top for the second year in a row (it won Best New Wagon as well as Best in Class in 2010). The 2.5-liter four-cylinder is powerful without pushing down fuel economy—it gets 29 miles per gallon on the highway. Cargo space is a roomy 34 cubic feet.
- Most Fuel-Efficient: Audi A3 2.0 TDI Premium ($31,125)
- Best Resale Value: Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited ($29,220)
About Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
For nine decades, the Kiplinger organization has led the way in personal finance and business forecasting. Founded in 1920 by W.M. Kiplinger, the company developed one of the nation’s first successful newsletters in modern times. The Kiplinger Letter, launched in 1923, remains the longest continuously published newsletter in the United States. In 1947, Kiplinger created the nation’s first personal finance magazine. Located in the heart of our nation’s capital, the Kiplinger editors remain dedicated to delivering sound, unbiased advice for your family and your business in clear, concise language. Become a fan of Kiplinger on Facebook and follow Kiplinger updates on Twitter.