Autobytel's 10 Best Cars For The Money
Everybody likes a good deal—right?
When it comes to new cars, getting a good deal is one of the paramount goals of practically every shopper. Thing is, that phrase “a good deal” is a highly subjective one. What might be a good deal to an information technology specialist cranking out $100,000 a year is probably stratospherically unaffordable to a new college graduate looking to cop their first set of wheels.
With that in mind, we scoured the marketplace and pulled together a collection of what we feel are the best cars for the money in several different categories. Our primary consideration in each instance was to maximize just how much car you actually get for the money.
And so, without further ado, let’s set some bucks to banging as we outline Autobytel’s 10 best new cars delivering the biggest bang for the bucks.
Autobytel's 10 Best Cars For The Money: Ford Focus
A perennial player on practically every list of best new cars, Ford’s Focus is a deft blend of performance, value, and versatility. Whether you choose the hatchback or the sedan, you’ll get a handsome, well-appointed car, one giving the appearance you paid considerably more for it than you actually did. The 21st century equivalent of Ford’s Model T—the car that put a nation on wheels—practically every working household can have a Ford Focus in the garage.
Yet, it is also high quality, nicely equipped, and very enjoyable to drive.
Available in three different flavors, extreme performance intenders will appreciate the 252-horsepower Ford Focus ST with its bigger brakes, meaty tires, optional Recaro seats, and six-speed manual transmission. Ecologically minded drivers will revel in the zero emissions battery powered Ford Focus Electric. The Focus Electric’s lithium-ion battery pack can be completely recharged from depletion in four hours using a 240-volt charging system. Then, there’s the standard Focus, whose 160-horsepower four-cylinder engine is good for 26 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on the highway.
Standard features across all models include full power accessories, air-conditioning, and a versatile audio system. Plying the options list you’ll find high-end features like automatic self-parking and the Sync voice activated infotainment system.
Base Price: $16,995 —including $795 destination charge
MPG: City 26 / Highway 36
Autobytel's 10 Best Cars For The Money: Honda Fit
The Honda marque is closely associated with value, engineering excellence, fuel efficiency, and reliability. With that said, it is quite unsurprising the brand would have a car on this list. Fact is, most of its models qualify. But the standout—in this instance— is the Honda Fit.
In addition to frugality, the Fit brings functionality to the fore—huge. Fold the Honda’s rear seats flat and you’ll be looking at a positively cavernous 57 cubic feet of cargo space. Who needs a small SUV when you can get this much carrying capacity in a package this small? Further, that cargo space is remarkably versatile, in addition to folding completely flat, the Fit’s rear seat cushions will fold upward giving you the capability of splitting the cargo area into two sections. Additionally, they are designed to do so individually for the ultimate in flexibility.
Power is served up from a 1.5-liter inline four, capable of delivering 117 horsepower and 106 ft-lbs of torque. A five speed manual transmission is the standard offering, while a five-speed automatic can be had as an option. Either way, the front wheels do all the pulling. If you’re looking for reliability, functionality, fuel efficiency, and affordability the Honda Fit could well fill your bill.
Base Price $16,215 — including $790 destination charge
MPG: City 27/ Highway 33
Autobytel's 10 Best Cars For The Money: Toyota Prius c
Still the car everybody thinks of whenever the word “hybrid” is spoken in relation to an automobile, the Toyota Prius—while it didn’t invent the hybrid category—is certainly its icon. Further, now that Toyota has introduced an entire range of models around the Prius concept; it almost qualifies as its own brand. Exceptionally fuel-efficient, remarkably capacious, and delivering outstanding ride quality and comfort, if you’re looking for a value-laden ride in the hybrid space, the smallest member of the Prius family, the Toyota Prius c is a tough car to beat.
To motivate the model, Toyota’s engineers teamed a 1.5-liter inline four with two electric motor/generators. Combined, the powertrain transmits 99 horsepower to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission. Nickel hydride batteries store power to energize the electric motors.
And, while economy is certainly a primary consideration of the Toyota Prius c, creature comforts do come along for the ride. Automatic climate control, Bluetooth, and a full array of power accessories are standard, even on the base model. Up your ante a bit and you can also get navigation, keyless entry and start, as well as heated seats.
Further, if you find the Prius c a bit too small for your needs, there are three other Toyota Prius models for you to choose from.
Base Price: $19,890 — including $810 destination charge
MPG: City 53 / Highway 46
Autobytel's 10 Best Cars For The Money: Tesla Model S
The Silicon Valley upstart has pretty much set the automotive world on its ear. Completely shattering every preconception of what an electric car could—and could not be, the Tesla Model S is at once powerful, luxurious and prestigious; while delivering up to 265 miles of range on a single charge. What’s more, if BMW made an electric 5 Series, dynamically, the result would very closely resemble the Tesla Model S.
Those expecting the world’s first practical fully electric luxury sedan to be an amalgamation of compromises are going to be happily disappointed. The Tesla Model S is a fully formed, well thought out effort. What’s more, the vast majority of drivers will find it capable of far more performance potential than they will ever have a desire to exploit on the road.
On the comfort and convenience front, the Tesla offers an innovative touch screen control system for every secondary aspect of the Model S. The huge touchscreen iPad-like video monitor dominating the interior’s center stack allows the driver to interact with all of the Tesla’s comfort and convenience functions with either the tap, or a swipe, of a finger.
The Tesla’s rear mounted 310 kW electric motor in the rear-drive Model S generates 416 horsepower at 5,000 RPM and 443 ft-lbs of torque —the moment you depress the throttle. In other words, the motor’s full torque potential is available the moment you set the Tesla into motion.
If this is to be the future of motoring—please sign us up.
Base Price: $70,080 — including $990 destination charge
MPG: Yeah, uh, kinda irrelevant in this case...
Autobytel's 10 Best Cars For The Money: Lexus RX 350
There’s a reason the Lexus RX 350 is the best selling luxury crossover model in the U.S. OK, actually, there are several reasons. However, leading the list is certainly value. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, the Lexus RX 350 is easily the best buy in its segment. Other factors in the Lexus RX 350’s favor include a very comfortable ride, easy handling, a generously proportioned passenger compartment, and a broad array of luxury features.
Lexus built its reputation on quiet, smooth, well appointed automobiles and the RX 350 solidly lives up to the promise of its marque. Everything you expect to find in an automobile of this caliber is represented, including 18-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, keyless entry and start, power seats, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, and a nine-speaker audio system. Further, the palatial accommodations are upholstered in leather and trimmed with genuine wood.
Power comes from a 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6, capable of generating 248 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission routes the output of the engine to either the front wheels, or all four—if the all-wheel drive option is selected. Fold all of this goodness in with the legendary reliability of Toyota’s products and you’ll find a pretty compelling product proposition in the Lexus RX 350.
Base price $40,660 — including $910 destination charge
MPG: City 18 / Highway 25
Autobytel's 10 Best Cars For The Money: Nissan Xterra
If you’re solidly into off road adventures and you’re looking for a robust vehicle to get you and all of your gear out there and back in here, the Nissan Xterra is the last mid-size body on frame SUV you can buy brand new. Where all of the rugged Xterra’s competitors have gone to unit body construction, the X-Nissan remains resolutely old school in that regard.
But don’t let that fool you into thinking the Nissan Xterra is a stripped down dirt dauber. You can get it fit with a nice bit of kit, even at that reasonable price. Standard features include privacy glass, tubular roof rack rails, a full array of power accessories, A/C, and a split folding rear seat.
Power comes from a 4.0-liter V6, capable of cranking out 261 horsepower and 281 ft-lbs of torque. The base two-wheel drive Xterra gets a five-speed automatic transmission; four-wheel drive Xterras can be ordered with a six-speed manual.
Further, depending upon your budget and your intentions, the Xterra can be outfitted from mild to wild when it comes to dealing with mud, ruts, rocks and sand. Or, if you just like the looks of the Nissan, you can set your Xterra up with rear drive and nobody will ever know you’re a poseur.
Well, they’ll never know by looking at your ride anyway. :^D
Base Price: $23,800 — including $860 destination charge
MPG: City 16 / Highway 22
Autobytel's 10 Best Cars For The Money: Audi A6
Sleek, seductive, powerful and smooth, the Audi A6 is one of the most desirable mid-size luxury sedans on the market today. Bred for the unlimited-speed environment of Germany’s autobahn, the Audi A6 converts time to distance in an almost preternatural fashion. Plus, it looks so good when you walk up to it in a parking lot.
We’re talking sexy here folks — in a very big way.
The 2013 Audi A6 is offered with a choice of two engines; a 310-horsepower, 325-ft/lb 3.0-liter supercharged V6, or a 220-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, capable of generating 258 ft-lbs of torque. Front-drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission are standard with the 2.0-liter turbo. All-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission are available as options. The V6 comes with all-wheel drive and the eight-speed as standard equipment.
When you’re riding inside the Audi, you feel like you’re someplace special, because, well, you are. Hundreds of thousands of keyboard keys have tapped out millions of words of praise for the quality, fit, and finish of Audi’s interiors—and we just typed twenty-two more. Nobody does a car interior like Audi.
Audis are strong on tech too. In this case, highlights include a dedicated Internet connection, enabling the 2013 A6 to perform magical feats like incorporating Google maps into its navigation system. When you drive around in the A6, you’ll see the actual buildings on your route. And, if you need a Web hotspot, with the 2013 Audi A6, you’ll be driving one.
Base price: $43,995 — including $895 destination charge
MPG: City 25 / Highway 33
Autobytel's 10 Best Cars For The Money: Jaguar F-Type
One of the most exciting things to happen in the premium roadster segment in a number of years, the Jaguar F-Type is beautiful, fast, agile, and an outstanding value—relatively speaking, of course. In its category, no other car delivers the jaguar’s particular combination of attributes for less money. The Jaguar F-Type’s oh-so-shapely body houses nothing less than the heart and soul of a true sports car with a heritage going back to 1922.
Many are heralding the F-Type Jaguar as the spiritual successor to the legendary Jaguar E-Type. In all frankness, this is true on a number of fronts. As beautiful and exotic as that torpedo of a car was in its day, the E-Type represented a significant bargain when pedigree and performance potential were taken into consideration. This is equally true of the 2014 Jaguar F-TYPE.
Power comes from a choice of three engine configurations. The basic F-Type powertrain consists of a 3.0-liter supercharged V6, capable of conjuring 340 horsepower and 332 ft-lbs of torque to feed the rear wheels through the F-Type’s eight-speed automatic transmission.
The next rung up in the F-Type output hierarchy makes 380-horsepower and 339 ft-lbs of torque from a modified version of that same engine. If you’re looking to boil all the beans, you’re lusting after the 495-horsepower, 5.0-liter supercharged V8. If this is where you’re living, you might want to adjust your tire budget a tad—given its solid 460 ft-lbs of torque.
Base Price: $69,895 — including $895 destination charge
MPG: City 20 / Highway 28 (base 3.0-liter V6)
Autobytel's 10 Best Cars For The Money: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Very few phrases in the English language enjoy the resonance of this one; “the all-new Chevrolet Corvette”. Even people who don’t care about cars take notice when they hear a new Corvette is coming. Call it national pride, call it wishful dreaming, cal it whatever you will. The bottom line is this car has a very firm grasp upon the public’s imagination.
And for good reason—America’s only true mass-produced super sports car—the Chevrolet Corvette has been a paragon of performance, style, and sensuality almost from its very inception. Plus, nearly every succeeding model has grown faster and more powerful. Quintessentially American, yet competitive with any other car in its category— from anywhere else in the world—the Chevrolet Corvette is a true icon.
This newest one comes to market packing a newly refined interior package—significantly upping the Corvette’s game in this department. Further, overall refinement is up as well. Where previous versions of the Corvette had all the power you’d ever want, they really didn’t measure up on the sophistication scale. It was very easy to believe Harley Davidson motorcycles and Chevrolet Corvettes came from the same country.
That’s changed now, plus the looks, handling, and power are better than ever. The base powerplant of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is a 6.2-liter V8 blasting some 455 horsepower and 460 ft-lbs of torque to the rear wheels through a choice of a seven-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
At the Corvette’s price point, absolutely nothing else compares.
Base Price: $51,995 — including $995 destination charge
MPG: City 17 / Highway 29
Autobytel's 10 Best Cars For The Money: Ford Mustang GT
What can you say about a car with so much notoriety an entire category of cars was named after it? When the Ford Mustang debuted back in 1964, it was a revelation. Chief among its attributes were (just as today) sporty styling, great performance, and a nice selection of features—all at a reasonable price.
The pony car era began and ended with the Mustang—and now it has begun again, with the Mustang. The only car in the category to enjoy a completely uninterrupted run since its inception, the Ford Mustang is a true American legend. Offered in both coupe and convertible body styles, the Mustang has few rivals when it comes to the cachet to price equation.
Today’s Ford Mustang is a sleek looking automobile, combining styling cues from some of the most iconic models in the car’s history. The Mustang GT features a 420 horsepower V8 good for 390 ft-lbs of torque. One of the smoothest, most free winding V8 engines ever offered by an American auto manufacturer, the Ford Mustang’s V8 boasts a 6800 rpm redline, which it happily spins up to—with no resistance at all. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual, or an optional six-speed automatic.
When you’re talking bang for the buck in a high performance GT car, Ford’s Mustang GT is making a very strong statement—and backing it up too.
Base Price: $31,695 — including $795 destination charge
MPG: City 15 / Highway 26 (six-speed manual transmission)