Even with the economy and vehicle sales both improving, consumers continue to make value an important part of the ol’ purchase decision. But as shoppers soon find out, “value” can mean different things to different people, and unlike horsepower or miles per gallon, it’s not so easy to determine which vehicles offer the most. On the other hand, the experts at Vincentric—a respected provider of data and analysis to the auto industry—have been giving it their best shot for eight years now and recently released their latest findings in the 2012 Best Value in America study: Toyota earned the title of the top passenger-car brand, Chevrolet was the highest-value truck brand and Volvo was crowned the No. 1 luxury brand. (Note: Chevy’s win was for its pickup trucks; crossovers and SUVs are considered “cars” for Vincentric’s purposes.)
As expected, the study also ranked individual vehicles in nearly 40 different market niches, and while the full list of winners can be found at the end of this article, let’s just concentrate on some of the core segments here.
The Best Value in America in the mid-size sedan segment—the highest-volume car segment in the country—was the Toyota Camry, one of nine Toyota brand vehicles to lead its category. That the Camry overtook last year’s Best Value, the Honda Accord, is no real surprise given that the former was redesigned for the 2012 model year. But what’s particularly notable is that Toyota specifically adjusted pricing on the Camry lineup this year to lower the cost on the most popular trim level—i.e., to make it a better value. Looking to Vincentric’s data, the Camry also performed well in terms of fuel, maintenance and insurance costs.