Best deals on high-value cars

How to save money on great cars

Published: May 15, 2014 09:00 AM
Acura ILX

Photo: Honda

When shopping for a new car, everyone wants to get the most for their money. Sounds good, but how? Well, a great place to start is by choosing a car that meets Consumer Reports’ stringent requirements for reliability, safety, and road test score in order to be recommended. Roll in car pricing data that indicate local transaction prices will put you in a strong position, as is available via our model pages, but we think this research can go one step further.

For our latest new-car deals analysis, we threw a value assessment into the mix to create a list of the best deals on high-value cars.

Building on our traditional methods for maintaining a best new-car deals list and of looking at recommended cars with notable discounts, we factored our value scores. These scores are calculated from the overall road test score, predicted-reliability score, and the five-year owner costs. This cost data is available for all new cars on our model pages, and it includes depreciation, fuel, insurance premiums, interest on financing, sales tax, and maintenance and repairs for the first five years. Combined, the values scores rank the models by how they perform today and their owner costs over time.

In the following lists, we rank the models based on their overall value score, then highlight available incentives and negotiability.

Volkswagen Golf

Small cars

Volkswagen Golf 2.5L

$1,150 savings available (expires 6/30/14)

A nice ride, crisp handling, and solid feel make any Golf a good choice. Fitted with a 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine, the Golf returned a mediocre 24 mpg overall in our fuel economy test. The TDI diesel variant is also a standout in this category, and it delivers an impressive 38 mpg overall with a manual transmission. The Golf has responsive and quick steering and well-suppressed body lean, making the car feel agile and sporty in corners. The ride is supple and controlled. Interior quality is impressive and feels solid. The front seats are supportive, but the rear is cramped. Reliability of the turbodiesel has been average, and the five-cylinder has been above average. An impressive-looking redesign arrives soon.

Model name MSRP Invoice price Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
2014 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L $20,815 $20,015 6/30/2014 5%+
2014 Volkswagen Golf TDI $26,020 $25,012 6/30/2014 5%+
2014 Toyota Corolla S $20,510 $19,734 6/2/2014 5%+
2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI $25,545 $24,557 6/30/2014 5%+
2014 Acura ILX $27,795 $26,573 7/7/2014 15%+
2014 Hyundai Elantra SE $19,010 $18,582 6/2/2014 5%+
2014 Hyundai Elantra GT $20,560 $20,040 6/2/2014 10%+
2014 Kia Rio EX $17,600 $17,001 6/2/2014 5%+
2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT $17,890 $17,549 6/2/2014 5%+
Toyota Camry


Toyota Camry

$454 savings available (expires 6/2/14)

The popular Toyota Camry is a standout value with its thrifty four-cylinder engine, excellent reliability, and impressive road test score. The sedan is roomy, with spacious and comfortable front seats, and plenty of head, leg, and foot room. We recorded 27 mpg overall in our tests. Handling is well controlled, and the ride is subdued, soaking up bumps well. The savings are meager, but this is a great all around car with proven durability. The Camry has been going through changes, with a distinct 2014.5 model-year update bringing improved crash-test performance. The Camry receives a facelift for 2015.

Model name MSRP Invoice price Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
2014.5 Toyota Camry LE $23,680 $22,501 6/2/2014 5%+
2014 Mazda6 Sport $23,490 $22,635 6/2/2014 5%+
2014 Honda Accord LX $23,545 $21,828 5/12/2014 10%+
2014 Hyundai Sonata GLS $22,260 $21,565 6/2/2014 15%+
2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI $27,495 $26,402 6/30/2014 10%+
2014 Acura TSX $31,530 $30,030 7/7/2014 10%+
2014 Buick Verano $27,825 $27,287 6/2/2014 5%+
2014 Kia Optima LX $22,300 $21,585 6/2/2014 10%+
2014 Infiniti Q50 RWD $38,055 $35,755 5/31/2014 10%+
2014 Chevrolet Malibu 1LT $24,435 $23,845 6/2/2014 15%+
Toyota Venza
Photo: Toyota


Toyota Venza

$624 savings available (expires 6/2/14)

Based on the previous-generation Highlander, the Venza is a combination of a traditional wagon and an SUV. Assets include easy cabin access, a quiet interior, and a roomy rear seat. The rear hatch and large cargo floor aid cargo flexibility. The strong 268-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine gets 20 mpg overall with all-wheel drive. Handling is secure, but the steering is short on feedback and the ride is stiff. The styling impairs visibility. Unless you get the optional navigation system, the rear-view camera's image is relegated to a very small dashboard screen. Other SUVs may have larger rebates, but the Venza stands tall as the best value, with better-than-average reliability.

Model name MSRP Invoice price Incentive expiration date Potential savings below MSRP
2014 Toyota Venza LE $32,080 $30,258 6/2/2014 5%+
2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T $33,275 $31,914 6/2/2014 5%+
2014 Nissan Murano SL $37,940 $35,741 6/2/2014 10%+
2014 Acura RDX $36,815 $34,921 7/7/2014 5%+
2014 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS $32,525 $31,333 6/2/2014 5%+
2014 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL $35,815 $34,418 6/30/2014 5%+
2014 Chevrolet Traverse 1LT $36,885 $35,805 6/2/2014 10%+
2014 Buick Enclave $41,815 $40,588 6/2/2014 10%+
2014 GMC Acadia SLT1 $43,465 $42,189 6/2/2014 5%+
2014 Ford Flex SEL $34,745 $33,263 7/7/2014 10%+

Build & Buy Car Buying Service

Build & Buy Car Buying Service

Build & Buy Car Buying Service

In addition to research and reviews, Consumer Reports offers subscribers access to the Build & Buy Car Buying Service at no additional cost. Through this service, a nationwide network of more than 7,000 participating dealers provide upfront pricing information, and a certificate to receive guaranteed savings off MSRP (in most states). The pricing information and guaranteed savings include eligible incentives. Consumer Reports subscribers have saved an average of $2,919 off MSRP with the Build & Buy Car Buying Service.

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