Every time an actual decline in the average new vehicle transaction price (ATP) happens month-to-month or year-over-year, pundits are quick to declare an end to the current era of lofty pricing. However, although ATPs are down 2.4% from the beginning of 2023, but the average new car in America will cost you $48,451, up $42 from last year and 0.6% from July, according to Kelley Blue Book.
Supply chain disruptions and heavy demand pushed up prices during the pandemic, but a number of other factors are keeping ATPs high. Chief among these is a change in production trends for many auto manufacturers, who are decreasing their lower-priced models from their range to concentrate on more profitable ones.
“The end result is that while all vehicles have become a lot more efficient, there has been a rapid shift away from producing sedans and wagons to producing more SUVs and pickups,” says Chris Harto, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports.
Thankfully, despite discontinued models and high prices, there are lots of small and midsized cars and SUVs on the market that are worth their cost. As CNN reports, when adjusted for inflation the average price for base models has actually decreased over the past two decades compared to the average sticker price with options, according to Edmunds.com data.
“Sharp shoppers know that if you look beyond the flashiest new models, there is still lots of value in today’s car market. Cars like the Toyota Corolla and Subaru Forester are excellent values and are actually cheaper today than they were 20 years ago when you adjust their prices for inflation,” says Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ auto test program.
7 Cars That Are Worth Their Cost
Improved safety standards over the years have kept all cars on the road longer, but if you’re weighing cost and value, fuel efficient small and midsize cars and small SUVs, including hybrid vehicles, tend to hold their value the best.
Here are 7 cars that are worth their cost despite today’s inflated prices. Just don’t go crazy with upgrades.
- Ford Maverick Hybrid: starting at $24,995
Per Car and Driver, the Maverick’s only competition is the Hyundai Santa Cruz, but the latter loses points because of its smaller truck bed and higher price.
- Honda Accord: starting at $27,895
“The king of midsize sedans,,” according to Kelley Blue Book. A superb balance of comfort, practicality and performance make the Accord a favorite in the midsize sedan segment.
- Toyota Camry Hybrid: starting at $28,855
The Camry has been a huge seller since it was introduced stateside in 1983. The hybrid version is roomier than other sedans in its class and Toyota has an excellent record for safety, resale values and reliability.
- Kia Telluride: starting at $37,355
“It boasts a quiet and upscale cabin, impressive tech, extensive standard features, adult-friendly third-row seating, and a satisfying driving experience” per Edmunds.
- Subaru Forester: starting at $26,895
Subaru makes good cars that last. As Forbes notes, 11.7% of original Forester owners keep them for 15 years or longer, which is 1.7 times the industry average.
- Tesla Model 3: starting at $40,240
Model 3s have dropped in price numerous times this year, and with it qualifying for a full $7,500 tax credit until Dec. 31, 2023, the cheapest Tesla a relative bargain for a powerful luxury sport sedan.
- Nissan Leaf: starting at $28,140
Today’s popular EVs have better battery tech, range and features, but thanks to its low starting price, the Nissan Leaf is one of the most accessible entry points to electric car ownership, competing competently against other affordable EVs including the Kia Niro EV, Mini Cooper SE, and Chevrolet Equinox EV.
3 Cars that Aren’t Worth Their Cost
The following aren’t “avoid at all costs” by any means, but they won’t give you the value or unique driving experience of its competitors.
- Ford Explorer: starting at $38,355
As Consumer Reports says, “The original Explorer from 1991 helped pioneer an entire genre and defined midsized SUVs for decades. But the performance of the latest version can’t match that of the Kia Telluride.” The Explorer’s price can get into luxury SUV area territory on higher trim levels.
- Lincoln Corsair: starting at $40,125
The luxury car based on the Ford Escape, the Corsair gives a driver a smooth and quiet ride, but pales in comparison to its competitors like the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, and the Porsche Macan.
- Chevrolet Equinox: starting at $26,600
The main problem with the Chevy Equinox is competition. Existing in one of the auto industry’s most crowded segments, it doesn’t stand out from the crowd, which includes compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. “The Equinox performs well enough, just not as well as most of the alternatives, says Kelley Blue Book.
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