Buying groceries or investing in a new car — you want a good deal. Here are seven cars that will help you avoid buyer’s remorse. They’re drawn from a variety of size and price classes, from subcompact through midsize to sporty and ultra-luxury. Strong value is what they have in common. Our criteria includes features-per-dollar and overall performance, plus safety ratings, reliability, and resale value. These are model-year 2014 cars unless noted.
Least expensive first, here are our 7 cars that give you the most for your money. (Base prices include the manufacturer’s destination fee; these average about $900.)
Kia Soul – Ham-Star
Base-price range: $15,695 – $21,095
Fuel-economy rating (EPA city/highway combined): 26 mpg – 27 mpg
Safety rating (federal five-star scale): 5 stars overall
A hip design, plenty of safety and technology features, aggressive pricing, and clever marketing make the Soul a hit for its South Korean automaker. This boxy, front-wheel-drive subcompact four-door hatchback gets a makeover for model-year 2014. The styling is updated, the suspension retuned, and in-car connectivity is improved. With more high-strength steel in its body structure, the 2014 Soul is lighter, yet stronger than before. That contributes to its top government safety rating and quieter cabin. Two four-cylinder engines are offered; neither is a powerhouse. And ride and handling are nothing special. But various trim levels are available with such class-above features as a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and pushbutton engine start. Kia doesn’t quite match the reputation for reliability and resale value enjoyed by Honda, Subaru, or Toyota. But Soul is one of the top-rated Kias, and the company’s 5-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty help inspire confidence.