Yonkers, New York – The Honda Fit remains the best overall value among used vehicles, according to Consumer Reports. The Fit was not only the best value among small cars, but was tops among some 200 different vehicles analyzed.

“A low price doesn’t necessarily make a car a good value,” said Rik Paul, automotive editor at Consumer Reports. “A cheap vehicle can wind up costing you more money over time, or can be disappointing down the road. We think real value is what you get for your money.”

Consumer Reports used performance, reliability and ownership cost data to calculate value scores for the vehicles, which ranged from small cars to luxury sedans. Scores were calculated based on the five-year owner cost for each vehicle, along with the magazine’s road test score and predicted reliability. The five-year owner cost includes depreciation, fuel costs, insurance premiums, interest on financing, maintenance and repairs, and sales tax, with depreciation being the largest owner-cost factor. A car has a better value rating if it performs well in road tests and reliability ratings, and if it costs less to own over time.

Overwhelmingly, the best values were from Japanese automakers, including most of the top models in each category. Of the 48 “best values” in the list, 34 are from Japanese brands, along with six European (mostly from Volkswagen), five from American ones (mostly Ford), and three from South Korean brands.

Overall, the report found that small cars and family sedans provide the best value. In the small-car category, most vehicles scored at least twice as high as the average model, and higher than any other model in Consumer Reports’ analysis. The magazine gave the best value score to the Honda Fit, and the worst to the Chevrolet Cruze 1LT, but said that the Cruze still ranked close to the overall average for value among all vehicles.

The four-cylinder Nissan Altima led the family sedan category, followed by the four-cylinder Kia Optima, Subaru Legacy, Ford Fusion Hybrid and four-cylinder Honda Accord. As with small cars, the lowest-rated sedans still have value scores that are slightly better than average.

Larger and luxury vehicles were among the worst values overall, with large or luxury sedans and SUVs usually scoring at only about 70 per cent of the average. The best large and midsize SUVs tended to earn about the same value score as the lowest-ranked family sedans. The top-scoring upscale sedan, the Lexus ES 350, did earn a value score almost 1.5 times the average, but its cost per mile was a relatively high US77 cents, with a five-year owner cost that was $11,000 more than the Altima, which dropped its value score slightly below the Nissan. The worst-value upscale and luxury sedan was the Jaguar XJL.

The report found that wagons and small SUVs tend to provide better value than larger SUVs or minivans. Among wagons, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI with manual transmission was the top scorer, offering almost 70 per cent more value than the average car, while the Mazda5 and Subaru Outback had scores almost 1.5 times that of average value.

The top small SUVs were even better values than wagons, with the base four-cylinder Toyota RAV4 taking the top spot, and the Jeep Liberty Sport the “worst value” spot. The RAV4 had a score 84 per cent better than average, followed by the Subaru Forester at 70 per cent. Midsize SUVs are less of a bargain because of their higher purchase price and fuel costs. Among luxury SUVs, only the BMW X3, Acura RDX, Acura MDX, Infiniti EX, and Lexus RX gasoline and hybrid models had above-average value scores. The best-value midsize SUV was the V6 Toyota Highlander Limited, while the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara had the worst value.

Minivans generally get better fuel economy than most midsize or large SUVs and have more space than all but the largest SUVs, and they cost less, but as a class, their sub-par reliability drags them down, the magazine said. The front-wheel drive Toyota Sienna, with the category’s highest reliability rating, is still only rated at “average” reliability.

The report found that hybrids can be relatively good values due to their combination of fuel economy, low depreciation and above-average reliability. As a class, hybrids have an overall value at least 1.5 times the average model, and on average cost about 65 cents per mile to drive over the first five years.

The full report is available in the magazine’s February issue.

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