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USAA Names Best Vehicles for Overall Value

Posted on 04 Apr 11

As the car-buying season swings into full gear, savvy shoppers have a new resource for auto research. USAA unveils its first "Best Value" vehicle list that names the top 2011 automobiles in 16 categories based on quantitative data used in USAA's proprietary rating system.

The 2011 Best Value list includes:

Large Sedan: Dodge Charger
Midsize Sedan: Hyundai Sonata
Small Sedan: Chevrolet Cruze
Large Luxury Sedan: Hyundai Genesis
Midsize Luxury Sedan: Audi A4
Large SUV: Chevrolet Traverse
Midsize SUV: Toyota FJ Cruiser
Small SUV: Kia Sportage

Large Luxury SUV: Audi Q7
Midsize Luxury SUV: Lexus RX 450h
Large Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid
Small Pickup: Suzuki Equator
Sports: Ford Mustang
Coupe: Scion tC
Wagon: Scion xB
Minivan: Kia Sedona

"We're making members' lives easier by taking the guesswork out of buying a new vehicle," said Steve Thompson, assistant vice president, USAA. "The 'Best Value' vehicles typically have better safety ratings, lower Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price and insurance costs, higher fuel economy and better overall reliability than other vehicles in the same category."

"Best Value" vehicles rose to the top in each of the 16 categories for offering the best financial value of all vehicles USAA evaluates as part of a broader vehicle rating system called USAA Preferred. There are more than 80 cars, trucks and minivans that are currently designated as USAA Preferred vehicles of which the "Best Value" vehicle list is a subset.

The USAA Preferred rating system involves three steps:

  • Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) Value — As the first step, and a key differentiator to USAA's proprietary scoring model, USAA weighs key attributes such as engine type and safety features to determine whether the vehicle's MSRP is a good value.
  • Depreciation & Ownership Costs — Next, USAA factors depreciation and added costs for fuel, auto insurance and extended warranty into the methodology. Extended warranty costs are an indicator of vehicle reliability and maintenance costs.
  • Safety — Once all of these criteria are quantified and weighted, the top 40% of vehicles are evaluated for safety — the final and most critical indicator of all USAA Preferred vehicles. Only vehicles that receive one of the top two safety ratings as reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are qualified to be a USAA Preferred vehicle. Vehicles on the IIHS Top Safety Picks list are given additional weight in the rating system.