Consumer Reports' Top Five Economical Cars

Consumer Reports' look at best 2009 cars puts Detroit at "back of the class."

ByABC News
February 26, 2009, 12:38 PM

Feb. 26, 2009— -- Consumer Reports has picked the Toyota Prius Touring as its best overall value of 300 U.S. and foreign cars reviewed. Not a single U.S. brand was among the 41 vehicles on the group's Best Value list this year.

In its 2009 annual auto issue, the consumer magazine said the Prius has a five-year ownership cost of $26,250 and rated relatively high on its road test.

The Prius doesn't have the least expensive sticker price in its class, but its excellent fuel economy of 42 mpg overall and solid resale value help give it a low overall owner cost.

"A low price doesn't necessarily make a car a good value," Rik Paul, automotive editor at Consumer Reports said in a statement. "At a time when people need to make every dollar count, our best value list will help consumers understand the difference."

Rounding out the top five were the Mini Cooper, Volkswagen Rabbit, Honda Civic EX and the Honda Fit.

"All three U.S. automakers continued to be at the back of the class," the magazine said. Although GM and Ford improved their overall scores, Chrysler "disappointed the most." The company's "poor-performing products and sinking reliability results have kept all Chyrsler, Dodge and Jeep-badged vehicles off CR's recommended list."

The U.S. automakers have struggled amid falling sales, causing both GM and Chysler to seek a government bailout. GM said today it lost $9.6 billion in its latest quarter.

One GM vehicle, the Chevrolet Avalanche pickup, was among the magazine's top picks, though not on the Best Value list. The Volvo C30 (Volvo is owned by Ford) did make the Best Value list.

In its auto issue, Consumer Reports highlights the best new-car value vehicles in nine vehicle categories: small cars, family cars, upscale cars, hatchbacks/wagons, sporty cars, minivans, small SUVs, midsized SUVs and pickup trucks.

Here are some of the highlights:

Best Value Small Cars: Honda Civic EX, Honda Fit (base), Hyundai Elantra SE, Toyota Corolla LE and the Honda Civic Hybrid

Best Value Family Cars: Toyota Prius Touring, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Toyota Prius (base), Hyundai Sonata (4-cyl.) and the Honda Accord (4-cyl.)

Best Value Hatchbacks/Wagons: Volkswagen Rabbit, Mazda3 hatchback, Scion xB, Subaru Impreza Outback Sport and the Toyota Matrix

Best Value Small SUVs: Toyota RAV4 (4-cyl.), Toyota RAV4 (V6), Honda CR-V,Mitsubishi Outlander (4-cyl.) and the Nissan Rogue

Best Value Midsized SUVs: Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Nissan Murano, and the Honda Pilot

The magazine also breaks down its top picks for cars in ten major categories.

This year, the Toyota Highlander dethroned the Hyundai Santa Fe in the midsized SUVs category, while the improved reliability of the new Chevrolet Avalanche helped it to replace the Chevrolet Silverado as top pickup.