As a new car shopper, you know you need to do careful research on the models that interest you. A good place to start is the Kelley Blue Book’s 2017 Best Buys, which the automotive research firm released Tuesday.
Analysts and test drivers at Kelley and its website kbb.com have vetted over 300 2017 model cars, SUVs, pickups and minivans. Along with driving evaluations, they also looked at a wide range of data, including prices and the five-year cost to own the vehicles. That five-year figure, especially important for your automotive budgeting, includes not only average transaction prices but also financing, fuel economy, depreciation, insurance and maintenance.
“Vehicles in all segments are becoming better-equipped with more safety and tech features every year, so the competition is stiff,” said Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and market analyst for Kelley.
For the second year in a row, the Honda Civic was named as the Overall Best Buy as well as the best small car. Read on for a closer look at the winners in each category.
Small car: Honda Civic
The Kelley Blue Book editors said they honored the Civic as the Overall Best Buy for the second year “because of the Civic’s unsurpassed all-around value.”
“It turns in very high marks in objective measures like resale value and cost to own, yet it is a supremely satisfying car to drive and live with every day,” they added.
With a wide range of versions including a sedan, coupe and hatchback (pictured above), the Civic list price ranges from $18,740 to$26,600. The base sedan’s gas mileage is rated at 32 MPG in city driving, 42 on the highway.
Midsize car: Honda Accord
In this category of family cars, Kelley editors praised the Accord for its dependability, resale value and overall low ownership cost. Other reviewers liked the Civic for its comfortable ride, roomy seats and stylish interior. They also cite the car as having among the best fuel economy in the class, with EPA ratings for 27 MPG in city driving, 36 on the highway. List price ranges from $22,355 to $34,830.
Luxury car: Audi A4
Totally redesigned this year, the A4 wins Kelley Blue Book’s praise for “an elevated mix of tastefully modern exterior and interior styling.” The A4 also has relatively low ownership costs compared with its luxury competition. Other reviewers note that the A4 has plenty of advanced technology, including Apple Car Play and Android Auto to synch with whichever phone you have.
A4 mileage is rated for 25 MPG city, 33 highway. List prices range from $37,300 up to $45,900 for the top version.
Pickup truck: Ford-150
The perennially best-selling F-150 is named a Kelley Best Buy for the third year in a row. It has taken the award ever since Ford redesigned the truck with an aluminum body for lighter weight and better gas mileage. Other reviewers like the standard turbocharged V-6 engine, which is rated for 18 MPG city, 24 highway.
Like all pickups, the F-150 comes with an array of choices of cabs, engines and transmissions. The list price starts at $26,450 and can climb all the way to near $70,000.
Small SUV: Kia Sportage
The Sportage is completely revamped for 2017, and Kelley analysts praise the new exterior design for the bold-looking front end and sleek rear. Other reviewers like the roomy interior, especially the spacious rear seats.
Like all Kia models, the Sportage has a power-train warranty that runs for 10 years or 100,000 miles. The Sportage’s fuel economy is rated at 22 MPG city, 30 highway. List price runs from $22,990 to $34,900.