World Dream Cars Update

The Best Cars for Your Money

>> Sunday, 20 April 2008

Best in a Small Package

Mini Cooper


Base price range: $19,000 to $26,000

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Typical five-year ownership cost: $27,000

It's rare in life that something cute and fun is also a smart buy.

The Mini Cooper is such a thing.

It boasts cool design, easy handling, the ability to park in even the tiniest spaces and the lowest maintenance cost in its class (maintenance is covered for three years or 36,000 miles).

Maybe that's why its resale value is nothing short of phenomenal: 77% after five years.

Best Fuel Miser

Toyota Prius


Base price range: $21,000 to $23,000

Typical five-year ownership cost: $24,000

Okay, it's not the most gorgeous car on the road. But with an electric motor helping out its gas-powered engine, this hybrid boasts the absolute best fuel economy of any car, period (an EPA-estimated 46 miles per gallon overall, twice that of most cars).

The Prius retains 71% of its value over five years. And though it may look small, it has about as much interior space as a Toyota Camry.

Best for Small Families

Toyota Avalon


Base price range: $27,000 to $36,000

Typical five-year ownership cost: $38,000

If you're after a classic sedan, the Avalon's elegant interior, comfortable ride and above-average fuel economy (28 miles per gallon on the highway) are reason enough to give it a serious look.

The fact that it has the best resale value of any large sedan makes it even more attractive. After five years this car is still worth 54% of its original sticker price.

Best for Big Families

Chevrolet Tahoe


Base price range: $31,000 to $43,000

Typical five-year ownership cost: $51,000

Above-average retained value and good fuel economy for its considerable size make this the best buy among the biggest SUVs.

At 20 mpg on the highway, it drinks more like a mid-size utility. And you'd be surprised just how pleasant it can be to drive something this large: The Tahoe's well-controlled ride and responsive steering almost make you forget there's a real truck underneath.

Best for a Midlife Crisis

Chevrolet Corvette


Base price range: $47,000 to $50,000

Typical five-year ownership cost: $50,000

Sports-car snobs used to look down on the Corvette, but that makes no sense anymore. Best-in-class resale value? Check.

Best-in-class insurance rates? Check again.

Above-average fuel economy? You bet: 26 mpg on the highway.

Then there's the performance and comfort of a Porsche 911 for less than two-thirds the overall cost. Who's looking smart now?

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