15 great cars that get overlooked

They may not be the sexiest rides on the street, but for value, reliability, and fun, these cars quietly blow the doors off the competition.

They've got great personalities
They've got great personalities
They don't get featured on the covers of car magazines or feted in Super Bowl commercials. At dealer lots, they get parked in the back while newer, glitzier models are showcased in the showroom. They won't get you many oohs and ahs from the car pool kids, or a thumbs-up from other drivers. Face it -- these are the wallflowers of the auto world.

But when it comes to value, you can't beat these cars. After you consider purchase price, operating costs (including depreciation and insurance), and resale value -- and then multiply by the fun-to-drive factor -- they're all aces.

A few generalizations: 1.) Asian makes beat domestic. Consumer Reports ranked 37 Asian cars among the best values in their class vs. just five American models -- two of them full-size pickups. 2.) Bigger is not better. Small and midsize cars and SUVs are much more likely to represent a good value than large and luxury sedans and SUVs because of lower purchase price and better mileage. 3.) Second-tier brands can outscore better-known ones. Kia, Subaru, Mazda, and Volkswagen combined placed more than twice as many cars on our list as General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler together.

This list, in no particular order, is based on analysis by Consumer Reports, and others including Edmunds.com, and leavened by my own personal experience. Herewith, some low-profile vehicles that score high in value:


By Alex Taylor III, senior editor-at-large @FortuneMagazine - Last updated February 02 2012: 11:41 AM ET
Join the Conversation
New car bonanza for the new year

Attention new car shoppers! An avalanche of models that have been reengineered and redesigned is headed your way in what may be the most intense period of new model launches ever.

Find Your Next Car

Get the latest car news:

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.