Consumers buying a new car want to be reasonably assured their choosing the best value cars for the money. But how does anyone know if a particular car is a good value or not? In Forbes Most Value-Packed Cars list, the publication lays out the top 10 best value cars.

In compiling the list, Forbes used cost-of-ownership data from Vincentric and selected 114 models with an overall “excellent” rating. The resulting vehicles were then ranked by manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and ownership costs over five years (affected by depreciation, taxes and fees, cost of fuel, insurance, maintenance, interest, opportunity costs and repairs. For more details on how Forbes arrived at the list, see Forbes Most Value-Packed Cars.

Here are the best value cars on the Forbes list.

  1. 2011 Mazda2 Sport – In four-door hatchback model with five-speed manual transmission, low MSRP of $14,180 and $28,593 in five-year ownership costs, the

    2011 Mazda2 Sport subcompact tops the Forbes list of best value cars. Consumer Guide remarks: “Mazda’s new entry-level car succeeds as a refined, fun-to-drive hatchback, with a cabin ambience that belies its price.”

  2. 2011 Nissan Versa SL – This four-door sedan, equipped with six-speed automatic and starting MSRP of $16,900 carries a $30,259 cost-of-ownership over five years, putting the 2011 Nissan Versa SL in number two spot on the top 10 best value cars list. Car and Driver says, “Nissan’s small Versa offers one of the roomiest interiors in the basic-transport class.”
  3. 2011 Honda Civic EX – For years one of the top-selling value cars, the 2011 Honda Civic EX four-door hatchback with five-speed automatic transmission makes

    the number three spot on the Forbes list. With a $20,405 MSRP, Honda Civic EX costs $33,190 to own over five years. Consumer Guide says, “What no competitor matches is this compact’s…engineering, style, value, and reputation for reliability and strong resale value.”

  4. 2011 Chevrolet CruzeAll-new model for 2011 (replacing the Chevy Cobalt), the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a compact sedan with the space of a midsize. It’s also a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in part because of its 10 standard airbags. The four-door sedan with six-speed automatic transmission has a low $19,100 MSRP and $33,543 five-year ownership costs. Cars.com says, “The Cruze is an all-new compact sedan for the U.S…It boasts a larger interior than both its predecessor [Cobalt] and most competitors in its price class.”
  5. 2011 Toyota Tacoma LX-P – The only pickup on the list, the 2011 Toyota Tacoma LX-P is a double-cab two-wheel drive model with four-speed automatic. MSRP

    is $22,515 and five-year ownership costs are $34,449. Edmunds observes: “The 2011 Toyota Tacoma is a top choice in the midsize pickup segment thanks to its highly capable nature and wide array of configurations.”

  6. 2011 Honda Accord LX-P PZEV – Consumer Guide says, “Though Accord is not leaps and bounds ahead of competitors, its rewarding balance of performance, features, passenger accommodations and value pricing make it a Recommended choice in this class.” And, at $22,980 MSRP for the four-door sedan with five-speed automatic transmission and five-year ownership costs of $34,890, the 2011 Honda Accord LX-P PZEV is number six on the Forbes list.
  7. 2011 Hyundai Tucson GL – Consumers looking for a well-rounded compact crossover have an excellent choice in the 2011 Hyundai Tucson GL. MSRP of $19,745 and $34,949 five-year ownership costs cinch the deal for the four-door four-wheel drive with six-speed automatic transmission. Edmunds comments, “The 2011 Hyundai Tucson might not be as big as its main rivals, but it makes amends with a handsome cabin, ample list of features, sporty handling and low price. It’s a top pick for a small crossover.”
  8. 2011 Honda Element LX – Although Honda recently announced that 2011 is the last year for the Honda Element, the boxy compact SUV has been a hit with consumers since its 2003 introduction. The 2011 Honda Element LX four-door, two-wheel drive with five-speed automatic transmission starts at an MSRP of $20,825 and over five years costs $35,969 to own. Car and Driver says, “Element continues to offer spacious and a lot of cargo space.”
  9. 2011 Toyota PriusConsumer Reports says, in the Forbes article, that “diesels and hybrids have excellent resale values.” Take the 2011 Toyota Prius, for example. The four-door hybrid hatchback with continuously controlled variable automatic transmission has a $26,850 MSRP and accounts for $36,564 in ownership costs over five years. Edmunds comments, “There are plenty of choices for a green car this year. But when it comes to high fuel economy, plenty of versatility and a reasonable price, the 2011 Toyota Prius cannot be beat.”
  10. 10. 2011 Honda CR-VThe final entry, and the fourth Honda on the list, is the 2011 Honda CR-V. The four-door, two-wheel drive compact crossover with five-speed automatic transmission starts at $26,645 MSRP and costs $37,713 over the course of a five-year ownership period. Kelley Blue Book says, “As practical as a backpack, this benchmark crossover is an easy, stylish, one-size-fits-most car choice.”

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