Karl Brauer, executive analyst at automotive research firm iSeeCars. An automotive journalist for more than 25 years, he is a jury member for both the North American Car and Truck of the Year and the World Car of the Year awards. iSeeCars.com
The 2024 model year features plenty of great vehicles but few great values. The typical new car now costs a staggering $49,000, and the average rate on a 36-month auto loan is a steep 7.76%. The used-car market offers few solutions—before the pandemic, half of one-to-five-year-old used cars sold for less than $20,000, but today only 10% do.
Even the 2024 vehicles that look like values on paper sometimes lose much of their appeal when consumers try to buy them. Examples: The Genesis GV70 luxury compact SUV and the Ford Maverick compact pickup seem like two of the best deals on the market based on their starting manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRPs) of around $46,000 and $23,400, respectively—but they’re actually selling for amounts far above those MSRPs. They’re impressive enough vehicles that they’re both still worth considering—but it’s hard to call a vehicle a value when it costs 20% more than its official price. And purchase price and quality aren’t the only factors that need to be considered—there’s also fuel economy, depreciation and reliability/future repair bills.
Bottom Line Personal asked car expert Karl Brauer to tell us about the best values for the 2024 model year…
Best compact car value: Toyota Corolla is the obvious choice if your top priorities are low cost of ownership and sparkling dependability. The 2024 Corolla is expected to have a starting MSRP of around $23,000…$24,000 for the hybrid version. Buyers should expect to pay slightly above those MSRPs, but that still comes to only around half of today’s average new-car price for one of the most dependable cars on the road. The Corolla has excellent safety scores and impressive fuel economy of around 32 mpg city/41 highway…50 mpg city/43 highway for the hybrid. Even better: Its well-deserved reputation for reliability helps it hold its value exceptionally well—five-year-old Corollas currently sell for around 80% of their original price, versus around 67% for the average vehicle.* Downside: The Corolla isn’t very powerful, fun to drive or roomy.
Alternative: Honda Civic is worth considering if you want Corolla-like value and dependability in a car that’s reasonably fun to drive. It’s reliability, fuel economy and depreciation are comparable to those of the Corolla, but it also has fairly engaging driving dynamics for an economy car. MSRP is expected to start at around $25,000, though buyers should expect to pay slightly more.
Best small SUV value: Hyundai Venue is expected to have a 2024 starting MSRP in the neighborhood of $21,000, which is extremely affordable by today’s standards. Venue buyers typically pay over MSRP but not dramatically so. Upkeep costs should be low. Not only does Hyundai have a solid reputation for reliability, it provides the industry’s best standard warranty—five years or 60,000 miles…10 years/100,000 miles on the powertrain…plus complementary maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles. The Venue gets a reasonable 29 mpg city/33 highway and provides SUV versatility and roominess. Downside: Similar to the Corolla, the Hyundai Venue is somewhat underpowered and unexciting to drive.
Best not-precisely-an-SUV value: Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid is a minivan in the era of SUVs…and a Chrysler in an era when that brand has virtually disappeared. That might explain why it’s one of the few desirable vehicles currently selling for around $1,000 below its starting MSRP of $52,495. What’s more, this plug-in hybrid qualifies for the $7,500 federal EV tax credit, effectively lowering its price to well below MSRP. This is a very nice vehicle—roomy, versatile, well-made, well-equipped and sufficiently powerful. A plug-in hybrid, it can travel up to 33 miles on electricity alone, then run on gas—its combined gas/electric efficiency is an impressive 82 “MPGe.”
Best fully electric SUV value—maybe: Chevy Equinox EV, which is all new for 2024, is an all-electric SUV that’s expected to have a modest starting MSRP of around $30,000. It is eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit, so theoretically buyers could get this SUV for a net cost of under $25,000 and never again need to buy a tank of gas. Downside: This seems like such a good deal that the 2024 Equinox EV might sell for well over its MSRP. It’s also worth noting that EVs historically have depreciated significantly faster than gas-powered vehicles. Still, this could be an excellent value if you live in an area where electricity rates are relatively low…you intend to keep the vehicle for many years, reducing the importance of depreciation…and you can get it for within a few thousand dollars of its MSRP. The 1LT base model provides around 250 miles of range per charge…while the 2LT provides around 300 miles of range. The warranty covers EV components for eight years/100,000 miles.
Best EV sedan value: Hyundai Ioniq 6 is an excellent all-around EV for a reasonable price. Its driving dynamics are engaging…its cabin is comfortable and extremely quiet…it comes with one of the best warranties in the industry…and its manufacturer is rapidly establishing itself as an EV leader. The Ioniq 6 provides up to 361 miles of range, depending on the battery pack selected, and with the right charging system, its batteries can be charged from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes. MSRPs are expected to start at around $43,000—around $47,000 with the larger battery pack—and unlike most desirable new cars, the Ioniq 6 has been selling for slightly under its MSRP. It isn’t eligible for the $7,500 federal EV tax credit, but there’s a potential workaround—if you lease it, the dealership might be able to obtain that tax credit and, possibly, pass the savings on to you.
Best luxury value: Lexus NX compact SUV offers both luxury and value. It’s reasonably priced by the standards of luxury brands—the base model NX 250 has a starting MSRP of $40,205, though average sales prices remain somewhat higher. Lexus depreciation and repair bills are consistently lower than those of most other luxury car brands…and its fuel economy of 26 mpg city/33 highway is good by luxury SUV standards. But: Lexus prioritizes comfort over speed. With just 203 horsepower, the NX 250 is somewhat pokey by luxury vehicle standards. For a few thousand dollars more, the higher-spec NX 350 delivers a zippier 275 horsepower and 22 city/29 highway.
Alternative: Genesis GV70 has a reasonable MSRP of around $46,000, modest depreciation, strong build quality and an excellent warranty. But it’s such a good value that lately it has been selling above MSRP. Still, it’s worth monitoring GV70 prices if you want a luxury SUV and are not in a rush to buy.
Best muscle car value: Ford Mustang.Redesigned for 2024, the Mustang is known for its substantial horsepower and aggressive styling—yet when you look closer, it also offers surprisingly good value. The Mustang’s starting MSRP is a modest $32,515, though sales prices currently are somewhat higher. Its fuel economy is a reasonable 22 mpg city/33 highway with the base 2.3-liter, 315-horsepower EcoBoost engine. And Mustangs depreciate slowly—five-year-old models still have 81% of their original value, according to recent research. Downside: Don’t expect much rear-seat legroom or cargo space.
Best high-end sports car value: Porsche 911. You might not believe that a Porsche is a value given its starting MSRP of $116,050 and that sales prices currently are well above MSRP. But if you can fit the 911’s price tag into your budget—and if obtaining a car that’s phenomenally fun to drive is among your priorities—the 911 just might be the most practical impractical car there is. Its depreciation rates are among the lowest for any vehicle—recently just 15% over the first five years of ownership—so this is a car you can buy, enjoy tremendously, then sell to recover most of the money you spent. Also: Upkeep isn’t as costly as with other high-end European sports cars—the 911 is very reliable compared with its peers, and it comes with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty. Downside: Fuel efficiency of 18 mpg city/24 highway isn’t great, and insurance rates are inevitably high for cars this expensive.
Much more affordable alternative: Subaru BRZ is worth considering if you like the idea of buying a low-depreciation, fun-to-drive car but can’t fit the 911 into your budget. Its recent five-year depreciation rate was a 911-like 18%—but its MSRP is expected to start in the neighborhood of $31,000. Sales prices are likely to be a few thousand dollars above MSRP, but that’s still only around one-quarter of the price of a 911.