06-12-2014 12:20 PM
Since 2011, USAA has compiled a list of the year’s highest value cars and SUVs in 16 different categories. The vehicles are selected using USAA’s own scoring model based on safety, reliability and price.
Ahead of the announcement of the 2014 Best Value Vehicles, we asked USAA employees to tell us how their cars — all featured on USAA’s Best Value Vehicles lists in 2011, 2012 and 2013 — have fared the test of time and real-life driving conditions to win a place in their hearts.
Here’s what USAA employees told us about the past winners they drive — and love.
Category: Midsize Sedan
Year won: 2011
What is the standout feature of the Sonata for Jeremy May, director of life insurance pricing at USAA? Fuel economy. “I regularly drive over 400 miles on one tank of gas and get close to 30 miles per gallon on a regular basis,” he says. May also appreciates the surprising pep of its turbocharged V-4 engine and the finer details of the interior. “I really like the touch-screen controls for just about everything, including Bluetooth connection to my phone.” He usually starts itching for a new car every few years, but when he recently got behind the wheel of a rental sedan, he realized he’s in no rush to part with his Sonata. “I decided to hold on to a good thing,” he says.
Category: Small SUV
Year won: 2012
Ask Mary Irene Sanchez, a senior administrator at USAA, about her 2-year-old, red Kia Sportage, and she’ll tell you without hesitation that it’s the best vehicle she has ever had the pleasure to drive. But on the day she bought it, she wasn’t even SUV shopping. She was happy with the Ford Explorer she owned at the time and had only come to the Kia dealership because her son was getting his car serviced there. A salesman approached her and showed her the Sportage. It was love at first sight — with the vehicle, that is, because of its comfort, styling and looks. Her two favorite features: “It has saved me gas, and I’m able to park it in small places.” Plus, because Sanchez bought the Sportage on that day, her son received a $100 referral discount for the work on his car.
Category: Midsize SUV
Year won: 2012
The odometer reads roughly 21,000 miles on Sheila Hixon’s 2-year-old Dodge Journey, but she plans on adding tens of thousands more. “I still love it!” she says. “It’s a sporty little thing. It really has get-up-and-go when I need it most.” Hixon, a USAA rotational instructor, was first drawn to this midsize SUV by its V-6 engine and seven-passenger seating — and because she trusts the Dodge brand. Since owning the Journey, she has also come to trust its automatic traction control, which engages in slippery conditions, and the visibility and safety that its size gives her — and not just while driving. “It’s the best car to hang out in at the drive-in theater with the family.”
Year won: 2012
When Susan Liley’s kids grew up and flew the coop, she didn’t need her big family truck anymore. So in 2012, she decided to treat herself to a Ford Mustang. “I love the body style and interior,” she says. It’s also fun to drive, of course — which is especially important considering her 70-mile-a-day commute to work at USAA as a credit card and deposit change management advisor. “I feel safe in it and know it has the power to get me up and around on the road.” She’s so hooked on the Mustang that when it’s eventually time to trade in this one, she plans to get another.
Category: Midsize Luxury Sedan
Year won: 2011, 2013
An affordable lease offer is originally what attracted Barb Coons to the 2011 Audi A4 when she was in the market for a sporty, four-door sedan. What sealed the deal for her, though, was the fuel efficiency and the way it clings to the road. After 26,000 miles on the road with it, and now that her lease is nearing its end, she’s able to better evaluate the A4’s strengths and flaws. Its strengths are the handling and sporty looks, says Coons, a P&C senior change management advisor at USAA. Its flaws are a vibration sound she notices in the dashboard and some chipping paint on the front. Overall, she gives it a positive review. “I’ve enjoyed this car for the last three-plus years. I love the size,” she says. “I’d probably buy another one if it still fit my needs.”
USAA Preferred Best Value vehicles are typically those vehicles ranked highest in each vehicle category and obtain either the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ crash test ratings from IIHS and represent vehicles which are determined to be the best financial value using a USAA-developed proprietary statistical model. The model relates MSRP to vehicle features (engine type, drive train, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, number of airbags, transmission, body additions, curb weight, horsepower-to-curb weight, height and vehicle category), fuel economy, insurance cost, additional warranty cost, depreciation, and IIHS Top Safety Pick to determine the value. In providing this analysis, USAA does not consider factors other than those disclosed.
USAA Car Buying Service provided by TrueCar, Inc.
The trademarks, logos and names of other companies, products and services are the property of their respective owners.
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.