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Price and Fuel Economy: Which Car Brand Offers the Most Value?

When you're looking to buy a new car online, what the two most important factors you look for? Price is probably your biggest concern, but what about fuel economy? Given the unkown nature of gas prices, you're probably also concerned about how many miles to the gallon different vehicles are able to achieve.


Below, we'll take a look at which major brand offers the best overall prices and fuel economy throughout their entire lineup. (To make things simple, we'll only use five major brands: Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda.)


Price of Vehicles in Different Segments


2015 Nissan Versa Note


Taking a side-by-side look at each brand, it's hard to tell which brand has the best prices overall. Some have higher starting prices for certain types of vehicles, but they all seem to balance each other out.


Entry-level vehicles, such as subcompact and compact sedans, typically range between $12,000-$17,000 starting prices. Brands like Chevy and Nissan offer the lowest-end prices on their two smallest subcompacts: the Spark at $12,270 and the Versa at $11,990. 


From there, however, all brands are closely competitive in each segment. Chevy does ultimately win for lowest price sedan, with the 2015 Cruze at $16,170; however, this is only slightly lower than Ford, Toyota, and Nissan's compact starting prices. Only Honda's Civic stands out as the highest priced, starting at $18,490.


Moving up to mid-size sedans, prices stay competitive. This time, Honda's 2015 Accord is priced closer to its competitors at $22,105. In fact, of the five major brands the Accord is the most affordable. Not by much, though.


The Chevy Malibu starts at $22,465, which is only slightly less expensive when compared to the 2015 Ford Fusion and 2015 Nissan Altima, both of which start at $22,500. Toyota's best-selling Camry actually comes out as the most expensive at $22,970. It's good to be the king, I guess!


Moving up to crossover SUVs, Nissan wins the lowest price competition, with its $20,500 2015 Rouge Select. While just the older Rouge disguised as a new model, it does allow Nissan  to offer a standard size crossover for subcompact pricing. 


Chevy's 2015 Equniox is able to pick up the next lowest price in the crossover segment, starting at just $22,600. While not monstrously more affordable than its competition, all other automakers price their flagship crossovers $23,000 and up. 


When upgrading to a mid-size SUV, you can expect to pay around $30,000 across most brands. On paper, the 2015 Toyota Highlander comes out with the win, starting at $29,765. It's only a narrow victory, though. Nissan's 2015 Pathfinder is only $15 more, with a $29,780 starting price. In a turnaround from sedan prices, Ford and Chevy's mid-size SUVs are the most expensive of the group: 2015 Ford Explorer at $30,700 and 2015 Chevy Traverse at $30,995.


There's not much going on in the minivan segment. Ford and Chevy have long abandoned their minivan models, leaving only Toyota, Nissan, and Honda for our comparison. Of the three, Nissan's 2015 Quest is the most affordable at $26,530. The 2015 Toyota Sienna and 2015 Honda Odyssey are closest matched at $28,700 and $28,975 respectively. 


Overall, Nissan has some of the lowest prices across their entire lineup when compared to others. Honda has a great lineup of vehicles, but unfortunately comes in with the highest prices. Toyota, Ford, and Chevy are fairly balanced in terms of pricing, as none of the three really stand out as the highest or lowest. 


Price Winner: Nissan 

Fuel Economy Comparisons


2016 Honda CR-V


With gas prices constantly fluctuated, buyers today want the best fuel economy from every type of vehicle out there. Doesn't matter if it's a small subcompact or a giant SUV. In this section, we'll go through each brand's lineup to see which does the best job of achieving consistently high fuel economy.


Honda starts off hot with its subcompact 2015 Fit, which beats all other comparable vehicles with 33 city mpg and 41 highway mpg. The 2015 Nissan Versa Note does come close, coming in at 31 city mpg and 40 highway mpg. Chevy's 2015 Sonic is able to carry more gas than any other subcompact, but its low 25 city mpg and 35 highway mpg makes it hard to compete with the Fit and Versa Note. 


Compact cars give us our first tie in the fuel economy category: the 2015 Nissan Sentra and the 2015 Honda Civic at 30 city mpg/39 highway mpg. Next up, the 2015 Ford Focus is able to achieve 26 city mpg and 38 highway mpg, which is only slightly better than the 2015 Corolla's 27 city mpg and 36 highway mpg. Chevy once again comes in last place in the compact segment, only offering 22 city mpg and 35 highway mpg for its 2015 Cruze sedan.


Nissan has been close to winning a segment, but has yet to be able to take the win away from Honda. Well, they are able to do just that in the mid-size sedan category, with the 2015 Altima achieving 27 city mpg and 38 highway mpg. Honda does come in second, however, with 27 city mpg and 36 highway mpg from the 2015 Accord. The Camry and Malibu are similarly matched at 25 city/35 highway and 25 city/36 highway respectively, but the Ford Fusion is the clear loser with only 22 city mpg and 34 highway mpg. 


The crossover SUV segment is becoming more and more competitive, but Honda's CR-V is the clear champion of fuel economy with 27 city mpg and 34 highway mpg.  Its closest competition is the 2015 Toyota RAV4 with 24 city mpg and 31 highway mpg, which will also be available as a hybrid in 2016. The Ford Escape and Chevy Equinox come in at the middle of the pack this time around, with 22 city/32 highway and 22 city/31 highway respectively. Nissan's aging  2015 Rogue Select may be affordable, but its 23 city mpg and 28 highway mpg make it hard to compete.


One of the reasons minivans have lost a lot of sales is their lack of competitive fuel economy with SUVs. Of the three minivans featured, we've got a tie between the 2015 Honda Odyssey and the 2015 Nissan Quest. The Odyssey gets a little more efficient on longer trips at 19 city/28 highway mpg, while the Quest performs better in city driving with 20 city/27 highway mpg. Dead last in this segment is the 2015 Toyota Sienna with 18 city mpg and 25 highway mpg. 


Fuel Economy Winner: Honda