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Best value cars? Hybrids.

Prius replaces Honda Fit as best value car, according to Consumer Reports. Although hybrids cost more, they're cheaper to operate. Prius costs owners 49 cents per mile, half the average for gasoline-only cars.

By Philip LeBeauCNBC Auto and Airline Industry Reporter / December 27, 2012

This February file photo shows a line of 2012 Prius sedans at a Toyota dealership in the south Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo. Consumer Reports has just named the Toyota Prius as its best value car – one of several hybrids that made the consumer magazine's list of best-value vehicles.

David Zalubowski/AP/File

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They may not be sexy or exciting to drive, but a new study by Consumer Reports said hybrids offer the best value for those buying a new vehicle.

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Consumer Reports analyzed 200 new cars, SUVs, and minivans to come up with it latest list of the best and worst value vehicles.

While gas-electric hybrids often cost substantially more than comparable models that are gasoline powered only, Consumer Reports said other factors make hybrids a great value.

In this year's report, the Toyota Prius has replaced the Honda Fit as the best value for car buyers. "It's extremely reliable, roomy, rides well, gets great fuel economy, and is inexpensive to operate," says Rik Paul, automotive editor at Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports estimates the Prius costs owners $.49 cents per mile — less than half the cost of operating the average car.

This is the first time in four years Consumer Reports did not rate the Honda Fit as the best new-car value.

Consumer Reports calculates value scores for vehicles using the five-year owner cost for each vehicle, the Consumer Reportsroad-test score, and the vehicle's predicted reliability. Depreciation is the biggest cost for new vehicle buyers.

Consumer Reports rated Toyota Motor and Lexus models as the best value for buyers in six of 10 categories. The magazine said Toyota and Lexus hybrids stand out as having excellent value. The Japanese automakers hybrids rated No. 1 in three of four categories.

(Read More: Cheaper Midsize Cars Rated Safer Than Luxury Models)

The latest recognition from Consumer Reports comes as Toyota is enjoying strong sales for its flagship hybrid line-up, the Prius. This year, Toyota has set a record for the Prius, selling more than 200,000 models in the U.S.

On Wednesday, Toyota agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a class action lawsuit related to investigations and complaints about unintended acceleration in 2010.

Consumer Reports Best and Worst Values:

Best Value Small Hatchbacks: Toyota Prius Four

Worst Value Small Hatchbacks: Ford Focus SE

Best Value Family Sedan: Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE

Worst Value Family Sedan: Chrysler 200 Limited (V6)

Best Value Large /Luxury SUV: Lexus RX 350

Worst Value Large /Luxury SUV: Nissan Armada Platinum

Best Value Minivan/Wagon: Toyota Prius V Three

Worst Value Minivan/Wagon: Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L

Best Value Small SUV: Honda CR-V EX

Worst Value Small SUV: Mini Cooper Countryman S

 

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