Consumer confidence may be rising, but it still makes sense to watch every penny – especially with big purchases, like a new car. Although auto sales perked up in 2011, value is still the name of the game. U.S. News Best Cars spent months analyzing thousands of professional reviews, as well as reliability and safety data, to create the 2012 Best Cars for the Money Awards. Here are the 12 most highly praised low-cost, low-maintenance models for 2012:
More than 20 precent of 2014 vehicle models now have a front crash prevention system with automatic-braking, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Automakers such as GM have been improving safety features on its vehicles.
Minicars may get better gas mileage than their larger counterparts, but some models appear to have difficulty passing a special Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash test.
The Tesla Model S attained the highest-ever safety rating from the NHTSA. It's an impressive achievement, but we won't know whether the Tesla Model S is actually the safest car on the road until its closest competitors are tested as well.
Eleven of 13 popular small SUVs tested receive marginal or poor ratings for a front-end collision. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which conducted the tests, calls the results 'troubling.'
Cheaper midsize cars do a better job in deadly head-on collisions than many luxury and near luxury midsize cars, according to crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Even with the vast improvements in auto safety over the past few decades, smaller cars still lead to significantly more insurance payouts than their larger counterparts.