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The 2012 Best Cars for the Money

It seems like every car site on the web is devoting everything they have to the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. And while we’ve been covering Detroit (with its 27 new vehicle introductions in one day – wow!), we haven’t forgotten about the average, everyday car buyer. A lot of car show coverage is for automotive enthusiasts. Follow auto journalists on Twitter and you get a steady stream of gossip and commentary. Sure, the hot new models are exciting because they show us what we’ll be driving in a few years, but let’s be honest: Most auto show coverage just isn’t all that helpful to people who are trying to figure out what car to buy now.

That’s where the 2012 U.S. News Best Cars for the Money Awards come in.

We release the Best Car for the Money Awards each year to help you cut through the automotive clutter and find a great car that’s also a great value. That’s what makes our awards different from other automotive awards. If you look at some big-name car awards, they often select their winners without any regard to price or value. At the same time, other big-name car awards select their winners based solely on price or ownership costs, without actually considering if the winners are actually good cars.

The 2012 U.S. News Best Cars for the Money Awards bridge that gap. We take data from our rankings to find the best cars in a given class. Then we look at average price paid data and five-year total ownership costs from TrueCar.com to find the cars that are the best values. We combine the two data sets, and the award-winning cars are the ones that have the best combination of high scores in our rankings and long-term value. In short, we find great cars that are also great values.

But that’s not the only thing that makes our awards different. Most other automotive awards are voted on by a select group of journalists. They might all be editors at the same magazine or website, or they may all be members of the same automotive organization. With other automotive awards, there’s an element of sameness in who’s picking the winners. That’s not to say that leads to bad cars winning awards. After all, we use those awards in our scoring. Because the Best Cars for the Money Awards are based on data from our rankings, which in turn are based on every published, credible review of a given car, the winners are all cars that the automotive press as a whole thinks are cars you should buy. We don’t have a select group of editors in a back room picking cars. Our awards are based on the opinions of all of the best automotive experts in the business. In essence, there are hundreds of automotive writers and editors at work on these awards, and you get the benefit of their diverse experiences.

The Best Cars for the Money Award winners may not be the flashiest cars on the lot, and they probably won’t set a lot of hearts racing. What they are, however, are solid cars that almost anyone will enjoy owning. They’ll also provide their owners with uncommon value from the day they’re bought and long after. Make sure you check out the 2012 Best Car for the Money Awards to see the list of winners. You can also see photos of the winners. If you don’t like any of the winning cars, check out our full 2012 car rankings to find the car that’s right for you.

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