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Left in the wake of Hyundai’s debunked fuel economy claims, brands that vowed to catch up are unexpectedly well-positioned.
As gas mileage lurches to the forefront of many driver’s minds, car buyers are considering which product will be the least thirsty. It’s an issue that easily put Hyundai atop many lists until recently when the EPA found Hyundai to have exaggerated its mileage claims. Of course, that revelation is expected to hurt Hyundai’s sales, but a recent report fro Bloomberg suggests it will also be particularly good for Honda, which was formerly the U.S. fuel economy leader.
Hyundai’s efficiency claims were a face-full of cold water for several automakers not the least of which was Honda. It, along with many others including Ford, Nissan and Toyota, worked vigorously to improve fuel consumption figures. Much like a student pouring over a term paper without knowing the deadline has been pushed back, those brands find themselves ahead of Hyundai.
“We’ve been conservative in our EPA estimates,” said Mike Accavitti, Honda’s head of U.S. marketing, to Bloomberg. “We triple check everything so customers are satisfied with the mileage they get in the real world.”
In 2012, Honda’s generally-popular civic took a beating with negative reviews. Quick to turn around, the brand will already offer a refreshed version for 2013 which could be timed perfectly to steal business away from Hyundai and Kia as customers shaken trust in the brand shoos value-minded buyers in other directions.
Figuring out a vehicle’s total cost of ownership before setting out to make the purchase can be very difficult. Luckily for us, Kelley Blue Book has conducted a cost of ownership study factoring insurance, maintenance, repairs and fuel expenses. According to KBB’s findings, pinchpenny shoppers stand to gain the biggest bang for their buck by choosing Kia automobiles.
Kelley Blue Book director of vehicle valuation Juan Flores said, “Car shoppers should take the time to compare vehicles on their consideration lists to fully understand the financial implications involved with cost of ownership. While a vehicle might be less expensive up front, the cost of fuel for that model, insurance, and other expenditures could make it the less appealing choice for their wallet in the long run.”
According to the researchers at KBB, new Kia Soul, Optima, and Sportage models earned top marks thanks to its great fuel economy, its dramatic improvement in quality, and its rising trade-in values.
Other automakers that stacked up well in the study include Audi, for its low depreciation as well as its respectable mileage for its segment. Audi vehicles that carry high values include the Audi A3, A4, and Q5. Despite an expensive price tag, the Audi A5 premium coupe also emerged a winner with five-year ownership costs at $56,908, a $5,000 advantage over other vehicles of its class.
Segment wise, the Nissan Versa came out on top in the highly contested subcompact segment. At a 5-year ownership projection of $29,252, it is the lowest of any model in the study. The compact crossover Nissan Juke wins for its class at $36,627. In the midsize car segment, the Hyundai Sonata’s estimated 5-year ownership costs were $38,476. The most expensive vehicle to win its segment is the Lexus LS460 for the high-end luxury car segment. The five-year cost of an LS460 is $90,234, attributed to its low up-front costs, repair costs, minimal depreciation and low insurance.
In the hybrid and electric segment, Honda Insight won the hybrid category at $32,884 over five years. The real surprise in the segment is the Chevrolet Volt plug-in besting the Nissan Leaf. Although the Volt carries a $40,000 price tag, $7,500 federal credit and minimal energy or maintenance expenditures as well as its likely trade-in value makes it a smart buy.
Kelley Blue Book explained that many manufacturers make hybrids and its inherent fuel economy advantages a selling point to frugal minded car buyers. However, KBB’s study revealed that the best-in-category Honda Insight Hybrid is still more than $1,000 more expensive than the Nissan Versa and Kia Soul over a 5-year period.