Awards Season

These are the U.S. News & World Report 2020 Best Cars for the Money

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is one of the winners of the U.S. News & World Report 2020 Best Cars for the Money awards.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

It isn't just about which cars are good. For many buyers, it's about reaching the perfect blend of good, fuel efficient, and bang for your buck. The annual U.S. News & World Report Best Cars for the Money awards rates many of those factors, and more.

"Cars with low price tags aren't always good values," said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars. "A cheap car can have high ownership costs, making it more expensive in the long run. Plus, a lot of inexpensive cars don't give you a great ownership experience; it's not a good deal if it's not a good car. Every Best Car for the Money winner is a pleasure to own and a good value overall."

Within each class, the award winner has the best combination of quality and value. U.S. News & World Report measured quality using a car's overall score in the U.S. News Best Car Rankings. The overall score is based on safety and reliability data, as well as the collective opinion of the automotive press on a given model's performance and interior and how strongly each reviewer recommends the car. They measured value by looking at each model's real-time transaction prices, provided by TrueCar, and five-year total cost of ownership data, calculated by Vincentric.

Covering 11 categories, the awards highlight the cars, SUVs ,and minivans that give drivers the best combination of quality and value in their respective classes.

Here are the winners.

Best 2-Row SUV for the Money: 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Best 3-Row SUV for the Money: 2020 Kia Sorento

2020 Kia Sorento

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Best Compact Car for the Money: 2020 Kia Forte

2020 Kia Forte

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Best Compact SUV for the Money: 2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Honda CR-V

American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Best Hybrid and Electric Car for the Money: 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Best Hybrid and Electric SUV for the Money: 2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Best Large Car for the Money: 2020 Chevrolet Impala

2020 Chevrolet Impala

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Best Midsize Car for the Money: 2020 Toyota Camry

2020 Toyota Camry

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Best Minivan for the Money: 2020 Kia Sedona

2020 Kia Sedona

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Best Subcompact Car for the Money: Honda Fit

2020 Honda Fit

American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Best Subcompact SUV for the Money: 2020 Kia Soul

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line Turbo Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Kia has begun research and development into a new round of military vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia is looking to strengthen its position to win military contracts. The company has revealed plans to develop a new standard platform for next-generation military vehicles. The project is a joint effort between Kia and the South Korean government and part of Kia's larger Plan S mid- to long-term strategy.

The development program will replace the Korean military's current 2.5- and 5.0-ton vehicles. It will also develop new bullet resistant vehicles. Each of the standard vehicles will be equipped with the latest commercial technologies, including a 7.0-liter Diesel engine and transmission system, anti-lock brakes, an anti-spin regulator, rear parking assist, around view monitor, satellite navigation, and hot wire seats.

The platform approach will allow Kia to develop additional vehicles for derivations in the future. This includes models with a range of weapons systems and those with more specialized technologies. The vehicles, which use the bare chassis of the Kia Mohave SUV, are also able to be used in a variety of fields outside the military including industrial and leisure.

Kia has developed a conceptual brief of the All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). The company is actively carrying out advanced research and development into several areas of vehicle tech including autonomous driving technology, which Kia says could help deliver supplies.

Additionally, efforts are being made to understand how hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can have a place in future vehicle endeavors. Kia's parent company, Hyundai continues to strengthen their position in regard to the future of hydrogen in the place of gasoline as a fuel for vehicles. Fuel cells can also supply electricity in combat environments.

Kia will begin manufacturing prototypes of mid-size standard vehicles this year and have them undergo evaluations by the Korean Government in 2021.

The technology and knowledge gained from this testing is expected to be employed in future road-going SUVs.

Kia has already produced a range of vehicles for the Korean military, among others. This includes 0.25-, 1.25-, 2.5- and 5-ton models. To-date, Kia has supplied nine model types and 100 derivatives, and produced a total of 140,000 military vehicles.

Kia created Korea's first multipurpose tactical vehicle, a light tactical vehicle that replaces the existing 0.25- and 1.25-ton vehicles. The model was equipped with the engine, automatic transmission, and brake system from the Mohave, and added commercial technologies and military specifications, including electronic four-wheel drive.

The automaker intends to have their vehicles ready for military deployment from 2024, following standardization and initial production tests.

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Ram will welcome an electric member to its family in the future.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The 2022 GMC Hummer EV and all-electric Ford F-150 are coming soon. It would ludicrous to think that Ram wouldn't be joining the other two members of the Big Three in producing an electric pickup truck.

Today, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Mike Manley confirmed that one is in the works during the company's third-quarter earnings call. He provided no additional details.

In response to an industry analyst's question on the matter, Manley said, "I do see that there will be an electrified Ram pickup in the marketplace, and I would ask you just to stay tuned for a little while, and we'll tell you exactly when that will be."

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is one of the least fuel-efficient vehicles FCA makes, but the Ram TRX is even less efficient.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The confirmation was a strategic, given that just one quarter ago Manley more or less ducked the question saying "Obviously, pickup trucks is a key franchise for us, and we're not going to sit on the sideline if there is a danger that our position gets diluted going forward," during that quarter's earnings call.

Ram isn't just facing competition from General Motors and Ford. It also has pressure coming from startups including Rivian, which is currently tooling as it gears up to produce the R1T, and Lordstown Motors, which is substantially backed by GM, and already has 40,000 reservations for fleet vehicles. Tesla has promised that the Cybertruck will come to market.

FCA is more than a touch behind when it comes to electrification. Its U.S. lineup is aging with the mid-generation Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid as its only plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) currently on sale. Ram offers a few mild-hybrid engine options for buyers and the Maserati Ghibli Hybrid is on the horizon. The company recently debuted PHEV 4xe versions of the Jeep Wrangler, Compass, and Renegade but only the Wrangler 4xe will be sold in the U.S. in the coming year.

In the meantime, FCA continues to push out fuel inefficient vehicles for buyer consumption in the U.S. where emissions regulations are not as stringent as they are in Europe and China. This includes the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk (EPA-estimated 15 mpg combined) and Ram 1500 TRX (EPA-estimated 12 mpg combined).

The way forward for Ram may be complicated by the forthcoming FCA-PSA Groupe merger, which is set to be confirmed by the European Union in early 2021.

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