Insurer Rates 16 ‘Best Values’ in Autos

March 30, 2011

USAA, an insurer for the military community, unveiled its first “Best Value” vehicle list that names the top 2011 automobiles in 16 categories based on quantitative data used in USAA’s proprietary rating system.

The “Best Value” vehicles typically have better safety ratings, lower manufacturer’s suggested retail price and insurance costs, higher fuel economy and better overall reliability than other vehicles in the same category, according to Steve Thompson, assistant vice president, USAA.

The 2011 Best Value list includes:

  • Large Sedan: Dodge Charger Large
  • Luxury SUV: Audi Q7
  • Midsize Sedan: Hyundai Sonata
  • Midsize Luxury SUV: Lexus RX 450h
  • Small Sedan: Chevrolet Cruze
  • Large Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid
  • Large Luxury Sedan: Hyundai Genesis
  • Small Pickup: Suzuki Equator
  • Midsize Luxury Sedan: Audi A4
  • Sports: Ford Mustang
  • Large SUV: Chevrolet Traverse
  • Coupe: Scion tC
  • Midsize SUV: Toyota FJ Cruiser
  • Wagon: Scion xB
  • Small SUV: Kia Sportage
  • Minivan: Kia Sedona

USAA said the “Best Value” vehicles rose to the top in each of the 16 categories for offering the “best financial value” of all vehicles USAA evaluates as part of its broader vehicle rating system called USAA Preferred that looks at more than 80 cars, trucks and minivans.

The USAA Preferred rating system involves three steps:

  • Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) Value – As the first step, and a key differentiator to USAA’s proprietary scoring model, USAA weighs key attributes such as engine type and safety features to determine whether the vehicle’s MSRP is a good value.
  • Depreciation & Ownership Costs – Next, USAA factors depreciation and added costs for fuel, auto insurance and extended warranty into the methodology. Extended warranty costs are an indicator of vehicle reliability and maintenance costs.
  • Safety – Once all of these criteria are quantified and weighted, the top 40 percent of vehicles are evaluated for safety – the final and most critical indicator of all USAA Preferred vehicles. Only vehicles that receive one of the top two safety ratings as reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are qualified to be a USAA Preferred vehicle. Vehicles on the IIHS Top Safety Picks list are given additional weight in the rating system.

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