2011 Best Resale Value Awards: Category Winners
In addition to crowning two brands and 10 overall winners with 2011 Best Resale Value Awards, we also named 18 category champions.
Segment winners you might recognize from last year's list include Honda Accord, Toyota Sienna and seven others. Cars that bumped their way onto the podium this year include the GMC Acadia, which replaced the Honda Pilot, and the Ford Mustang, supplanting the Chevy Corvette. The Best Brand and Best Luxury Brand winners - Subaru and BMW, respectively - each claimed two category wins.
Practical car shoppers will likely home in on the Honda Fit's flexible interior and solid fuel economy but that's only half the story. The Fit is one of the most stylish compact cars on the market and is far more fun to drive than its price might imply, making it a sensible car you'll be happy to own.
It's hard to believe the Mini Cooper has been back in America for nearly a decade. Far more than a flash in the pan, the Mini Cooper's charming looks, tossable handling, easy customizability and exceptional fuel economy have helped make it a mainstay on the American automotive scene. We started our Best Resale Value Awards program in 2003, and the Mini Cooper has claimed a spot on the list every year since.
The 2011 Honda Accord continues in the tradition the model has established for decades now - a solidly built, ultra-reliable car that also offers superb ergonomics and a surprising dose of fun-to-drive. Its styling, inside and out, is appropriately conservative yet not stodgy, and its collection of powertrains offer praiseworthy fuel economy in addition to essentially fail-safe ruggedness.
After years of popularity the Ford Taurus went on a sabbatical only to return refreshed and better than ever. Fitted with an upscale interior worthy of a luxury sedan and spiced up with the inclusion of Ford's unique SYNC infotainment system, the Taurus is a great place to make Interstate miles disappear in a hurry. Its engine choices, including the leading-edge EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 that combines efficiency with excitement, only add to the Taurus's excellent reputation. This is the second year in a row Ford Taurus has won this award.
All-wheel drive, a choice of a thrifty boxer-4 or powerful boxer-6 engines and premium touches inside and out give this wagon the personality of a power-lifting off-roader within a family-friendly package.
The Subaru Impreza WRX is one of the great bang-for-the-buck performers of all time. A turbocharged boxer-4 engine produces 265 horsepower and 244 pound-feet of torque, and a proven all-wheel drive system makes it easier to turn all that muscle into speed.
Fuel economy may be all the rage, but the appeal of affordable horsepower is as strong as ever. For the 2011 model year, Ford upgraded the Mustang GT with a new 5.0-liter V8 that pumps out 412 horsepower and returns up to 26 highway miles per gallon. Topped off with a Best Resale Value Award, the Mustang is smarter fun than ever. How much fun? Check out our Mustang GT video.
It seems being green is easier than it used to be. Hybrids get much of the attention, but another increasingly popular option is diesel. Combining superior fuel economy, a practical hatchback design, good acceleration and eager driving dynamics, the Volkswagen Golf TDI is a green car with few downsides.
A perennial favorite on our residual standouts list, the Honda CR-V retains its spot as the benchmark of the compact utility segment. For many buyers, the CR-V remains the just-right combination of value, efficiency and utility.
With rugged aesthetics, roomy accommodations and a ride that's comfortable enough for the daily drive but capable enough for a weekend rock crawling adventure, the FJ Cruiser represents all aspects of the term "utility vehicle."
The biggest crossover money can buy marries seating for eight with better ride, handling and efficiency than you'll find in any traditional body-on-frame SUV. We also like its Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave corporate cousins, but the Acadia bests both in predicted resale value.
The minivan is still a polarizing proposition, but we've sensed more love in the air as of late. The Toyota Sienna is one of the category's stalwarts, and for 2011 it's more refined, more stylish and treats rear seat passengers to retractable foot rests and an extra-wide video screen that can show two movies side by side. This is the second year in a row Toyota Sienna has won this award.
The 2011 Lexus IS might be what the industry calls a "near-luxury" car, but its price is really the only thing near-luxury about it. In every other area the IS is as pleasing and refined as any other Lexus, and it outshines many vehicles in its segment. Its sporty flair, strong engine options, refined transmissions and well-crafted interior accommodations stand it in good stead against some extremely able competitors. Add Lexus's stellar reputation for flawless quality and you've got a repeat Best Resale Value Award winner.
The 2011 Audi A5 is understated, unpretentious, but still offers everything you could ever want or need from a high-status set of wheels. Much more than just image or a badge, Audi has built up its brand to exemplify the next-generation of affluence and the A5 is its poster child. This is the second year in a row Audi A5 has won this award.
For decades now, Ford's Super Duty pickup trucks have served as ultra-reliable workhorses for those who tow for work or play. The latest Super Duty continues to offer immense towing abilities but with an added focus on passenger comfort and a newfound level of technological sophistication. With a new, more powerful, more fuel-efficient engine lineup for 2011, the Ford Super Duty's second category win in as many years isn't likely to be its last.
Whether negotiating turns on a twisty mountain road or cruising a sedate suburban street, the BMW X5 offers buyers a measured dose of luxury, utility, all-weather capability and performance.
The diesel-powered version of the BMW X5 is motivated by an in-line six-cylinder twin-turbo engine that produces 265 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque while returning EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy of 19/26 miles per gallon. It's the X5 of choice for most of the Kelley Blue Book editorial staff. The BMW X5 xDrive35d won this same award last year.
You can find greater towing and payload capacity in the mid-size pickup segment, but nothing that can match the Tacoma's just-right blend of ruggedness, size, power and price. The reliability promised and delivered by the Toyota badge is a key component of the Tacoma's appeal. The Toyota Tacoma has won a Best Resale Value Award every year since the program's inception in 2003.