With 2016 models now on dealers' lots, shoppers want cars that don't just look good in glossy TV ads but that also offer real value. With getting the most for your money in mind, Kelley Blue Book is announcing today its Best Buy awards for 2016.
To determine the winners, Kelley combines reviews from its squadron of test drivers with data on pricing and the cost of owning a given car over five years.
From the more than 300 models available in the U.S. for 2016, analysts from Kelley originally narrowed the field down to 49 finalists in 12 categories. Then after further testing, Kelley analysts picked the winners in categories ranging from high-performance sports cars, like the Corvette pictured above, to family SUVs.
The pick for overall Best Buy is the redesigned Honda Civic (see next page). The Civic "sets a new standard in a segment already known for delivering great value," said Jack Nerad, executive editorial director for the Kelley website kbb.com.
Of the dozen winners, Honda and Chevrolet dominated the list with four each.
Click ahead for a closer look at the winners.
Small car: Honda Civic
The Kelley analysts describe the redesigned 2016 Civic as "stylish, refined and tech-savvy and sporting a powerful and efficient new powertrain," and they say "it is the best car you can buy for under $20,000."
Test drivers praised its smooth ride and agile handling. The base model comes with a 2-liter four-cylinder engine with EPA ratings of 31 MPG in the city and 41 in highway driving. A more powerful turbocharged engine (rated 31/42) is also available.
While list price does start at $18,640, the Civic ranges up to $26,500 for the best-equipped version.
Midsize car: Kia Optima
With a full redesign for 2016, the Optima bested stalwarts of this class like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Kelley analysts say the redesign moved Optima to the top "after years of winning fans with its sharp style, premium features and solid value."
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at 24 MPG in city driving and 35 on the highway. A 1.6-liter turbocharged engine (28/39) is also available.
List price on the Optima ranges from $21,840 to $35,790.
Large car: Chevrolet Impala
Kelley says the 2016 Impala "is stylish inside and out, offers a long list of in-car technologies including Apple CarPlay and wireless phone charging and balances smooth highway ride with responsive handling."
The base four-cylinder Impala engine is rated for 22 MPG in city driving and 31 on the highway. An optional V-6 (19/29) is also available.
Impala list prices range from $27,060 to $40,810.
Luxury car: Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The C-Class is the luxury Best Buy for the second year in a row after last year's redesign. "The distinctive design gets more appealing with time," say the Kelley analysts.
The C-Class covers a range of engines, but the four-cylinder turbocharged power plant in the C300 is rated for 24 MPG in city driving and 31 on the highway.
Like many luxury models, the C-Class has a wide range of list prices from $38,950 to $73,250.
Sports or performance car: Chevrolet Corvette
Kelley analysts say the Corvette's "mix of performance and price combines with impressive fuel economy and good resale value" to make it the "Best Buy in fun."
The gas mileage sure is impressive for a 6.2-liter V-8 engine -- rated by the EPA for 17 MPG in the city and 29 on the highway. The long-running All-American sports car has a list price ranging from $55,400 to $83,400.
Electric or hybrid car: Chevrolet Volt
The Volt is a repeat winner from last year, and Kelley analysts say the redesigned 2016 version "complements greater battery range and improved performance with sleeker styling, more features and even-more-attractive pricing."
According to the EPA, the Volt running on battery power alone has a range of 53 miles -- good for a plug-in hybrid. When running on gasoline power, the Volt is rated for 43 MPG in city driving and 42 on the highway.
List price ranges from $33,170 to $37,520.
Small SUV: Honda CR-V
The CR-V, the best-selling SUV in the U.S., adds another award here as a Best Buy. Kelley analysts cite the CR-V for "effortless driving manners, a roomy interior and a bulletproof reputation for reliability."
The 2016 CR-V comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine rated in the two-wheel-drive version for 26 MPG in city driving and 33 on the highway. List prices range from $23,595 to $33,245.
Midsize SUV: Honda Pilot
The Pilot wins with "a compelling combination of utility, comfort, features and price," the Kelley analysts say. Test drivers praise it for a luxurious cabin with three rows of seating -- including a third row that adults can fit in for a short ride.
The standard V-6 engine is rated for 18 MPG in the city and 27 on the highway. List price ranges from $29,995 to $46,240.
Large SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe
The Tahoe is the best seller in this big-hauling, heavy-towing segment. Kelley analysts say it has "a unique combination of style, comfort, economy and value."
Test drivers add praise for its composed handling and strong brakes. The Tahoe's standard V-8 engine is rated for 16 MPG in city driving and 23 on the highway.
List price runs from $47,300 to $64,610.
Luxury SUV: Lexus RX
A total redesign for 2016 propelled the RX to this win. Kelley analysts say buyers find the RX "comfortable, reliable and desirable." That has helped the RX become the best-selling luxury SUV as well as the best seller of any Lexus.
The V-6 engine in the RX 350 is rated for 20 MPG in the city, 28 on the highway. The hybrid version, RX 450h, is rated for 31 MPG in city driving, 30 on the highway.
Pickup truck: Ford F-150
Despite Ford's initially controversial use of aluminum for the pickup body, the F-150 has returned to the top of the sales charts and wins this award for the second year in a row. Ford also pioneered in selling pickup owners on V-6 engines instead of V-8s for better gas mileage.
The 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6 is rated for 18 MPG in the city, 24 on the highway. The F-150 still offers a V-8, rated for 14 MPG city, 20 highway.
The F-150, which comes in seemingly endless combinations, ranges in list price from $38,950 to $73,250.
Minivan: Honda Odyssey
Long considered the best minivan, the Odyssey adds to its awards here. Test drivers praise its combination of comfortable ride and agile handling. The Odyssey includes family-friendly features like a built-in vacuum cleaner.
Test drivers praise the versatility of the second-row seats, which can be arranged in a number of different ways. The standard V-6 engine is rated for 19 MPG in city driving, 26 on the highway.
List price ranges from $29,275 to $44,750.