Joe asks Jody Victor: 10 Best Values In Used Cars, 2012, Part II

When you start looking for a car, used or new, it helps to get some ideas about value, reliability, and safety. Here’s Jody Victor® with the second half taken from an article by Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger and msn.com.

Jody Victor®: Hey Joe, you are absolutely right! Having some info to go on gets you started and helps you make an informed decision when it comes to buying a new or used vehicle. Here’s the rest of the article.

2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i

Price when new: $25,240 (automatic)
Dealer used price: $15,218
Private-party price: $14,068
Certified used price: $16,256
MPG (city/hwy): 20/26

The Outback offers the best of both worlds: car-like construction to aid in maneuverability and fuel economy, plus the utility of all-wheel drive, copious amounts of cargo room (34 cubic feet) and a higher stance that improves visibility. Six airbags are standard, and it was an IIHS Top Safety Pick, too.

2009 Ford Taurus Limited

Price when new: $31,495
Dealer used price: $16,634
Private-party price: $15,271
Certified used price: $17,653
MPG (city/hwy): 18/28

Just a year after Ford revived the Taurus nameplate, it added standard stability control and earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Limited trim comes with Ford’s voice-activated SYNC system, which allows you to connect music devices with USB and phones via Bluetooth, making them easier to use safely.

2008 Mazda CX-9 Sport

Price when new: $30,035
Dealer used price: $18,315
Private-party price: $16,689
Certified used price: $20,424
MPG (city/hwy): 16/22

It seats seven and has 17 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seats (48 cubic feet with the third row folded down), which helped the CX-9 win Kiplinger’s Best in Class award for this model year. Safety bragging rights include an optional blind-spot monitoring system — which will alert you if there’s something in your blind spot when you attempt to change lanes — and standard stability control.

2009 Toyota Sienna LE

Price when new: $26,865 (7-passenger)
Dealer used price: $18,463
Private-party price: $16,692
Certified used price: $19,882
MPG (city/hwy): 17/23

Multiple seating configurations make this minivan family- and cargo-friendly. In the seven-passenger Sienna, the removable second row captain’s chairs can be spaced out to give your brood elbow room, or arranged as a bench for easier access to the third row. The third row is split 60/40, and the sections fold over or completely flat. Even the front passenger seat folds down, should you have serious cargo needs.

2009 Infiniti G37x AWD

Price when new: $36,615
Dealer used price: $23,889
Private-party price: $22,308
Certified used price: $26,174
MPG (city/hwy): 18/25

The G Sedan gives German sedans like the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4 a run for their money, but it costs thousands less. The 2009 model got a larger, 3.7-liter V6 engine that puts out 328 horsepower, as well as a seven-speed automatic transmission — plus, it packs in essential safety features, such as head and side airbags and stability control.

 Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor: 10 Best Values In Used Cars, 2012

If you are in the market for a used car, you may have trouble finding one. Here’s Jody Victor® telling us about it from an article by Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger.

Jody Victor®: Hey, Joe, sometimes a used car is the way to go, no matter what kind of vehicle you are looking for. But since the Great Recession, used cars have not been around – people are hanging on to their older cars longer. Here’s a list, in two parts, from msn.com  that will give you something to go on.

2008 Hyundai Sonata GLS

Price when new: $19,545 (automatic)
Dealer used price: $9,902
Private-party price: $8,731
Certified used price: $11,480
MPG (city/hwy): 21/30

Hyundai’s Sonata offers a thrifty 2.4-liter engine, standard stability control and six airbags. Plus, it keeps ownership costs low — the brand’s 5-year/60,000-miles new-car warranty and five-year no-charge roadside assistance transfer to new owners (they get the remainder of both). The famed 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, however, doesn’t transfer.

2009 Subaru Impreza 2.5i sedan

Price when new: $18,190
Dealer used price: $12,191
Private-party price: $10,967
Certified used price: $12,859
MPG (city/hwy): 20/27

Engaging driving dynamics and Subaru’s always-standard all-wheel drive are only part of the Impreza’s appeal. It garnered a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS and has side and side-curtain airbags. If a collision causes the front airbags to deploy, smart technology protects the driver and front-seat passenger. Sensors measure the driver’s proximity to the steering wheel, as well as the passenger’s weight (to determine whether a child or an adult is occupying the seat), and adjust the airbags’ force accordingly.

2009 Chevrolet Malibu 1LT

Price when new: $23,225
Dealer used price: $13,114
Private-party price: $11,937
Certified used price: $14,141
MPG (city/hwy): 22/33

With its 2008 redesign, the Malibu garnered a lot of accolades: Kiplinger’s Best New Car and Best in Class awards were just a cherry topping to the industry’s prestigious North American Car of the Year award. But to play it safe, we recommend buying a redesigned vehicle in the second year of production — the first year’s examples often have kinks to work out. For 2009, stability control became standard across the trim lineup, along with side and side-curtain airbags.

2009 Nissan Rogue S

Price when new: $21,020
Dealer used price: $14,971
Private-party price: $13,435
Certified used price: $16,123
MPG (city/hwy): 22/27

After a 2008 redesign, when we named it Best New Small Crossover, the Rogue ascended to Kiplinger’s Best in Class award for 2009. Its stylish exterior complements the value it holds inside — including a peppy 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, stability and traction control, and six airbags. Plus, it was rated a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.

2008 Honda CR-V LX

Price when new: $21,370
Dealer used price: $15,135
Private-party price: $14,089
Certified used price: $16,402
MPG (city/hwy): 20/27

A perennial Kiplinger’s Best New and Best Used pick, the CR-V keeps its value throughout its lifespan. It boasts fuel economy on par with a midsize sedan, but it has more than twice the cargo capacity (36 cubic feet behind the rear seats). Its standard stability control and six airbags helped win it a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.

Thanks, Jody! More next time.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars IV

Want a vehicle with the fewest annoying problems? I asked Jody Victor®  to finish up his list based on a survey of customer satisfaction in the first 90 days from J.D. Power and Associates.

Jody Victor®: Here we go! The last installment from an article by Clifford Atiyeh of msn.com.

Top Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Lexus pretty much invented the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 15 years ago. It had a level of quality and style that other automakers couldn’t match for many years. Today, it’s still one of the best. The RX’s ride is quiet and smooth, and the interior is posh. The mouse controller on the infotainment system is almost impossible to use, though.

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

This old-school Cadillac is huge and dripping with chrome all the way down to its 22-inch rims. It’s not even as nice as it could be inside for its $80,000 price tag. But high-tech features such as magnetic suspension give this rig outstanding poise for its supersize weight. Choosing an Escalade means you have little concern for gas prices or getting your car stolen, which insurance companies agree is likely to happen.

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Tough construction, good reliability and above-average resale value make full-size General Motors pickups easy choices. Plus, they come in many configurations and styles to fit any budget and occupation. Denali models are especially well-trimmed and chromed without being gaudy. Plus, a natural-gas option is now available for those who have access to the cheap fuel.

Top Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

American manufacturers aren’t paying much attention to smaller pickups anymore, so it goes without saying that Nissan has a good — if extremely basic — truck for this segment. The Frontier is short on refinement, but it offers a spacious bed and enough torque for most jobs. It’s a prime example that keeping things simple can pay off in the long run.

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest

If you can live with its funky, upright design, you’ll find the Nissan Quest perfectly capable for minivan duty. Folding seats, an under-floor cargo bin, available DVD entertainment systems, power doors, a dual glass moon-roof — it’s all here. That Nissan has beaten its more popular van rivals from Honda and Toyota is impressive, although we’re still partial to the Odyssey.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them all out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars III

Well, we’ve gone through quite a list, but coming up are some of my favorites. Here’s Jody Victor®  with the next installment of the best quality cars for 2012.

Jody Victor®: Hey Joe, some of these are my favorites too. Installment number 3 from an article by Cliffor Atiyeh of msn.com.

Top Premium Sport Car: Porsche 911

Somehow, Porsche ends up having fewer problems than Honda or Mercedes (we’ll chalk it up to lower production volume and fewer miles traveled). Whatever the reason, the 911 is a fantastic way to spend upwards of $80,000. It’s practical, conservative-looking, yet altogether badass when the time comes to push it on a favorite back road. Among sports cars, the 911 is an indisputable legend that’s been going strong for five decades.

Top Compact Crossover/SUV: Honda CR-V

In 1997, the CR-V was one of the few compact crossovers, and Honda got it right from the start. With its slim proportions, all-wheel drive and generous cargo room, the CR-V is about as utilitarian as anyone really needs. The 4-cylinder engines are snappy and good on fuel, and while the interiors need some improvement and the doors feel flimsy, there’s a lot of well-engineered car here.

Top Compact MPV: Kia Soul

While hip-hop hamsters drive it on TV, in real life the Kia Soul is driven by all sorts of people, much like how Scion has attracted buyers beyond its original “youth” demographic. The boxy Soul, with its pulsing speaker lights and oddball cloth textures, is fun to drive and invites stares. Generous cargo space, simple controls and Kia’s impressive powertrain warranty seal the deal.

Top Entry Premium Crossover/SUV: Infiniti EX

The EX crossover is essentially a G sedan with more headroom and a hatch. Therefore, it nearly matches the G’s aggressive attitude, with crisp handling and powerful acceleration that’s livelier than an Audi Q5. The interior is feeling a little old next to Infiniti’s other models, and the ride can be rough at times. But it’s nice to have a crossover exhibiting some old-fashioned soul.

Top Midsize Crossover/SUV: Buick Enclave

Among three-row SUVs, this Buick outsells them all. It’s a stylish, ultraquiet family hauler with all the trimmings — and unlike previous Buick SUVs, it’s not a carbon copy of a cheaper Chevrolet. For 2013, the Enclave gets a mild refresh with more soft-touch interior materials and other moderate improvements. If you can stand minivans, you won’t do much better for the price than this Buick.

Top Large Crossover/SUV: Ford Expedition

This is a weird choice, considering that the Expedition has been long forgotten in the Ford lineup in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs. For its sheer towing capacity, living-room size and brute strength, it’s hard to argue with an Expedition or its luxury cousin, the Lincoln Navigator. We’d like to think that better, more modern V8-powered 3-row SUVs are available.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars II

As technology improves, cars improve too. But new technology always has a few bugs until the techies work them out. I asked Jody Victor®  to tell us about the best cars for 2012.

Jody Victor®: Hey Joe, you are exactly right. With all the new cars and technology, there are bound to be some things that work better than others. Here’s the next installment from an article by Clifford Atiyeh of msn.com.

Top Midsize Premium Car: Infiniti M

The M, redesigned for 2011, has some of the most dramatic, flashy styling in its segment, especially with the sport model’s 20-inch wheels and sparkled wood trim. Its adaptive cruise control can start and stop the vehicle in rush-hour traffic without fault. There’s also a hybrid and available all-wheel drive. Keep in mind it’s not cheap or good on gas.

Top Midsize Sporty Car: Ford Mustang

A perennial favorite, the Mustang continues its formula of big-engine, rear-wheel-drive fun for little money. Newer models have higher-quality interiors and more fuel-efficient V6 engines that make as much power as the old V8s. Whether coupe or convertible, GT or the 200-mph Shelby GT500, the Mustang is as much a generational symbol of American progress as it is a serious sports car.

Top Large Premium Car: Lexus LS

Like the Miata, the Lexus LS changed the preconceptions of its market segment when it was introduced in 1989. While the latest LS looks somewhat dated, it’s still a solid tank of a car that glides like it’s riding on glass, much like the Mercedes S-Class (which the LS now almost matches in price). The hybrid 600hL doesn’t save fuel, but boy, the sound system is incredible. Not much breaks on this big car, either.

Top Midsize Car: Chevrolet Malibu

Chevy’s 2008 redesign turned the Malibu from humdrum into something worth humming about. The fuel economy, styling and overall comfort were right up there with it Japanese peers, and while it’s taken some time to catch on, the people have spoken. For 2013, the Malibu adds an electric motor to the base 4-cylinder engine to save fuel and emissions, and promises more connectivity.

Top Large Car: Ford Taurus

Now being offered as a police car, the Taurus is everything the Crown Victoria wasn’t: fresh, refined and available with fuel-efficient turbocharged engines and all-wheel drive. The Taurus is a slick-looking car and it’s well-built, as it’s based on the Volvo S80 chassis. The small windows make visibility more difficult than in other large cars, however. The complicated MyFord Touch infotainment system was redesigned after poor J.D. Power ratings last year and works just fine.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012 IV

For our final installment, Jody Victor®  has saved the best til’ last. Here he is with the rest of the best quality cars for 2012 from J.D. Power and Associates.

Jody Victor®: I think you may be right, Joe. There’s some great all-around vehicles in this last part from an article by Cliffor Atiyeh of  msn.com.

Top Large Crossover/SUV: Ford Expedition

This is a weird choice, considering that the Expedition has been long forgotten in the Ford lineup in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs. For its sheer towing capacity, living-room size and brute strength, it’s hard to argue with an Expedition or its luxury cousin, the Lincoln Navigator. We’d like to think that better, more modern V8-powered 3-row SUVs are available.

Top Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Lexus pretty much invented the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 15 years ago. It had a level of quality and style that other automakers couldn’t match for many years. Today, it’s still one of the best. The RX’s ride is quiet and smooth, and the interior is posh. The mouse controller on the infotainment system is almost impossible to use, though.

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

This old-school Cadillac is huge and dripping with chrome all the way down to its 22-inch rims. It’s not even as nice as it could be inside for its $80,000 price tag. But high-tech features such as magnetic suspension give this rig outstanding poise for its supersize weight. Choosing an Escalade means you have little concern for gas prices or getting your car stolen, which insurance companies agree is likely to happen.

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Tough construction, good reliability and above-average resale value make full-size General Motors pickups easy choices. Plus, they come in many configurations and styles to fit any budget and occupation. Denali models are especially well-trimmed and chromed without being gaudy. Plus, a natural-gas option is now available for those who have access to the cheap fuel.

Top Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

American manufacturers aren’t paying much attention to smaller pickups anymore, so it goes without saying that Nissan has a good — if extremely basic — truck for this segment. The Frontier is short on refinement, but it offers a spacious bed and enough torque for most jobs. It’s a prime example that keeping things simple can pay off in the long run.

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest

If you can live with its funky, upright design, you’ll find the Nissan Quest perfectly capable for minivan duty. Folding seats, an under-floor cargo bin, available DVD entertainment systems, power doors, a dual glass moon-roof — it’s all here. That Nissan has beaten its more popular van rivals from Honda and Toyota is impressive, although we’re still partial to the Odyssey.

 Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check some of these out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012 III

I’m hoping this part of the list has some of my favorites. Here’s Jody Victor® with the third installment of J.D. Power and Associates’ best quality cars for 2012.

Jody Victor®: Joe, I think your favorites might be in this part. Here you go, part 3, from an article by Cliffor Atiyeh of msn.com.

Top Premium Sport Car: Porsche 911

Somehow, Porsche ends up having fewer problems than Honda or Mercedes (we’ll chalk it up to lower production volume and fewer miles traveled). Whatever the reason, the 911 is a fantastic way to spend upwards of $80,000. It’s practical, conservative-looking, yet altogether badass when the time comes to push it on a favorite back road. Among sports cars, the 911 is an indisputable legend that’s been going strong for five decades.

Top Compact Crossover/SUV: Honda CR-V

In 1997, the CR-V was one of the few compact crossovers, and Honda got it right from the start. With its slim proportions, all-wheel drive and generous cargo room, the CR-V is about as utilitarian as anyone really needs. The 4-cylinder engines are snappy and good on fuel, and while the interiors need some improvement and the doors feel flimsy, there’s a lot of well-engineered car here.

Top Compact MPV: Kia Soul

While hip-hop hamsters drive it on TV, in real life the Kia Soul is driven by all sorts of people, much like how Scion has attracted buyers beyond its original “youth” demographic. The boxy Soul, with its pulsing speaker lights and oddball cloth textures, is fun to drive and invites stares. Generous cargo space, simple controls and Kia’s impressive powertrain warranty seal the deal.

Top Entry Premium Crossover/SUV: Infiniti EX

The EX crossover is essentially a G sedan with more headroom and a hatch. Therefore, it nearly matches the G’s aggressive attitude, with crisp handling and powerful acceleration that’s livelier than an Audi Q5. The interior is feeling a little old next to Infiniti’s other models, and the ride can be rough at times. But it’s nice to have a crossover exhibiting some old-fashioned soul.

Top Midsize Crossover/SUV: Buick Enclave

Among three-row SUVs, this Buick outsells them all. It’s a stylish, ultraquiet family hauler with all the trimmings — and unlike previous Buick SUVs, it’s not a carbon copy of a cheaper Chevrolet. For 2013, the Enclave gets a mild refresh with more soft-touch interior materials and other moderate improvements. If you can stand minivans, you won’t do much better for the price than this Buick.

Thanks, Jody! Can’t wait until the last bunch.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012 II

Are you ready for more? Here’s Jody Victor® with the next installment from J.D. Power and Associates’ list of best quality cars for 2012.

Jody Victor®: This next part includes some of my favorites. See if any of them are yours’ from an article by Clifford Atiyeh of msn.com.

Top Midsize Premium Car: Infiniti M

The M, redesigned for 2011, has some of the most dramatic, flashy styling in its segment, especially with the sport model’s 20-inch wheels and sparkled wood trim. Its adaptive cruise control can start and stop the vehicle in rush-hour traffic without fault. There’s also a hybrid and available all-wheel drive. Keep in mind it’s not cheap or good on gas.

Top Midsize Sporty Car: Ford Mustang

A perennial favorite, the Mustang continues its formula of big-engine, rear-wheel-drive fun for little money. Newer models have higher-quality interiors and more fuel-efficient V6 engines that make as much power as the old V8s. Whether coupe or convertible, GT or the 200-mph Shelby GT500, the Mustang is as much a generational symbol of American progress as it is a serious sports car.

Top Large Premium Car: Lexus LS

Like the Miata, the Lexus LS changed the preconceptions of its market segment when it was introduced in 1989. While the latest LS looks somewhat dated, it’s still a solid tank of a car that glides like it’s riding on glass, much like the Mercedes S-Class (which the LS now almost matches in price). The hybrid 600hL doesn’t save fuel, but boy, the sound system is incredible. Not much breaks on this big car, either.

Top Midsize Car: Chevrolet Malibu

Chevy’s 2008 redesign turned the Malibu from humdrum into something worth humming about. The fuel economy, styling and overall comfort were right up there with it Japanese peers, and while it’s taken some time to catch on, the people have spoken. For 2013, the Malibu adds an electric motor to the base 4-cylinder engine to save fuel and emissions, and promises more connectivity.

Top Large Car: Ford Taurus

Now being offered as a police car, the Taurus is everything the Crown Victoria wasn’t: fresh, refined and available with fuel-efficient turbocharged engines and all-wheel drive. The Taurus is a slick-looking car and it’s well-built, as it’s based on the Volvo S80 chassis. The small windows make visibility more difficult than in other large cars, however. The complicated MyFord Touch infotainment system was redesigned after poor J.D. Power ratings last year and works just fine.

Thanks, Jody! More next time.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012

Did you ever wonder how auto makers figure out where they went wrong? What could they improve? What makes us happy or unhappy with a vehicle? Me, too! That’s why I asked Jody Victor® to tell us about it.

Jody Victor®: Hey, Joe, the answer is:  surveys! Customer satisfaction surveys go a long way to tell manufacturers what they are doing right, but more importantly, what they might be doing wrong. Here’s a list, in 4 parts, of quality vehicles from an article by Clifford Atiyeh of msn.com.

Top Subcompact Car: Toyota Yaris

The Yaris, with its old 4-speed automatic transmission and plebian interior, isn’t a stellar compact car compared with its more sophisticated competition. The redesigned, edgier 2012 model carries over much of the same equipment. But befitting a typical Toyota, the Yaris is cheap to maintain and simple to operate in either hatchback or sedan form. Toyota, at 88 problems per 100 vehicles, clearly has something right on its hands.

Top Compact Car: Toyota Corolla

Is it any wonder the world’s best-selling car winds up here? The Corolla name is nearly as old as Mustang, and when it comes to no-frills, dead-reliable transport, nothing is more renowned. Like the Yaris, the current Corolla is outclassed by its many rivals in technology, design and performance. That doesn’t seem to matter.

Top Compact Sporty Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata

When it was introduced 23 years ago, the Miata was meant to re-create the spirit of those iconic British roadsters — the lightweight and zippy MGs, Austin Healeys and Triumphs. What it left out were the atrocious electrical failures and other mechanical problems that plagued those old roadsters. A true enthusiast’s car, the Miata sets the standard for affordable sports cars that can go the long mile.

Top Compact Premium Sporty Car: Volvo C70

Refreshed for 2011, the Volvo C70 is an attractive alternative to the usual crop of $40,000 German convertibles. The folding hardtop, floating center control stack and understated interior blend well with the car’s turbocharged engines. But don’t get confused; the C70 is a cruiser, not a corner-dicing sports car. Safety, of course, is paramount; the C70 was the world’s first convertible with head curtain airbags.

Top Entry Premium Car: Lexus ES

Lexus once again leads the J.D. Power list as the most reliable automaker, with an average of 73 problems per 100 vehicles. The ES 350 is all new for 2013, with a more aggressive front end and sculpted interior, plus a hybrid trim. In any model year, the ES is smooth, steers with a finger and offers a lot of luxury for the money.

Thanks, Jody! More next time.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars, 2012 Part IV

The last group did include some of my favorites. Cant’ wait to see what Jody Victor® will include this time from an article by Clifford Atiyeh from MSN Autos and msn.com.

Jody Victor®: Yes Joe, we saved the best for last. Here is our last installment on the best of the best for 2012.

Top Large Crossover/SUV: Ford Expedition

This is a weird choice, considering that the Expedition has been long forgotten in the Ford lineup in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs. For its sheer towing capacity, living-room size and brute strength, it’s hard to argue with an Expedition or its luxury cousin, the Lincoln Navigator. We’d like to think that better, more modern V8-powered 3-row SUVs are available.

Top Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Lexus pretty much invented the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 15 years ago. It had a level of quality and style that other automakers couldn’t match for many years. Today, it’s still one of the best. The RX’s ride is quiet and smooth, and the interior is posh. The mouse controller on the infotainment system is almost impossible to use, though.

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

This old-school Cadillac is huge and dripping with chrome all the way down to its 22-inch rims. It’s not even as nice as it could be inside for its $80,000 price tag. But high-tech features such as magnetic suspension give this rig outstanding poise for its supersize weight. Choosing an Escalade means you have little concern for gas prices or getting your car stolen, which insurance companies agree is likely to happen.

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Tough construction, good reliability and above-average resale value make full-size General Motors pickups easy choices. Plus, they come in many configurations and styles to fit any budget and occupation. Denali models are especially well-trimmed and chromed without being gaudy. Plus, a natural-gas option is now available for those who have access to the cheap fuel.

Top Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

American manufacturers aren’t paying much attention to smaller pickups anymore, so it goes without saying that Nissan has a good — if extremely basic — truck for this segment. The Frontier is short on refinement, but it offers a spacious bed and enough torque for most jobs. It’s a prime example that keeping things simple can pay off in the long run

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest

If you can live with its funky, upright design, you’ll find the Nissan Quest perfectly capable for minivan duty. Folding seats, an under-floor cargo bin, available DVD entertainment systems, power doors, a dual glass moon-roof — it’s all here. That Nissan has beaten its more popular van rivals from Honda and Toyota is impressive, although we’re still partial to the Odyssey.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them all out!

Joe Victor