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Best Value Car of 2022

By Editors
February 23, 2022

Winner: 2022 Hyundai Venue

The 2022 Hyundai Venue plays the same hand as the rival Kia Soul and Nissan Kicks — small front-wheel-drive hatchbacks with SUV-like stances and higher seating positions than their subcompact platforms would normally prescribe, but no all-wheel drive or serious ground clearance. Laugh all you want, but the poseurdom pays off: Median list pricing at dealers hovered below $22,000 for these trucklets in 2020 and most of 2021. That’s thousands below median pricing for traditional entry-level SUVs. In a market gone SUV, these are the undisputed value players, and no model embodies that more than the Venue.

Consider the evidence. For $20,125 (all prices include MSRP plus destination charges), the base Venue SE has requisite power accessories, an automatic transmission, alloy wheels, an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control, keyless entry, well-rated automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with steering assist, and Hyundai’s excellent warranty plus three years’ free maintenance. That’s a boatload of features, given that some rivals charge extra for automatic braking or an 8-inch screen, and most lack wireless phone integration in any trim level.

The SE is no phantom trim, either, comprising about one-fifth of new Venue inventory at dealers as of this writing. At the other end, even a factory-loaded Venue Limited comes to around $23,000 with extras like keyless access, push-button start, automatic climate control and heated seats. That’s as much of a factor in the Venue’s agreeable median list pricing — around $22,000 brand-new from dealers as of this writing. That’s 43% below the median list price for all new cars.

The Venue presents a pile of value, no doubt, but it wins this award by doing so without being a pile of you-know-what. As our full review notes, Hyundai’s quasi-SUV is a pleasant, if basic, runabout with spacious front seating, must-have tech and user-friendly controls. The Venue’s tiny four-cylinder delivers gradual acceleration and an unremarkable EPA-rated 31 mpg combined, but it retains a substantial, planted composure even at highway speeds. The Venue won’s inaugural Best Value award one model year ago. For 2022, make it two in a row: This trucklet remains the undefeated, undisputed champ.

kia k5 2022 gt line oem 08 1 scaled jpg 2022 Kia K5 | Manufacturer image

2022 Kia K5: Nominee

Introduced one model year ago to replace the Optima, the Kia K5 boasts competent drivability, aside from some accelerator lag, plus a roomy, reasonably nice cabin and Kia’s excellent warranty. But wait: Doesn’t the K5’s corporate sibling, the Hyundai Sonata sedan, offer similar capabilities? (Hyundai and Kia are affiliated automakers.) Yes, but Kia has a few more standard features — dual-zone automatic climate control and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two high-value items either optional or unavailable in the Sonata, are both standard. And lower trim levels of the K5 also start a little less than their Hyundai counterparts.

Those value-priced trims help anchor the K5’s median listing price at dealers at $26,285 as of this writing — thousands below median pricing for the Sonata, not to mention rivals like the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. Indeed, the K5’s LX and LXS trims, which together account for one-fifth of K5s on as of this writing, are both reasonably equipped for under $26,000 (all prices include MSRP plus destination charges).

Throw Kia’s Premium Package on the next-higher GT-Line trim, and the K5 combines a wealth of driver-assist provisions with cloth-and-vinyl seats, a panoramic moonroof and an upsized 10.25-inch touchscreen — flashy amenities for just under $29,000. That’s still less than the starting price for most mid-size SUVs. We’ve been banging the drum for some time that sedans, not SUVs, are where value-oriented shoppers should look. For comfortably under $30,000, Kia’s new mid-sizer embodies that as well as anything.

mitsubishi mirage 2022 angle exterior front oem scaled jpg 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage | Manufacturer image

2022 Mitsubishi Mirage: Nominee

If sedans are the ticket to value in a market gone SUV, hatchbacks are the cheap seats — and the Mitsubishi Mirage is the equivalent of a balcony row with an obstructed view. But for that, you get Broadway-level goods at community-theater pricing. For around $17,000 with the optional automatic transmission (all prices include MSRP plus destination charges), the Mirage hatchback gives you automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on a 7-inch touchscreen, power accessories with keyless entry, cruise control, automatic climate control, Mitsubishi’s excellent warranty and a sky-high 39 mpg in combined EPA ratings.

Granted, the current-generation Mirage isn’t exactly inspiring to drive. But we can’t underscore enough how many features it has for the money. Rival subcompacts like the Chevrolet Spark and Kia Rio leave automatic braking on the options list or don’t offer it at all, and the Mirage’s fuel economy is unsurpassed by any non-electrified hatchback. Automatic climate control in this league? Only here, folks.

The Mirage also comes as a sedan, called the Mirage G4, but it’ll add another $1,000 and subtract an estimated 2 mpg. Prices can escalate another couple thousand dollars if you climb the Mirage’s trim levels for extras like alloy wheels, lane departure warning and automatic high beams, but the real value lies in the base hatchback trim, called the ES. It seems shoppers agree: As of this writing, the ES hatchback accounts for some two-thirds of all new Mirage examples going through dealers.