Lets talk about value for money.
A business model used across the world in many sales-based industries is to present several options with the aim of making the middle one the most attractive. The automotive industry is no exception. It's no accident when you see the second and third trim levels present better value for money, and we will often recommend those in our reviews. You'll also see us mention Apple Carplay and Android Auto a lot, as we believe these should be ubiquitous on cars on every trim level. The same goes for blind-spot monitoring, and although those features aren't necessarily on every model in this list, we can forgive it if there's plenty of value offered elsewhere.
It's worth noting for this list that press provided photos and cars loaned to us to photograph are always upper-tier models, so the pictures used are not reflective of base models.
Mazda has been doing an excellent job of packing value into its range of cars, and the new CX-30 is no exception. While blind-spot monitoring and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay aren't standard, we like that the base model arrives with an 8.8-inch color screen, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, an eight-speaker audio system, driver attention alert, and lane departure warning. You'll find cloth seats and manual adjustment, but the CX-30's interior is incredibly well thought out and uses quality materials throughout that we're not used to in a car costing just $21,900 at the top end. All models come with the one version of the 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine making 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque.
One way to get onto this list is to have only one trim level, and throw everything at it. If you want a hybrid supercar, the NSX fits that description and weighs in at $157,500. It starts on the outside with 20-inch forged aluminum wheels at the back and 19-inch discs at the front, Acura's Jewel Eye LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and a black aluminum roof. The cabin boasts a nine-speaker ELS premium audio system, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, Siri Eyes Free, Pandora compatibility, Acura's navigation system, and a seven-inch touchscreen display. The drivetrain is a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 hybrid system that delivers 573 hp and 476 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The Jeep Wrangler isn't on this list because of its base features. The base model doesn't even come with air conditioning or power door locks. For someone wanting an off-road toy for not a lot of money, relatively speaking, that's just less to go wrong. What you do get for $28,295 though is an incredibly competent leisure off-roader on 17-inch steel wheels and still featuring the Wrangler's signature removable metal doors and soft-top roof. That ability off the road is backed up by Jeep's well-proven 3.6-liter V6 gas engine making 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Adding to the fun is the standard stick shift transmission.
Kia's luxury full-size sedan is one of the biggest bargains out there. It doesn't flash a premium badge like the BMW 7 Series or the Audi A8, but it does pack comparable levels of style, refinement, and build quality. It also packs a long list of standard features that you'll pay over the top for on cars in the same segment. It starts on the inside with a 20-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats with multi-way adjustable functionality, and stretches to power blinds for the rear windows. A 12.3-inch touchscreen display with Apple Carplay/Android Auto integration feeds a 900 watt 17-speaker Lexicon sound system, and under the hood is a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 producing a smooth 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. It's a stunning car for $59,900, and with the $26,550 you save over a base model BMW 7 Series, you could pick up a fun little weekend sports car.
Even without a standard feature list including Adaptive LED headlights and WiFi Hotspot, or a 6-speed manual to go with the peach of a 2.0-liter turbo making 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, the GTI would be on this list just for the plaid cloth-covered seats. It also comes from the factory in base model trim with ambient interior lighting on the inside. We also like that it comes with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and post-collision braking as standard. For $28,595, there's so much fun to be had with a little yet insanely practical hot hatch.
The second trim for the Land Cruiser is a special edition, so the base model is all you'll ever need. Under the hood is Toyota's proven and reliable 5.7-liter V8 creating 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque for all four wheels. The incredible off-road ability is all standard for your $85,415, along with full LED exterior lighting, 18-inch split-spoke alloy wheels, and a power liftgate and moonroof. Also included on the outside are aluminum running boards, heavy-duty mudguards, and a roof-rack. Inside, you'll find semi-aniline perforated leather heated and ventilated front seats and four-zone climate control. Neither Apple Carplay or Android Auto are supported, but creature comforts include ambient lighting, wireless charging, and a premium 14-speaker JBL sound system with a subwoofer and amplifier.
Out of the box, Kia's family crossover comes with seating for eight people, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry, Adaptive Cruise Control, and one of our firm favorites, remote start. The safety features list is a thorough one and includes blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, and rear parking aid. Powering the $31,890 base model Telluride is the same 3.8-liter V6 gas engine powering the full range generating 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. An added bonus is the Telluride's 5,000 lbs towing capacity.
When it comes to a base model, if an automaker chooses its standard features wisely, then it can drop a little bomb on the market. That's what Hyundai has done with the Venue, and, for just $17,350, you get one hell of a little package. A 1.6-liter gas engine matched to a manual transmission powers the spunky, boxy, and super useful small crossover/hatchback, Inside, the appearance of an 8.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility warms our hearts. On top of that are keyless entry and cruise control. Lane departure warning and lane keep assist are also standard, and while it seems like picking at such a low price point, we value blind-spot monitoring highly enough to point out it should also be standard.
Lexus could have gone with a three or four-tiered trim level strategy with the LC 500. Instead, the automaker opted to deliver a full checklist of features along with power, comfort, performance, and a stunning aesthetic design, in just one model of its luxury grand touring coupe. The glorious 5.0-liter V8 rated at 471 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque is worth the $92,950 cost of entry alone, but the LC also comes with an active sports exhaust and adjustable/adaptive suspension. However, on top of that, the dash-mounted analog clock, and app-controlled remote start are just a starting point along with semi Aniline leather heated and vented leather seats. A 10.3-inch color screen feeds a 10-speaker sound system with Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integrated, although, curiously, not Android Auto. The complete suite of safety equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, and ambient lighting, LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights, along with heated auto-dimming wing mirrors.