When looking at car buying options, it's helpful to read expert reviews. Of course, it's also good to know what actual owners have to say about their vehicles. Recently, Consumer Reports published their latest Best and Worst Value list. Based on their annual Owner Satisfaction survey, this list reveals which cars actual buyers consider to be the best and worst values in their classes.

Affordable Cars that Offer the Best Value According to Owners

Because we understand that a lot of car shoppers are working with damaged credit and smaller budgets, we've narrowed down the list offered by Consumer Reports. In this case, we're most interested in affordable vehicle options.

So, here are the cars that won for Best Value in the subcompact, compact and midsize segments. It should be noted that the owners in the survey have owned their vehicles for one to three years.

Best Value Subcompact Car: The Toyota Prius c

Toyota Prius
Interestingly, Consumer Reports doesn't actually recommend the 2017 Prius c as a great car to buy. Test Drivers for the magazine noted several problems with this subcompact car. Namely, they don't like its low-quality interior, cramped seats and lack of cargo space. They were also highly critical of its "harsh" ride, noisy engine and slow acceleration.

However, if you want a hybrid vehicle for not a lot of money, you may still be willing to give the Prius c a second glance. A base model can be purchased new for around $21,035 (including an $885 delivery fee). And it gets a whopping EPA-estimated 43 mpg overall, which should save you a ton of cash at the pump. The Prius c, like most Toyota vehicles, has also earned above average reliability ratings.

Best Value Compact Car: The Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Elantra
If you're looking for an affordable, no-fuss daily commuter, the 2017 Elantra should serve your needs just fine. With a starting price of $17,985 (including an $835 delivery fee), it's one of the best bargains in the compact class. It's also fairly roomy for a small car, and gets a very respectable EPA-estimated 33 mpg overall.

Test drivers have also liked the Elantra's supportive seats and user-friendly tech features. It may not be the most exciting car to drive, but it will get you where you need to go with adequate engine power. For a $3,000 upgrade, buyers can get the Eco version of the Elantra that features better mileage. A Sport version that's equipped with a more powerful 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine is also available.

Best Value Midsized Car: The Kia Optima

Kia Optima
The 2017 Optima comes with an impressive amount of standard features for a car that starts at around $23,095 (including the destination charge). These include a five-inch touch screen, a USB port, satellite radio, a six-speaker sound system, a rear view camera and remote keyless entry. In addition, it offers a comfortable ride in a roomy, upscale cabin.

The Optima is a good option for anyone who wants a practical and budget-friendly family car. It has a lot of cargo space and its infotainment system is easy to use. Performance enthusiasts will be less than thrilled with its imperfect steering, but casual commuters may not notice. Critics have also noted that the engine is lackluster. But, again, if you just need to get to work and school, it offers all the performance you need.

Affordable Cars that Offer the Worst Value According to Owners

This list should only be used as one resource in your car shopping research. Some of the cars that were included among the "worst values" were highly rated in other publications. In the case of the Chevrolet Malibu, even the test drivers for Consumer Reports gave it glowing reviews.

So keep this caveat in mind when you take a look at the short list below. Here are the cars considered by owners to offer the worst value in the subcompact, compact and midsize segments:

  • Subcompact Car: The Nissan Versa Note
  • Compact Car: The Fiat 500L
  • Midsized Car: The Chevrolet Malibu

For a complete list of this year's best and worst car values, as ranked by owners, visit ConsumerReports.org. But don't forget to also check out reviews on TheCarConnection.com, Edmunds.com, KBB.com and LotPro.com, just to name a few helpful sites.

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