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U.S. News Releases 2012 Best Cars for the Money Awards

Covering models in 23 different vehicle segments, U.S. News Best Cars recently highlighted its 2012 Best Cars for the Money Awards.

Ford took home the most awards with five of its models selected as winners: Taurus, Fusion, Fiesta, Edge and Fusion Hybrid.

For 2012, officials determined three brands emerged as winners for the first time: Subaru for its Outback, Audi for its Q5 and Jeep for its Wrangler.

Published by U.S. News & World Report, the magazine indicated 14 of the winners were introduced or significantly redesigned in the past three years, showing that newer models can offer good value while also providing the latest features that consumers want.

"You don't have to choose between a great car and a great value," explained Jamie Page Deaton, managing editor of U.S. News Best Cars.

"The award-winning vehicles are both easy to live with and easy to afford," Page Deaton continued. "With 12 brands winning at least one award, it's clear that a wide range of automakers are in tune with Americans' desire for a solid value.

"Additionally, 14 of the winners have been introduced or significantly redesigned in the last three years, demonstrating that newer models can offer good long-term value. And with the freshest technology and styling, they're more fun to own," Page Deaton went on to say.

The 23 award winners include:

-Affordable Compact SUVs 2 row: 2012 Chevrolet Equinox
-Affordable Compact SUVs 3 row: 2012 Toyota RAV4
-Affordable Large Cars: 2012 Ford Taurus
-Affordable Large SUVs: 2012 Chevrolet Suburban
-Affordable Midsize Cars: 2012 Ford Fusion
-Affordable Midsize SUVs 2 row: 2012 Ford Edge
-Affordable Midsize SUVs 3 row: 2012 Mazda CX-9
-Affordable Small Cars Compact: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze
-Affordable Small Cars Subcompact: 2012 Ford Fiesta
-Affordable Sports Cars: 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata
-Compact Pickup Trucks: 2012 Toyota Tacoma
-Full-size Pickup Trucks: 2012 Ram 1500
-Hatchbacks: 2012 Ford Fiesta
-Hybrid Cars: 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid
-Hybrid SUVs: 2012 Lexus RX Hybrid
-Luxury Compact SUVs: 2012 Audi Q5
-Luxury Large SUVs: 2012 Cadillac Escalade
-Luxury Midsize SUVs: 2012 Lexus RX 350
-Minivans: 2012 Mazda Mazda5
-Off-Road SUVs: 2012 Jeep Wrangler
-Upscale Midsize Cars: 2012 Buick Regal
-Upscale Small Cars: 2012 Volkswagen GTI
-Wagons: 2012 Subaru Outback

The magazine reiterated the Best Cars for the Money Awards are geared toward helping everyday buyers navigate what could be a confusing market.

The awards methodology combines quality and value data into a composite score. Within each of 23 model categories, the vehicle with the highest score is named the Best Car for the Money in that category on the basis of safety, reliability and a consensus of industry experts' opinions.

Officials added value is measured by a combination of a vehicle's five-year total cost of ownership and the average price paid for the unit at the time the awards are published as calculated by TrueCar.com.