The 2011 USAA “Best Value” list is in your garage, scratch that, in your hands

USAA is at it again. When you step into a car dealership you want to be armed with all the data possible when searching for that perfect car. You don’t want to be hassled; you want some space and the knowledge that you have a force behind you. USAA has provided the 2011 USAA “Best Value” list to assist with your car shopping process. Steve Thompson, assistant vice president at USAA, captured it by saying, “Our members want the best bang for the buck with a no hassle experience”.

“We’re making members’ lives easier by taking the guesswork out of buying a new vehicle,” said Thompson. “The ‘Best Value’ vehicles typically have better safety ratings, lower Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price and insurance costs, higher fuel economy and better overall reliability than other vehicles in the same category.”

In a recent interview I asked how many USAA employees drove the cars on the list in order to provide input or influence in the “Best Value” list. Mr. Thompson mentioned that zero USAA employees drove the vehicles on the list in order to develop the “Best Value” list. “USAA members are more interested in a model that evaluated the facts”. He added, “Our members want objective data”.

USAA has certainly done their homework. Here are some interesting points from a USAA survey involving the emotional side of car shopping:

• Most find the car-buying process to be exciting and rewarding, but also time-consuming. Some also find the process to be frustrating and confusing, and most (79% public; 68% spouses) wish car-buying was easier.
o Exciting (73%), time-consuming (72%) and rewarding (70%) are the top three emotions associated with car buying. More than half (57%) also say it’s fun. Still, around one-third find it frustrating (37%), confusing (30%) and intimidating (27%).
o Rewarding (83%), exciting (71%) and time-consuming (57%) are the top three emotions associated with car buying for military spouses. Nearly two-thirds (60%) also find it fun. Still, 37% are frustrated, 24% are confused and 18% are intimidated.
o Military spouses who are unwilling to negotiate are significantly more likely than those who are willing to negotiate to agree with the statement “I wish the auto-buying process was easier” (83% vs. 66%).

• Most respondents feel somewhat to very confident about the car-buying process.
o 91% is somewhat to very confident.
o 88% of military spouses are somewhat to very confident.
o However, among the nearly two out of five (16%) of military spouses who won’t negotiate price, one-third (30%) say not feeling confident enough is a top reason why. One-fourth (25%) of military spouses are intimidated and uncomfortable with the negotiation process.

• Most respondents feel satisfied and exhilarated after buying a car, but also relieved. Some also are exhausted.
o Satisfied (89%), relieved (64%) and exhilarated (58%) are the top three emotions felt after buying a car. But nearly a third (29%) is exhausted. More than one in ten are worried (15%) and upset (14%).
o Satisfied (93%), relieved (77%) and exhilarated (57%) are the top three emotions felt by military spouses after buying a car. More than a third (33%) is exhausted. One in ten is worried (17%) and upset (10%).

• More than half (52%) feel they have paid too much for a car.
o Forty percent of spouses felt that they have paid too much for a car.

Military families have unique needs in vehicles. One example is luggage space, you move away from family, you are going to need to travel to see them and luggage space for the family and Fido will be important. I am sure there are many others. Although Steve mentioned that the military lifestyle wasn’t a part of the evaluation of the vehicles; it would be interesting to see this as a part of the valuation process in the future. For more information head over to USAA:

– Dan from

About “Best Value” List

USAA Preferred “Best Value” vehicles are those vehicles ranked highest in each vehicle category AND obtain “Good/Acceptable” crash test ratings from IIHS and represent vehicles which are determined to be the best financial value using a USAA-developed proprietary statistical model. The model relates MSRP to vehicle features (engine type, drive train, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, number of airbags, transmission, body additions, curb weight, horsepower-to-curb weight, height and vehicle category), fuel economy, insurance cost, additional warranty cost, depreciation, and IIHS Top Safety Pick to determine the value. In providing this analysis, USAA does not consider factors other than those disclosed.byUnknownonTuesday, March 29, 2011Military Life:,,

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