In order to stay current with the latest automotive trends and help consumers select the best vehicle for their needs, the Editors of Consumer Guide® Automotive test drive more than 150 new vehicles each year. We select the top ones in each class as Best Buys. This is our highest ranking.
A vehicle does not become a Best Buy based solely on objective ratings. It also has to distinguish itself as being a good dollar value compared to others in the class.
What’s New for 2022
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to disrupt global manufacturing and shipping, and the auto industry has been greatly affected. Due to the ongoing worldwide microchip shortage, virtually all automakers are unable to produce enough vehicles to fully meet consumer demand. As a result, dealership lots across the country are sparsely stocked, and the bottom-line transaction prices of both new and used vehicles have shot upward significantly. Some sources estimate that U.S.-manufacturer output will drop by 1.5 million to 5 million units this year, and that the chip shortage could continue through the 2022 calendar year and into 2023.
Despite these formidable challenges, manufacturers are adapting and moving forward with future product plans. Crossover SUVs and large pickups continue to sell in greater numbers than traditional passenger cars. Most industry observers believe that this trend signifies a permanent shift in American buyers’ tastes, and automakers are allocating their product-development resources accordingly. With the discontinuation of the Fusion sedan for 2021, Ford’s only remaining traditional passenger car in America is the Mustang; the company is focusing its resources on trucks and SUVs, as well as hybrids and pure-electric vehicles. Other manufacturers are moving in a similar direction. GM’s Buick division is now an SUV-only brand, and Chevrolet’s only remaining traditional 4-door passenger cars—the subcompact Spark hatchback and midsize Malibu sedan—will likely be phased out soon.
The shift toward electric vehicles has accelerated significantly over the last year or so. A growing number of pure-electric vehicles are offered in all 50 states, and new EVs continue to be introduced. Likewise, new public charging stations continue to be built, though not without a few growing pains. Many luxury-brand automakers—as well as a few startup EV companies—have new EVs in the works or ready to launch, and several of those vehicles are overtly focused on high performance. A growing number of mainstream manufacturers are pivoting toward EVs as well—most of them will have at least a few pure-electric vehicles in their respective product lineups by the end of the decade.
As has been consistent throughout automotive history, luxury and technology features continue to “trickle down” into less-expensive cars. It’s not uncommon for leather upholstery, heated seats, smartphone-app remote-access features, and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality to be offered in even subcompact and compact cars and SUVs. Likewise, semi-autonomous hands-free driving systems are proliferating in mainstream-brand vehicles. GM’s Super Cruise system, which was originally offered only on Cadillacs, is now available in select Chevrolets and GMCs, and Ford’s similar BlueCruise system is available in select Ford vehicles. Expect more such systems to follow.
Along the same lines, new safety features are constantly being introduced. With a cocoon of airbags already being common in most vehicles, the emphasis has been on avoiding an accident in the first place, via “active safety” features. Most vehicles offer forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and intervention, lane-keep assist, blind-spot alert, cross-traffic alert, and rear-obstacle detection, in some cases as standard equipment.