Crossovers are closing quickly but cars still rule America’s automotive sales charts. Here are the best across a variety of categories – from the top overall car to the best reliable and best sporty cars, even the best car for the plus-sized.
As for The Best Cars of 2014, we name an overall champ and pick those that most convincingly embody their segment’s virtues. And we expand our picks to 2015 models hitting showrooms early. (Base prices don’t include options but do include manufacturer destination fees, which average about $900.)
The Best Overall Car of 2014 is the Honda Accord.
Base-price range: $22,745-$40,570
Fuel economy-rating range (EPA city/highway combined): 22 mpg-47 mpg
The 2014 Honda Accord is an all-world car that delivers big American room, solid Japanese reliability, and a decidedly European driving experience. Competing in the midsize class with the likes of the Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima, Accord offers more choices than most: two- and four-door body styles; smooth four-cylinder engines or a robust V-6; manual, automatic, and continuously variable transmissions; and not one but two hybrid choices — a conventional gas-electric and a plug-in. Available convenience features run the gamut from basic needs to luxury-class. Most Accord buyers choose a sedan with the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. It generates a more than-satisfactory 185 horsepower (189 in Sport models). V-6 Accords have a gutsy 278-horsepower 3.5-liter capable of deactivating three cylinders in low-demand cruising to save gas. The Accord Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid pair a 141-horsepower 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor. With an initial charge from a home or commercial outlet, the Plug-in can travel 13 miles solely on electric power before the gas engine kicks in; then it runs as a conventional hybrid. Fuel-economy ratings range from 22-30 mpg city/highway combined for gas models. The Hybrid rates 47 mpg combined. Under the EPA’s gas/electricity-consumption metric, the Accord Plug-in Hybrid earns a 115-mpg-equvalent rating. Available safety features include lane-departure and forward-collision alerts and Honda’s innovative LaneWatch blind-spot camera, which projects an image of the right-side blind spot on a dashboard screen. Accord sedans combine room and comfort with athletic road manners — a rare trifecta in this price range. Your inner boy-racer might like a V-6 coupe with the six-speed manual transmission. No matter the choice, there’s evidence of thoughtful design and smart engineering in every Accord. Our top pick would be the sedan Sport model. It has most everything you need in a midsize car at a sticker price of about $25,000. Toss in Honda’s reputation for reliability and strong resale value and you have a strong argument for the Best Car of 2014.