A car must demonstrate leadership in value, dependability, performance, and safety to be among the best. All 20 on this list boast a solid blend of those virtues. From the frugal Honda Fit to the sensible Toyota Camry to the sensational Porsche Boxster and the sybaritic Mercedes-Benz S-Class, each is a standout in its segment. And each is worthy of your hard-earned dollars.
We’ve picked them to suit most every purse and every purpose, and present them least- to most-expensive. (Please note that base prices include manufacturer destination fees, which average around $900.) If you’re focused on an SUV or crossover, we’ve selected the best of those, too. For a stimulating selection of new-car reviews and videos, plus “Best of” and “Buying Guide” articles, go to CarPreview.com.
2017 KIA SOUL
Market segment: Subcompact car
Body style: four-door hatchback
Base-price range: $16,840-$23,500
What’s new for ’17: Turbo model, connectivity upgrade
For: Cheeky personality, value
Against: No all-wheel drive
Next big change: Full redesign for model-year 2019 or ‘20
It looks like a subcompact crossover and would make a fine rival for tiny SUVs like the Jeep Renegade and Honda HR-V. But Soul comes only with front-wheel drive, so it’s really a foil for small hatchback cars. At that, it’s the top seller in the subcompact-car class, where’s it stands out for great value, roomy passenger accommodations, and playful styling. Even the model names are exuberant: Soul, Soul Plus, and Soul Exclaim.
All continue with four-cylinder engines, but Exclaim makes news for ’17 by introducing to the line a turbocharged variant with 201 horsepower. It doesn’t transform this relatively heavy wagon into a hot hatchback, but finally there’s a Soul with enough verve to take advantage of the car’s competent handling. Base Soul models continue with a barely adequate 130 horses while Plus models have a more satisfactory 161. Base and Plus rate 27 mpg city/highway combined, the turbo Exclaim 28 mpg combined.
No Soul is luxury-sedan quiet or family-car cushy, but they stand out for available features. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity join the Plus model’s options for ‘17, adding to a list of amenities seldom available at these prices: leather upholstery, imbedded navigation, panoramic moonroof, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, cooled front seats, power driver and passenger seats, keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, even xenon headlamps. For those in states with zero-emissions mandates, there’s the all-electric Soul EV that can travel 93 miles between plug-in charges and starts at $33,145.