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Best Car To Buy 2014: The Good Models That Missed The Cut

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TCC Best Car To Buy 2014

TCC Best Car To Buy 2014

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As we narrow the field of contenders for our annual Best Car To Buy awards—and as we revisit some of year's all-new vehicles, among the hundreds of models we test and rate each year—part of the task is figuring out what didn't quite make it into the top tier.

That work has already been done, as we've released our list of Best Car To Buy 2014 Nominees. They're the vehicles that stand at the top, among the market's all-new or redesigned entries, and we'll choose a winner from that list for our big announcement on November 12.

Some all-new models, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Jaguar F-Type, and Porsche Cayman are among the top-rated vehicles here at High Gear Media—subjectively if you ask our editors, or objectively if you look at our ratings numbers—but in order to narrow down the field for this mainstream award, with affordability in mind, we enforced a base-price limit of $50,000.

As our editorial director Marty Padgett has put it, at that price, excellence should be guaranteed. And you can be sure that those vehicles are being considered by our luxury and performance destination, Motor Authority.

We also, as we outlined in our previous post on how our nominees were chosen, require that vehicles be made available to editors for a road test before November 1, 2012, and be available for purchase by April 30, 2013. That pushed out the all-new 2014 Toyota Highlander, for instance, as we won't be given a chance to drive it by the end of October (although keep watch in upcoming weeks for more on that model).

Another group of vehicles were pushed out of contention because of their Overall Ratings. With a few safety scores still not yet reported, these models have all earned less than an 8 out of 10 overall—dropping them into a category we'd sum up as good but not great—and it's fair to say that, while they're definitely not among the year's low achievers) they're not among our top-rated vehicles:

2014 Jeep Cherokee

2014 Jeep Cherokee

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In the end, subjectivity ruled out in dismissing the 2014 Cherokee from the group. Our editors are sharply polarized on its styling—and we read the public response to be the same at this point—and its Styling rating of 6 in our Cherokee full review was enough to pull its Overall Rating below the rest of the high achievers.

As for the 2014 Kia Forte, we found that it's improved in all ways, and it still is a class standout in terms of features for the money, but we couldn't quite get over its safety ratings, which include both a bottom-of-the-barrel three-star frontal impact rating from the feds and a worrisome 'poor' frontal impact rating from the insurance-funded IIHS.

The other models here that were pulled from the list, like the Forte, were simply good efforts that either fell well short of the best in class in at least one important area, or they were generally less impressive than existing rivals that you would cross-shop.

Stay with us as we take a closer look at the candidates, up to our Best Car To Buy 2014 announcement on November 12.

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