It's nearly time to name TheCarConnection's Best Car to Buy 2011 winner--but before we do, we're cutting down our list of contenders to the finalists.
The first TCC Best Car to Buy honoree will be announced tomorrow, as our team prepares wall-to-wall coverage of the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show live from the Los Angeles convention center.
As we've pulled together the legitimate contenders for the award, we've assembled a field of new 2011 models carrying a base price of less than $50,000. Each must have been made available for a full road test by our editors, and each one must be on sale by January 31, 2011.
In the first round of semi-finalists, we reduced that list of 40 qualifying vehicles to a smaller group, in which each vehicle received a rating of 8.0 or more, out of a possible 10, from our team of car reviewers.
From here, we're cutting the list to the five vehicles with the highest numeric ratings on TheCarConnection. You can find out which vehicles our staff recommends most highly at any time, by choosing a brand or a type of vehicle, then clicking our "rating" columns to sort vehicles by our editors' scores.
The end result: five vehicles that carry scores from 8.5 and above. One of them will become TheCarConnection's Best Car to Buy 2011. The rest: strong new entries we'd recommend to nearly any buyer looking for a new vehicle under $50,000.
The finalists are:
2011 Acura TSX Wagon: The new five-door version of Acura's smallest sedan adds utility to a winning sporty road feel.
2011 BMW 5-Series: The recast 5-Series sneaks in just under the $50,000 price point with big space, a streamlined cockpit, and refined road manners.
2011 Hyundai Sonata: A value knockout, the under-$20,000 Sonata delivers on all the basics, tops the fuel-economy charts, and wraps it all in a new styling calling card.
2011 Infiniti M37: The six-cylinder version of the new Infiniti flagship wears a couture look and handles with German precision.
2011 Kia Optima: A redefined four-door, the Optima captures some of the funky goodness of the Soul and wraps in turbo and hybrid options.