Best Car To Buy: The Honorable Mentions

December 7, 2012
This next Monday, December 10, we're announcing The Car Connection's 2013 Best Car To Buy.

But as we let the winner wait just a couple more days for its curtain call, we should point out that it hasn't been easy to choose one winner among the best. There isn't a single one of our qualifying 2013 Best Car To Buy Nominees that we wouldn't call excellent. All week, we've given you a closer look at these, in a full rundown of the contenders through posts outlining all the sedans, crossovers, luxury vehicles, and trucks and sports cars that met the cut.

Altogether, they're simply the best of what's new this year.

In order to be contenders, these vehicles all needed to earn an Overall Rating (factoring in Styling, Performance, Comfort, Safety, and Features) of at least 8 out of 10; they need to have a starting price under $50,000; and we (multiple editors) need to have driven and reviewed them by December 1.

Here, for now, we're bringing you three vehicles that are the best, even of the nominees; these are the three models that came so, so close to landing in our top spot.

All three of these Honorable Mentions score very high in our full reviews and earn some of the highest numbers in our Overall Rating. That said, there are a few slight 'ifs' or 'buts' attached to their appeal.

Can you guess the Best Car To Buy winner yet? Click through the following Honorable Mention models here, then check back Monday for the official announcement.

Cadillac ATS

Overall Rating: 8.8
Bottom Line: With unerring focus on handling, Cadillac finally has the 3-Series' number with the 2013 ATS.

Cadillac's new ATS takes on the BMW 3-Series, as well as the Infiniti G37, with this compact spot sedan that crisply styled, nicely proportioned, loaded with technology, and very entertaining to drive. Its performance, as we've experienced in some extensive drive time with the V-6 model—with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive—is phenomenal, offering the sort of balanced responsiveness we've loved in the BMW 3-Series and Infiniti G37, but with even more refinement. That said, we've had very limited time with the new four-cylinder powertrains and can't yet vouch for their smoothness; the imposed techno-minimalism of GM's CUE interface may not be to everyone's liking in a sport sedan; and even though it just earned an excellent five-star federal NCAP safety rating, with very tight back-seat space, this is no substitute for a family sedan.

 

Cadillac XTS

Overall Rating: 8.6
Bottom Line: The 2013 Cadillac XTS is everything a big comfort-oriented luxury sedan should be—plus a lot more, for the safety- and tech-focused.

As the new luxury flagship for the Cadillac lineup, the front- or all-wheel-drive XTS takes a completely different tack than the ATS. In short, if you remember the Cadillac STS, when it was a showcase of tech, comfort, and mature performance—more than any other front-drive-based design of the time—that's the legacy the XTS continues today. Interior space, safety, and a high-tech feature set are the priorities here, with a backseat that offers enough legroom for those who leave the driving to others, and a cabin design that feels lavish, traditional, and futuristic, all at the same time. GM's CUE system, much the same as what's in the ATS, fits in better with the XTS's mission, while the MagneRide suspension manages to combine a quiet, composed ride with better handling responsiveness than you'd expect from a big, comfort-oriented sedan.

 

Honda Accord

Overall Rating: 8.6
Bottom Line: The 2013 Honda Accord doesn't change radically, but it proves its mettle as one of the best, most sensible American sedans.

The 2013 Honda Accord is all-new, and we can't say that it's changed radically. But the latest Accord Sedans easily keep up with the mid-size competition and outdo them in many practical respects. With a so-called “man maximum, machine minimum” philosophy, Honda mapped out the space needed for passenger space, then drew the exterior around that—yielding one of the best interiors in the business. Honda has also changed its attitude toward tech features and options, including Bluetooth and active noise cancellation on all models, while a great new LaneWatch Blind Spot Display is included on most of the lineup. Topping it off, Honda's new CVT is one of the best we've experienced, and they've managed to get 34 mpg on the highway from their V-6—four-cylinder numbers just last year. And there are new Accord Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid versions on the way for 2014.

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