Each year, our collective staff puts thousands of miles on the year's crop of new cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans. Truthfully, there's not a genuinely bad car on the road today like, say, the Yugo you could buy new a few decades ago, but a handful inevitably stand out as brilliant pieces of engineering, marketing, or styling—and some are all of the above.
But some fall shy of the mark and don't stand out as much as they should.
Part of the task of choosing our Best Car To Buy is figuring out which vehicles don't make the cut. We start by only looking at vehicles new or significantly updated each year, which narrows the field to the vehicles you should consider, or reconsider, against established benchmarks.
Then we limit base prices to $50,000 or less—to our editors, value is a big virtue.
Then we eliminate vehicles unavailable for road tests by our editors prior to December 1, 2016, and unavailable for purchase by April 30, 2017. That led to some vehicles being left off the list this year: the Subaru Impreza and Kia Niro are set to be introduced as 2017 models but have yet to become available for review. There's also the Tesla Model X, which has a base price well in excess of our limit.
Another group of vehicles have fallen out of the running because of their TCC Rating. With a few safety scores still not yet reported, these models have earned scores that would not exceed the top performers, even with a perfect safety result. That drops them into a category we'd sum up as good, in most cases, but not great. With some notes, those vehicles are as follows:
2017 Buick Cascada—It's the best non-sporty, not-quite-luxury compact convertible. But it's also the only non-sporty, non-quite-luxury convertible
2017 Cadillac XT5—Cadillac's replacement for the SRX is a solid effort, but it doesn't really move the bar forward.
2017 Ford Fusion Sport—It's a legitimate sports sedan, but the Fusion Sport's appeal will be limited and this sedan's interior is starting to feel dated.
2017 Fiat 124 Spider—Fiat took the brilliant Mazda MX-5 Miata and didn't really screw it up, but also didn't really make it any better.
2017 GMC Acadia—GMC's rethought Acadia is now basically an XT5, which still strikes us as an unusual move. We like the new Acadia, however, and it nearly made the cut.
2017 Honda Accord Hybrid—When the standard Accord is already really fuel efficient, the Accord Hybrid may be a tough sell even though it's very good.
2017 Hyundai Elantra—Some quirky transmission tuning turned us off of Hyundai's otherwise nice compact sedan.
2017 Infiniti Q60—Stylish and fun to drive, the Q60 nearly made the cut.
2017 Infiniti QX30—Starting with the already so-so Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, the Infiniti QX30 doesn't really improve upon things.
2017 Kia Sportage—With its Porsche-lite looks, the Sportage is stylish. Yet it doesn't quite drive as well as the best in its class.
2017 Lincoln Continental—It's attractive inside and out and boasts some great powertrains, but Lincoln hasn't let us drive the Continental yet.
2017 Lincoln MKZ—The MKZ finally looks pretty good, but new styling can't fix an otherwise deeply flawed luxury sedan.
2017 Mini Clubman—Mini has made the Clubman more practical, but some of its spark has been lost.
2017 Nissan Armada—Although it's actually a decent value up against its rivals, the Armada hit the global market all the way back in 2010 and it feels like it.