It's been a wild year for the new car industry. Self-driving cars are on the horizon—nearer by the day—but we're not ready to give up the driver's seat just yet.
Over the last year, our team has tested out hundreds of new cars. If it's on sale today, our staff has driven it. We've evaluated it. We've ridden in it. We've sat in the front seats, the back seats, and even the third row. We've taken them on long highway jaunts. We've hit our favorite canyon roads. We've visited shopping malls. We've towed boats home from the lake.
We've done it all.
The last two years have represented big wins for family cars: the Chrysler Pacifica was our 2017 Best Car to Buy and the Honda Pilot won the year before. But in 2015, the Subaru Legacy mid-size sedan won our staff over and in 2014 the Subaru Forester proved victorious. This diverse list of previous winners certainly makes it hard to predict just who will win the 2018 Best Car to Buy.
Here's a look at 2018's contenders:
2018 Audi Q5
2018 Audi Q5
Audi Q5: Audi's compact crossover has it all: suave good looks, a comfortable interior, terrific road manners, and loads of technology. It's as conservative as the come, however, which may be tough for our team to overlook since some rivals offer more personality.
2018 Buick Enclave
Buick Enclave: Out of nowhere, Buick has come up with a three-row crossover that blends utility and practicality with luxury. It barely slides under our price curtain, so it'll be interesting to see if our staff is willing to present our top award to the base model Buick Enclave.
2018 Chevrolet Equinox 2.0T
Chevrolet Equinox: Chevy's new Equinox offers three engines including an ultra-high mpg turbodiesel. It's priced right and its interior offers terrific space for growing families. It may not be dripping with personality, but this little Chevy certainly belongs on our list.
2018 Chevrolet Traverse
Chevrolet Traverse: Chevy's biggest crossover was long overdue for replacement, but the folks in Detroit spent their time studying what made newer rivals so good without forgetting why the original Traverse remained competitive nearly a decade after being introduced.
2018 GMC Terrain Denali, 2017 Detroit auto show
GMC Terrain: GMC's twin to the Chevy Equinox brings its own style and personality to the table. It's a little dressier than the Chevy, but both share the same virtues and wide lineup of engines and trim levels.
2018 Honda Accord
Honda Accord: We're used to Honda Accords being good—great, in fact. This latest model takes things much further with its dramatic styling, turbocharged engine lineup, and big tech upgrades inside. It's also loaded with safety and convenience features at a great price.
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan
Volkswagen Tiguan: VW has taken a long time to bring a compact crossover to market with the features, design, and interior space Americans want. The wait was worth it—the new Tiguan is that good. It's priced well, sips gas, and has acres of stretch-out room inside.
2018 Volvo XC60 T8
Volvo XC60: Volvo's transformation is nearly complete. We can think of few cars—and fewer crossovers—that manage to feel this special at every level. The XC60 takes what we love about the XC80 flagship and right-sizes things for families not in need of a third row.
How we choose our Best Car To Buy
We start by only looking at vehicles that are new or significantly updated each year, and those priced under $50,000 to start.
Next, we eliminate vehicles that aren't available for road tests by our editors prior to November 1, 2017 or won't go on sale prior to April 30, 2018.
Then we make the tougher cuts. A car might be beautiful to behold, but so-so to drive. Or it may lack certain safety features that are essential to family buyers.
That leaves us with a list of cars that we need to consider against the established benchmarks and against each other. The cars above made it through all of those cuts.
We'll announce our Best Car To Buy Winner on November 14, along with the winners from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports. We'll also announce the winners in our Driver's Choice awards—as voted by you, our readers—at that time.
We still don't know what car will be the winner, but we are excited to find out. We hope you are, too.