Best Car To Buy 2019: Meet the runners-up

November 13, 2018

The 2019 Subaru Forester wowed us enough during our annual Best Car To Buy testing to take home our biggest award of the year. It wasn't an easy task for the Forester to nudge its way ahead during our testing.

This year's field was one of the most competitive in recent history, with a range of excellent crossover SUVs, a thrifty hybrid sedan, and even a pair of full-size pickup trucks gunning for the lead. 

MORE: Meet the 2019 Subaru Forester, our Best Car To Buy 2019

The runners-up this year deserve more than just a participation trophy. Here's why we our editors think these other nominees are worthy choices for just about anyone's garage.

2019 Acura RDX Advance

2019 Acura RDX Advance

Kirk Bell - Acura RDX

The RDX might not be a game changer in the market, but it's a game changer for the brand. It announces that Acura has come to play with the big boys. The interior takes a leap forward in quality, the driving dynamics are the best this side of a BMW X3, the turbocharged power is plentiful, and the looks will bring buyers into the showroom. I want value in my Best Car To Buy, and the RDX stacks up well against its luxury market compact crossover competitors, making it a vehicle I would recommend without question. My only reservation is the infotainment system. The absolute positioning seems to work fairly well, but I don't want to have to be that exact with my hand position to make the controls work. Bumps and G forces will cause drivers to pick unintended functions.

2019 Volvo XC40

2019 Volvo XC40

Aaron Cole - Volvo XC40

The 2019 Volvo XC40 went beyond being just another luxury compact crossover and became a new way to consider car ownership. Even if the Care By Volvo car subscription plans lands closer to “gimmick” than “game changer,” the small ‘ute has succeeded in finding new enthusiasm for a group of cars that can feel like watered-down versions of bigger, more expensive models. The XC40 is anything but: Its interior layout is intuitive and smart, and prioritizes storage in ways that other automakers haven’t considered. The XC40’s slick infotainment screen still has a “wow” factor that others lack, and the XC40 is genuinely fun to drive.

Its base price of more than $34,000 is reason for pause. So is its as-tested price of more than $45,000. But for a milquetoast and crowded field of luxury compact crossovers, the XC40 is a new approach that conventional wisdom skips. What if small cars didn’t have to look like big cars?

2019 Subaru Ascent first drive

2019 Subaru Ascent first drive

Joel Feder - Subaru Ascent

Subaru has finally joined the three-row crossover SUV party. For this Japanese automaker, the Ascent is a very important vehicle. It should stop current Subaru owners from venturing to other automakers as their families outgrow the Forester and Outback. With three spacious rows of seats, more cupholders than anyone realistically needs, and charger outlets strewn about the cabin, it’s the big Subaru current customers and dealers have been demanding. Subarus are known for all-weather capability and safety, and the new Ascent will be no different with a long list of active safety tech one expects from the brand, and standard all-wheel drive.

The Ascent has all the features buyers want, but the Honda Pilot, which was named The Car Connection Best Car To Buy 2016, is better packaged. That poses a problem. It’s almost ironic that the largest Subaru isn’t that much larger inside than the new Forester, which shows how well the new Forester is packaged. The Ascent is a good first attempt to keep current Subaru customers in the family.

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2019
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