Top 10 Most Overlooked New Cars

2014Mazda6

Every year hundreds of new-car models are introduced and enter the research process for millions of car shoppers. The dizzying number of choices sometimes shrouds from the masses what are good cars.

More Top 10s

Here are 10 cars that Cars.com's editors agree are overlooked due to no fault of each vehicle's own substantial merits.

 

1. 2015 Mazda6

The Mazda6 is one of the rare family sedans that is both fun to drive and fuel-efficient; it's rated as high as 28/40/32 mpg city/highway/combined with an automatic transmission and the optional GT Technology Package, which includes regenerative braking and active grille shutters. But even the base automatic gets 38 on the highway. Good cabin quality, intuitive controls, comfortable seating and a striking design also fall into the Mazda's favor.

2014DodgeDurango

 

2. 2014 Dodge Durango

It baffles us why the Ford Explorer outsells the Durango by a ratio of more than 3-to-1. The Durango's rear-drive roots make for better handling, even for a large SUV, while the brash styling and black-tie interior should appeal to any shoppers, family or otherwise. A decent third row, optional second-row captain's chairs and a terrific multimedia system also help.

 

2013HyundaiElantraGT

 

3. 2014 Hyundai Elantra GT

The Hyundai Elantra sedan has earned its popularity and esteem, but the four-door-hatchback Elantra GT remains relatively obscure. Hatchback versions of the Ford Focus and Subaru Impreza are well-known to consumers who want SUV versatility without the size of an SUV, but the GT brings a stylish, value-packed alternative.

 

2013VWPassat

 

4. 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI

A full-size car that sells for a midsize price, Cars.com's Best of 2012 Volkswagen Passat deserves more attention than it has received. The same can be said of efficient clean-diesel engines like Volkswagen's TDI model. Running on diesel fuel, the Passat gets 40 mpg combined, hybrid efficiency with the torque guts of a top diesel powertrain.

 

2013KiaOptima

 

5. 2014 Kia Optima

The then-new Kia Optima also earned our top award, Cars.com's Best of 2011, and it has held up with few changes. It remains competitive in terms of drivability and available luxury features that few in this class offer. Kia has improved the current generation's single worst aspect — low-budget, traction-deprived Nexen tires — with better rubber across most trims, and the Optima deserves more love. Even the Chevrolet Malibu, one of the most disappointing redesigns of 2013, outsells this looker.

 

2015HyundaiGenesis

 

6. 2015 Hyundai Genesis

It may sound like a broken record, but the last-generation Genesis was also a top pick of ours in 2009 as it won the first-ever Cars.com Best of award. This new version only went on sale a few months ago, so perhaps the "overlooked" status is a bit premature. We just want to make sure we're not contributing to another stellar, near-luxury sedan with excellent performance chops being passed over.

 

2013Chrysler300

 

7. 2014 Chrysler 300

The large sedan segment isn't as competitive as midsize or compacts, but we often wonder why shoppers would bypass one of the most comfortable offerings of modern land-yachts. A plush interior, excellent multimedia system and an array of powerful engines make it a favorite of ours for long road trips, short commutes or a jaunt to the local golf course - check out the size of the trunk. It also came in second in our Full-Size Sedan Challenge.

 

2015VolvoXC60

 

8. 2015 Volvo XC60

Luxury SUVs are hot, and Volvo's XC60 delivers one of the best all-around experiences with a competitive price and terrific engines. For 2015, it gets some electronic upgrades, but it's the utility of the sizable cargo area and rear seats that have it winning out for families looking for a go-to SUV this size.

 

2015VolvoS60

 

9. 2015 Volvo S60

Compact luxury sedan shoppers may be drawn to other European brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but if they don't give the Volvo S60 a test drive, they're missing out. This sedan is nimble and fun, and with the new 302-horsepower, supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder in the T6 Drive-E trim level, it's also quick. Best of all, it costs thousands of dollars less than similarly equipped competitors.

 

2014LexusCT200h

 

10. 2014 Lexus CT 200h

The 2013 CT 200h was a hit with our staff for its sharp handling and fun-to-drive chops. Significant updates for 2014 helped put the CT on our Top 10 Fun-to-Drive Fuel Sippers, but enough of our editors thought it was still being overlooked by shoppers to merit inclusion here. It's a niche vehicle in some ways, but with its EPA-estimated 42 mpg city/highway combined, a utilitarian hatchback body style and decent level of standard features, we think more shoppers should give it a chance.

 

Cars.com editors Mike Hanley, Kelsey Mays and Joe Wiesenfelder contributed to this story.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears, Volkswagen Passat manufacturer image

Comments 

Tony

Save for Mazda6, all these cars here are crappy. So the consumer is right. Case in point Chrysler 300. Few years ago I was impressed by it at the car show. Last car show I thought, it is a cheap car sold for too much money. Durango - in 5 years it will be falling apart. Volvo - too much money for Chinese car famous by poor reliability. Passat?? Most of these cars united by one thing - in 8 years you will be sitting in an looking-old, loose, noisy box with worn-out plastics. This is what I like about Mazda - they use quality materials in the cabin. 8 years later you can still think that your car is only 3 years old. There will be no rattles, etc.
I've been in 2 10-years old Jettas. Both had gear shifter that was wobbly and loose. My 16yo Protege shifts like it came out from factory just yesterday.

bd

Kia sells every Optima it makes at its plant in Georgia.

The problem is with capacity/supply as Kia also builds the Sorento and Santa Fe Sport (for Hyundai) at a plant with a production capacity of a bit over 300k.

Mazda is having a similar issue with the 6, as they are now imported from Japan.

As for the Genesis sedan, it outsells the A6, GS and Q70.

Elliott

Unfortunately, automotive journalists have to realize most people do not listen to automotive journalists. Many car shoppers do not cross-shop, they just buy whatever vehicle or brand their family and friends purchase.

MSS

I own a 2013 CT200h and I love it!! Super fun to drive while still managing 40mpg on average. The times I've taken it on road trips to I've actually gotten 57 mpg.. Way more fun than the Prius cousin..

Steve

I'd skip on the Chrysler/Dodge too if I were looking for something new. Past experience in our family echoes Tony's comment on them falling apart. My wife was in a recent accident that totaled her '05 300 and I'm happy she was not injured, and also happy the oil burning, clunking front end, thirsty 300 went away. She replaced it with a '09 Sentra and by comparison is feels like a vault with wheels. Tight, quiet, efficient and burns not a drop in 6,000 miles. She misses how the 300 looked, and that is about it.

Sinnister

@Tony, aside from your classic Mazda, how many of these cars have you actually driven or tested? Maybe that's your profession I don't know. But I doubt it since you choose a Mazda as a great car.
The article made no claim these were great cars like your Mazda, it just said they were overlooked. If you actually know what you're talking about, great! Thanks for your professional opinion. If not, than please for the love of god, just STFU.
With kind regards,
Sinnister.

Hernán

Is not ignorance. In most of the cases like Volvo, it is past bad service experience the reson not to pick these cars.

Tony

Hey, Sinnister,

Thanks for giving me a chance. Here is what I do. I drive them, fix them and generally take a notice of how things go with the car over the years.
Now, I want to tell you about Mazda. One time, Mazda was a part of Ford for 10 years or so. And it left a scar on the company. Mazda 626 was one time outfitted with same transmission Ford Probe had. That transmission only lasted about 45K miles. The good thing was it that you could find one on junk yard because some other fords also had it. If you go back to 1998, and you someone who likes a good-driving car, Mazda 626 (what is 6 now) would totally disappoint. On the good side, ford got the chassis and powertrain from Protege and put some of their Escorts on it. And that was one reliable Ford!!! 1.9L Escort - junk, 1.8L Escort - great car. Both sold at the same time - go figure.

When Mazda disengaged with Ford and moved production back to Japan, it started to produce quality cars. Why Japan-made cars are quality? - it is something in Japanese culture. For them, it is Country, City, Work, Family, I - in this order. They are very dedicated workers. So, the things start with parts manufacturers. Cars that coming from Japan have better parts. Same part installed in America on the same models may be made by Bosch and not as good as Denso OEM. These parts were not as good weed-out by American worker, etc.

Look at the trend. Lets take Toyota Highlander. 36% increase in problems since moving production from Japan to US. CRV - today, 2007-08 CRV have 50% less problems than 2011-13 models. The difference? - back then majority of CRV came from Japan, and later they started to be built in USA and Mexico.

Mazda will follow this trend. Right now you can still buy Japanese built Mazda3 - do it!

I always wanted to make reliability index for cars by place of manufacturing. I bet, Europe is the worst reliability, then Mexico, Korea, USA, Canada, Japan. In this order. Prove me wrong. Please.

Another example, you really need to know who builds your car. Lets take Hyundai. This is like GM of Korea. They go on strike for 2 months and then they have to build all the cars they they usually build in 4 months, they now have to do int in 2 months. So, the retooling, calibrating is not as meticulous, etc. They simply need output, so quality suffers. And it was obvious when Hyundai started suddenly sell more in US and quality just went down. Not because they don't care but because they have to cut corners.

Tony

Hernán,

for the long time Volvo had image of the reliable and safe car. It is still has in many circuits perception of super safe car.

Back to reality. Back than, Volvos were made from 4 mm thick steel - and was heavy and undestructible. The reason for this is because Scandinavian weather is not forgiving. They needed a really think metal on cars so that they don't rust out really quick. Russians loved them the most - the only car that could sustain Russian winters for years. Japanese cars, in contrast, rusted in 2 years. So, with this amount of steel it was like a tank. Safe and sound. Today, Hondas are as safe as Volvos back than because safety today provided by different means - crumble zones, high strength steel and airbags. Volvo still kept innovating safety in the form of electronic warning and correction systems.

Reliability. Back then, American cars were done in 75K miles. Volvo diesels could go 250K and with all that metal in the chassis it was deemed super reliable. But when Japanese manufacturers gained market, more people realized that Volvo reliability is a myth vs real reliability.

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