Money may earn a commission when you click on the products and services below. Opinions are our own,
but compensation and in-depth research determine where and how they appear. Learn more about how we make money.

Published: May 09, 2023 7 min read
Illustration of many cars looking for the spotlight
Money; Getty Images

Shopping for a car? Your choices have never been more diverse. New vehicle categories are hitting the market even as the old ones remain — albeit with a declining number of models for some fading formats (think minivans, convertibles and big sedans).

Leading the additions are more shapes and sizes than ever of sport-utility vehicles, by far the biggest-selling car type in the U.S. And electric power — whether from batteries or a hybrid of gas and electrical energy — is zapping more areas of the market, creating such once-unthinkable options as battery-powered pickup trucks.

Award-winning automotive writer Jaclyn Trop had no trouble, then, in coming up with more than 100 recommended vehicles in the 25 categories listed below. Even so, not every car type is represented. We skipped convertibles, judging them to be a bit too specialized. For luxury vehicles and sports cars, we skipped Bentleys, Lamborghinis and their ilk to focus on affordable choices — and found satisfying picks at surprisingly low prices.

Appropriate to Money’s mission, value was a key consideration for choosing the best cars. So, of course, were their respective features and specifications, especially those related to safety. Finally, Jaclyn — who spends her life at the wheels of new vehicles — applied her experience in driving all of the cars. The observations from those test drives add depth and insight to make the recommendations all the more useful.

We list our top value in each category first, followed by the other picks in alphabetical order. Click on the category name for reviews of the vehicles.

Table of Contents

Best SUVs
Best Sedans and Hatchbacks
Best Pickup Trucks
Best Sports Cars
Best Minivans
How We Chose the Best Autos

The Best Sport-Utility Vehicles (SUVs)

Money; Getty Images

Representing around half of all vehicles sold, the SUV has become America’s leading family car. The vehicles now come in a panoply of sizes and power sources. Some models still retain the attributes that put the S (for “sport”) into SUV, including all-wheel drive, high ground clearance and powerful V8 engines.

Subcompact SUVs

Nissan Kicks Best Value
Buick Encore GX
Hyundai Kona
Mazda CX-30
Volkswagen Taos

2 Row SUVs

Kia Soul Best Value
Ford Bronco Sport
Honda Passport
Subaru Forester
Toyota RAV4

Compact SUVs

Kia Sportage Best Value
Ford Escape
Hyundai Tucson
Mazda CX-5
Nissan Rogue

Midsize SUVs

Hyundai Santa Fe Best Value
Buick Enclave
Chevrolet Traverse
Honda Pilot
Jeep Grand Cherokee

3 Row SUVs

Kia Telluride Best Value
Chevrolet Suburban
Hyundai Palisade
Jeep Wagoneer
Mazda CX-9

Large SUVs

Chevrolet Tahoe Best Value
Ford Expedition
GMC Yukon
Nissan Armada
Toyota Sequoia

Luxury Crossover SUVs

BMW X1 Best Value
Audi Q5
Genesis GV70
Mercedes-Benz GLC
Volvo XC60

Hybrid SUVs

Kia Sportage Hybrid Best Value
Honda CRV Hybrid EX
Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
Kia Sorento Hybrid
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Electric SUVs

Kia Niro Best Value
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Kia EV6
Toyota bZ4X
Volkswagen iD.4

Plug-in (PHEV) Hybrid SUVs

Kia Niro Hybrid Best Value
Ford Escape Hybrid
Kia Sorento Plug-In Hybrid
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Toyota RAV4 Prime

The Best Sedans and Hatchbacks

Money; Getty Images

Edged out by the various flavors of SUV, sedans and hatchbacks occupy a lot less of the road than they once did. An ample selection remains, though, including choices for those who seek a luxurious ride or a reduced environmental impact.

Subcompact Cars

Mitsubishi Mirage Best Value
Kia Rio
MINI Hardtop
Nissan Versa

Compact Cars

Kia Forte Best Value
MINI Clubman Cooper S
Volkswagen GTI

Small Cars

Hyundai Elantra Best Value
Acura Integra
Honda Civic
Mazda Mazda3
Toyota Corolla

Midsize Cars

Kia K5 Best Value
Chevrolet Malibu
Honda Accord
Hyundai Sonata
Toyota Camry

Large Cars

Dodge Charger Best Value
Chrysler 300
Nissan Maxima
Toyota Crown
Volkswagen Arteon

Luxury Electric Cars

BMW i7 Best Value
Audi e-tron GT
Lucid Air
Mercedes-Benz EQS
Porsche Taycan

Luxury Cars

Genesis G70 Best Value
Audi A5
Genesis G80
Kia Stinger
Mercedes-Benz C300

Hybrid Cars

Toyota Corolla Hybrid Best Value
Toyota Prius Hybrid
Honda Accord Hybrid
Hyundai Elantra Hybrid
Toyota Camry Hybrid

Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) Cars

Toyota Prius Prime Best Value
Volvo S60 Recharge
BMW 530e
BMW 330e

Electric Cars

Chevrolet Bolt Best Value
BMW i4
Nissan Leaf
Polestar 2
Tesla Model 3

The Best Pickup Trucks

Money; Getty Images

Though this vehicle class has traditionally been prized for utility and ruggedness, the pickup truck now offers entries that are plusher and more planet-friendly.

Compact Pickup Trucks

Ford Maverick Best Value
Chevrolet Colorado
GMC Canyon
Honda Ridgeline
Toyota Tacoma

Large Pickup Trucks

Ford F-150 Best Value
Toyota Tundra
Ram 1500
Chevrolet Silverado
GMC Sierra 1500

Electric Pickup Trucks

Ford F-150 Lightning Best Value
Rivian R1T
GMC Hummer EV

The Best Sports Cars

Money; Getty Images

The fanciest nameplates in this class come with price tags that rival those for homes in many places. We passed over the fancy brands in search of vehicles that delivered speed and style for less – and found five affordable sports cars:

Toyota GR86 Best Value
Chevrolet Camaro
Dodge Challenger
Nissan Z
Subaru BRZ

The Best Minivans

Money; Getty Images

The once-ubiquitous minivan arguably tops the list of America’s most endangered vehicles. But these people-and-cargo carriers can cost less than an SUV with similar capacity. Here are our picks for the best minivans:

Kia Carnival Best Value
Chrysler Pacifica
Honda Odyssey
Toyota Sienna

How We Chose the Best Autos

We picked the recommended cars through a step-by-step process that involved writer Jaclyn Trop combining data analysis and personal insights. Key distinctions were assigned to the finalists — which numbered between three to five, depending on the category — with accolades typically awarded for best value, best for features, best handling, best for safety and best for technological sophistication. Here's more on our methodology.