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Automotive Best Buys 2014

Looking for the inside track to a smart automobile purchase? Here’s where the rubber hits the road. Sixteen pages of reviews, 45 Best Buy recommendations—one heck of a lot of information. 

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Our quest to provide you with unparalleled guidance on identifying automobiles that serve your needs and are exceptional values is never-ending. We don’t hesitate to update our approach to market segments, we always pursue ways to refine our system, and we constantly look for highly qualified experts to add to our team.

Among such fine-tuning in the past: the expansion of the number of experts who evaluate vehicles and contribute to our project—to six in 2010; stricter requirements of the contributors when it comes to their rating of a dozen facets of vehicle performance and features; and adjusting the number of Best Buy recommendations in segments as necessary because of a growing or shrinking selection of vehicles. Each of these represents our continuing commitment to you, the consumer. Each has but one purpose: to serve you better. Nothing else matters.

In conjunction with our 2014-model-year effort, I’m delighted to inform you of three more updates. The first represents another concession to the shifting state of the marketplace. For the 2014 model year, we no longer recommend a Best Buy among small pickups. With the model selection having dwindled to fewer than a handful, we consider the identification of a Best Buy in the segment to be injudicious.

The second adjustment to our system for the sake of better serving you relates to redefining vehicle categories. Traditionally, we considered the largest of SUVs and the most luxurious of SUVs as one and the same, because both types typically are the most costly within the segment, and the number of luxury SUVs has been relatively low. However, numerous members of our team pointed out that the number of luxury SUVs had swollen to 31 for the 2014 model year. This, in conjunction with the fact that shoppers of luxury SUVs seek different attributes than do shoppers of nonluxury SUVs, led us to break up the customary Full-Size/Luxury SUVs combined category into the separate categories of Full-Size SUVs and Luxury SUVs. Now you can lean on Consumers Digest for three recommendations for full-size SUV models and three recommendations for luxury SUVs, compared with three total recommendations for the combined category.

Improvement No. 3: the addition of Susan Carpenter to our staff of automobile experts. Undoubtedly, Susan serves as an excellent resource for our evaluation of automobiles. For over 15 years, she has test-driven vehicles—of the two- and four-wheel variety—for Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times. She was selected three times to moderate the technology panel at the annual AltCar Expo, which is designed to bring together the largest collection of hybrid, electric and alternative-fuel vehicles and affiliated experts in one place.

We deemed Susan’s addition to the staff to be important, too, in consideration of you, the automobile shopper. Various reports peg women as being primarily responsible for 54 percent of vehicles that are purchased in the United States and for influencing 84 percent of all vehicle purchases. Susan enhances what returning automobile contributor Courtney Messenbaugh brings to the table: a woman’s take on automobile performance and functionality.

So, please consider our 45 Best Buy recommendations a tool that’s conceived and constructed solely and unequivocally to help you to sleep better at night after you invested a lot of your hard-earned money to buy a new vehicle. Click on the links of the specific automobile categories at left.

* Reviews of vehicles generally are published around the time of their introduction. Figures and other information that are noted in the reviews could vary with those that you will find now. Automakers occasionally revise such information during a model year.

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