ford f 150 lightning


What are the best new cars to buy? It’s a tricky question to answer, and heavily dependent on what you’re looking for. Some vehicles provide value; others shoot for excellence. Some try to be generalists; others specialize in one specific aspect. You may be looking for a hyper-efficient electric car or still want a raucous-sounding V8. We’re not here to judge.

What unites the best cars, whatever their purposes, is that they go above and beyond what they need to be. Whether it’s a trusted icon that has been mastering the art for decades or an upstart catching one of those cars’ product planners napping, the best cars do that little bit extra to provide the optimal driving experience.

There are plenty of new cars out there — and we at the Gear Patrol motoring section have driven most of them. Here is our authoritative (though admittedly subjective) list of the best cars you can buy in 2023.

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Best Small Truck: Ford Maverick

The Maverick isn’t the flashiest vehicle in the Ford lineup, but it’s a segment-bending new small truck that may redefine what a truck can be. It’s the first affordable, practical and fun new people’s car to emerge in a long while. And if that weren’t enough, the base model Maverick is now the cheapest hybrid on sale in the United States.


Best Midsize Truck: Toyota Tacoma

The Tacoma looks better than the competition; it’s muscular and athletic looking but without the forced effort other manufacturers put into that. It’s simple, capable and durable. That combo is what many truck and off-roader buyers want. And it’s why the Tacoma dominates its market segment.


Best Full-Size Truck: Ford F-150

Dropping luxury car money on a pickup seems crazy, but once you spend a little time in one of the regal Ford F-150, it feels almost logical. The F-150 is packed with all sorts of ingenious features that, combined with its immense inherent capability, arguably make it worthy of dropping $80K.


Best Heavy Duty Truck: Ram Power Wagon

Whether you opt for the well-equipped Power Wagon from the factory or start with a 2500 Tradesman then add the Power Wagon package, you’re getting a lot of truck for your money. There simply isn’t another three-quarter-ton pickup that can do all the things the Power Wagon does, let alone this well.


Best Small SUV: Hyundai Tucson Hybrid

The Tucson Hybrid does its compact crossover duty well; it’s spacious, efficient and gets the family from A to B smoothly and safely. But unlike most of its competition, it does those tasks while being striking to look at, feeling like a premium product and being genuinely fun to drive.


Best Small Luxury SUV: Genesis GV70

Genesis is still a luxury upstart — the brand did not launch its first standalone vehicle until 2017, and only branched out into SUVs last year — but the GV70 is a bold, bar-setting statement of intent from a mature automaker. The GV70 doesn’t just offer better value than the rivals like the BMW X3 or the Audi Q5. It’s just better, and it does it all at a relatively affordable price point.


Best Midsize SUV: Kia Telluride

The Telluride offers luxury amenities at an affordable price tag. It’s more polished than most of its competition from respected value brands in the price range. Unless you have a fat wad of cash to buy a Lincoln Navigator or a serious overlanding itch, the Telluride should be on your three-row shortlist.


Best Full-size SUV: GMC Yukon

General Motors makes an excellent full-size SUV under multiple badges. The GMC Yukon is our favorite of the trio. It offers a definitive style upgrade over the Chevy Tahoe, without being that much more expensive. It feels premium, without going full-on Escalade.


Best Offroad SUV: Ford Bronco

The Bronco dared to challenge the hallowed Jeep Wrangler. And Ford did the damn thing right. The Bronco is as badass as everyone hoped it would be; the Wrangler has legitimate competition and even— dare we utter this blasphemy — may have some catching up to do.


Best Midsize Luxury SUV: Genesis GV80

Best Full-Size Luxury SUV: Lexus LX 600

The Toyota Land Cruiser is special — and the LX has always been special because it’s a Land Cruiser. There just aren’t that many vehicles where you can cart the kids to school, climb a mountain without breaking a sweat and then have your driver chauffeur you into work in sublime comfort.


Best Minivan: Toyota Sienna

The all-new Toyota Sienna looks genuinely cool and provides something most of the competition — minivan or three-row SUV — does not: outstanding fuel economy and all-wheel drive in the same vehicle. That’s the sort of game-changer that can bring buyers into the minivan fold.


Best Small Car: Honda Civic

This all-new Civic is worth your attention — and not just because Honda is marketing it on Twitch to urbane young people like yourself. The Civic offers excellent handling, exceptional value, a cool interior and not one but two versions with a manual transmission.


Best Small Luxury Car: Genesis G70

The Genesis G70 is a tremendous value in the luxury sport sedan market. And it’s not just a value play. With great looks, a luxurious cabin, sporty driving dynamics and some serious engine pop, it’s just as good as its big-name rivals — maybe better.


Best Midsize Car: Honda Accord

Honda won’t let you get a manual on the Accord anymore. But you still get luxury car performance and refinement at a very affordable price point. There’s a reason the Accord has made the Car and Driver 10 Best list a stunning 36 times.


Best Midsize Luxury Car: Mercedes E-Class

Best Full-Size Luxury Car: Mercedes S-Class

These days, SUVs and crossovers (hell, arguably even pickup trucks) have become the de facto choice for luxury buyers, but a few hundred miles behind the wheel of the new S-Class will remind you just how appealing it is to drive a fancy sedan instead.


Best Station Wagon: Subaru Outback

Many vehicles try to combine the best of car-like handling and SUV-like capability and practicality, but few succeed — at a price point that mere mortals can afford — like the Subaru Outback, which packs as much space and off-road prowess as many sport-utes without the fuel-economy pain.


Best Luxury Station Wagon: Audi RS6 Avant

Mercedes isn’t selling the AMG E 63 S wagon currently to make this more of a contest. But we absolutely love that Audi brought over the RS6 Avant to the U.S. It packs 591 hp with an impressive AWD system to make the most of it. You can do 0-60 mph in a blistering 3.1 seconds when you’re running late for that school run.


Best Sports Car: Porsche 911

The Porsche 911 is the benchmark for a reason. The current generation is an objective improvement in nearly every measurable way. It is more powerful, faster, handles better, keeps occupants safer, has more advanced technology, and is even more eco-friendly than its predecessors.


Best Affordable Sports Car: Volkswagen Golf GTI

Driving it every day, the 8th generation GTI is the same GTI as always, but a little bit better. The car is still quick, lively and responsive. Steering remains precise. Driving the GTI is smooth and easy to drive from the get-go. Reactions to your inputs can be downright uncanny.


Best Sports Sedan: Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing

The CT5-V Blackwing puts out 668 horsepower from its supercharged 6.2-liter V8. For perspective, you’re getting more horsepower on tap than Cadillac’s DPi-V.R race car — with traction control that would be illegal in any racing series.


Best Plug-in Hybrid Car: Volvo V60 Recharge

The V60 Recharge sounds like parental driving nirvana — and it is. Volvo just gave it a powertrain upgrade for 2022. It now puts out 455 hp and can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds. A larger battery yields 41 miles of EV-only range. It’s also safe, reasonably spacious, has all-wheel drive and won’t blind anyone with chrome trim.


Best Plug-In Hybrid SUV: Jeep Wrangler 4xe

The Hemi V8-powered Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 will capture the hearts of many enthusiasts. But the hybrid Wrangler 4xe is the best Wrangler ever made. The added power and torques makes it a force on-road and off. And the Wrangler 4xe can do a 20-mile round trip commute without using a drop of gas.


Best Mainstream Electric Car: Kia EV6

Kia could have led off with a boring, conventional crossover EV. Instead, they went bold with the EV6. It’s aggressive and sporty-looking, and it has the impressive and fun driving dynamics to match that appearance.


Best Luxury Electric Car: Mercedes-Benz EQS

The Mercedes EQS is no sport sedan. But it rides with the sort of solidity and comfort that most luxury cars can only dream about. Bentley and Rolls-Royce engineers would be happy to extol the virtues of having ample mass when it comes to ride and NVH, and this Mercedes has plenty of mass to go around, thanks to the 108-kWh battery pack at the bottom of the chassis.


Best Electric Sports Car: Porsche Taycan

No super-sedan or sports feels quite as quick as the Taycan in the real world. The Porsche’s electric motors are always primed to give their all the instant you ask for it, no matter how fast they’re turning. To accomplish something similar in an internal combustion car, you’d have to drive around with the engine close to the power peak at all times.


Best Electric SUV: Ford Mustang Mach-E

The Mach E’s crossover body, multiple battery sizes and available all-wheel-drive handle the need, serving up ample space, plenty of range and four-season capability. The Mustang badge and sporty styling, in turn, provide the want — a ride that looks cool.


Best Electric Luxury SUV: BMW iX

It’s hard not to see the BMW iX as an ideal proposition for anyone seeking out an electric luxury SUV and doesn’t plan on going off-roading…which, let’s face it, is probably 99 percent of electric SUV buyers. Downright quick and surprisingly fun, visually compelling, and packed with clever tech, it’s a car that feels like a breath of fresh air.


Best Electric Truck: Ford F-150 Lightning

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