With new vehicle prices sitting near record highs, buyers are looking to get the best for their money when it comes to cars, trucks and utility vehicles.
Fortunately, U.S. News & World Report has taken much of the guess work out that conundrum with its annual Best Vehicle Brands rankings. The magazine reveals its picks for leading brands according to an extensive evaluation process.
“While most brands offer more than one type of vehicle, we’ve focused on their offerings when broken down into four basic categories: cars, SUVs, luxury and trucks,” the company said in a release.
“The winning brand is determined in each category by taking an average of the U.S. News overall score from each vehicle the brand has in that category. Each winning brand tends to offer options with the best combination of performance, interior quality, safety and reliability.”
Best Car Brand
U.S. News picked Honda as its best overall brand for cars for the second year in a row. Honda got the nod based in large part on the ergonomics, quality and performance of the popular Civic compact. The magazine singled out build quality, interior design and performance options as reasons to prefer the Civic and thus Honda as a whole as the best brand for passenger cars.
Moving into the midsize segment, Honda was also strong with its Accord as the best midsize offering on the market. U.S. News held out the Accord’s spacious and well-appointed interior and the car’s handling and performance. The outlet also found praise for the Accord Hybrid as a fuel-efficient option. The Accord Hybrid had previously been named the 2022 Best Hybrid or Electric Car for Families.
Best SUV Brand
The SUV category was always going to be a bar fight for best brand, but Hyundai topped the rankings in large part because the Hyundai Tucson is the best-in-class among compact SUVs. U.S. News also valued the all-electric Ioniq 5 and the Kona EV.
The family-friendly midsize SUV class also showed strength for Hyundai with the extremely popular Palisade three-row SUV and the two-row Hyundai Santa Fe. U.S. News preferred Hyundai’s safety features and infotainment offerings, as well as the existence of the Santa Fe Hybrid. The smaller Kona and Venue SUVs were also singled out as great value for the consumer’s dollar.
Best Truck Brand
In a move that may surprise some observers, Ram Trucks got the nod for Best Truck Brand. “Competition is fierce,” according to the U.S. News writers. Ultimately, the outlet looked past Ford’s all-new Lightning electric truck, and chose Ram on the strength of the brand’s luxury in combination with traditional truck capabilities.
The publication hailed the Ram 1500 for its available variety of configurations as well as its towing capacity and selection of drivetrains. But ultimately, it was ride quality and interior luxury that put Ram at the top of this list.
“When it comes to material quality and design, the 1500 is a clear leader among pickups. The interior trimmings of upper trim levels are often compared to luxury vehicles,” it said.
Best Luxury Brand
Porsche toped the luxury car list with its impressive versatility of the Porsche 911 as a sport-luxury daily driver as well as a pure sports car. With the recent unveil of the new 911 Dakar at the LA Auto Show, the 911 also boasts an appeal as an off-road adventure vehicle.
U.S. News was also impressed with the Boxter and Cayman line of less expensive Porsches, as well as the all-electric Taycan sports car and the Panamera sport-luxury sedan. The strength of Porsche’s SUV line-up also helped the brand rise to the top of the rankings.
What does it all mean?
U.S. News is a careful evaluator. According to the outlet’s methodology, they scan evaluations not only from their own experts, but also from respected media outlets across the industry. Then they consider independent safety and quality evaluations from organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and the Initial Quality Study (IQS).
With all this input, U.S. News ranks each offering within its class, and then aggregates those rankings into the four categories to select the leading brand. As always, such rankings are estimations, and any individual’s personal taste or usage needs may not align perfectly with anyone else’s evaluation.