The Car Connection will name its Best Car To Buy 2022 winner on January 3, 2022—and these cars, trucks, and SUVs have made the list of finalists.
To be considered for our award, the starting price must be below $50,000. Additionally, all contenders must come with standard automatic emergency braking, which has proven to reduce rear-end collisions—typically the most fatal—by 50%, according to the IIHS. Also, a Best Car To Buy nominee must be new or significantly redesigned and on sale nationwide. That left about 30 of the 260 models on sale for 2022 for us to consider.
Some of them, such as the BMW iX or Audi E-Tron GT have not been made available yet. Other models were eliminated from consideration if at least a third of our editorial staff had not driven them.
Our editorial team, featuring more than 100 combined years of automotive experience, narrowed down our Best Car To Buy list of nominees to help shoppers navigate the car shopping journey. For the next month through January 3, 2022, we will weigh the pros and cons of the nominees before we announce our winner.
Here are The Car Connection’s six finalists:
2022 Honda Civic Si
2022 Honda Civic
Sold in sedan, hatchback, and sporty Si variants, with a forthcoming Type R hot hatch, the redesigned Civic dutifully fulfills its mission as a value-driven compact loaded with features. What’s different about the 11th generation is Honda’s attention to detail on the sleek sedan. A long nose and boxy rear lend it a sporting profile that makes it appear as large as an Accord, though it isn’t. Inside, a metal mesh panel hides the vents and spans the dash, which can be crowned with a 9.0-inch touchscreen. Metal accents and available leather upholstery lend it an upscale vibe absent in past years, and available turbo-4s keep the driving interesting, especially with the 6-speed manual standard on the Si. Starting under $23,000 and barely cresting $30,000 in top Sport Touring hatchback, the new Civic appeals for our attention on more than just value this time around.
2022 Ford Maverick
The Ford Maverick is not just another pickup truck. Sharing running gear with the Ford Escape compact crossover, the Maverick has all the utility of a truck with very few of the penalties of a truck. It comes standard with a 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 hybrid powertrain with front-wheel drive and an EPA-rated 37 mpg combined. It can only tow 2,000 lb, but an available 250-hp turbo-4 with all-wheel drive can double the tow rating. At 4.5 feet long and about 3.5 feet wide, the bed isn’t big but the compact truck is versatile, with clever small storage areas, an adjustable tailgate, and enough accessories to make dreams of weekend adventuring a reality. Hard plastic shields the inside, but it works. And it starts at $21,000. The caveat: Due to its populist appeal and supply chain constraints afflicting more than just the automotive sector, Ford suspended orders of the base Maverick hybrid. It may not be available until early next summer.
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
Though technically a small pickup truck because of the open bed, the much anticipated Santa Cruz wades into the adventure lifestyle vehicle category more than as a pickup truck. Slightly smaller than the Maverick and based on the Hyundai Tucson compact crossover, the Santa Cruz rides as smoothly as the Tucson thanks in part to its independent suspension that features a self-leveling rear suspension with AWD. A 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 with front-wheel drive comes standard, but we tested only the 281-hp 2.5-liter turbo-4 and we like it just fine. Paired with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and with AWD, it can tow 5,000 lb, or it can go from 0-60 mph in the mid-six-second range. It’s a great city or suburban car for people who adventure on the weekends, and an available locking tonneau cover, a lockable and drainable trunk in the bed, and flip-up rear seats, the Santa Cruz has all the utility of a small pickup with all the comfort of a crossover. Price ranges from $25,000 to $40,000.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD
VW’s first mass-produced electric crossover is a bit of a tweener. It launched early this year in single-motor rear-wheel-drive form, with the rollout mistimed to qualify for last year’s award, which went to another electric crossover in the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. Late this year, VW introduced the dual-motor all-wheel-drive variant being built in VW’s Chattanooga, Tenn., plant with an expected on-sale date early in 2022. It earns its spot here as a spacious five-seater powered by a 77-kwh battery pack and two motors—one one either axle—making 295 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque. It’s not particularly quick, but its 249-mile range and staring price of about $45,000 keep it competitive. Like other VW crossover SUVs, the ID.4 leans to the larger size, and a fixed glass roof and open floor plan give it even more spaciousness.
2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5
The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 is an electric compact crossover that spearheads Hyundai’s Ioniq electric vehicle series. The attractive crossover channels hatchback proportions and seats five under a fixed glass roof. It can be had with a single motor in rear-wheel drive or dual motors for all-wheel drive. A standard 58-kwh battery pack on the rear-drive model delivers 220 miles of range. A Long Range model has a larger 77.4-kwh battery pack powers the single motor to 225 hp and 258 lb-ft and 303-mile range. A dual-motor setup makes 302 hp and 446 lb-ft, and has a 256-mile range. The Ioniq 5 can support 800-volt fast-charging and charge from 10% to 80% in 18 minutes on a 350-kw DC fast charger.
2022 Genesis GV70
2022 Genesis GV70
The gorgeous five-seat crossover shares a rear-wheel-drive platform with the G70 sedan and is powered by a 375-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 making 391 lb-ft that hits 60 mph in the low five-second range. A smaller 2.5-liter turbo-4 comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available. The independent suspension conspires with five drive modes to handle as firm as a performance SUV or softer for more traditional cruising. The interior elevates Hyundai’s luxury sub-brand to new heights, with aeronautical design elements such as elliptical patterns like aircraft wings spanning the dash. The standard safety and convenience features, as well as an excellent warranty, at a price just under $50,000 make other luxury compact SUVs seem underbaked.
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