Just because a car is brand-new doesn’t mean that it’s a good buy. In fact, many 2010 models suffer from the same woes as older models -- not enough power, poor fuel economy and questionable reliability. Others, however, make great choices.
With so many new-car options available, it can be difficult to separate the best from the worst. Making an informed buying decision requires that car shoppers research and compare every vehicle in a given class. Who really has time for that?
To make the process easier, we’ve identified five of the best and worst new cars offered in 2010. While most are entirely new, others are redesigned or refreshed. Be sure to add the better ones to your short list and consider crossing the worst ones off.
2010s You Should Buy
Hyundai Genesis Coupe
A newcomer to the class of affordable sports cars, the Genesis Coupe provides real rear-wheel-drive sports performance for a fraction of the price. Shoppers can choose between a 210-horsepower turbo I4 engine and a 306-horsepower V6. Plus it features a sleek exterior design, an accommodating four-passenger cabin and good scores in federal government crash tests. Not surprisingly, it debuts near the top of its class.
MSRP: $22,000 - $31,000
Ford Transit Connect
The all-new Ford Transit Connect may be the best thing that’s happened to small businesses since QuickBooks. This workman’s van provides a whopping 135 cubic feet of cargo space, an impressive city/highway fuel economy of 22/25 mpg, and loads of business-friendly features. These include an available in-car computer system that uses 2G and 3G networks to access records and track fleet activity. The Transit Connect is so well-liked that it was recently voted North American Truck of the Year.
MSRP: $20,780 - $22,350
Redesigned for 2010, the E-Class is an all-around better car than the model it replaces. It provides sportier handling dynamics, an elegant exterior design, a lavish cabin and an old-world feel that few luxury large cars can match. It also features revolutionary safety systems like Attention Assist, which utilizes behavioral detection technology to alarm drowsy drivers -- and comes standard. Best of all, the new E-Class is cheaper than last year’s model. MSRP: $48,600 - $58,800
The newly-introduced GMC Terrain adds one heck of a value package to the class of affordable compact SUVs. It shares its mechanical elements with the Chevrolet Equinox, but provides a bolder exterior design and loads of snazzy yet practical interior features. Among them is a standard rearview camera, an iPod interface and a sliding rear seat. Best of all, the Terrain affords excellent fuel economy and even leads its class with a highway fuel economy rating of 32 mpg.
MSRP: $24,250 - $31,000
Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon
For 2010, Cadillac set out to create a vehicle that combines the sporty driving dynamics of its CTS sedan with the utility of a station wagon -- and that’s exactly what it did. The CTS Sport Wagon leaves critics impressed with its superb performance abilities and stylish design, inside and out. Among its many selling points, the CTS Sport Wagon is available with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drivetrains. It also features a five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is the longest in its class.
MSRP: $39,830 - $53,620
2010s You Should Think Twice About
Honda Accord Crosstour
Given the popularity of its coupe and sedan siblings, much was expected of the new Accord Crosstour, an affordable midsize SUV. Sadly, it doesn’t match the hype. It’s luxurious and is backed by Honda’s superb history of reliability, but commands an expensive price tag. Plus, with only 25.7 to 51.3 cubic feet of cargo space, it doesn’t provide much utility. Critics are also split over its odd exterior styling. Because of these cons, the Accord Crosstour ranks near the bottom of its class.
MSRP: $29,670 - $36,220
Despite receiving a mild refresh, the 2010 Caliber still trails behind in the class of affordable compact wagons. It looks bold and provides a respectable 18.5 to 48 cubic feet of cargo room, but is marked by subpar interior materials, underpowered engine options and sloppy handling. For 2010, Dodge has discontinued the relatively sporty SRT trim and no longer offers a lifetime powertrain warranty. With such cutbacks, it’s difficult to justify buying the 2010 Caliber.
MSRP: $17,090 - $20,925
Lexus HS Hybrid
Drivers don’t know what to make of the Lexus HS -- the first luxury car to emphasize fuel economy over all else. Its interior comes jam-packed with loads of easy-to-use convenience and safety features, but doesn’t meet typical high levels of Lexus quality. And while its combined 35 mpg fuel economy is great for an entry-level luxury car, it’s nowhere near as impressive as the 50-mpg Prius. As such, it doesn’t excel as either a Lexus or a hybrid. The all-new HS ranks at the bottom of the Upscale Midsize Car class. On top of everything else, the HS may also be included in a safety recall, along with the Prius, due to a defect with the cars' braking systems. Toyota has not yet officially announced the recall, but may do so soon and is continuing to investigate the issue.
MSRP: $34,200 - $36,970
Don’t be fooled by the elimination of its hood strafes -- which most reviewers found hideous -- the 2010 Sebring is the same bad investment as it ever was. While its lower trim engine options are underpowered, its strongest engine features dismal fuel economy. Reviewers also complain that its cabin features low-quality materials and not much cargo room. The Sebring’s long-term cost of ownership is also a cause of concern, especially now that Chrysler is no longer offering a lifetime powertrain warranty. Not surprisingly, the Sebring ranks near the bottom of the Affordable Midsize Car class.
MSRP: $22,115 - $34,705
Land Rover LR4
Last year’s LR3 is redesigned for 2010 to provide greater on-road performance and more intuitive controls. However, auto writers point out that the LR4's lackluster city/highway fuel economy (12/17 mpg), Land Rover's poor reputation for reliability and high sticker price significantly detract from its overall value. And while it’s a superior off-road performer, it’s highly unlikely that anyone would take an SUV this expensive and luxurious over rough terrain. The LR4 ranks near the bottom of the Luxury Midsize SUV class.
MSRP: $47,250 - $47,250