Some cars are more popular than others for a number of reasons. However, the most popular vehicles are not always the best. Many lesser-known options make better alternatives. Here are a few of the most sought-after models and their more competent substitutions.
Popular SUV: Chevrolet Equinox
Among smaller SUVs, drivers are often drawn to the Chevrolet Equinox, known for its dependability and high consumer ratings. The Honda CR-V offers those same benefits but also handles better than the Equinox. Both are reliable vehicles at extremely competitive prices.
When it comes to fuel economy, you can get around 25 MPG from the Equinox compared to 28 MPG from the CR-V. Designed for maximum visibility, the Subaru Forester also gets about 28 MPG. It also has advanced safety features, like pedestrian detection, but you’ll experience more engine noise.
Popular three-row SUV: Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer is a top seller among three-row SUVs due to its quiet operation and plush third-row seat. However, as Consumer Reports notes, these are basically the Explorer’s only benefits. The SUV does not handle well, nor does it provide a smooth driving experience.
Instead, Consumer Reports suggests the Kia Sorento for its quiet, smooth handling and accessible controls. The Sorento also has a fuel economy of around 22 MPG compared to the Explorer’s 18 MPG. Drivers who want reliability should also consider the Toyota Highlander, which comes with many advanced safety features and a more spacious cabin.
Popular car: Nissan Sentra
The Nissan Sentra is a top-selling smaller vehicle due to its excellent fuel economy, affordable price, and roomy interior. However, it also provides a rather dull driving experience, with an acceleration rate that lags behind others in its class. Rather than the Sentra, Consumer Reports recommends the Toyota Corolla.
Like the Sentra, it offers good fuel economy at a good price. But the Corolla also comes with standard safety features like automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning — neither are found with every Sentra trim. As far as appearance, the Mazda 3 gets better marks than the Sentra and Corolla. It’s also known for its quick, clean braking. However, the Mazda 3 costs slightly more than the other two models.
Popular minivan: Honda Odyssey
The Honda Odyssey provides a smooth, comfortable ride along with an improved infotainment system. Even so, it neither scores well for reliability and nor does it provide an all-wheel-drive option.
The Toyota Sienna, on the other hand, is one of the most reliable minivans, and it’s the only one with all-wheel drive. With the Sienna, you’ll enjoy a quiet, comfortable ride with plenty of leg room. The Kia Sedona is highly reliable, too. It has a solid engine and transmission that perform well in nearly any driving condition. Even so, it’s known for being difficult to maneuver.