If you’re one of the many people who put off buying a new car during the pandemic when tight supply made vehicles expensive and hard to come by, things have loosened up, and now might be the right time.
But interest rates are higher and loans are a whole lot more expensive today than they were back then, so make sure the ride you have in mind gives you as much bang for your buck as possible.
Some of them are just bad cars. Others are fine vehicles, but they come with price tags that close competitors can beat by thousands of dollars. Buying a car is a personal choice, so drive home in whichever one calls your name — but, if one of these seven vehicles happens to speak to you, consider listening for other voices.
The Jeep Wrangler has earned a cult-like following through its iconic styling, rich heritage and supreme mastery of the trails. But it also has a starting MSRP over $31,000 that quickly rises to the high $30,000s, $40,000s and $50,000s for the more desirable trim packages. The highest-end options will set you back more than $80,000.
For pure off-roading, the Wrangler has no direct competitors; but, if you spend any time on the pavement, most trail-ready SUVs are more comfortable, more practical, quieter, roomier, more dependable and get better gas mileage.
The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek, for example, starts a little under $24,000 and has serious off-road chops, including standard symmetrical all-wheel drive and ground clearance that’s second to the wrangler by just one inch.
Almost universally reviled as the worst subcompact sedan on the road, the Mitsubishi Mirage continues to sell for one reason and one reason only: It’s among the most affordable vehicles you can buy.
But it’s not just inexpensive; the Mirage is cheap.
Its three-cylinder engine — that’s not a typo — puts out a painfully inadequate 78 horsepower with predictably unimpressive results.
The 2023 model starts at $16,245, which is a tantalizing price tag. But consider that the superior Chevy Spark starts at just $13,600. The Nissan Versa — also a better car — starts at $15,730.
The Fiat 500X is undeniably adorable; but, in the supremely crowded compact SUV segment, a pretty face just isn’t enough.
According to Car and Driver, it shares underpinnings with the mighty Jeep Renegade, yet it “offers essentially zero off-road capability.” Also, its fuel economy is just OK and driver-assist tech doesn’t come standard.
It starts at a hair under $29,000, which means many similar models offer more for less. The Kia Seltos, for example, starts at under $24,000, as does the Mazda CX-30. The Hyundai Kona starts at under $22,000.
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Like all Land Rovers, the Discovery Sport’s off-road bona fides are unimpeachable; but, unless you truly spend a lot of time fording rivers and traversing boulder formations, you’re paying too much.
Publications such as Car and Driver consistently give the Discover Sport lukewarm reviews because comparably priced rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC-class and the BMW X3 are better highway vehicles that offer more punch, better handling and a more exciting driving experience.
The Discovery Sport starts at $44,600, close to both the GLC-class and the X3. Despite its similar price tag, though, it can’t compete with either as a top-shelf luxury compact SUV.
The Nissan Titan is not like the others in the popular full-size pickup segment — and that’s not a good thing. It offers but one engine configuration: a 400-horsepower V-8 that will get you just 16 miles per gallon. All of its competitors are far more customizable.
Car and Driver, which ranks it dead last in the segment, loathes its poor ride quality and clumsy steering while pointing out that it suffers from the lowest towing capacity in its class.
Its starting MSRP is $38,810 — much more expensive than superior vehicles such as the Ford F-150, GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevy Silverado 1500.
A small SUV with a $26,600 price tag, the Chevy Equinox exists in one of the auto industry’s most crowded segments — and publications such as MotorTrend argue that its unimpressive powertrain, cramped cargo space and inability to hold its value long term mean you can easily get more for roughly the same price. Its only engine option is a poky 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder.
You would do better with the comparably priced Toyota RAV4 or Ford Escape.
Lincoln is Ford’s luxury brand, and the Corsair is based on the Ford Escape. With an entry-level MSRP of $36,690, the Corsair starts at $9,000 more than the latter. Granted, the Corsair delivers a much more upscale package, but Car and Driver argues it’s not enough to compete with European competitors such as the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-class and Audi Q5. For the same price, you could get something with far more utility, such as an F-150, Explorer or Bronco.
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