From electric luxury vehicles to crossover SUVs and off-road-capable SUVs (gas and electric), the field of nominees for Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy award only continues to widen its appeal. For the 2023 award we find a supercharged pickup truck making the nominee list while a barrage of electric vehicles claw their way onto the market, and into our list of finalists.
The list of contenders this year started at nearly 30, but quickly was whittled down to just seven finalists.
We’ll detail each of the seven leading up to the Jan. 4, 2023 reveal of the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2023 winner. In the meantime, here’s why these vehicles didn’t make the cut.
We heard plans for an Acura MDX Type S were in the works back in 2020, and two years later it’s come to life. After Acura morphed its three-row SUV into a flagship it shoved a turbo V-6 under its hood, fitted an air suspension system at all four corners, and placed a Type S badge on its tailgate. The result? An Acura MDX Type S that shoots for sport but ends up more comfortable than ever. Honda and Acura’s first air suspension system in a production car has sublime manners; it’s possibly better sorted than anything BMW offers in the X5, but it’s not enough to make the final cut for this award.
Aston Martin took the DBX crossover SUV, which itself is a brilliant all-around performer, and turned up the wick. Aiming for the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT and a Nürburgring lap record, the Aston Martin DBX707 arrived this year with nearly 700 hp, an overhauled powertrain, upgraded chassis, and redesigned front and rear ends. Aston expects it to be the DBX’s volume seller despite the cost of $235,086. Its powertrain is an endangered species that sings a quiet riot and makes for quite the swan song, but this player teams its extraordinary performance with that nosebleed price tag to make for very narrow appeal—supercar-narrow.
The BMW i4 M50 marks a fast start for M’s electric performance era, but is that enough? The answer here is no, which is why this electric Bimmer didn’t make the final cut this year. Based on the 4-Series Gran Coupe, the i4 has plenty of room for improvement. The power is immediate and strong, but the i4 is hilariously heavy at 5,018 pounds. The compromised package has no frunk, loses interior space to the battery, and sports a smaller cargo area than its gas-powered sibling. There’s simply too much compromise here, despite all the beauty.
The BMW iNext morphed into the iX electric SUV with 500 hp and 300 miles of range at its debut. At $84,195, it sports 516 hp and an EPA-rated 324 miles of range in iX xDrive50 form. A handful of editors have had seat time and all walked away impressed with its luxurious and comfortable interior, quick acceleration, plentiful power, and range. But its looks are divisive at best and BMW’s already unveiled its next-gen electrical architectures and battery pack technology. It’s hard to give the iX an award when even BMW admits it’s already moving on.
It took about a decade longer than it should have, but GM finally shoved a supercharged V-8 into the Escalade and slapped a V badge on the overpowered people mover. The Cadillac Escalade-V goes big in every way with 682 hp pushing the 6,217-pound SUV through the quarter-mile in 14.2 seconds after you pony up $149,990. Its active exhaust system barks loudly enough to startle people. It can even be had with GM’s fantastic Super Cruise hands-free driver assist system, though it’s a $2,500 option. It’s big and it’s brash and it’s a rollicking good time—and it’s an echo of an era rapidly fading into memory.
The Z06 has returned! With a 670-hp flat-plane crank V-8 mounted midship, the latest Z06 is unlike any Corvette in history. With a price of $106,393, should you actually be able to buy one for that, it’s also the most expensive Corvette in history once optioned. With a top speed of 195 mph the latest Z06 heaps sound and fury on an exotic design. From the get-go the latest Corvette Z06 looked like a ringer for Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2023, but Chevrolet wasn’t able to furnish one for testing beyond Senior Editor Kirk Bell’s limited seat time at the launch.
Last year the Ford F-150 Raptor didn’t make the cut because we knew the R model was coming and it would fix the Raptor’s cylinder-count and power deficits. This year the off-road pickup shoved more power at the problem with the launch of the F-150 Raptor R. But it costs an astonishing $109,145 to get that 700-hp supercharged V-8 under the Raptor’s hood. That’s a lot of money. While the power is great, Ford’s own Bronco Raptor simply overshadows this pickup truck.
The Ford F-150 Lightning is the best F-150 money can buy. It’s quicker than originally advertised, can do crazy things like power your house, and might be slightly underrated from the factory in terms of power. But we struggle to justify the Lightning in its current form as an enthusiast vehicle. Give us a regular-cab short-bed configuration (like the original Lightning) and we’ll talk, Ford.
The Genesis GV60 puts a more luxurious spin on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, wrapping the same impressive E-GMP platform in an equally eye-catching body. That’s where the road stops for the Genesis EV: Its packaging is the least useful of the three, its overall design might be our least favorite (though it’s still great), and it’s both the most expensive and least efficient. It’s still fine inside and has exceptional features, but we’re more smitten by its siblings.
The GMC Hummer EV showed how electric off-roading can be. It went into production essentially on time (though production ramp has been painfully slow), and it’s quick with a 0-60 mph sprint of 3.0 seconds despite weighing over 9,000 pounds. GMC has had major birthing pains getting the Hummer EV to customers, and showing up is more than half the game. It’s out.
The Trident has a supercar, again. The Maserati MC20 launched a new mid-engine platform with a twin-turbo V-6 powertrain. It will eventually be electrified, a Spider’s already been unveiled in the form of the MC20 Cielo, and Maserati’s taking it racing. The MC20 drives beautifully, as it builds confidence through feedback, but at $212,000 it’s out of reasonable reach.
The latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class might look like a refresh from the outside, but the interior was dramatically revamped with a host of new mechanical changes. The result is a new C-Class that feels, and acts, smoother and more grown-up. It’s roomy, comfortable, and the infotainment system is much improved in terms of functionality, but pricey options start to make us wonder after just a few boxes get ticked. Catch us next year with the AMG edition and we might have a different story to tell.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS lineup was expanded for family hauling duties with a three-row crossover SUV model. We found it rocks the electric crossover SUV cradle, but at $105,550—which can easily swell to $150,000 with some options—this three-row family hauler isn’t a value. Also, it still has the weirdly tuned braking system from the EQS hatchback and a soft, undulating suspension setup. It was knocked out of contention mid-way through the process.
The Mercedes-Benz EQ lineup is expanding at a rapid rate and the latest addition comes in the form of the EQE sedan. We found the EQE 350+ slips into the electric-luxury mainstream with ease, but some of the larger and more expensive EQS’s flaws carry over. Most notable among them: that same awkward brake tuning. The cab-forward design motif is intact, though shrunken to mid-size proportions, but the bling with Benz logos all over the place is here in spades. Starting from $76,050 the EQE does nothing to offend, but it didn’t attract any cheerleaders among our editors, either.
The iconic Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has morphed into a full-fledged AMG model for its latest generation. This led to a sharper-edged Mercedes-Benz AMG SL-Class. While it became more welcoming to enthusiasts, it also comes with an AMG-like price that starts at $138,450. That’s a $46,455 price increase over the outgoing SL. Is it worth it? If you want a sporty grand tourer with a healthy dose of luxury, yes, but most of our team would be hard-pressed to take it over the Porsche 911, which was named Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2020.
The Nissan Z lives! The latest Nissan Z is faster, softer, and better looking than the last two generations combined, but it didn’t show up for final testing. It’s hard to see how it would have competed with this year’s extremely tough list of nominees, given its slight tilt toward grand touring.
Some of us think the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS could’ve won this year’s award without much effort. That would’ve made it a repeat winner, as the Porsche 718 Cayman was named Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2014. The 718 Cayman GT4 RS writes a love letter to mid-engine design and might be as close to mid-engine Porsche perfection as we’ll come before the electric era. But timing wasn’t in our favor: most U.S. drivers won’t get to touch one until next year. There’s always 2023, we guess.
The Land Rover Range Rover has reasserted itself as king of the luxury SUVs. Moving the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator to the side, the latest Range Rover layers on the wood, leather, and technology to be king of the country club hill. It went into this year’s competition with a strong showing of support by the editorial team, but it’s certainly not cheap and the most exciting model–the Range Rover EV–is still over a year away.
Editors debated whether we liked the Land Rover Range Rover or Range Rover Sport better when it came time for award season. It quickly became apparent that it didn’t matter, because like its larger, more expensive, sibling, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport wasn’t able to find its way into our editorial team’s garages or to final award testing. It passes the plug-in vibe check, but as it’s just trickling into showrooms, it wasn’t available Stateside during our evaluation week.
The Rivian R1T electric pickup broke down some barriers last year when we named it Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2022. We were curious to see if the R1S SUV would follow the truck’s path. Our first stint behind the wheel proved Rivian’s electrified the adventure SUV, but Rivian continues to experience production hiccups that have profoundly impacted its sales, and its ability to field a vehicle for our competition.
- Mini Convertible turns 30 years old
- 2024 Mini Hardtop, Gemballa supercar: This Week’s Top Photos
- Aion Hyper GT electric sport sedan revealed
- Additional 2023 Polestar 2 BST Edition 270s allocated for US
- Nissan Z SUV, Nio ES8, Cadillac Goddess: The Week In Reverse