By on May 12, 2016

2016 Mazda MX-5 red front

Over the past few weeks, TTAC instituted a formula by which the Best & Brightest and TTAC’s editors and contributors would choose 2016’s Ten Best Automobiles Today and 2016’s Ten Worst Automobiles Today.

Earlier this week, the winners and losers were revealed. But does the TTAC Best & Brightest agree with the great American consumer? Are TTAC’s picks in keeping with the choices made by millions of new car buyers?

We’re answering those questions by looking at the market performance of each winner and by providing additional insight from a devil’s advocate. Do the winners deserve to be winners?

The winners certainly do not accurately represent a cross-section of the new vehicle market. There are no pickup trucks in the top ten, although pickup trucks account for 15 percent of the auto market. Only one utility vehicle cracked the top ten, although SUVs and crossovers now account for nearly four out of every ten new vehicles sold in America.

Yet the nine cars on the list, while representing little more than 6 percent of the available car nameplates on sale in the United States, collectively generate more than 10 percent of U.S. new car sales volume.

2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

10th Place: Volkswagen Golf

Does The Marketplace Agree? Not at all. The diesel emissions scandal hasn’t had a huge impact on Golf volume in early 2016: sales are down only 6 percent in a category that fell 5 percent in the first-third of the year. But the Golf is still terribly rare in America. Even the fast-fading Jetta sedan sells twice as often as the Golf lineup, which derives 57 percent of its sales from the GTI, Golf R, and e-Golf.

Devil’s Advocate: Yes, in my mind, the Golf is wholeheartedly deserving of placement among the Best Automobiles Today. But now wracked by scandal, the long-term Golf proposition is sketchy. Rear seat legroom isn’t great compared with Civic and Corolla. And you can’t get the Jetta’s amazing 1.4 turbo.

2016 Volvo XC90, Image: Volvo

9th Place: Volvo XC90

Does The Marketplace Agree? Increasingly, yes. The XC90 is powering the Volvo brand as other models struggle. Volvo is on track to sell more than 30,000 XC90s in America for the first time since 2007.

Devil’s Advocate: Again, the XC90 was one of my picks. But if we’re honest, the impressive touchscreen requires too many glances away from the road. A cramped third row is anticipated, but second row space isn’t great, either. Ride quality ought to be smoother and wind noise isn’t befitting a vehicle in this price range.

2016 Mazda6, Image: Mazda USA

8th Place: Mazda 6

Does The Marketplace Agree? Not even remotely. The list of midsize cars which outsell the Mazda6 is long: Camry, Altima, Accord, Fusion, Malibu, Sonata, Optima, 200, Legacy, Passat. Most outsell the Mazda6 by at least two-to-one. And while midsize volume is down 3 percent this year, sales of the Mazda6 is down 34 percent.

Devil’s Advocate: The 6 is a blast to drive, shaming almost all of its competitors on the dynamic front. But it’s not among the most refined sedans in its class. There’s limited rear headroom and a big centre rear hump that make the jump up from the Mazda3 seem like a waste, particularly when you consider the lack of optional all-wheel drive.

2015 Mazda 3 5-door

7th Place: Mazda 3

Does The Marketplace Agree? Sort of. The Mazda3 is not among the most popular compacts in America (although it’s among the more dominant vehicles in Canada), but it’s not nearly as forgotten in its class as its big brother, the Mazda6, is in its own class. 5 percent of the compacts sold in America in 2016’s first four months were Mazda3s. Only 2 percent of the midsize cars were 6s.

Devil’s Advocate: I won’t deny it: the Mazda3 is my favourite small car. But it tends to look cheap outside of the high trim levels and the level of road rumble compared with newer entries from Honda and Hyundai can become irritating quickly.

2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS

6th Place: Porsche 911

Does The Marketplace Agree? Most definitely. The 911 isn’t a common car, of course, but by the standards of high-priced sports cars, the iconic Porsche is decidedly popular. Year-to-date, the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Mercedes-AMG GT, Cadillac ELR, BMW i8, Nissan GT-R, Dodge Viper, and Audi R8 have combined for 2,886 sales. Porsche USA reported 3,182 911 sales during the same period.

Devil’s Advocate: They say it doesn’t steer as sweetly as it used to? (I still haven’t driven a 911. —Mark)

2016 Honda Accord sedan

5th Place: Honda Accord

Does The Marketplace Agree? Undeniably so. The Honda Accord is routinely among the three top-selling midsize cars in America. Although U.S. sales of midsize cars are down 3 percent so far this year, Accord volume is up 13 percent to 108,599 units through the first-third of 2016.

Devil’s Advocate: Well it’s all just a bit too normal, isn’t it? The Accord is a wonderfully balanced car. There’s all this room with all this ride quality and all this dynamic ability. There’s a range of exceptional powerplants. It’s efficient and affordable. But must you drive what your neighbour drives?

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Image: General Motors

4th Place: Chevrolet Corvette

Does The Marketplace Agree? Indeed it does. The Corvette is a high-dollar, two-seat sports car which, in April, outsold the Audi A4, Subaru WRX/STI, Audi A3, Lexus IS, Buick Verano, Lincoln MKZ, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Volkswagen GTI, Chevrolet Volt, Buick LaCrosse, BMW 2-Series, Cadillac ATS.

Devil’s Advocate: The styling has gone somewhat over the top in the latest C7 form. Round back, there’s still a suggestion that they just don’t know what to do with aaaaaall that. And speaking of suggestions, there’s a whiff of exposed and graying chest hair about the whole thing, isn’t there?

2016 Tesla Model S

3rd Place: Tesla Model S

Does The Marketplace Agree? Tesla, of course, doesn’t issue monthly, model-specific, market-specific sales figures. Based on estimates from HybridCars.com, however, we know that the Model S easily outsells big luxury cars such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS, Jaguar XJ, Porsche Panamera, and Audi A8.

Devil’s Advocate: There’s the whole issue of the company’s long-term survival. The interior’s minimalism, over time, may simply appear spartan. Quality concerns are not exactly unheard-of.

2016 Ford Mustang GT convertible

2nd Place: Ford Mustang

Does The Marketplace Agree? Very much so. Mustang sales growth has stalled, but there have already been 42,862 Mustangs sold in America in 2016’s first four months, a successful follow-up to 2015, when the Mustang easily trounced the Chevrolet Camaro (which still distantly trails the Ford) thanks to its best year since 2007.

Devil’s Advocate: The EcoBoost sounds dreadful, doesn’t possess the kind of throttle response you want in a car like this, and isn’t worth the extra money over the V6 or the savings compared with the V8.

2016 Mazda MX-5 White

1st Place: Mazda MX-5 Miata

Does The Marketplace Agree? In a sense. Historically, the MX-5 Miata is the planet’s all-time best-selling roadster. In the United States, the new MX-5 is selling better this year than the old MX-5 was last year. But performance car buyers are more likely to turn to the Toyobaru twins, the BMW 2-Series, or the Volkswagen GTI. Buick sold more Cascadas in April than Mazda sold Miatas. And Mazda will be hard pressed in 2016 to get Miata volume back to the level of 2006, when nearly 17,000 were sold.

Devil’s Advocate: I got nothin’.

[Image Sources: Mazda, Honda, Ford, Tesla, Porsche, General Motors, Volvo]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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50 Comments on “List Of TTAC’s 2016 Ten Best Automobiles Today Is Mostly One Big Disagreement With The Marketplace At Large...”


  • avatar
    carguy

    The fact that car enthusiasts tastes differ from the rest of population should not come as a surprise to anyone.

    • 0 avatar
      laserwizard

      How does an Accord – a bloated caricature of its nameplate, make this list based on enthusiasts. It is as plebian and passionless as a black line on white paper.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        It’s an affordable, reliable, well equipped and decent performing midsize sedan that is legitimately fun to drive. Every car doesn’t have to be a LaFerrari to be an enthusiast’s choice.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Sporty,
          Keep in mind that lazerwizard is comparing the Accord to his own ’87 Ford Escort, so he’s a bit spoiled in that regard. You can understand his disappointment in Honduh.

          • 0 avatar
            Corollaman

            Those who find the new Accord bloated, can now buy a Civic, which is similar in size to the 90’s Accords.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Honda has been one of the best in the industry at holding the line on weight. The base Accord is only 3100 lbs and change. There are C-segment (one size smaller) cars which are as heavy or heavier.

        • 0 avatar
          FromaBuick6

          “Legitimately fun to drive.” Compared to what, a Camry? A Ford Tempo?

          I’ve owned a variety of cars, include several generations of Accord, and my ’14 Sport just isn’t that special, even with a stick. Sure, it seems peppy for a four, has some semblance of steering feedback and the suspension is stiff enough that it doesn’t induce the feeling you’re about to tip over in a corner, but that’s about it. The interior is too cheap, the stereo is joke, the thin, soft paint is an embarrassment and the brakes inspire no confidence whatsoever.

          It’s boring and mediocre. It’s been a very good car for me and I have no regrets in two years of ownership, but all the misplaced praise is getting really tiresome. If this is “the enthusiast’s choice,” that just means the Accord’s competitors (still) really suck.

      • 0 avatar
        brucebanner

        Go drive a V6 accord. Drive it as fast as reasonable in the city. You’ll smile.

  • avatar

    “In the United States, the new MX-5 is selling better this year than the old MX-5 was last year. But performance car buyers are more likely to turn to the Toyobaru twin”…

    They shouldn’t. British AutoExpress tested the MX-5 against the GT86. Turned out that the Mazda was quicker around the track.

  • avatar
    slance66

    A Ten best list almost always favors cars that are really good at a fairly narrow job description. This one includes three MX-5, Corvette, 911 and Mustang that are largely useless as vehicles to the vast majority of the population.

    In contrast, people want a “Swiss army knife” vehicle, that can do a bit of everything, even if it isn’t great at anything. The list has a few of those too, and not surprisingly, those are the ones that sell.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Thats whay what we really want is an Accord which is also a wagon as well as a convertible.
      I think this would make it the perfect all around car.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        It’s also why we own a compact (commuting), a CUV (family hauling), and a roadster (fun). A jack of all trades is nice, but I prefer specializations.

        Plus, my S2000 tires don’t last long and are expensive. I’d prefer to put 100 miles a day on my Mazda 3 instead.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “And speaking of suggestions, there’s a whiff of exposed and graying chest hair about the whole thing, isn’t there?”

    Screw ’em…if I owned a C7, the haters wouldn’t even see my graying chest hair – all they’d get would be a permanent view of my taillights. Old guys rule.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    It should be noted that the one info resource which trumps the litany of Internet reviewers, press magazines, online blogs, YouTube videos, and chest- beating Euro- car group bromance sessions about the awesomeness of all things German:

    Word of mouth.

    Why does Jane Q Public decide for a Camry over a Mazda 6? Because half her family owns Toyotas and loves them, and the only dude she knows with a Mazda is the weird cousin who owns that rusty Miata with the stanced wheels.

    People operate by and large with the herd mentality, and when it comes to mainstream cars it’s actually not a bad metric to use. If ten folks in your family own Brand X and said brand doesn’t poop the bed with any of them, that’s a good measure of how good (or not) a company can be.

    When it comes to luxury brands is where things spin off into the weeds. Average folks who own expensive cars will overlook every problem it has, because It’s A Mercedes /BMW / Audi.

    It also reinforces a sad fact of the business- average consumers don’t care about the driving experience.
    We live in the day and age of the Driving Appliance. Having fun with your car sounds more like enjoying a trip to the laundromat insofar as the mainstream folks go.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, it’s a herd mentality, but a car is also a major purchase, and the worst thing about that is always the unknown. Thus, listening to your friends, family and co-workers about what they bought. Thus, buying a Camry versus a Mazda 6 because of the Camry’s reputation.

      Makes sense.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s also due to the rise of immigrant buyers in many markets. For quite a few of these buyers, it’s all about the two R’s–reliability and resale. Things like the “driving experience” are of secondary concern.

  • avatar
    derekson

    The Cascada outsold the Miata?

    I guess rental companies still buy lots of convertibles, especially in CA, FL, HI, etc.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    It doesn’t surprise me that TTAC’s 10 best are somewhat a polar opposite to what actually sells, but a car that is a driving enthusiast’s dream – unless you’re young – gets old real fast if you use it as a daily driver – depending on your commute.

    I think about my tastes in driving over the years, and 35-50 years ago, the more spartan, rough-riding vehicle it was, the more I liked it. Now? not so much, but I did enjoy the 1992 Wrangler I had for less than two years, and would have kept it if it wasn’t such a pile of garbage, repair-wise.

    I’ll admit it – I love my 2012, old tech, horribly outdated W-body Impala LTZ. It’s perfect for my current life of a very long commute. In 10 months I may be feeling differently. Truth be told, it’s a very nice car w/o a touch screen to distract me. Hey! what’s not to like? It has chrome door handles!

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I think it all depends on how you define “dream”. The myriad of sport sedans and sport CUVs/SUVs are comfortable when warranted and can boogie when needed.

      I also think many of the two seaters and 2+2s wouldn’t have an overly punishing ride thanks to adaptive dampers but entry and exit can be challenging.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        We owned a 2007 Mazda MX5 (Miata) for 2 years. It was a sport model, 5-speed stick. It rode like an old truck and beat the daylights out of me on my commute, plus only having 5 gears made it run 3500 rpms at 65 mph! Drove me crazy and wasn’t fun. Just not a highway hauler.

        Almost two years later I put new tires on it and what a difference! That thing rode as smooth as a larger sedan! It probably couldn’t carve the corners like it could with the older, stiffer tires, but much easier on the driving. Then we sold it in order to cut our costs.

        Would I want another? No. Although a very cool ride, getting in and out of ours began to affect my knees, and I don’t need any problems like that.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      This is why I like my base model Challenger, it looks mean as hell but it drives like a Buick. It has a mild exhaust burble that other Pentastar cars don’t have, and that’s as far as the performance goes. I had a police Crown Vic, the rock hard springs and road noise sucked and I don’t want to own another car like that.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Zackman,

      I’m not even that old (32) and I agree. I’ll hang on to my S2000 as long as it still runs or I don’t ball it up somehow, but I don’t commute in it more than one day a week for a reason.

      Truth be told, I’m out of my mazda 3 as soon as my wife’s car is paid off. I want something a bit more quiet and comfortable to rack up the miles on.

  • avatar
    Cestode

    If sales success = “best” then Avatar and Titanic are the best movies ever made; Bud Light and Coors light are the best beers; McDonald’s and Subway make the best food; Justin Bieber is better than Pink Floyd.

    I’ll take the opinions and tastes of the TTAC commentariat, in regards to cars, over that of the dispassionate masses any day.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      This, precisely. Not every example of popular taste needs to be justified. You can play devil’s advocate all you want, but sometimes the public doesn’t get it right. To wit:

      “In the 2000s, only one foreign act sold more music in the US than The Beatles. Sadly, it wasn’t Italian group Eiffel 65, despite the fact that ‘Blue (Da Be Dee)’ blasted at every Bar Mitzvah, bowling alley, and gay bar in the country. No, no, it was Nickelback.”

      http://www.zimbio.com/Chris+Martin/articles/g-bR6Zpxjp4/Incredibly+Successful+Bands+Piss+People+Off

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      You could very very easily have picked some incredibly much worse movies to prove your point, but other than that, I agree wholeheartedly.
      Admittedly hipsters are so ‘mainstream’ today that I can love Metallica and the Transformers movies un-ironically and still annoy most people I meet.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Titanic was pretty good. Avatar, while completely empty from a storytelling standpoint, broke new ground in CGI.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    God damn it Mark! I’m at work. Stop making me choke on LOLs.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Keep in mind, you’re getting your opinions from a crowd who: 1. Will happily nit-pick every error (real, perceived, or imagined) from a manufacturer to death, 2. Borders on absolutely militant on how cars SHOULD be made (believing they have better knowledge of the market than those who are paid to do so), and 3. For the most part absolutely refuses to put their money where their collective mouths are, because they refuse to buy a car new (“let some other sucker take the depreciation”).

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      Concur on #’s 1 and 2. Are you sure on #3? I own one of the cars on this list and I have to believe that many others do also.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I’m sure the B&B own a lot of cars, but if you let people tell it they never buy new. So off the bat their demands of what new cars manufacturers should sell are rendered null and void.

        I enjoy talking about the business decisions of car companies in a general way… but a lot of people here take manufacturers not building cars to their whimsies that they will never buy new as a personal insult. It’s exhausting sifting through that to read the commentary of value.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        Own one, lease another. I like new cars more than I like fancy cars, and I don’t mind paying the depreciation hit as long as the car itself is inexpensive enough.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Note, I said “for the most part”. I know for certain that there are people here who when they buy, buy new (start with Zackman and there’s a few others who immediately come to mind). But, if the comments are proportional, they’re completely outnumbered by the crowd who will not spend that kind of money.

        Unscientifically, over the years I’ve noticed a general inverse proportion between willingness to buy a new car and stridency in opinion as to what the auto industry should be putting out.

        In a perfect world/internet: You buy a new car and for the next year you’re allowed to comment on auto blogs discussing new cars. After that, you can only observe until you buy another new car.

        Yeah, dream on.

        • 0 avatar
          Zackman

          Depreciation be hanged!

          Y’know, Syke, I try to buy new because I tend to buy what my eye(s) see, and I all too often get hosed one way or the other. I’d rather just rook myself on the front end and know what I have rather than being taken to the cleaners with someone’s previous rolling junkyard.

          I can’t win either way, but buying new sure makes me feel better!

  • avatar
    Prado

    In my opinion, lack of sales success for the Mazda6, 3, and Golf are the fault of the manufacturers, and not with the product itself. Specifically with pricing and option packaging. Mazda6 is a great car, but the Fusion has the same strengths for thousands less (real transaction prices). Mazda3, like Timothy eluded to, comes off as cheap unless loaded up. It needs better wheels, at least as an option, for the 2.0. Loaded up, it isn’t a very good value, which is disappointing for a car primarily made in Mexico now. Golf, also now made in Mexico, doesn’t compete very well on price either. Why aren’t they priced/discounted similarly to a Jetta? They would sell a lot better. Availability also appears poor, especially in mid level trims that should be the volume sellers.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    By all accounts, the Mazda 3 is a lot better driving car than a Corolla, yet around these parts, you will see 50 new Corollas b4 you see one single 3. Now I am seeing a lot of the new Civics.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Yeah, this is not a strong Mazda market, surprising since this area is big on imports, perhaps the dealer network is not so strong, nor are they willing to negotiate like Toyota does. Ditto for Subaru.

  • avatar
    manu06

    We looked at the Mazda 3 hatch based on a coworker’s recommendation. Otherwise I might have
    headed straight to the Honda dealer. But based on the decent experience with the 3, I looked at
    a used Miata in addition to both the Toyoburu twins used. The Miata just drove better and now
    we’ve got two Mazda’s . Very easily could have made safer choices.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    My wife and I own two Mazdas: a ’13 CX-5 and a ’16 6. We love both of them and would definitely buy the same models again if something happened to ours. I still say Mazda’s number one problem is brand recognition. I have had more people than I can count ask me what my car is. They recognize Accord, Altima, Camry, Fusion, and Sonata. Past that, they’re lost.

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