TTAC Readers' Choice: The Best Vehicles of 2018

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
ttac readers choice the best vehicles of 2018

The votes are in, and out of the 20 nominees for best vehicle, here are the winners.

It was a difficult campaign full of mudslinging, negative ads, and scandal – oh wait, that’s that other election campaign that ended earlier this month. Sorry, my bad.

We started out by asking you, the reader, to submit up to 10 nominations for the best and worst vehicles of 2018. We then used a scoring system to account for vehicles that were nominated in both categories. The top 20 vehicles, adjusted for scoring, were then presented for you to choose from. The full list is here.

Here’s what you, and our staff, came up with for the best vehicles of 2018. We had some criteria guidelines, and many of you either followed them or came up with your own to determine which vehicles deserved a nod. Criteria included, but wasn’t limited to: styling, value for the money, fun-to-drive factor, cool factor, “wtf” factor, and comparison to competition.

Without further ado, here are the best vehicles as chosen by you. You’ll note that there are actually 12 vehicles, due to ties.

  1. Jeep Wrangler (tie)

Jeep’s redone and more civilized Wrangler presents an interesting case. First of all, it barely made the cut for the best nominations instead of worst. You panned it for being pricey, for still being too off-road oriented, and in some cases for being outdated despite its recent redesign. And yet, enough of you gave it first-place votes that it still tied for 10th place. The world is truly a mystery.

  1. Chevrolet Bolt (tie)

The Bolt was seen by many of you as an affordable alternative to the Tesla Model 3. While the Chevy hasn’t received the same avalanche of press as the Model 3, it’s a fine car, and like the Model 3, it provides over 200 miles of range on a single charge.

  1. Ford F-150

Ford’s best-selling truck got plenty of love in the nomination process – so much so, we’re a little surprised it didn’t do better in the final voting. Whatever, it won’t stop Ford from selling boatloads. One of the nominators called it “Incredibly American,” stating it had “cutting edge materials.” Another one of you said it had the right features at the right price. Still, America’s number one vehicle is just number nine on this list.

  1. Mazda 6

A good-looking midsize sedan that’s fun to drive and now offers turbo power? Shocking that it makes the list. The 6 has long been considered the enthusiast’s choice in this segment, and y’all agree with that consensus. One commenter said it’s a blast to drive, another said it’s the best of all worlds, and that’s why it sits on this list.

  1. Lincoln Navigator

One commenter called it a “best in class” vehicle with “great looks.” One of our staffers thinks it’s the only interesting Lincoln presently on sale. Large SUVs remain a bit of a throwback in this crossover-crazed era, but it’s clear the Navigator’s updated styling and boosted power have won enough of you over to put it in seventh place.

  1. Chevrolet Corvette

Maybe it’s the fact that the ZR1 is back. Or that the Z06 and Grand Sport editions still exist. Or maybe it’s just that the Corvette, even in “base” Stingray guise, remains one of the best performance bargains in the industry. It probably doesn’t hurt that Chevrolet finally modernized the interior when the current generation launched a few years ago – not only is the car a hoot to drive and relatively affordable for those with a little extra scratch, but it no longer punishes you when you cruise around town.

  1. Volkswagen Golf/GTI/Golf R

Here’s the first surprise of the voting. Based on the nominations, it appeared that the Golf family would sail to a victory. The GTI is often considered the best sporty compact car, the non-GTI Golf is a blast to drive, the Golf R is fantastic, and oh yeah, you can get a Golf wagon, too. Yet despite being car-enthusiast catnip, the Golf and its variants finished just fifth. What vehicles, pray tell, did the voters like better?

  1. Porsche 911

It’s no surprise to see the 911 high on this list – it’s perhaps the gold standard for sports cars. Plenty of you lust after it, and for good reason. One of you said it’s “made for driving and enjoying, a bit analog in a digital world,” and that sentiment sums it up nicely.

  1. Mazda MX-5 Miata (tie)

A Miata makes it to near the top of the list. How shocking. Mazda’s little roadster remains a blast to drive, offering elemental thrills and a connection to the road that is seldom felt anywhere else. Its affordability and styling won you over, as well.

  1. Honda Accord (tie)

When the new Accord launched, many of you poo-pooed the styling, especially the front end. Yet love it or hate it, you’re willing to overlook it because the Accord remains wonderful to drive, affordable, and still offers three-pedal driving. Like Mazda, Honda seems to “get it” when it comes to understanding car enthusiasts, and how those of us who like driving don’t want to sacrifice sport for comfort if we’re shopping midsize sedans. “Have you driven one?” asked one of the nominators. While the Camry is much improved, the Fusion remains (for now), and the 6 is also a blast to drive, the Accord’s all-around ability helps it here.

  1. Kia Stinger

The idea of a RWD/AWD sports sedan that’s relatively affordable really, really appeals to you guys. Not only did the Stinger get many first-place votes, but it was one of the most-nominated vehicles in the first round. The car really is fun to drive (although, as I wrote before, it needs a little more seasoning), and it’s a looker. Kudos to Kia for both building a car like this and getting it mostly right.

  1. Tesla Model 3

Color me shocked (no pun intended). The Model 3 wasn’t as highly nominated as other vehicles on this list during the first round (it even had a couple of worst-car nominations), so it’s a tad surprising that it snagged enough first-place votes (just three more than the Kia, but nine more than the Accord and Miata). Still, plenty of you spoke highly of it in your nomination comments. One of you said it “offers major performance for the dollar.” Another called it “right-sized for the market, an actual competitor to the 3 (Ed note – presumably, the BMW 3 Series) and the [Audi] A4.” Yet another hailed its “great design and effortless acceleration whilst being quiet.”

Final Thoughts

A final word on the voting – while the top 10 and winner were determined simply by which of the 20 nominees got the most first-place votes, things change a bit if we average out each car’s votes across the 20 places and assign a score.

For example, while the Model 3 got the most first-place votes, it also got a lot of votes for 19th place (a handful more than it did for first place) – and it got, by far, more 20th-place votes than any other car. It got a lot more 20th-place votes than it did first-place votes. That tells me the Model 3 is a divisive vehicle, and perhaps Tesla fanboys stuffed the ballot – or perhaps Tesla haters tried to bury it.

Maybe it’s not just about the Tesla being a polarizing car – the Golf family also had a lot of 20th-place votes. More than double what it had for first-place votes. This, despite having the second-best adjusted score for best vehicle during the nomination process.

If we’d gone by each car’s average ranking, the top five would’ve been, in order: Chevrolet Corvette, Honda Accord, Ford Mustang, Kia Stinger, and Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Perhaps next year’s survey should go by average ranking as opposed to first-place votes, or perhaps the survey can be set up differently so that instead of ranking 1-20, you simply vote for first place (personally, I like having this data). We’ll listen to your feedback below and discuss things internally.

So that’s it. The Tesla Model 3 is the TTAC Readers’ Choice best vehicle of 2018, as voted by you. Check back tomorrow for the worst vehicles, as voted by you. Let’s see how the hatred flows.

[Images: Jeep, Chevrolet, Ford, Lincoln, Mazda, Honda, Kia, Volkswagen, Porsche, Tesla]

Join the conversation
3 of 56 comments
  • Shipping96 Shipping96 on Nov 16, 2018

    I'm enjoying all the gnashing of teeth by the Tesla haters. Haters gonna hate!

  • NeonNoodle NeonNoodle on Nov 22, 2018

    Anyone who pans the Wrangler for being "too off-road oriented" is missing the entire point of the vehicle. This body-on-frame solid-axle truck still being made, marketed, and sold in this country amidst the sea of lookalike watered down CUVs is why it continues to sell like hotcakes. I'm in the market for my first brand new vehicle in a decade and a half and after driving several of the car based unit construction "SUVs" that seem to dominate the market, frankly, the Wrangler is the only thing I'm really interested in. It currently has no genuinely comparable competition (which is astounding to me), but I am very curious to see how Ford's Bronco compares once that's released.

    • Dantes_inferno Dantes_inferno on Nov 26, 2018

      Duck Twacy: "AHHH!! Snake Eyes! 88 Teeth! Hammer Head! Pussycat! Bat Man! Double Header! Pickle Puss! Pumpkinhead! Neon Noodle! Jukebox Jaw! Wolfman! YOU'RE ALL UNDER ARREST!"

  • Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.
  • Redapple2 Cadillac and racing. Boy those 2 go together dont they? What a joke. Up there with opening a coffee shop in NYC. EvilGM be clowning. Again.
  • Jbltg Rear bench seat does not match the front buckets. What's up?
  • Theflyersfan The two Louisville truck plants are still operating, but not sure for how much longer. I have a couple of friends who work at a manufacturing company in town that makes cooling systems for the trucks built here. And they are on pins and needles wondering if or when they get the call to not go back to work because there are no trucks being made. That's what drives me up the wall with these strikes. The auto workers still get a minimum amount of pay even while striking, but the massive support staff that builds components, staffs temp workers, runs the logistics, etc, ends up with nothing except the bare hope that the state's crippled unemployment system can help them keep afloat. In a city where shipping (UPS central hub and they almost went on strike on August 1) and heavy manufacturing (GE Appliance Park and the Ford plants) keeps tens of thousands of people employed, plus the support companies, any prolonged shutdown is a total disaster for the city as well. UAW members - you're not getting a 38% raise right away. That just doesn't happen. Start a little lower and end this. And then you can fight the good fight against the corner office staff who make millions for being in meetings all day.
  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )