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.
- 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 You panned it for being pricey, for still being too off-road oriented, and in some cases for being outdated despite its recent redesign.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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
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]
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