Love, American Style
The American love affair with the automobile blossomed as the Ford Model T rolled off assembly lines in Michigan at the beginning of the 20th century. Today there’s much more product to love, and considering the amazing variety of vehicles available, which cars do Americans love most? Research firm Strategic Vision created the Customer Love Index, which measures the amount of love owners experience with their new vehicles by compiling data from over 120 different aspects of the ownership experience. Here’s a look at the most loved new cars of 2017 in 24 categories, according to Strategic Vision.
Most Loved Overall — Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X is unique in the marketplace for many reasons, and perhaps that’s part of its appeal. The only fully-electric crossover SUV available in America, the Model X employs two independently-controlled electric motors for full-time all-wheel drive. Available with three different power levels, the Model X boasts a range of almost 300 miles, while the high-performance P100D provides acceleration on a par with most exotic sports cars. With aerodynamic styling, innovative Falcon Wing doors and a versatile interior, there’s a lot to love with the Model X.
Small Car — Mitsubishi Lancer
Refreshed for the 2016 model year, the Lancer is Mitsubishi’s stylish compact sedan. Not as well-known as its more powerful former sibling — the Lancer Evo — the Lancer sedan offers an impressive list of standard features including automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, fog lights and a high-end audio system. Lancer is also safely equipped, including Mitsubishi’s patented Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution safety cell body construction. The Lancer is available with a 2.0-liter engine producing 148 horsepower or a 168-horsepower 2.4-liter unit. With prices starting under $18,000, the Lancer is one of the lowest-priced vehicles available in America.
Small Multi-Function Car — Honda Civic
One of the best-selling passenger cars in America, the tenth generation Civic debuted as a 2016 model in sedan and coupe versions with fresh styling, improved aerodynamics, new vehicle architecture, a more spacious interior and two new engines. Fuel economy is impressive — rated as high as 42 mpg with a new 2.0-liter turbocharged powerplant. With standard features that include a 5-inch color LCD screen, a multi-angle rearview camera, a capless fuel filler, and Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and streaming audio, there’s a lot to love in the Civic.
Small Alternative Powertrain Car — Ford C-MAX Energi
A tall 5-door hatchback, Ford’s C-MAX falls somewhere between a smaller version of a minivan and a crossover. The high-roof design and fold-flat second-row seating offer a lot of versatility, while the plug-in hybrid drivetrain adds great fuel efficiency. The C-MAX Energi powertrain combines a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engine with an electronic continuously variable transmission and a 68-kW electric motor to offer 20 miles of pure electric driving and a total range of 570 miles. The EPA rating for gasoline power is 41 mpg city / 38 mpg hwy / 39 mpg combined, while the C-Max is rated at 95 MPGe when running in electric-only mode.
Midsize Car — Subaru Impreza
Subaru’s compact entry was all new for the 2017 model year. Available in sedan or hatchback form, the Impreza is built on an all-new Subaru global platform that was “designed to deliver significantly higher levels of driving pleasure, agility, crash protection and ride comfort.” All Imprezas are equipped with Subaru’s full-time all-wheel drive and are available with EyeSight, Subaru’s innovative driver-assist system that makes the Impreza one of the safest cars in America. The stylish small car is also quite fuel efficient, achieving up to 38 mpg on the highway.
Midsize Alternative Powertrain Car — Ford Fusion Energi
Ford’s midsize Fusion sedan received a facelift for the 2017 model year, as did the Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid. Employing the same powertrain setup as the C-MAX, the Fusion Energi includes a 141-horsepower 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engine, an electronic continuously variable transmission and a 118-horse electric motor, which draws power from a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery. Total output for the advanced hybrid powertrain is 188 horsepower with an all-electric range of 22 miles and a total range of 610 miles. The EPA rating for gasoline power is 43 mpg city / 41 mpg hwy / 42 mpg combined.
Full-Size Car — Dodge Charger
The Dodge Charger is a large 4-door sedan that offers sporty styling with a comfortable, spacious interior. Replete with plenty of high-tech features, Charger is available with an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, electric power steering, pushbutton start and a high-end audio system. And in keeping with Charger tradition, a few powerful engine choices are available, including the R/T Scat Pack with a 485-horsepower 6.4-liter HEMI V8, or the extreme SRT Hellcat with a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 producing a mind-blowing 707 horsepower. With a top speed of 204 mph, the Hellcat is the quickest, fastest and most powerful production sedan in the world. Dodge also added a GT AWD, which comes with a 300 horsepower V6 engine.
Near-Luxury Car — BMW 3 Series
The 3 Series is currently BMW’s best-selling model line with more than 14 million vehicles sold worldwide since its introduction 40 years ago. Currently in its sixth generation — codenamed F30 — the 3 Series is available as a sedan, wagon and Gran Turismo 4-door hatchback (2-door and convertible models are now named the 4 Series). The entry-level 3 Series is the 320i with a 2.0-liter engine putting out 180 horsepower. The BMW 3 Series can be had with all-wheel drive as well as a variety of engines, including a plug-in hybrid in the 330e as well as a 320-horsepower turbocharged engine in the 340i.
Luxury Car — Genesis G90
The flagship of the new Genesis brand, the G90 makes a statement with its large, bold grille, a long wheelbase with minimal overhangs and 19-inch turbine-blade alloy wheels. Full LED headlights and taillights are also available, giving the luxury sedan a striking look at night. Inside, the G90 is everything you would expect from a high-end luxury sedan. Surfaces are swathed in Nappa leather and real wood, and the driver’s seat offers 22 power adjustments. In addition, G90 comes with the latest safety technologies as standard equipment, including Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Keep Assist and Driver Attention Alert. Two engine choices for the G90 are a 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 producing 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque, or a 5.0-liter V8 producing 420 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque.
Specialty Coupe — MINI Cooper 4-Door Hardtop
Considerably larger than the original version, the current MINI is still one of the smallest cars on the market. And like that original, the MINI is still front-wheel drive, fuel efficient and great fun to drive. MINI returned to the U.S. market 15 years ago in 2002 and has sold more than 750,000 cars in that time. The MINI Cooper was redesigned for the 2015 model year when the 4-Door Hardtop joined the lineup. Power comes from a fuel-efficient turbocharged 1.5-liter engine 3-cylinder engine that produces 134 horsepower, while the Cooper S upgrades to a larger 2.0-liter engine that bumps horsepower up to 189. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, with a 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission optional.
Premium Coupe — Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The seventh-generation Corvette Stingray debuted as a 2014 model, bringing back the Stingray name. The most powerful standard Corvette ever, the new Stingray is powered by 6.2-liter V8 engine producing 455 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. For a higher level of performance, Chevrolet brought back the ZO6, powered by a 650-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine. For those looking for even more power, wait until next spring when the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 arrives, boasting 755 horsepower and a top speed exceeding 210 mph.
Standard Convertible — Chevrolet Camaro
After an eight-year hiatus, Camaro returned to market as a 2010 model with styling cues heavily influenced by the 1969 Camaro. The current generation debuted as a 2016 model with a taut, more sculpted design that makes the new car look lower and wider than previously, with a narrower grille and headlights, as well as deep lines in the door panels that add depth. The Camaro is offered in five trim levels: LT (1LT and 2LT), SS (1SS and 2SS) and ZL1, and all are available as a convertible. The convertible features a multi-layer soft-top that mimics the shape of the coupe, with a hard tonneau that covers the roof when stowed. The fully-automatic electro-hydraulic power roof system can be opened or closed at speeds up to 30 mph. Power options range from a 275-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder that is standard for the LS and LT, to the ZL1 which occupies the top rung of the power ladder with a LT4 supercharged 6.2-liter V8 motor producing 650 horsepower, offered with a 6-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic.
Premium Convertible / Roadster — Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
A proper open-top sports car, the Corvette Convertible offers the same impressive performance as its coupe sibling. Available with multiple levels of luxury and power, the Corvette Convertible features an insulated fabric top that can be lowered remotely using the key fob. The top can also be opened or closed at speeds up to 30 mph. The power-operated top can be lowered in 21 seconds. With a glass rear window and sound-absorbing padding, top-up operation provides a quiet ride. Redefining the idea of wind-in-your-hair, the Corvette Convertible has engine offerings ranging from the standard 450-horsepower V8 to the all-new ZR1 Convertible boasting a 755-horsepower supercharged V8 with a top speed in excess of 210 mph.
Standard Pickup — Honda Ridgeline
The Ridgeline is unique within the American truck market thanks to its unibody construction, but standing out from the crowd can be a good thing. Completely redesigned for the 2017 model year, the Ridgeline offers several features that are as distinctive now as when truck came to market 10 years ago, including a lockable in-bed storage trunk and dual-action tailgate — which is both left- and bottom-hinged. Ridgeline also can handle the obligatory 4X8 sheet of plywood laid flat. Power comes from the same 3.5-liter 280-horsepower V6 engine found in the Honda Pilot SUV, enough that the Ridgeline can tow up to 5,000 pounds. In addition to its versatile abilities, the Ridgeline is also rated as high as 26 mpg on the highway.
Full-Size Pickup — Toyota Tundra
Although the Tundra doesn’t come close in sales to the American pickup offerings, this full-size truck still brings plenty to the pickup party. There are almost 50 different configurations of Toyota’s full-size pickup truck with multiple cabs, bed lengths, powertrains and trim levels. Ranging in trim levels from the basic SR to the luxurious Platinum, the Tundra offers impressive capability and Toyota’s reputation for reliability in a very tough truck market. Toyota recently announced the addition of a TRD Sport version of the Tundra, which will feature sport-tuned Bilstein shocks and TRD front and rear anti-sway bars as well as a mesh grille, LED headlights, LED fog lights and a color-keyed hood scoop.
Heavy Duty Pickup — Ford Super Duty
Redesigned for the 2017 model year, the F-Series Super Duty brings some serious capability to the full-size truck market. The Super Duty features a new exterior look, a completely updated interior and many new features designed around comfort, cargo hauling and towing just about any size trailer. It also features a high-strength aluminum alloy body and box, a powerful engine lineup and a high-strength steel frame. With multiple trim levels and body styles, the Super Duty pickup is available as an F-250, F-350 or F-450. Capability is off the charts: a properly equipped F-450 can tow up to 32,500 pounds, or could haul a maximum-loaded F-150 in the truck bed — if it could fit.
Entry CUV — Nissan Juke
Within the popular small crossover segment where many models are starting to look the same, the JUKE still stands out from the crowd. This small crossover grabs attention with its sculpted headlights, unique silhouette and overall muscular lines. While small on the outside, inside is a surprising amount of room for rear-seat passengers and cargo. JUKE backs up its sporty, unique look with an economical 188-horsepower 1.6-liter direct-injected turbocharged 4-cylinder engine under the hood that can deliver up to 30 mpg on the highway.
Midsize SUV — Toyota 4Runner
As one of the few remaining truck-based SUVs on the market, the 4Runner has been a part of the Toyota lineup since the mid-1980s. Offering capabilities that can’t be found in most car-based crossovers, the 4Runner continues to be relevant in today’s tough SUV marketplace. This year Toyota added the TRD Off-Road and TRD Off-Road Premium trims to the 4Runner lineup, offering excellent backcountry capability while maintaining a luxurious, comfortable interior. For 2018 two additional packages will be available: the Wilderness Package and the TRD Enhancement Package. The 4Runner continues to be powered by a 4.0-liter V6 engine that produces 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque — enough grunt to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Midsize CUV — Kia Sorento (tie)
The love continues for Kia’s 7-passenger crossover, earning it a place in Strategic Vision’s list once again. Refreshed a few years ago, the Sorento features exterior styling that fits in with the rest of the Kia lineup. The Sorento has a roomy interior and can be equipped with the latest version of Kia’s UVO entertainment and communication interface offering services such as Geo Fencing, Speed Alert and Curfew Alert. Available with front- or all-wheel drive, Sorento comes in a few trim levels with three engine options, including a powerful 290-horsepower V6. Last year Kia added many advanced safety features, including Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, making Sorento one of the safest crossover SUVs on the road. Look for an all-new 2019 Sorento arriving in showrooms early next year.
Midsize CUV —Nissan Murano (tie)
One of the more stylish crossovers on the market, Nissan’s Murano carries the new Nissan design direction with V-Motion front end, boomerang lights and floating roof treatment. Inside is a large information and control center with an available 8-inch color touchscreen as well as Nissan’s “Zero Gravity” seats. Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 260 horsepower with front- or all-wheel drive. Murano also is available with an impressive array of safety features, including Blind Spot Warning, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking and Intelligent Cruise Control.
Full-Size Utility — Nissan Armada
Even though many SUVs have migrated to a more passenger-car-like unibody construction, the Armada remains a body-on-frame design capable of handling considerable cargo and towing duties. This full-sized SUV carries up to eight passengers while still retaining plenty of space for cargo. The Armada’s 5.6-liter V8 engine generates an impressive 390 horsepower. With this much power on tap, the Armada can tow up to 8,500 pounds. This may be an old-school truck-based SUV, but the Armada is fully modern inside with the latest high-tech connectivity and safety features, including adaptive cruise control and forward emergency braking.
Near-Luxury Utility — Range Rover Evoque
The entry-level model in the Range Rover lineup, Evoque offers a much sleeker look than the typical Range Rover. Available as a four door or as a 2-door convertible (yes, we said convertible), the Evoque is surprisingly roomy inside for such a small vehicle. Introduced in 2011, the Evoque has made the Range Rover brand more accessible than ever before. As expected from a Range Rover, Evoque is fully capable when the pavement ends, complete with full-time all-wheel drive and the innovative Terrain Response system.
Luxury SUV — Lexus GX
Many of today’s utility vehicles, such as the Lexus RX, are crossovers based on car platforms, but the Lexus GX460 is a highly-capable off-road vehicle based on the same platform as the Toyota 4Runner. Utilizing trucklike body-on-frame construction, the GX460 gets power from a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produces 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque with a full-time 4-wheel-drive system, advanced dynamic control systems and a 6,500-pound towing capacity. Despite exceptional off-road capability, the GX460 features luxurious amenities inside while the standard Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System delivers a smooth, comfortable ride outside.
Luxury CUV — Porsche Macan
The luxury crossover market offers plenty of options, but the Macan certainly stands out from the everyday SUV. The fifth vehicle in the current Porsche family, Macan joined the lineup for the 2014 model year with sales increasing every year since introduction. While some may say that a crossover SUV can’t really be a performance vehicle, Porsche has ensure that Macan embodies all qualities expected from the iconic German sports car brand. Macan comes with full-time all-wheel drive and is available with various powertrains ranging from a 2.0-liter 252-horsepower 4-cylinder engine to a 440-horsepower V6 in the Macan Turbo with Performance Package, the latter of which can jump to 60 mph in a mere 4.2 seconds.
Minivan — Honda Odyssey
One of the most popular minivans on the market, an all-new 2018 Odyssey debuted last-January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. With an expressive new exterior design, the updated Odyssey features the new “Magic Slide” second-row seat system that offers multiple seat configurations and third-row access options. The center second-row seat can be removed, or the outboard seats can be moved laterally between five positions for third-row access. The Odyssey features advanced connectivity and entertainment with new Display Audio, CabinWatch, CabinTalk & streaming video with 4G LTE Wi-Fi. A new CabinControl app enables smartphone control of key vehicle systems as well as audio and rear-seat entertainment features. Inside, the new Odyssey features high-quality materials including a soft-touch instrument panel.