There so many well-built, competitive cars rolling out of manufacturers’ doors these days that sometimes a “Top 5” list can exclude some great vehicles just by virtue of the number of cars on the list. Popular, more established manufacturers often get on those lists for a lot of different reasons (not always on merit alone, mind you) and some strong offerings from lesser known or trusted brands get overlooked and are left collecting dust on dealership lots. Well we are here to help you consider some of the stronger vehicle offerings in this collection of outcasts just in case you are looking for something a little different than everything else on the road.
1) Mazda CX-9: The full-size offering from Mazda often gets overlooked for reasons unknown to us. While it may not the largest in the full-size vehicle category, it still represents a strong value with a great interior and nimble handling for its size (plus a new look for 2016). You know it will be reliable as the Mazda name is certainly a solid one, and the features list is extensive making the tech-focused buyer a happy one. All in all, the big Mazda is definitely a strong contender for those looking for a little extra room but don’t want to sacrifice on style or driving manners.
2) Mazda 3: In a world where Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas rule the compact market, the Mazda 3 offers a bit more sportiness than most. The fun little car is a great alternative to the somewhat hum-drum options from the other Japanese automakers, offering better handling and a well-appointed interior, it is hard to see why buyers don’t grab these in the same numbers as its competitors.
3) Kia Optima: Korean manufacturers have been on the move these days, offering cars with great interiors, stylish exteriors, and a strong bang for your buck. It’s safe to say that Honda and Toyota are starting to think more seriously about what to do here, but the Optima has been slowly taking sales away from the Japanese giants, and rightfully so. Being in direct competition with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry is not an easy place to be, but we think that this Optima is one of the better offerings out there in the mid-size sedan market with its upscale interior and the 10 year 100k mile warranty.
4) Mazda 6: If there were ever a looker in the sedan segment, the Mazda 6 would be it. While it may be lacking a bit in power, the build quality, interior fit/finish and overall driving dynamics make the Mazda a winner in this segment. A fun to drive, well-proportioned vehicle that offers good gas mileage, all for a very reasonable price is a tough combo, but Mazda has done just that and it is surprising that these don’t leave dealership lots all that quickly. Be sure to opt in for the upgraded HID headlights offering great visibility at night and in inclement weather.
5) Volvo S60: While some might argue that The S60 is a very popular car in certain areas, the numbers don’t lie and the Swedes can’t really keep up with the Camry and Accord in sales. The S60 is a more contemporary, minimalist approach to the sedan with chic styling and a sparsely decorated interior. However, it is still very feature packed and comes with an available AWD making it a great choice for those in colder, snow stricken climates.
6) Toyota Venza: While this slightly portly looking crossover isn’t exactly the best looking vehicle in the segment, its slightly more upscale nature makes it a strong contender. With the right trim level selected, this can be a very relaxing, well equipped vehicle that would make most buyers looking for a little bit more space than a car (but decent gas mileage) very happy with their purchase. Couple that with Toyota reliability, and you have a real winner on your hands.
7) Nissan Murano: The crossover market is a tough one, but the Murano has received good reviews all around from most major publications. A different offering than the Subaru Forester, Toyota Rav4 and Honda CR-V that you see most everywhere, the Nissan offers a few more features and a slightly more luxurious feel that its competitors, definitely something that people don’t usually expect out of a Nissan.
8) Lexus CT-200h: In the hybrid department, it is hard to top the omni-present Toyota Prius. However, Lexus’s own luxurious attempt to corner more well-heeled buyers represents a significant step up in fit/finish over the Prius. While the price difference might be enough to scare away some potential buyers, you are getting the build quality and luxury of a Lexus at a discount on some of their larger models. The baby Lexus makes for a neat little package for those wanting the Lexus feel but in a much more tidy package.
So next time you are thinking about buying a car, check out some of the options above. Just because a car doesn’t sell in high numbers doesn’t mean it isn’t a good option!