Best Cars of 2010

Last Updated: Apr 27, 2010

Iguida puts cars into market categories based on their size, price, and purpose. Subcompact cars are small, inexpensive fuel-sippers like the Toyota Yaris. Compact cars also appeal to the budget-conscious, but add enough size and features to serve as better all-around transportation; think of the Honda Civic. Midsize cars, typified by the Ford Fusion, are the heart of the market. They’re roomy enough for a family, affordable to a range of buyers, and have lineups that stretch from four-cylinder frugal to six-cylinder sybaritic. Full-size cars like the Chrysler 300 emphasize grand dimensions inside and out but are priced below luxury brands. Premium cars cross size boundaries, from compact (BMW 3-Series) to full-size (Mercedes-Benz S-Class), but all come from true upscale brands and have high technology, high performance, and high prices. Sporty cars take diverse routes to driving fun, from the four-cylinder front-wheel-drive Volkswagen GTI to the rear-drive V-8 Chevrolet Corvette.        

The Best overall car of 2010
2010 Audi A4
The 2010 Audi A4 is the best car of the year for pre-empting the trend toward efficient performance among aspirational cars. Rivals like the BMW 3-Series and Infiniti G will move toward smaller engines in years to come. Audi’s stylish A4 sedans and cool A4 Avant wagons achieved this goal with their splendid model-year 2009 redesign. Reducing reliance on V-6 and V-8 engines, the A4 employs a modest-displacement turbocharged four-cylinder as the lineup’s mainstay. It supercharges a V-6 to replicate the performance of a less-efficient V-8 in its hot-rod S4 models.  The majority of A4s are sold with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive, another technology that forecasts a trend.  Understated good looks, beautifully crafted interiors, and more cabin space than direct rivals are icing on the A4 cake. Base price range: $32,275-$46,725.

The Best Cars of 2010

The Best Subcompact Car of 2010: Honda Fit. Not really plush enough for relaxed cross-country travel, this four-door hatchback is instead a marvel of efficient packaging. Fit can transport four adults in true comfort or swallow your aunt’s armoire. It slides into the tightest parking space and easily exceeds 30 miles per gallon. The design is futuristic, nothing feels flimsy, and it’s a kick to drive. Base price range: $15,610-$17,120.

The Best Compact Car of 2010: Mazda 3. Completely restyled for 2010, Mazda’s most-popular car comes as a passenger-friendly four-door sedan or as the more versatile – and hipper – four-door hatchback. Both are a cut above for driving fun, even in 167-horsepower base form. The turbocharged 263-horse MazdaSpeed 3 hatch is a hoot and a handful. Fuel economy, a long list of useful options, and sound ergonomics are high points; the mad-clown grille is scary. Base price range: $15,795-$23,945.

The Best Midsize Car of 2010: Honda Accord. Today’s design generation is getting on in years but Accord still elevates the midsize-car ideal by adding a real measure of driving satisfaction to a package that’s hard to beat for functionality. Four-cylinder models excel at everyday chores and sip gas. V-6 versions are refined and fast. Solid assembly, quality cabin materials, and a record of reliability are Accord assets. There’s even a slinky coupe version. Base price range: $21,765-$29,815.

The Best Full-Size Car of 2010: Ford Taurus. Ford’s fully revamped 2010 Taurus inverts the full-size car formula by centering the action around the driver. But that doesn’t diminish this big sedan’s appeal as a four-door that carries four adults in reasonable comfort and eye-catching style. Base models have an adequate 263-horsepower V-6. The SHO model packs Ford’s outstanding turbocharged EcoBoost V-6; it has V-8-grade horsepower (365) and V-6-like fuel economy (17mpg city/25 highway). Traction-enhancing all-wheel-drive is standard on the SHO, optional in place of front-drive on other Tauruses. Base price range: $25,995-$37,995.

The Best Premium Car of 2010: BMW 3-Series. The cabin isn’t spacious -- rear-seat room is disappointing, frankly – but BMW’s best-seller never shortchanges for spirit or smarts. Available in coupe, sedan, wagon, and convertible body styles, each is benchmark of balanced performance. Suspension tuning and steering feel are unassailable. The enviable engine lineup runs from turbine-smooth naturally aspirated and turbocharged six-cylinders, through a torque-rich diesel six, to the M3 models’ glorious 414-horsepwer V-8. Available all-wheel-drive augments standard rear-drive. Base price range: $33,675-$69,025.

The Best Sporty car of 2010: Porsche Boxster. Driving fun comes in many forms but no single car distills it better than this two-seat midengine convertible. Every inch a pure sports car, the Boxster bonds driver to road with no excess bulk, yet no shortage of comfort. It summons racecar-like response yet uses relatively modest 255- and 310-horsepower engines. Some are more practical, lots are more powerful, too many are more expensive, but no rival makes a peak automotive experience as readily accessible. Base price range: $48,550-$58,950.