Best Cars of 2010: Page 2

Last Updated: Apr 27, 2010

There are plenty of worthwhile alternatives to our Best Cars of 2010 -- especially if you’re looking for the top choice in a specific category. You’ll not be disappointed with any of the following.

The Best Reliable Car of 2010 is the Chevrolet Malibu. Among affordable midsize cars, this roomy, good-looking sedan ranks tops overall for dependability in owner surveys conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer research firm. More good news: owners rated Malibu the best car in its class for initial quality, as well.  Base price range: $22,545-$27,325.

The Best Luxury Car of 2010 is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Uncompromised room, comfort, performance, and prestige, the impeccably engineered S-Class exemplifies every luxury touchstone. It’s even added a hybrid for 2010, the S400 BlueHybrid, which rates an impressive 19/26 mpg (city/highway) and is the least expensive S-Class model. Base price range:  $88,825-$205,025.

The Best City Car of 2010 is the Scion xB. Its carton-on-wheels styling is an acquired taste, but this four-door wagon from Toyota’s youth division is an urban all-star. Great outward visibility and compact size make commuting and parking a cinch. It’s got enough heft to tackle freeway forays outside the city. And its ability to carry four, even five adults in comfort or haul home that futon is simply astonishing. Base price range: $16,420-$17,370.

The Best Car of 2010 for Older Drivers is the Toyota Avalon. A no-surprises formula of straightforward front-wheel-drive design, no-stress entry/exit, and no-strain dashboard layout. Essentially a stretched Camry, Avalon isn’t an excitement machine but it’s no wallowing land yacht, either. Supremely refined, surprisingly roomy, and sumptuously appointed, you needn’t be a septuagenarian to appreciate a mission this well accomplished. Base price range: $32,995-$36,235.

The Best Inexpensive Car of 2010 is the Nissan Versa. The entry-level Versa sedan sells for just $10,620 and the more versatile hatchback starts at $13,870. Both are big on the inside, little on the outside and have a ride-handling balance that shames many larger, costlier cars. Strengthening Versa’s cash-saving credentials, fuel economy ratings range from 26/31 mpg (city/highway) to 28/34, depending on model. Base price range: $10,620-$17,250.

The Best Fuel-Efficient Car of 2010 is the Toyota Prius. Until plug-in electric cars arrive starting with model-year 2011, the gas-electric Prius is America’s fuel-economy leader with a rating of 51/48 mpg (city/highway). This technological tour de force seats four adults in comfort and has lots of cargo room. Acceleration is no problem, though steering feels artificial and handling is nose-heavy.  Base price range: $22,750-$28,020.

The Best Car of 2010 for the Plus-Sized is the Kia Rondo. The roomiest car you’ve never heard of, this tall wagon from Hyundai’s corporate partner is a great choice for the generously sized. Rondo’s got big doorways, lots of head and shoulder room, and seats elevated just enough to make climbing aboard a simple matter of swinging in and sitting down. Base price range: $18,145-$22,945.

The Best Car for New Drivers for 2010 is the Kia Forte sedan. Its size is unintimidating but it’ll hold four adults. It’s affable to drive but not fast enough to tempt fate. It’s easy to see out of and styled so you won’t mind being seen in it. The dashboard is a model of simplicity, but perks like USB iPod connectivity, Bluetooth interface, and steering-wheel audio/cell-phone controls are among the long list of standard features. The two-door Forte Koup is markedly less user-friendly.  Forte sedan base price range: $14,390-17,890.

The Best Fast Car for 2010 is the BMW M3. Speed without control is a dangerous thing. Coupe, sedan, or convertible, the BMW M3’s exceptional brakes, suspension, steering, even driver positioning and outward visibility, allow you to unleash its 414 horsepower with confidence. Everything works as a unit toward the same goal: going very fast, very rationally. Base price range:  $55,675-$69,025.

The Best car of 2010 for Tall Drivers is the Hyundai Genesis sedan. The lankiest among us require a blend of generous head clearance and stretch-out leg room to feel comfortable behind the wheel. Big SUVs and pickups are one solution, but among cars, nothing beats the Genesis sedan for combined noggin space and seat travel. Base price range: $33,800-$40,300.