Popular Cars to Avoid and What to Buy Instead

Jon Linkov

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Popular vehicles tend to fall into three camps: models from brands people trust, models from brands that have a broad dealer network, and mediocre models that have been priced to move or are pushed in droves through rebates, low-interest financing, and attractive leases.

The challenge for car shoppers—whether they’re buying new or used—is to separate the winners from the cars to avoid. All the vehicles we highlight below sell so well that there’s a variety of models on dealer lots to choose from, some with tempting discounts. Consumer Reports identifies several popular models and much better choices.

We focus on models that are popular in their category, although they may not be the top sellers. Then we present two alternatives:

The popular alternatives and under-the-radar choices are recommended, meaning they’ve scored well in our road tests, have good reliability, have key advanced safety equipment, and performed well in crash tests.

If you’re a CR member, this article and the list below are already available to you. But if you haven’t signed up, click below and become a member to access this list and all our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Joining also gives you full access to exclusive ratings for the other products our experts evaluate in several categories, including electronics and appliances.

Sign up for CR’s Cars email newsletter to be notified when we post our latest road tests. If you’re a used-car shopper, you can click through to the model pages for information on these vehicles from older model years.

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  • A popular alternative: Another vehicle that sells well but has a higher Overall Score.
  • An “under the radar” choice: A better-scoring model that doesn’t sell as well, in case you don’t want to follow the crowd.

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