The 2020 Acura RDX is a bold compact luxury crossover that represents a return to its roots – providing some athleticism and adrenaline to a segment not known for either. We think this is a positive development, as the previous RDX lost its way a bit. However, that last RDX's biggest strength was its very spacious interior for its overall size, which carries over to the new version despite the increased athleticism. These aren't usually attributes that go together; sporty vehicles can be smaller, with poor space utilization. That isn't the case here. The turbocharged engine and advanced all-wheel drive system mean the RDX is as lively as any crossover buyer could want. The bottom line is that it has more character and a superior combination of attributes than many of its sport-luxury competitors.
Midsize sedans may no longer be the vehicle of choice for most families who increasingly prefer SUVs, but for those happy to keep kicking it old school, the 2019 Honda Accord is a top choice. Its large dimensions house unmatched interior space, but the driving experience remains responsive and imparts a feeling of being light on its feet. Its turbocharged engines offer compelling performance, but also return exceptional fuel economy. Meanwhile, the Accord Hybrid might actually be the pick of the litter for its superior fuel economy and lack of major drawbacks. There's also the matter of its well-made interior, generous feature content and the Accord's long-standing reliability reputation.
If you're looking for a midsize sedan, the Accord should be at the top of your must-drive list. Its well-rounded nature made it an easy pick when we compared it to the Toyota Camry and Mazda 6. We also think shoppers shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the Accord in favor of a compact SUV. The back seat is more comfortable and spacious, the fuel economy is better, and you're not sacrificing that much utility thanks to its enormous trunk. Oh, and if you're like us and appreciate wringing every bit of driving fun out of a car as possible, the Accord Sport offers a six-speed manual as a no-cost option.
Every three-row crossover is geared toward family use, but the 2019 Honda Pilot generally goes a few steps further than most. For starters, it manages to squeeze more interior space out of a smaller, more manageable exterior size. Full-sized adults and teenagers can actually fit in all three rows, while the cargo area is large, boxy and versatile. The lives of parents are also made easier thanks to thoughtful storage solutions throughout, while plenty of kid-friendly features reside in the back like USB ports, multiple cupholders and seat-back pockets for smartphones. There's also the matter of strong safety credentials and residual values, and Honda's reliability reputation.
In other words, buying a Pilot would be a very sensible choice. Admittedly, however, it's not the most exciting one. The new Kia Telluride has garnered plenty of attention for its style and luxurious interior while being even more spacious than the Pilot. The Mazda CX-9 certainly isn't as spacious, but its sharp handling, driver-oriented focus and sleek design should be particularly appealing to those transitioning to a big family vehicle from something smaller and sporty. The new Ford Explorer also boasts massive space and impressive performance figures.
We sure hope Toyota is cooking something special up for its next-generation minivan, because it's certainly been a long wait. While most cars and minivans go six years between generation, the 2020 Toyota Sienna represents year nine since it was completely redesigned. Sure, there was a significant overhaul a few years ago and constant updating (including some for this year), but the competition has been completely redone, and it makes a difference. The Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica are more refined, more advanced technologically and have better safety ratings. Even the Kia Sedona, which is no spring chicken itself, is fresher in certain respects.
Now, despite being long in the tooth, the 2020 Sienna still provides plenty of distinctive elements that keep it relevant. Its second-row seat slides further than most, providing exceptional comfort for adults and teenagers. Its unique all-wheel drive option. Its SE trim level that is arguably the most engaging minivan to drive. In other words, don't write it off completely, but make sure to shop around.
The increasingly iconic Toyota 4Runner soldiers into its ninth year without a full redesign. A typical car or crossover is redesigned after six. Frankly, the 4Runner was never a bastion of modernity, as its truck-based structure and interior design result in comfort, refinement and efficiency compromises that always stood in contrast to similarly priced and sized crossovers. That's still the case with the 2019 Toyota 4Runner, but its interior design and technology have only fallen further behind the times, while its handling, noise and overall comfort are worse than what you'd get in a midsize crossover like the Honda Passport or Toyota's own Highlander. Its fuel economy is comparatively abysmal.
Now, if all of that makes you think twice about the 4Runner, we've done our job. It's certainly not the most rational SUV purchase, and it's smart to consider its many downsides. That said, we also love the 4Runner and understand why you might as well. It has character in spades, especially the ultra-rugged TRD Pro trim, and can go places none of those crossovers would dare. This is a serious off-roader, yet when compared to other such vehicles it's surprisingly comfortable and genuinely large inside. Few two-row SUVs — crossover or truck-based — can match its utility. Yes it's old and less refined than a crossover, but it's also not as crude as you'd expect, and there's also something to be said about simplicity.
The 2019 Lexus UX is the smallest and cheapest Lexus you can buy, and the UX 250h hybrid model just barely misses out being the most fuel efficient. As an entry into the Lexus brand, this subcompact crossover is generally an impressive effort, embodying the design, quality, features and driving experience we've come to expect – albeit with understandable cutbacks made to achieve its lower price.
However, the UX faces stiff competition. It has one of the smallest cabins in a segment not known for its spaciousness, and its Remote Touch tech interface constantly frustrates. And while fuel economy is exceptional for the segment, its acceleration is underwhelming regardless of whether you get the UX 250h or gas-only UX 200. Worse still, you can only get the latter with front-wheel drive. In other words, this is a car with distinct highs and lows.
In the compact car market, the Honda Civic has almost always been a benchmark, and there's a reason for that: it's consistently been really great. The 2019 Honda Civic is no exception. It has a large, airy interior with quality materials. The engines are smooth, powerful and economical. And it's nimble while also being comfortable. Not only that, but there's a Civic for just about any need with sedan, coupe or hatchback body styles — no other compact car offers such diversity. There are also trim levels and powertrains that range from frugal to exhilarating, yet all offer competitive pricing and impressive value. For these reasons and others we'll explain below, the Civic is still one of the best compact cars on the market.
The Sport trim has been added to the coupe and sedan models, but unlike the hatchback's Sport trim that gets a turbocharged engine, these Civics stick with the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The Sport coupe and sedan do get Honda's touchscreen infotainment system with CarPlay and Android Auto, unlike the Sport hatchback. This infotainment system now features physical shortcut buttons and a volume knob, but it retains the existing user interface. The gauges get red backlighting, the pedals are made of aluminum, the wheels are larger and it has a leather-wrapped steering wheel. A manual transmission is also now restricted to LX sedan, all Sport body styles, the Si and Type R. All other Civics get a CVT.
The Nissan Rogue Sport crossover is small, attractive, and relatively cheap. Despite sharing a name with the larger Rogue, the Rogue Sport is a completely different vehicle. It's the least expensive vehicle in Nissan's portfolio with optional all-wheel drive. What it doesn't offer, despite its name, is a sporty driving experience, and it can get surprisingly pricey if a buyer isn't careful with options.
The 2019 Mazda CX-9 crossover is the biggest vehicle in the Japanese automaker's lineup, and the only one to offer a third row of seating. It has only one powertrain option, but offers a wide variety of other content across various trim levels. Many folks are drawn to Mazdas for their elegant design, affordability and driving dynamics that are sharper than most, and the CX-9 has all of that to a certain degree even if it's the biggest, most family-oriented one. Still, the CX-9 may be big for a Mazda, but it's one of the smallest in its segment in terms of third-row space and cargo capacity, so it may not be for every family.
Each trim gets a little something new, too. Sport now offers an optional Sport Package, costing $1,290, with heated front seats, a power driver's seat, heated mirrors, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. Moving up to the Touring trim, the only other change is a frameless rear-view mirror. The Grand Touring trim gets a new 7-inch info screen in the instrument panel, along with new power-folding side mirrors and a 360-degree camera system. The top-level Signature trim gets new badges, rosewood interior trim, and accent lighting in the grille and around the shifter.
The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport subcompact crossover may seem like the right type of car for the times, but it falls short in its execution. Brand new tiny crossovers have been popping up left and right from other manufacturers, but the Outlander Sport feels like it's stuck in the past.
If we're looking at it with the glass of water half full, the exterior styling sets itself apart from the rest of the homogeneous little ones out there. It's taut, angular, a little muscular and has some great looking wheel options. Unfortunately, that expressive exterior styling isn't carried over inside. Even in its most expensive form, the entire interior is a black plastic paradise. Powertrain options are a mixed bag with a lot more choices than most other subcompacts provide.
The 2019 Toyota Camry is a striking-looking family sedan in a narrowing, but still extremely competitive segment. The car is an excellent all-around vehicle that is near the top of the segment with a comfortable ride, spacious cabin and excellent engines, including one of the only V6 engines available in the class and a hybrid model that boasts superior fuel economy without any significant drawbacks. It's also more responsive to drive than past Camry generations, meaning those seeking a more dynamic driving experience should no longer write it off.
The 2019 Toyota Sienna represents the eighth year since Toyota's minivan was completely redesigned. Although it's received significant updates in that time, all of its competitors have been completely redesigned since then, most notably the Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey. That said, the Sienna still offers a compelling array of family-friendly attributes and continues to boast a serious competitive advantage by being the only minivan that offers all-wheel drive as an option (although a Pacifica AWD is coming) . While its competitors are ultimately stronger products, the Sienna isn't as hopelessly out of date as its age would indicate.