September 28, 2022

Vehicle Definition

Comfortable Vehicle

2022 Buyers Guide and Research By Type, Brand and Price of New Vehicle

Car Guide Winner: 1st Place SUV/Minivan

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD

Car Guide Winner: 1st Place SUV/Minivan

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Details

Vehicle Type: 
SUV/Minivan

Fuel Type: 
Electric

MPGe:
96/84

Price as Tested: 
$56,200

IIHS / NHTSA: 

The Mustang Mach-E isn’t just a car, it’s a phenomenon:
America’s oldest car company has put the moniker of the original
pony car—introduced in 1964—on a dedicated electric crossover.
The Mach-E is a great-looking car—unmistakably a Mustang,
but new from the ground up. Our Premium AWD test vehicle had
2 motors (346 hp) and the larger 88-kWh battery, which provides
plenty of power and range (an EPA-estimated 270 miles). It’s
powerful, quick, and fun to drive. The roomy cabin is quiet; Ford’s
full suite of advanced safety features, Co-Pilot360, is standard.
Still, Ford has a few wrinkles to iron out. The ride is fine on
smooth pavement but can be jarring on uneven or potholed
streets. The braking and acceleration could be smoother at low
speeds and in stop-and-go traffic. The tablet on the center console
is huge (nearly 16 inches), but some menus are unintuitive and
require multiple steps for simple tasks. Finally, the plain interior
styling, absent any Mustang cues, doesn’t match the flair of the
Mach-E’s sheet metal.

Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Large

2021 Mercedes-Benz S580 Sedan 4MATIC

Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Large

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Details

Vehicle Type: 
Large

Fuel Type: 
Gasoline

mpg:
17/25

Price as Tested: 
$140,130

IIHS / NHTSA: 

Mercedes-Benz’s handsome S-Class sedan, redesigned
for 2021, has a lot to offer—as should any car whose price tag easily
crests $100K.
For one thing, this full-size flagship sedan is as pleasurable
to drive or ride in as any car on the road. The 4.0-liter twinturbocharged
V8 (496 hp) and integrated electric motor, which
can power all 4 wheels depending on driving conditions, proved
both responsive and refined. The standard adaptive air suspension
makes for a remarkably smooth ride. Our test car’s optional rearwheel
steering setup added to the S 580’s agile handling.
Inside, the S 580 is the epitome of opulence and style. The
design is elegant, and the hushed passenger cabin is lined with the
finest materials. Technology abounds, from a 3D augmented-reality
head-up display to massaging seats (10-way programmable) to
dynamic ambient lighting.
It’s here that the S 580 stumbles a bit—it’s a car clearly designed
by engineers who asked “Can we add (insert feature)?” rather than
“Should we?” Examples include a complex infotainment system,
hard-to-use steering-wheel controls, and numerous in-vehicle
driver distractions, such as tutorial videos on driver fatigue.

Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Midsize

2021 BMW 530e Sedan

Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Midsize

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Vehicle Type: 
Midsize

Fuel Type: 
Hybrid

mpg:
24/29

Price as Tested: 
$70,485

IIHS / NHTSA: 

The BMW 5 Series, an iconic sports sedan now in its
seventh generation, last received a redesign in 2017. For 2021, it
received minor tweaks, including a larger grille and touch screen
and improved voice controls.
The 530e plug-in hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged
4-cylinder engine (181 hp) and an electric motor (107 hp). In
2021, it got a 40-hp increase (288 hp total), courtesy of XtraBoost,
a feature that provides extra power when the driver floors the
accelerator.
Driving the 530e is a satisfying experience, nicely combining
strong acceleration, smooth braking, responsive handling, a
comfortable ride, and a roomy, quiet cabin with upscale materials.
Fuel efficiency (26 mpg, 64 MPGe) is decent.
On the downside, the 530e’s electric-only range is low (21 miles).
And, as with many BMWs, numerous items that are standard on
other luxury cars—including some advanced safety features—cost
extra on the 530e. Counterpoint: The 530e is eligible for a $5,836
federal tax credit, which brings its base price in below that of a
standard 530i.

Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Small

2021 BMW 330e Sedan

Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Small

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Details

Vehicle Type: 
Small

Fuel Type: 
Hybrid

mpg:
25/33

Price as Tested: 
$57,945

IIHS / NHTSA: 
IIHS

The BMW 3 Series reintroduced its plug-in hybrid
variant in 2021, after a 2-year hiatus. The powertrain, which consists
of a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and an electric motor
(288 hp total), provides quick acceleration and plenty of power.
Our test car’s responsive handling was improved by its optional
Adaptive M suspension.
The 330e’s fit and finish are excellent inside and out. Both front
and rear seating are very comfortable, although the cabin feels a bit
cramped, and rear visibility is poor. Adaptive LED headlights and
dual-zone climate control are standard, and the digital infotainment
system is easy to use. Our 330e had a 75 MPGe rating, but its allelectric
range is only 23 miles and recharging times are slow. Its fuel
economy is 28 mpg combined.
Annoyingly, BMW tends to charge extra for features that many
luxury automakers include as standard, such as a heated steering
wheel and front seats, lumbar support, and advanced safety
features. More than 20% of the price of our 330e test vehicle was
for optional equipment

Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Pickup

2021 Ford F-150 4X4 Supercrew Hybrid

Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Pickup

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Details

Vehicle Type: 
Pickup

Fuel Type: 
Hybrid

mpg:
24/24

Price as Tested: 
$63,251

Introduced in 1948, the Ford F-Series has been
the most popular vehicle sold in the U.S. for 4 decades. The
14th-generation F-150, new for 2021, is less revolutionary than
some previous redesigns, with one exception—the addition of a
hybrid powertrain.
Called PowerBoost, the hybrid system consists of a 3.5-liter V6
(400 hp), electric motor (47 hp), 1.5-kWh battery, and 10-speed
automatic transmission, good for 430 hp total and 570 lb-ft of
torque. The hybrid system provides a 4-mpg (20%) increase in gas
mileage, and every hybrid model comes standard with Pro Power
Onboard, a 2.4-kW generator (a 7.2-kW unit is optional).
The F-150’s spacious interior has great legroom and headroom
front and rear, and the infotainment system is nicely sized and easy
to use. Our test truck’s safety features included LED headlights with
auto high beams, a 360-degree camera with parking sensors, and a
blind-spot warning system that adjusts for trailer length.
But not everything came up smelling like roses. The F-150’s ride
was rougher than we’d like—even for a pickup. Transmission shifts
sometimes slipped, especially at low speeds. And the transitions
between electric and gasoline power frequently were jarring.