Drivers’ Choice Awards
Each year we roll out the red carpet for our annual Drivers' Choice Awards. These are the cars and trucks we would like to have parked in our driveway, or at least dream about owning if we won the lottery. We look at the factors mattering most to consumers - price, practicality, performance and fuel efficiency. Then our editorial staff selects the best models in a variety of lifestyle categories ranging from family sedan to luxury car, to large utilities and pickups. From that group, an overall best of the year is chosen. MotorWeek's Drivers' Choice Awards have been presented annually since 1983.
2022 Drivers’ Choice Awards
Best Family Sedan
Considering there are fewer genuine cars to test these days, and the majority of families that do choose to stick with an actual sedan are opting for smaller ones; it makes sense that our Best Family Sedan award goes to the redesign of a sedan benchmark, the Honda Civic. The 11th generation of the Civic arrives more frugal, more practical, more stylish, and, yes, even more fun than ever.
Best Luxury Sedan
We try to be sensible with our Drivers’ Choice Award picks, keeping value in mind; but when it comes to luxury, it’s all about the experience. And the arrival of an all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is an experience worth celebrating. New tech like augmented reality navigation, up to 77-inches of screen space, some of the nicest materials you’ll find in an automobile, and E-Active Body Control that delivers a composed driving experience unlike any other big sedan on the road.
Best Sport Sedan
Cadillac V-Series Blackwings
When it comes to acknowledging a broader performance effort, our Best Sport Sedan award goes to Cadillac for their V-Series Blackwings. Yes, the Blackwing finally arrived, both as a CT4-V packing a 472–horsepower twin-turbo V6; and the CT5-V with a 668–horsepower supercharged V8.
Together, they get updated with track-worthy suspension setups, available manual transmissions, and high-performance brakes; proof that GM can easily do world-class performance whenever they put their minds to it.
Best Sport Coupe
Toyota GR 86 / Subaru BRZ
For 2-years running, our best Sport Coupe award has gone to the Toyota Supra. Yes, they needed an assist from BMW, but it was Toyota’s own Gazoo Racing squad that really made the Supra a winner. Well, this year they’ve turned their tuning skills to the 86, and created another Drivers’ Choice Award winner, now known as the GR86. Of course. Toyota partnered with Subaru on this one once again, so the BRZ gets our award, too.
Both these 2nd. gen lightweight throwback sport coupes add more power, more prowess, and most importantly more personality.
Best Performance Car
With all of the performance cars that we drove last year, none delivered a pure driving experience better than last year’s winner, the Porsche 718. Cayman coupe, Boxster roadster, both equally fun; and it doesn’t even matter whether you stick with the base 300–horsepower 4-cylinder turbo Boxster, or step up to the track-slaying Cayman GT4 with its GT-derived naturally-aspirated 414-horsepower flat-6; the 718 family has it all, including bang for the buck.
The Lucid Air luxury sedan is bursting onto the scene with a Performance version that delivers 1,111-horsepower and hits 60 in just 2.4-seconds, while delivering close to 500-miles of range. If that’s not enough to dispel your range anxiety, a Range version pushes it to 520-miles, though operates with “only” 933-horsepower.
Another new California-based electric vehicle company, Rivian, is delivering a real deal midsize pickup truck built not to garner headlines, but to offer what pickup people actually need. The R1T tows 11,000-lbs. of trailer, easily conquers off-road trails, and even feels like a sport sedan on twisty roads; all while providing up to 314–miles of range.
One fully-electric SUV that’s making a case to be the only SUV you need, is the Volkswagen ID.4. As the first vehicle to come from Volkswagen’s ID sub-brand, the ID.4 comes in your choice of rear or all-wheel-drive, delivers up to 260-miles of range, and drives just like the gasoline-powered SUV you’re used to. Most importantly, it’s priced like one, too.
Best Small Utility
Volkswagen has a great formula for making small utility vehicles not feel all that small, and it’s a fairly simple one; just make them bigger than everything else in the segment. But, it’s more than just a spacious interior that makes the Volkswagen Taos our Best Small Utility winner. Its classy looking, packed full of tech, and has a driving experience well above what most people expect from a subcompact utility vehicle.
Best Midsize Utility
It’s more than just rugged good looks that earned the Nissan Pathfinder our Best Midsize Utility award. Nissan’s proven 284-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is now mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission; that combo is able to tow 6,000-lbs. of trailer. Plus, there’s a well-executed, highly flexible, durable, tech heavy interior that today’s SUV-buying families desire.
Best Large Utility
Jeep Grand Cherokee L
For years now, growing Jeep families that needed 3-row capabilities had to look elsewhere. Finally, Jeep has given them an option with our Best Large Utility, the Grand Cherokee L. This begins a whole new WL generation of the beloved GC. Not to worry, all of the legendary off-road capability of before, with your choice of V6 or V8 power; and, there’s a traditional 5-passenger version as well.
Best Luxury Utility
Over to the luxury side of things, and we see an emerging trend: new brands displacing old ones. Hyundai’s Genesis luxury brand launching 2 all-new SUVs during a global pandemic was not the greatest of situations, but their midsize GV80 shined the brightest out of all the luxury SUVs we drove last year, which is truly saying a lot.
Best Compact Pickup
One year after adding a new award for Best Midsize Truck, we’ve seen the emergence of a new compact truck segment. Thus, our first ever Best Compact Truck award goes to the Ford Maverick. Its big truck looks set it apart from the other new entry into the segment, but the standard hybrid powertrain is the real game changer here.
Plus, there are lots of cool features, and it’s priced below 20-grand to start; not only making a pickup truck accessible for a whole lot of people, but positioning it as the new entry level vehicle for the entire Ford brand.
Best Midsize Pickup
Continuing Nissan’s return to rugged theme, is the Nissan Frontier, our Best Midsize Truck winner. The Frontier got a long overdue major overhaul this year; going from the most outdated in the segment to the most modern. Yet, this is truthfully one midsize pickup built for real truck people; full frame, with your choice of two different wheelbases, established 4X4 system, and the most horsepower in the class from its 310-horsepower V6.
Best Full-Size Pickup
Unless you’ve been taking COVID lockdowns to the extreme, you probably know that there’s an all-electric Ford F-150 coming, known as the Lightning; and that’s just part of the reason why the entire F-Series now reigns as our Best Fullsize Truck. You need to go way off the beaten path? Of course, there’s the F-150 Raptor which inspired other brands to up their off-road performance game. Need off-road capability without sacrificing payload capacity or towing ability? There’s the Tremor package which you can now even get on the Super Duty that continues to sit at the top of its class in towing at 37,000-lbs, and payload of 7,850-lbs. Clearly, Ford remains the leader when it comes to full size pickups.
Best of the Year
We always save the best for last, so let’s wrap up with the one vehicle that rides off with our highest honor: the 2022 Drivers’ Choice Awards Best of the Year.
This will likely come as a surprise to many, but the Ford Maverick is our 2022 MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Best of the Year! That’s because the Maverick is more than just another truck from Ford, it’s truly a game changer for both the pickup truck segment and for entry-level transportation.
And it starts with the standard hybrid powertrain. The 191-horsepower 2.5-liter based system not only makes it the most fuel-efficient truck you can buy, but with a City rating of 42 miles-per-gallon, puts the Maverick in the same conversation as many of the smallest cars.
And, it still does truck-like things very well, with a highly-functional 4½–foot bed, comfortable room for 5 inside, and even tows up to 2,000–lbs. Plus, the Hybrid’s regen braking makes hilly towing much more pleasant, even though it also uses a continuously variable transmission.
Need more capability? There’s an available 250-horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine with 8–speed automatic transmission that allows for up to 4,000-lbs. of towing. For off-pavement pavement use, an available FX4 package adds monotube dampers, hill descent control, skid plates, and all-terrain tires on 17–inch wheels.
The Flexbed features multiple anchor points for tie-downs, numerous pockets for dividers, available 12 and 110-volt power outlets, storage cubby, and even bottle openers. Inside this crew cab, are unique looking durable materials, plenty of tech including a standard 8-inch touchscreen, plus storage space under the rear seat.
And, did we mention is starts around $20,000? That makes pickup trucks more accessible than ever. Delivering a true pickup for the masses that’s easy on gas, easy to drive, easy to park, easy on the eyes, and easy to love is why the Ford Maverick is our MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Best of the Year!