The Best New Cars of 2018

We teamed up with to bring you these top picks.

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Our GolfHr Institute experts joined forces with to prep this fully loaded guide to the year's best cars, all tested by our engineers. Buying a car? These winning picks put you in the driver's seat!

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How We Tested

After driving the year's new vehicles on over 3,000 miles of test tracks and open roads, we rated cars on safety, value, handling, design, comfort and technology. These fine folks above really racked up the miles.

And now, for the winners...

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Best Standard Compact: Mazda 3

We were impressed by the easy vibe, straightforward tech and generous headroom and legroom in the front, not typical in a compact car.

STANDOUT FEATURES: Its interior doesn't feel cramped, and the smartly designed controls are easy to reach on the dashboard and steering wheel for an ergonomic driving experience. 

GOOD TO KNOW: Our engineers found the no-frills infotainment system (navigation is an upgrade) easier to use with the dial than with the touchscreen. The backseat might be tight for three tall adults.

LAB LOWDOWN: It's perfect for someone looking for a solid and inexpensive car with the option to add on extras.

, $18,970 (base price), $21,329 (tested price)

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Best Luxury Compact: Alfa Romeo Giulia

This was seriously fun to drive. Its quick and responsive brakes and simple handling made for a smooth ride.

STANDOUT FEATURES: There's a surprising amount of trunk space and front seat legroom. We were thrilled to find that the seats were comfy and supportive and offered controls for extras like thigh adjustment.

GOOD TO KNOW: The infotainment system doesn't have a touchscreen; you have to use a dial, which can take some getting used to. 

LAB LOWDOWN: People who love to drive will surely enjoy this peppy and sporty new addition to the U.S. car market. Be prepared for stares.

, $38,990 (base price), $51,190 (tested price)

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Best Sedan: Honda Accord

A winner for the second year, this car had a roomy interior, a large trunk and above-average standard safety features that our experts appreciated.

STANDOUT FEATURES: Its infotainment system is located a little higher on the dashboard than those of other cars we tested, which was especially helpful for (offered as an upgrade). There is a touchscreen, but we liked having the option of manual buttons too.

GOOD TO KNOW: It doesn't come with an , so if you want to listen to music via your , you'll have to connect with Bluetooth or USB.

LAB LOWDOWN: You won't find a better ride at this price.

, $24,460 (base price), $31,860 (tested price)

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Best Luxury Sedan: Mercedes-AMG E43

From the second we got in, everything about this ride screamed premium. Beyond the look, it has responsive steering and a powerful engine. 

STANDOUT FEATURES: We fell in love with the faux-leatherette seats (you can even splurge on leather massaging ones!) and wide range of safety features — everything you would expect and some things you wouldn't, like hearing protection in a crash. 

Good to Know: While the infotainment system's screen is large and impressive, we found it a little tricky to control. It has buttons and a touchpad (similar to one on a laptop) which took a few tries to get comfortable with.

Lab Lowdown: This car is expensive for a reason. With such a posh interior, expect to plan more road trips.

, $72,595 (base price), $89,595 (tested price)

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Best Compact Crossover: Mazda CX-5

It was a fun car to drive and handled easily, whether taking a sharp turn, accelerating or going over bumps.

STANDOUT FEATURES:  Our engineers were blown away by how quiet it was inside — even on the highway! The redesigned vehicle boasts added insulation and extra seals around windows and doors.

GOOD TO KNOW: We found the front-seat storage a bit limited compared with that of other crossovers. The center console, glove compartment, and usable space around the driver's and passenger's seats were on the smaller side.

LAB LOWDOWN: It's a solid SUV that feels far more high-end and sophisticated than its price tag suggests.

, $25,125 (base price), $33,465 (tested price)

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Best Luxury Compact Crossover: BMW X1

It's an ultra-responsive car that doesn't sacrifice performance for style.

STANDOUT FEATURES:  True to the luxury you'd expect from a BMW, this ride is all about smart details. It has some of the best headroom in its class, tons of storage, standard rain-sensing windshield wipers and an infotainment screen that slants toward the driver so it's easier to see directions before hitting the road.

GOOD TO KNOW: There are three 12-volt outlets for charging, but just one USB port in the front. Most advanced driver assistance features only come as add-ons, so think about what you'll use most.

LAB LOWDOWN: If you want a nimble, athletic ride that has enough room for the whole family, this is it.

, $34,895 (base price), $45,120 (tested price)

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Best Mid-Size SUV: Volkswagen Atlas

The name VW isn't just for small, zippy rides. This three-row SUV is a top practical pick. 

STANDOUT FEATURES: It has much better storage than others in the category — tons of space in the center console and third row, and more with the seats folded down. We were also wowed by its solid braking and handling around corners.

GOOD TO KNOW: Many helpful features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring don't come standard and are added according to trim level instead.

LAB LOWDOWN: This gives you the best of both worlds — an effortless drive and an interior spacious enough for a carload of kids and adults.

$31,675 (base price), $42,065 (tested price)

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Best Luxury Mid-Size SUV: Audi Q7

As soon as we felt the quick acceleration, we knew it was going to be a thrilling ride. It's an energetic car that's still nimble around turns. 

STANDOUT FEATURES: We were happy to find that we could raise or lower the third row with power controls — no struggling with tricky fold-down seats. The cooled center console is ideal for chilling a or .

GOOD TO KNOW: To get the most from the infotainment system, add an (from $28 per month). You'll get things like Google Voice Search and Google Earth directions. The last row of seats is on the smaller side, not the best if you need to use it often.

LAB LOWDOWN: It's a luxe SUV that handles like a smaller car.

, $49,975 (base price), $57,375 (tested price)

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Best Large SUV: Chevrolet Suburban

Whether you're bringing the whole soccer team home or moving kids into college, it's a larger than-life workhorse that can handle your crew and all their stuff. 

STANDOUT FEATURES: There's seating for up to nine, so it's only right that there's also a huge amount of storage. Upgrade to and built-in Wi-Fi so passengers can stay connected even on the longest road trips. 

GOOD TO KNOW: It can tow up to 8,300 pounds — an entire RV! If you're not used to driving large vehicles, it may seem bulky at first, but it's a quiet, trustworthy ride. Always make sure your mirrors are aligned to boost visibility.

LAB LOWDOWN: The Suburban is equal parts rugged utility vehicle and premium-feeling family ride. 

, $51,495 (base price), $77,805 (tested price)

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