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Most Underrated Vehicles of 2022

6 minute read

By Lesley Harrison

Key Takeaways

  • You don’t need a best-in-class vehicle for a fun drive and sleek appearance.
  • Go outside the norm and you can get a good driving experience for a reasonable price.
  • Toyota, Honda and Mazda offer more than you might think.
  • Choosing a lesser-known vehicle could save you money on insurance, too.

Everyone has heard of the Chevrolet Corvette and the BMW 7 Series. You probably see those cars on the road every day. But that doesn’t mean they’re the only options when it comes to good looks, performance, or driveability. There’s a lot of fun to be had if you go outside the norm when it comes to picking your next vehicle.

Go Outside the Norm and You’ll Find Hidden Gems

Premium performance doesn’t have to come at a premium price. There are mid-range cars with great interior build quality and robust engines that will last a lifetime if you service them properly. Some of these models have floundered due to poor marketing; others, perhaps, due to historical issues with that brand.

Whatever the reason, these cars aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Do your homework as a motorist and you could find a car that punches above its weight class and gives you many years of enjoyable driving.

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Our Pick of The Most Underrated Cars of 2022

If you start to look beyond the flagship models, you’ll find a variety of options out there offering smooth driving and good looks for an affordable price. The Subaru Legacy, for example, is an example of a midsize sedan that’s often overlooked in favor of the Honda Accord. However, it’s a solid contender in its own right, thanks to having AWD as standard. For those looking for a midsize SUV, the Honda Passport has a lot to offer, including an impressive set of safety features.

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1. Subaru Legacy

In the world of midsize sedans, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are the names most people think of. But the Subaru Legacy has something those options don’t — AWD as standard across the line.

If you’re looking for a reliable sedan with good handling, this often-overlooked vehicle is well worth considering. Opt for a version with the EyeSight safety package and you’ll get an impressive collection of high-tech driver assists, including automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist.

Source: Subaru

2. Chevy Cruze Hatchback

The Chevy Cruze hatchback shares the same engine as its sedan brother but has a more elegant appearance while offering ample cargo space. A quiet cabin and an impressive infotainment system make this car a good option if you regularly do long drives.

The Cruze hatchback was discontinued in 2019, but they can be found on the used market for less than $15,000. That’s a bargain price for the quality and power the model offers.

Source: Chevrolet

3. Volkswagen Tiguan

This smart and sleek SUV manages to offer a good balance of handling, space and comfort. It offers a large cabin and the option for a third row of seating.

The interior is practical, rather than luxurious, and you won’t break any speed records in the Volkswagen Tiguan, but it’s fun to drive and handles well for an SUV. It’s often overlooked compared to the Toyota RAV-4 or Mazda CX-5, but it’s a robust offering in its own right.

Source: Volkswagen

4. Honda Ridgeline

Honda may not be a name you associate with pickups, but the Honda Ridgeline is an impressive offering all the same. The monocoque structure is strong and durable, and the reliable engine offers a respectable 280bhp.

All-wheel drive is offered as standard, and there are some good features to choose from, including an in-bed trunk or truck-bed audio system. This pickup is capable of towing up to 5,000lbs, and the bed is scratch-resistant so you can throw your gear in there without fear of scuffing it up.

2021 Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package.

5. Hyundai Ioniq 5

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is popular in Europe, but it didn’t make it over to the United States. U.S. customers are offered the Hyundai Ioniq 5 instead.

This hasn’t quite proven as popular as the Kia EV-6, Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Bolt, but it’s a great option if you’re looking for an electric SUV, thanks to its impressive mileage — up to 132 miles on a single charge — and its spacious and comfortable cabin. If you haven’t made the leap to electric yet, now could be the right time.

Source: Hyundai

6. Lexus UX

Lexus is a brand that’s known for reliability and quality, but it doesn’t seem to have the recognition of its rivals. The Lexus UX occupies a similar slot in the marketplace as the Toyota Camry, but it offers a slightly more premium driver experience.

If you want good handling combined with Toyota-level reliability and good fuel efficiency, the Lexus UX could be the perfect choice. It’s hampered by a small trunk and an entertainment system that lags behind the ones found in Toyotas or BMWs, but if you can live with those issues, it offers good value.

Source: Lexus

7. Honda Passport

The Honda Passport is a midsize SUV that failed to take off in the way the Pilot did. It’s possible buyers overlooked the Passport because it looks similar to the Pilot, other than being slightly shorter and having a lifted stance.

Whatever the reason, it turned out to be the underrated cousin, despite featuring a 280bhp V6 engine and Honda’s high-quality Sensing safety package. If you’re looking for a midsize SUV that’s reasonably rugged but doesn’t feel like a road hog, it’s worth considering the Passport.

Source: Honda

Shop Around and You Might Avoid Waiting Times

Some of the most popular cars can experience shipping delays, and some dealers have a long waitlist for new car models. If you’re hoping to get a new car and don’t want to wait a long time, try avoiding the leading models and looking for something a little less popular.

Many buyers who aren’t car enthusiasts base their buying decisions on longstanding reputations. Brands evolve, however, and swearing off one brand because your parents say they’re unreliable could mean you miss out on some great deals.

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Less Popular Models May Offer Lower Insurance, Too

Another benefit you may find from shopping around is lower car insurance. This is particularly true for newer drivers. Sometimes, opting for a typical first car isn’t a good idea, because those cars may be viewed as high risk.

If you choose something less well-known you may get more horsepower and modern features while saving on insurance. This isn’t always the case, so be sure to get quotes from a comparison site before making a decision.

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How to Pick a Hidden Gem

If you’re looking for a car that’s a little different from the norm, it pays to do your homework. Take a look at reviews and ratings on car databases such as Kelley Blue Book. Also, look over the IIHS Safety Ratings to get an idea of how crashworthy the vehicle is and what safety features it offers.

Consider what you’re looking for in a new car, too. Remember, an SUV won’t handle like a hatchback, so choosing the right type of vehicle is as, or more, important than choosing the right manufacturer.

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Lesley Harrison

Writer

Lesley Harrison is a technical writer and open source software enthusiast with a passion for all things "data". In her spare time she coaches youth sports and loves exploring the English countryside.

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