Popular Cars to Avoid and What to Buy Instead

Skip high-selling models with low scores or reliability ratings and consider these winners

Popular cars to avoid include the Toyota Tacoma
Popular cars, SUVs, and trucks to avoid include the Toyota Tacoma.

Popular vehicles tend to fall into three camps: models from brands people trust, models from brands that have a broad dealer network, and mediocre models that have been priced to move or are pushed in droves through rebates, low-interest financing, and attractive leases.

The challenge for car shoppers—whether they’re buying new or used—is to separate the winners from the cars to avoid. All the vehicles we highlight below sell so well that there’s a variety of models on dealer lots to choose from, some with tempting discounts. 

Consumer Reports has identified several popular models and much better choices. We focus on models that are popular in their category, although they may not be the top sellers. Then we present two alternatives.

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  • A popular alternative: Another vehicle that sells well but has a higher Overall Score.
  • An “under the radar” choice: A better-scoring model that doesn’t sell as well, in case you don’t want to follow the crowd.

Popular alternatives and under-the-radar choices are CR-recommended, meaning they’ve scored well in our road tests, have good reliability, have key advanced safety equipment, and performed well in crash tests.

If you’re a CR member, this article and the list below are already available to you. But if you haven’t signed up, click below and become a member to access the list and all our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Joining also gives you full access to exclusive ratings and reviews for every product we buy and test, including grills, mobile phones, appliances, and flat-screen TVs.

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Popular Small Car to Avoid