Popular Cars to Avoid includes the Ford Explorer
Popular cars to avoid includes the Ford Explorer

Popular vehicles tend to fall into three camps: Models from brands people trust, models from brands that have a broad dealer network, or 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 of 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.

We’re here to separate the popular from the good. For this analysis, we focused on top-selling models in 2018, even though they might not be the best sellers in their category.

Best & Worst Cars

We then present two alternatives:

  • A popular alternative: Another vehicle that sells well, but that 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.

In many vehicle categories, the popular models are the highest-scoring ones. But in the four popular categories below, we identify better alternatives to popular models, and provide reasons to buy them and reasons to skip them.

Members can see full details including road test scores and reliability and owner satisfaction ratings on all models. If you're a used-car shopper, you can click through to the model pages for information on these vehicles from older model years.  

Popular Small Car to Avoid

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2019 Nissan Sentra

Price Range: $17,890 - $25,940

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Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
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The Popular Alternative

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2019 Toyota Corolla

Price Range: $18,700 - $22,880

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Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
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The 'Under the Radar' Choice

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2019 Mazda 3

Price Range: $21,000 - $28,900

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Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
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Popular Small SUV to Avoid

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2019 Chevrolet Equinox

Price Range: $23,800 - $35,700

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Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
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The Popular Alternative

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2019 Honda CR-V

Price Range: $24,450 - $34,250

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Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
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The 'Under the Radar' Choice

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2019 Subaru Forester

Price Range: $24,295 - $34,295

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Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
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Popular Three-Row SUV to Avoid

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2019 Ford Explorer

Price Range: $32,365 - $54,165

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Reliability
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The Popular Alternative

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2019 Toyota Highlander

Price Range: $31,830 - $49,180

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Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
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The 'Under the Radar' Choice

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2019 Kia Sorento

Price Range: $26,290 - $46,490

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Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
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Popular Minivan to Avoid

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2019 Honda Odyssey

Price Range: $30,190 - $47,070

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Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
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The Popular Alternative

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2019 Toyota Sienna

Price Range: $31,315 - $49,090

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Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
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The 'Under the Radar' Choice

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2019 Kia Sedona

Price Range: $27,200 - $41,100

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Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
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