If there is one thing that can make you feel like a golf club, it’s buying the latest generation of cars.
Can you feel better about that purchase now that the 2020 models have rolled out? Have you got it together, at least? I guess that depends on how well you knew a Ford Ranger when you were 12.
Here’s one way to judge the cars, as compiled by Consumer Reports. Make sure you’re in line for the top winner. (That’s Consumer Reports, not a golf club manufacturer.) And in those cases, who cares what happens to the RVs?
Consumer Reports model: Light Truck
Wheelbase: 102.4 inches
Length: 118.9 inches
Height: 111.6 inches
Width: 77.6 inches
For this list, the Chrysler Pacifica is one of three new players. All three are slated to have federal fuel economy ratings in the 50-mile-per-gallon range by 2020. By then, an average of 70% of 2020 new models will do so, up from 49% this year. That’s an amazing jump.
The Pacifica, a somewhat big C-130 cargo plane about the size of a van with a different body style and architecture, definitely will run you a lot less than today’s standard-size SUVs — unlike a lot of the C-130s. “But for families that will have a huge spread of cargo, this is more than a compromise,” Auto Express said in its review. “The new Pacifica has versatility all over, plus the downsized interior.”
Consumer Reports model: Mid-size SUV
Wheelbase: 93.5 inches
Length: 128.5 inches
Height: 105.2 inches
Width: 82.9 inches
Small-capacity SUVs are a very big deal. While they’re considerably cheaper than full-size vehicles, they’re also heavier. If you have a small enough family to qualify, and if you’re willing to accept a smaller gross domestic product, this is the kind of vehicle you want. And to this day, there isn’t anyone out there who wouldn’t rather own a Toyota RAV4 than a Honda CR-V.
If you’re in the market for a mid-size SUV that’s a bit bigger than the Civic four-door, you’re more likely to get one with the trim level known as Pro Tour. This version is available with a diesel engine. And the ratings were just, uh, glowing. And the inside space is good. You’re not going to be pulling your own wagon though.
Consumer Reports model: Small SUV
Wheelbase: 74.9 inches
Length: 110.9 inches
Height: 103.9 inches
Width: 77.1 inches
The least thrilling name in Nissan’s lineup, but the one that might surprise most consumers. A smallish SUV that has a robust interior and a decent economy rating. You also have direct access to Nissan’s free services on electric vehicles. I haven’t found any single word to describe what exactly those services are, but you’re not missing out by adding one. You’re just paying Nissan for a loss leader.
2018 is also a good year to buy a new Nissan. Its Infiniti QX50 is new for this year, which means it won’t have the six-year/100,000-mile safety recall that VW’s newly redesigned Golf has had, on top of that it will soon gain access to the best fuel economy rating yet on the whole lineup.
Consumer Reports model: Small SUV
Wheelbase: 79.5 inches
Length: 102.4 inches
Height: 109.8 inches
Width: 82.8 inches
The hit of the lineup for Honda is this one. It’s not the best of the bunch — the Civic Hatchback beats it every time — but it is the safest midsize SUV and the only one of the three that EPA allows to drive at 60 miles per hour with a manual transmission.
And don’t even get me started on the in-dash CD changer. (Do we really need another in-dash CD changer?) If you’re sitting inside a Honda Odyssey that’s the size of an SUV, don’t be ashamed to let people know that you’re sitting there on an airplane.