As electrification continues, some automakers are leaping into the future, while others are looking back and fighting for the last hurrah. These trends are evident in the finalists for this year’s Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2023.
Last year was our first award. A start-up automaker’s redesigned electric pickup took the cake, with the Rivian R1T earning Motor Authority’s 2022 Best Car To Buy honor. The electric car Lucid Air, also from the start-up company, was the runner-up.
After driving nearly 30 new or significantly updated luxury and performance cars, trucks and SUVs, we’ve whittled down the 2023 nominations to just seven contenders. We fought to get there and fought to determine the winner.
We will announce the winner on January 4, 2023, along with the winners of our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports.
Until then, these are the seven finalists for Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2023.
2023 Acura Integra
The Acura Integra returns proudly in 2022. Previewed a year before the prototype returns in prototype form, the compact hatch delivers on its promise to bring back the magic of its glory days. Building on the Civic Si’s backbone, the Integra goes a step further with adaptive dampers, a better sound system, and, of course, a hatchback body style. It’s a pity that the manual transmission is segregated to the top model.
2022 Audi RS 3
Audi RS 3
The Audi RS 3 returns with turbo-5 power and track prowess. The RS 3’s mission is to please the driver and inspire the soul, making it feel right at home on the track. The all-wheel-drive system gets more sophisticated and basically offers a drift mode thanks to a clever rear differential with torque vectoring. The tires are staggered and oddly have larger rubber up front. It’s also reasonably quick, with a 0-60 mph sprint time of 3.6 seconds. Sure, there’s a little turbo lag, but that’s part of the car’s character. But at over $60,000 for most configurations, it’s expensive to buy for less in a fast and fun car timeline.
2023 Cadillac Lyriq
The Cadillac Lyriq aligns the automaker with a battery-powered future. It could also mark a turning point, proof that GM’s luxury division is finally ready to chart its own path. Instead of chasing the Germans, the Lyriq does it with stunning style, a Cadillac-specific no-parts-box interior, and exemplary ride and handling. While the initial price of $62,990 comes and goes — it’ll cost more than $70,000 if ordered now — it still feels like a steal. This is the first mass-market application of the Ultium platform, which heralds GM’s future electric vehicles.
2022 Ford Mustang Raptor
ford mustang raptor
The Ford Bronco Raptor made it to the final round because it’s one of the most outrageous and fun cars money can buy. It’s a street-legal Tonka truck with crazy specs, including 418 horsepower, 13.0 inches of ground clearance, 13.0 inches of front and 14.0 inches of rear suspension travel, and 37-inch all-terrain tires. It also costs less than the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, even though that beast has two more cylinders and 57 more horsepower.
2023 Honda Civic Type R at Sonoma Raceway
Honda Civic Type R
Could we have a repeat winner on our hands? The Honda Civic Type R was named the best car to buy in 2018 by Motor Authority when the latest generation arrived. Now here comes the new Type R, and it’s grown up but still fun. The latest iteration of the legendary hot hatch checks out 315 horsepower, better cooling and an improved gearbox. Sure, it still has big wings, but it’s bigger, smarter, and faster than before. It already set a front-wheel-drive lap record at Suzuka. At $43,990, it’s not as cheap as it used to be, and our last two contenders cost less.
2022 Hyundai Kona N
Hyundai Kona N
The Hyundai Veloster N is dead, and we mourned its loss for nearly winning the 2020 Best Car To Buy award, but now we’ve got the $35,995 Hyundai Kona N. The slightly raised hot hatch comes on the scene with the same noisy turbo 4, and the front-wheel-drive layout is instead a bit more practical. The Kona N goes beyond hot hatch to wild child with its loud pops, crackles, and razor-sharp dynamics. But its high seating position is not conducive to track and canyon driving, and the ride is tough.
2023 Toyota GR Corolla Morizo Edition
Toyota GR Corolla
Who could have imagined the day we’d see Toyota bring the Corolla back to the hot hatch heyday of the 1980s? The GR Corolla does that and more. Toyota’s Gazoo Racing division installed a 300-horsepower turbocharged 3, a 6-speed manual, and clever all-wheel drive to make the Corolla a lot of fun. This peppy hot hatchback starts at $36,995, but enthusiasts want versions for just over $40,000 thanks to optional front and rear limited-slip differentials. That’s an expensive Corolla, and its interior is still budget-class, but it has the willpower to back up its attitude and its price.