2017 Mazda CX 5 on road ・ Photo by Mazda
As we looked back on 2016 here at Autobytel, we observed an ever-growing number of car buyers visiting our site who researched and reached out to dealers to buy new cars ranging across several categories. Being the major force that we are in putting car buyers and dealerships together, we wanted to give special recognition to manufacturers who are making cars that American buyers want – thus was born the first annual Autobytel Buyer’s Choice Awards.
With 17 categories and 3 overall winners, the cars gracing the following pages won both the hearts and the pocketbooks of thousands of people across the nation in 2016. Whether you were one of those shoppers or not, each of these vehicles certainly deserves your attention.
Here’s a quick recap of all the winners:
Autobytel Buyer’s Choice: Best Car of the Year: 2017 Audi A4 Autobytel Buyer’s Choice: Best Truck of the Year: 2017 Ford F-150 Autobytel Buyer’s Choice: Best Utility Vehicle of the Year: 2016 Mazda CX-5
Best Alternative Fuel Vehicle: 2016 Tesla Model S Best Compact Car: 2017 Honda Civic Best Convertible: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Best Coupe: 2016 Nissan GT-R Best Hatchback: 2016 Nissan Versa Note Best Luxury Car: 2017 Audi A4 Best Sedan: 2017 Honda Accord Best Sports Car: 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Best Wagon: 2017 Subaru Outback Best Full-Size Truck: 2017 Ford F-150 Best Heavy Duty Truck: 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Best Small Truck: 2017 Chevrolet Colorado Best Luxury SUV: 2017 Infiniti QX60 Best Large SUV: 2016 Mazda CX-9 Best Midsize SUV: 2017 Toyota Highlander Best Small SUV: 2016 Mazda CX-5 Best Van: 2017 Toyota Sienna
The winner of both the Best Luxury Car and the overall Best Car of the Year this year was the 2017 Audi A4. This was not surprising. After first driving Audi’s all-new sedan earlier this year and experiencing the improved 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, putting out 252 HP and 273 lb.-ft of torque, we understood the appeal.
Beyond that, the interior intelligence and exquisite design is enough to get you back into the car as often as possible. The Google map navigation display on both the screen and the “virtual cockpit,” leapfrogs any other brand’s navigation experience by miles. The list goes on: LED lights, Mobile Wi-Fi and safety ratings each take this small sedan to the top of its class. That is why, out of all the passenger cars we compared, the Audi A4 had more searches and dealer inquiries than any other one car. Congratulations to Audi for getting car buyers’ attention – keep it coming, please.
Read more reasons car buyers preferred the 2017 Audi A4 as the Best Luxury Car and the overall Car of the Year.
Photo by Audi
Our Best Full-Size Truck of the Year, the 2017 Ford F-150, has out-trucked so much of the competition in the ongoing truck wars. Beyond the endless configurable options found when shopping for an F-150 online, this truck’s luxury features, innovative infotainment, hauling capabilities and cutting-edge driver-assistance technology set it nicely apart.
And, with the choice of extras like the Pro Trailer Backup Assist and the comprehensive BoxLink cargo management system, truck buyers are seduced beyond which they can resist. Throw in the Raptor and its 450-horsepower EcoBoost engine and FOX Racing Shox (shock absorbers), and the entire lineup has something for every car buyer.
Read more reasons car buyers preferred the 2017 Ford F-150 as the Best Full-Size Truck and the overall Best Truck of the Year
Photo by Ford
Word has gotten out amongst car buyers that the best of the small SUV list should include the Mazda CX-5. We certainly found that to be true when the CX-5 won not only the Best Small SUV award, but the overall best in all of the utility vehicle categories.
The reasons are varied, and Mazda is always fun to drive, but Mazda’s new AWD system is a stand-out feature with its intelligent analysis of the conditions and driving patterns of its owner. Of course, its available 6-speed manual transmission option is popular with online shoppers too, and, it’s just one of the most beautiful SUV crossovers on the market.
Read more reasons car buyers preferred the 2016 Mazda CX-5 as the Best Small SUV and the overall Utility Vehicle of the Year
Photo by Mazda
From the mind of Elon Musk and the design genius of Franz von Holzhausen (after a successful career at Mazda), the luxury staple Tesla Model S has given Mercedes-Benz a run for its money and gotten the attention of American car buyers with “ludicrous” speed and its outrageous electric range.
The Model S has put Tesla on the map, just as Elon planned, with its remote “summon” feature to get your car out of its parking space, its huge screen and its separate electric motors that send power to the front and rear wheels independently. All this while providing a medical-grade HEPA air filtration to the inside of the cabin. This is one clean machine.
Read more reasons car buyers preferred the 2016 Tesla Model S as the Best Alternative Fuel Vehicle of the Year.
Photo by Tesla
When car buyers research the 2017 Honda Civic, since they must consider such a long list of options, body styles and engines, it’s actually more like choosing between half a dozen different cars.
What all the models have in common, however, is the technology, reliability, design excellence, technology, safety and performance that make the Civic a perennial best seller.
Read more reasons car buyers preferred the 2017 Honda Civic as the Best Compact Car of the Year.
Photo by Honda
When you think of convertibles, the Mazda MX-5 Miata certainly comes to mind, but even more so since the ingenious retractable hardtop model came out in 2016. Its soft top is equally as pleasing, however, doubling down on the drop-top fun.
Performance is another reason. The Miata defines “fun to drive” for the entire car industry and its nimble, agile and quick driving capabilities are made more desirable by a lighter weight body – only 2,332 lbs – 150 lbs. less than the previous year’s model.
Read more reasons car buyers preferred the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata as the Best Convertible of the Year.
Photo by Mazda
A potent 3.8.-liter twin turbo V6 powerplant with 545 hp and 463 lb.-ft. of torque puts the GT-R on every driving enthusiast, and the interior of the 2016 Nissan GT-R pays off what’s under the hood with racing seats and a cockpit designed for serious drivers.
Car buyers of this sort know the nickname: Godzilla. And this monster reached its 45th anniversary this year since its original debut. The NISMO version ups the ante to 600 hp and 481 lb.-ft. of torque, along with specially tuned suspension and aero enhancements.
Read more reasons car buyers preferred the 2016 Nissan GT-R as the Best Coupe of the Year.
The little hatch that could this year has been the Nissan Versa. Price-conscious car buyers love it for the price and more than that, the value. With more content in the mid-range than its competition, you can get things like NissanConnect with Mobile Apps, Bluetooth for streaming audio and a hands-free text messaging assistant and still keep the price down.
Excellent gas mileage of 31 city/39 highway gets lots of attention and passenger space of 94.1 cubic feet is more than impressive. Another notable note on the Note is its unique “Divide-N-Hide cargo management system – where you can raise and lower the load floor in the rear cargo, stowing valuables deep inside the cargo well.
Photo by Nissan
Car buyers found so many reasons to research and shop the Honda Accord as their next midsize sedan. For starters, it recently won the Top Safety Pick+ with IIHS, is available as a hybrid, getting 49 mpg city/47 mpg highway, and sports some of the best safety and infotainment technology in the business.
There’s also a coupe version available, a powerful V6 engine option and a four-cylinder engine for fuel economy. Accord is having its 40th anniversary and has evolved and changed along with its car buyers. Read more reasons car buyers preferred the 2017 Honda Accord as the Best Sedan of the Year.
Photo by Honda
Sports car drivers are few and far between these days, but this car buyer still has much to choose from. Why did most of them choose the Alfa Romeo 4C on our site? We believe it’s because, at a fairly moderate price, the right buyer can own an exotic sports car for an equivalent of what it would cost to own a minivan.
But the list of attributes is long: 237 horsepower, 258 lb.-ft. of torque and 34 mpg highway, an aggressive growl in the exhaust, a high-fashion cabin, premium audio, and a convertible spider variant. The Alfa Romeo 4C is an attainable race car that can easily stop innocent bystanders in their tracks.
Read more reasons car buyers preferred the 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C as the Best Sports Car of the Year.
Photo by Alfa Romeo