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5 Overlooked Cars That Are Actually Pretty Good

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author photo by Doug DeMuro March 2017

I've recently come to the conclusion that good cars tend to be popular cars, and bad cars tend to be unpopular cars -- and cars that don't do very well generally don't do very well because they're not good, or too expensive, or in the wrong segment, or something. In short, I've generally come to the conclusion that when a car doesn't sell, it's the car's fault -- and not the consumer's fault.

But there are a few exceptions. Specifically, I've identified a few cars that really should be more popular than they are, in my latest list: 5 Overlooked Cars That Are Actually Pretty Good. I've also explained why each of these cars deserves more sales than it gets. Enjoy!

Honda Accord Hybrid

Honda Accord Hybrid

Ever since the Honda Accord Hybrid debuted for the 2014 model year, it's always occupied one very specific niche in my life: It's the car I hope I would've discovered if I weren't into cars. I say this because the Accord Hybrid is roomy enough for a family, like all Accord sedans; it's reasonably potent, in the sense that it does zero to 60 in around 7 seconds; it's got luxury-car levels of equipment if you get a high-end model; and best of all, it gets 48 miles per gallon! It's like a Prius, except roomier, better looking and more luxurious. And it starts around $30,000, so it's not even that expensive for a new car. Sadly, I suspect it's overlooked simply because fuel prices are so cheap right now.

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Lincoln MKC

Lincoln MKC

I truly believe the Lincoln MKC is one of the best compact luxury crossovers on the market today -- if not the very best. In fact, I believe this so much that I convinced my father to get one just 6 weeks ago -- after he'd owned nothing but Toyota products for the last 35 years. It's handsome, it's comfortable, it's got a very nice interior, it's small and maneuverable, and it's got all the equipment -- including Ford's latest SYNC infotainment system, which is pretty good now -- that an upscale crossover should. It's overlooked because of its Lincoln badge, but it absolutely shouldn't be. This is a truly great car.

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Mazda5

Mazda5

Although this is a listing of overlooked new cars, I think every single listing of "unfairly overlooked vehicles" should include the Mazda5 at least once, and possibly twice. The Mazda5 was everything: a minivan, a fuel-efficient compact, a reliable -- and, in top-end trim, surprisingly luxurious -- small car ... it was even offered with a stick shift! And handling was wonderfully crisp! Unfortunately, it was maybe a little bit too much for most people. Minivan buyers want a big, honkin' minivan; compact-car buyers don't want sliding doors, etc., etc., etc. Well, guess what? They're wrong. All of them. Go buy a Mazda5.

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Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

The Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG is one of the most surprising cars I've ever driven. I went in thinking I'd hate the thing, largely because the standard CLA has generally been panned by "car enthusiasts" for "cheapening" the Mercedes brand. Well, even if that were the case -- and it's a debate for another time -- the CLA45 hasn't cheapened anything. It has an amazing 380 horsepower, it's rocket-ship fast, handling is sharper than I ever expected it to be, and sizing is perfect: In a world where the BMW M5 (and even the M3!) have grown too big for anyone who really enjoys twisty roads, the CLA45 is just right. I love it. I wish I had one. You should, too.

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Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

Here's something I never really understood: Back before Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal, people were obsessing over the Jetta TDI, which returned up to 30 miles per gallon in the city and 44 mpg on the highway. But not a word was ever spoken about the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, which returned 42 mpg city and 48 mpg highway. Don't get me wrong: I like the Jetta TDI, too (or, at least, I did before I found out it makes me cough) -- but why has the more efficient Jetta Hybrid flown under the radar? Pricing is high, as it starts around $32,000, but it also comes standard with virtually every single Jetta option -- meaning it should be the pick of the range for shoppers interested in efficiency and equipment.

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Used 2017 Honda Accord EX-L Sedan
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Certified 2016 Lincoln MKC AWD Black Label
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Certified 2016 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Sedan
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Used 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 4MATIC Sedan
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5 Overlooked Cars That Are Actually Pretty Good - Autotrader