Ranked

U.S. News & World Report names Best Vehicle Brands for 2021

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

U.S. News & World Report has announced the winners of its Best Vehicle Brand awards. To get the winners, the company evaluated 34 brands that are sold in North America evaluating them based on the high quality of their vehicles. Four winners were chosen, one in each of the four categories: Best Car Brand, Best SUV Brand, Best Truck Brand, and Best Luxury Brand.

To determine which automaker reigns supreme, U.S. News averaged the overall score, as determined by the U.S. News Best Cars review team based on the consensus of the automotive press, safety scores, and reliability data, of every brand's products in each award class. The brand with the highest overall average score was named the winner in the category.

"Many buyers know the type of vehicle they want but not the best brands for their needs," says Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars. "The Best Vehicle Brand awards point consumers to the brands that excel in producing the type of vehicle each buyer is interested in."

Best Car Brand: Mazda

2020 Mazda MX-5 RF

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

U.S. News & World Report: "Mazda wins the Best Car Brand award on the strength of the Mazda3, Mazda6 and Mazda MX-5 Miata. All three models have top-notch performance that puts an emphasis on direct, sporty handling, as well as quality interiors that are more upscale than their price tags might suggest. This is the sixth consecutive year Mazda has won this award."

Best SUV Brand: Hyundai

2022 Hyundai Tucson

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

U.S. News & World Report: "With a fresh, new lineup of SUVs in all sizes, Hyundai wins the Best SUV Brand award for the first time. The Hyundai SUV lineup ranges from the large and luxurious Hyundai Palisade to the midsize Santa Fe, compact Tucson and subcompact Venue. With so many updated models, Hyundai SUVs win points for offering buyers the latest in driver assistance and infotainment technology at an affordable price."

Best Truck Brand: Ram

2021 Ram TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

U.S. News & World Report: "Ram wins the Best Truck Brand award on the strength of the Ram 1500, which is one of the few trucks on the market to make a case for itself as both a work vehicle and a daily driver. The Ram 1500 features a coil-over suspension that makes the Ram comfortable enough for commuting but capable enough for serious towing and hauling. The Ram interior features a top-notch infotainment system with intuitive controls and a huge touch screen. The interiors of high-end Ram trims feature materials that keep pace with what luxury SUVs offer."

Best Luxury Brand: Porsche

2021 Porsche Panamera

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

U.S. News & World Report: "This is the sixth consecutive Best Luxury Brand win for Porsche. Though the brand is known for sports cars, Porsche offers a lineup of vehicles that effortlessly marry performance with upscale panache. Though almost any Porsche is at home on a racetrack, all models feature driver-focused interiors built with high-end materials and plenty of comfort."

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTSMy SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTSThe pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTSI'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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The 2022 Acura TLX has the technology enabled.

Photo courtesy of Acura

Toyota and Lexus announced that the WarnerMedia RIDE app would be coming to their models earlier this year. Now, Honda and Acura will be offering the same.

On certain Wi-Fi enabled Honda and Acura vehicles, AT&T unlimited in-car Wi-Fi users will have access to the WarnerMedia RIDE app. The app allows users to connect multiple devices in their vehicles to browse, stream and share premium content from the WarnerMedia library while on the road.

Honda and Acura vehicle owners have been able to use their on-board modem as a hot spot for connecting up to seven devices since 2017. Models compatible for the new tech include the Acura RDX (2019-present), Acura TLX (2021), and Acura MDX (2022) across all trim levels. Honda vehicles with the tech include Accord (2018-present, Touring), Odyssey (2018-present; Touring, Elite), Insight (2019-present, Touring)., Passport (2019-present; Touring, Elite)., and Pilot (2019-present; Touring, Elite, Black Edition).

The WarnerMedia RIDE App allows passengers to access 1,000+ hours of live and on-demand entertainment. The app includes hit TV shows and movies from top brands such as Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO Max, TBS, TNT and TruTV, spanning animation, entertainment, news, sports and more.

WarnerMedia RIDE appThe WarnerMedia RIDE app allows users to choose their own avatar.Photo courtesy of Acura

Users can set up profiles and personalize their user exerpience with an avatar from the WarnerMedia library. Profiles also ensure age-appropriate content with options for adults to restrict access to their profiles with an access code.

"Wireless connectivity and connected car services continue to be key features for customers and our long-standing relationship with AT&T continues to be one way we deliver exciting new content to Honda and Acura owners," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of North American Auto Strategy for American Honda. "Honda will continue working to enhance the in-car experience, including the capabilities of the AT&T network and access to top content with WarnerMedia RIDE."

"We're always looking for new and innovative ways to elevate the connected car experience for our customers. With WarnerMedia RIDE, we are delivering a connected experience that's perfect for journeys," said Joe Mosele, vice president, Mobility & Internet of Things, AT&T. "Our collaboration is keeping Honda and Acura owners connected wherever they travel with hours of news and entertainment for the whole family."

WarnerMedia RIDE is available now in the App Store and on Google Play for all U.S. unlimited data plan subscribers. WarnerMedia RIDE is included at no additional cost for existing and new unlimited subscribers.

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