Wards Auto

Wards Auto picks 10 best vehicle user experiences

The Hyundai Sonata won accolades for its user experience.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai North America

Each year, Wards Auto evaluates each automaker's infotainment and safety system offerings, diving deep into the features they offer as well as evaluating the systems' ease of use. They test then score the systems based on the user experience in reference to each vehicle's touch screens, voice controls, connectivity, and driver-assistance technologies. They also took value into consideration.

This year, the fifth year for the Wards 10 Best UX Awards, the testers scrutinized 18 eligible vehicles. The list of nominees included:

  • Acura RDX
  • Cadillac CTS-V
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA
  • Toyota Highlader
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • Chevrolet Trailblazer
  • Kia Seltos
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
  • Audi Q7
  • Ford Escape
  • Lincoln Aviator
  • Ram 1500
  • BMW X7
  • Honda CR-V Hybrid
  • Mazda CX-30
  • Subaru Legacy

Here are the winners.

2021 Kia Seltos

2021 Kia Seltos Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Wards Auto: "Kia's all-new Seltos is packed with infotainment and technology features that give the small CUV a youthful energy that's hard to resist."

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Wards Auto: "Augmented-reality navigation, stellar ADAS, and a 64-color light show propel the $48,295 Mercedes-Benz CLA to UX leadership."

2020 Toyota Highlander

2020 Toyota Highlander Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Wards Auto: "Toyota's redesigned Highlander three-row CUV is the only vehicle this year to win both Wards 10 Best Interiors and Wards 10 Best UX honors, thanks to an interior and tech overhaul that keeps it ahead of the competition."

2020 Hyundai Sonata

2020 Hyundai Sonata Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Wards Auto: "Big displays, tons of UX and ADAS features make 2020 Sonata unbeatable value proposition."

2020 Ford Escape

2020 Ford Escape Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Wards Auto: "The compact CUV is a 2020 Wards 10 Best UX winner for showing how it's done right in so many ways."

2020 Subaru Legacy

2020 Subaru Legacy Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Wards Auto: "The '20 Legacy is another strong UX player and is the fourth consecutive Wards 10 Best UX winner for Subaru, following last year's award-winning Outback, the Ascent in 2018 and Impreza in 2017."

2020 Audi Q7

2020 Audi Q7

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Wards Auto: "If owners take time to drill down into the immense customization content, they will be richly rewarded. In the realm of the automotive user experience, this is where the magic happens."

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Wards Auto: "The user-experience award for the five-seat Atlas Cross Sport comes on the heels of a 2019 honor for the Arteon sedan. Volkswagen is on a hot streak, and buyers of the value-driven brand are the clear winners."

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Wards Auto: "The Chevrolet Trailblazer wins a 2020 Wards 10 Best UX trophy for a long list of standard, user-friendly features, first-rate driver-assistance technologies and even wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with a starting price below $20,000."

2020 BMW X7

2020 BMW X7

Photo courtesy of BMW

Wards Auto: "Voice controls and driver-assistance technologies work great, personal preferences are easily cued up and Munich's largest vehicle ever soothes the soul with a user experience beyond compare, able to "Vitalize" when drowsy or "Relax" when tense."

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Buying guide

How to buy a modified car: Three tips

This is a clean modified truck, but they don't all end up this way.

Bring a Trailer

Modified cars are a mixed bag. Sometimes, they're incredibly well built and better than the original, but too many times they're only partially finished or end up being rushed as their owners get late-project anxiety. Whatever the case, buying a modified car can be a stressful process if you haven't done your homework ahead of time. The good news is that you can get a good deal on a reasonably well sorted project or modified car, but you'll need to be careful. Looking at used Lexus LXs earlier today, it became clear that there are as many modified vehicles for sale as there are clean examples.

This LX got me thinking about the breakdown between buying a rig and building one. The modifications made by this Lexus' seller are almost exactly what I would do if I were building a light overlanding rig. What could go wrong? I'm still on the fence about the Lexus, but the three topics below will help you make the right decision on buying a modified car.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Even if the mods are well done, you'll want to have the vehicle inspected before you buy.Bring a Trailer

Understand your personal taste

I mentioned the LX470 and how the owner's updates were pretty close to what I'd do with the truck. That's an exception to the rule, because 90 percent of the time I walking away from a sales listing because of modifications, rather than the other way around. If you're hoping to find a tastefully modified car that matches your exact tastes, you could be waiting a while. If you're hoping to sell a modified car, the same is true in reverse. Finding a buyer for your extremely personalized project car may not be the easiest thing you've ever done.

2004 Lexus LX 470 It's a good idea to seek out vehicles in solid shape, regardless of mods.Bring a Trailer

Be aware of condition and quality

This Lexus looks to be well maintained and in good shape. It also doesn't hurt that the LX is one of the most reliable vehicles built by one of the world's most quality-conscious automakers. Even so, it's hard to know what you're getting with this, or any other, modified vehicle. There's a little rust in this image, but the lift kit, wheels, and bumper mods all look good. However, even if the truck looked brand-new, you'd want to get a pre-purchase inspection. An independent mechanic can tell you if there are potential issues that are unrelated to mods, and you'll want to be sure that any modifications are installed properly.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Some mods are more useful than others.Bring a Trailer

Keep an eye on the price

Most people are reasonable when it comes to selling their modified cars, but there are hundreds of "I know what I got" memes on the internet for a reason. Some sellers want to recover every penny of the money they spent customizing their cars. They're convinced that the mods drastically increased the car's value and can't understand why the customized car isn't as attractive to you as it is to them. Tread lightly and be careful not to insult the owner, but it's your job to work toward a reasonable, fair price.

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New AWD performance car

The Subaru WRX is all-new for 2022

The new WRX's body cladding is already stirring up controversy.

Subaru

The Subaru WRX is a rally-bred performance car that offers a unique mix of rowdy all-wheel drive fun, a value price, and youthful styling. The car is long overdue for an update, though, and Subaru is doing just that for the 2022 model year. The fifth-generation WRX is all-new, and features a more powerful engine, along with several go-fast upgrades.

2022 Subaru WRX Both a manual and an automatic transmission will be offered.Subaru

A new GT trim joins the WRX lineup for 2022. It features a new automatic transmission, adaptive dampers, and drive mode selections. With various customization options available to the driver, the system offers up to 430 different settings combinations. The GT's interior adds Recaro seats wrapped in Ultrasuede with red stitching. The GT also gets exclusive 18-inch wheels.

Though still a Boxer engine, the 2022 WRX's powerplant is new and more powerful than before. It delivers 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, as well as a broader torque curve. Subaru says that the larger engine plus an electronically controlled turbo wastegate and air bypass valves improve responsiveness and acceleration.

2022 Subaru WRX A larger 11.6-inch infotainment screen is on board. Subaru

All WRX models come with Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel drive system and active torque vectoring, which can shift power to individual wheels that need the most traction. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but a new Subaru Performance Transmission is available, which features faster shifts and other features to improve performance.

The 2022 WRX also gets a tech upgrade that brings a large 11.6-inch tablet-style touchscreen. It runs Subaru Starlink infotainment, handles HVAC and vehicle controls, and offers split-screen functionality for two apps to run simultaneously. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is Bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, and HD radio. An upgraded version of the system also offers navigation with three years of free map updates.

2022 Subaru WRX Subaru will offer a new GT trim with upgraded suspension and finishes.Subaru

As it has done with many of its other vehicles, Subaru is equipping every WRX with its EyeSight suite of advanced driver aids. The packge includes lane departure prevention, adaptive cruise control with lane centering, and more. A new available automatic emergency steering system works with the car's pre-collision braking feature to help avoid collisions at speeds under 50 mph.

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