For American consumers, a few names immediately spring to mind when considering great cars: the BMW 5 Series, Honda Accord, Toyota Highlander. With exquisite handling, great gas mileage and comfortable interiors, these are the go-to automobiles of enthusiasts and daily commuters alike.
There are also lesser-known vehicles — or at least less obvious ones — that get the job done just as well but don’t command the same respect as their better-known counterparts. These underrated cars are the dark horses, and though they may not be household nameplates, they have as much to offer as those that have achieved legendary status.
The cars on this list were provided by Karl Brauer, CEO and editor-in-chief of TotalCarScore.com, an online review aggregator and information resource for cars currently on the market. “These cars and SUVs not only earn impressive Total Car Scores, they actually score better than many nameplates long considered best in class,” he said in an e-mail.
Read ahead and see which coupes, sedans and SUVs made TotalCarScore.com’s list of underrated cars of 2012.
The Chevrolet Cruze was named "Best Compact Car for the Money" by U.S. News and World Report. It also won the “2012 Top Safety Pick” award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Chevrolet doesn’t have a long history of producing excellent small cars, but the Chevrolet Cruze is among the top scoring cars in the compact sedan category,” Brauer said. “In fact, it’s better rated than longstanding stalwarts like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Jetta.”