A redesign last year gave Hyundai's best-selling sedan a more restrained look, while the 2018 Hyundai Elantra lineup comes with a new SEL model and shares a name – not a platform – with the new GT hatchback. Holding it back is a spartan base model, underwhelming performance, and a few cheap interior materials that detract from the model's overall goodness.
The 2018 Mazda CX-5 marks the first major re-design of the brand's best-selling vehicle - with a slicker design inside and out, a more fuel efficient engine, additional safety equipment, and class-above features at every price point. But it's held back by a clumsy infotainment interface, mediocre cargo volume, and a stiff ride with too much road and wind noise on models with larger wheels.
In a class dominated by the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the 2018 Lexus GS 350 has – through reliability, low ownership costs, and spectacular customer service – stolen a bit of the German's thunder. The latest iteration is market by flowing lines, supportive front seats, and handling prowess. A 2016 refresh added a much-needed spark, but rear seat knee room remains tight, the smaller gas engine lacks punch, the larger gas engine is hardly thrifty, while the infotainment interface is a nightmare to operate while moving.
We spend a week in the all-new 2018 Kia Rio – the smallest and least expensive offering from the Korean manufacturer – and come away appreciating its improved ride, quieter cabin, and cleaner lines. At the same time, the base model offers a dearth of power features, upper trims are pricey for the class, while passing at highway speeds requires some forethought.