Out of hundreds of cars we've driven in 2022, these were the best of them.
As 2022 rolls to a close, we've had some time to think about the best cars, trucks, and SUVs we've been behind the wheel of in the last 12 months. And it's finally time to announce the winners of the 2022 CarBuzz Awards.
Our ten categories remained unchanged, but with a plethora of hot new metal, tons of tech, and more choice than ever before, choosing our winners was no easy feat.
In order to be eligible, a car had to be driven either on launch or on test by one of our team during 2022. Each category was whittled down to three finalists, and from there, a winner was chosen.
So without further ado, here are the 2022 CarBuzz Awards winners:
"The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 proves that an electric vehicle can be the perfect People's Car," says Jared Rosenholtz, CarBuzz Editor-at-Large. "Heading into 2023 with a starting price of $41,450, over 300 miles of available driving range, and the quickest charging speeds of any mainstream EV, the Ioniq 5 is the car that will convince buyers to go electric."
Using the average new car transaction price in the USA, a figure that hit $48,000 in 2022, there were many cars that we considered. But the Ioniq 5 undercuts this figure by some margin in base form without cutting back on quality.
"Hyundai is the first automaker to win the People's Car Award with an EV, proving that the future is bright for affordable electrification," Rosenholtz adds. "Many EVs arriving on the market now can't match the Ioniq 5's charging speeds, showing just how far ahead the Hyundai Motor Group is in this segment."
"When you mash the accelerator of the F-150 Lightning, you won't miss your gasoline engine," states Rosenholtz. "With up to 580 horsepower on tap, truck owners will marvel at the Lightning's sports car-like acceleration. It also adds useful truck features such as a power frunk, a real-time range calculator, and onboard power that can act as a generator for your house during a storm."
"Saving the planet with a pickup truck seems like a crazy notion, but replacing the dirtiest of vehicles on the road with a zero-emission vehicle certainly qualifies," says Roger Biermann, CarBuzz Managing Editor. "In electrifying its top-selling nameplate, Ford has shown a willingness to adapt to a changing automotive climate that is worthy of praise. Not only is the F-150 Lightning a revelation, but it still functions as a real truck should; no customer beta testing here."
"I can't imagine buying another family SUV over the 2023 Hyundai Palisade," claims Rosenholtz. "For less than $50,000 (even in the top trim), the Palisade bundles features you won't find at double the price. It even offers ventilated second-row and heated third-row seats, an amenity you won't find on most six-figure Germany luxury SUVs."
The Palisade and the Family Fun award go hand-in-hand, with the midsize SUV now winning the prestigious title on two separate occasions.
"The Palisade was our first Family Fun winner in the inaugural CarBuzz Awards," Rosenholtz explains. "Frankly, the Palisade could have won every year since then, but we only allow cars that are new or updated to compete. With the 2023 facelift, Hyundai improved upon its award-winning formula and again showed it can build the ultimate family SUV."
"Everything about the Range Rover's new design has been obsessed over, and it shows," says Ian Wright, Features Editor and road tester at CarBuzz. "It exudes style and class with materials, build quality, and styling and doesn't need big badges or colorful lighting to remind people they spent an excessive amount of money on their ride. Other premium and luxury automakers should take notice: The bar has been raised again."
"We've been led to believe that a certain level of luxury can only be attained through ultra-luxury purchases, but the New Range Rover proves otherwise," adds Biermann. "Land Rover has presented a complete package that caters to large families or solitary VIPs, encompassing technology, practicality, and supreme comfort, at a fraction of the cost of established ultra-luxury marques."
In the second year of the Electrified Luxury category, one nominee dominated the discussion between CarBuzz writers and road testers.
"BMW understands that technology and luxury aren't synonymous. Technology is merely one piece of the luxury puzzle, and a small one at that," says Gerhard Horn, Senior Editor at CarBuzz. "The i7 has all of the latest gadgets, but these state-of-the-art features are presented in a contemporary yet familiar way. The essence of luxury, which is natural light, space, and comfort, still takes center stage. BMW has easily usurped rivals that used to set the benchmark in this segment."
"Interfacing digital and analog in the modern age is an incredibly complex balancing act that BMW has nailed where others have struggled," adds Biermann. "That the i7 can be as technologically advanced and feature-laden as it is, without overwhelming a first-time operator, is a testament to a user-first ethos other automakers should aspire to."
Many of the same attributes that contributed to a victory for the i7 in the Electrified Luxury category justified a victory for its ICE sibling, the BMW 7 Series in the Tech Lover's Dream category.
"The 2023 BMW 7 Series packs more amazing technology than any car we've driven this year," states Jared Rosenholtz. "BMW elevates its already impressive iDrive 8 infotainment system with new jaw-dropping technology that will impress anyone who rides in the 7 Series. Traditional buyers will love the available inline-six and V8 engines, and early adopters will marvel at the all-electric i7, which catapults the 7 Series into the EV era."
"Standout features like the interactive ambient lighting, augmented reality navigation, a 36-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system with actual diamonds in the speakers might impress, but BMW takes the available technology even further in the 7 Series," he adds. "A Panoramic Sky Lounge LED Roof and ultra-luxury rear seat with a full recliner on the passenger side set the stage for the real showstopper: the 31-inch Theatre Screen with its remarkable 8K resolution. A built-in Fire Stick means you can pick up where you left off at home and enjoy movies or TV shows on the go or at charging stations."
Once again, the Affordable Fun category proved one of the most difficult to settle on a champion for, as all three finalists were highly deserving of the praise that has been heaped upon them. But the biggest surprise came from a brand that a decade ago wouldn't have even been in the discussion.
"I got out of the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla, and my hands were trembling with excitement," says Rosenholtz. "Toyota has completely erased any notion that it can't build exciting cars for the masses. The GR Corolla is so unique thanks to its 300-horsepower three-cylinder engine and advanced GR-Four all-wheel-drive system, and the ability to send up to 70% of the power to the rear wheels turns the Corolla into a competent drift machine. Oh, and did we mention it only comes with a manual transmission? Bravo, Toyota!"
"Driving the GR Corolla feels like a cheat code," he explains. "There's so much grip, the car feels infallible on the track. Starting at under $36,000, the GR Corolla is a car enthusiasts can afford to drive every day and enjoy on the weekends.
"There was no shortage of suitable cars for the Track Weapon category in 2022, but the Audi R8 GT stood head and shoulders above the rest of the nominees in several areas," says Roger Biermann. "While none of its improvements will redefine the supercar segment, the purity of rear-wheel drive, natural aspiration, and an intoxicating soundtrack make this a machine that prioritizes emotion and the experience of driving over mere numbers. The irony is that the final iteration of the V10 R8 is the one that makes us long for its continued existence more than ever. The R8 GT marks a high point in super sports car history never to be repeated."
And for those wondering where the Porsche 911 GT3 RS and Corvette Z06 are, well, 2023 is going to be an even more exciting year for the Track Weapon category.
"Typically, an off-roader that does what the Bronco Raptor can do wouldn't come straight from the factory," says Ian Wright. "It would need a ton of money spent on a bunch of aftermarket parts, a big engine tune, a lot of time in the shop, and then the actual tuning would start. Instead, the Bronco Raptor arrived in 2022 as a turn-key high-speed desert runner, rock crawler, and, if that wasn't enough, a comfortable regular weekend getaway off-roader for the family."
"The Ford Bronco Raptor has reset the bar for what an off-roader can do," adds Biermann. "When the standard Bronco won this award in 2021, it was an already class-redefining SUV, but the Raptor variant has proven that Ford is a true master of the off-road without compromising day-to-day usability. The Bronco Raptor is the complete package."
"The Cayenne Turbo GT is an exercise in 'because we can,' and in this case, it's because Porsche can deliver a supercar that's also an SUV," states Ian Wright. "It's the ultimate crossover and manages to be absurdly fun while ticking almost all of the sensible and premium boxes. Fast in a straight line is easy, but a family crossover should not be able to go around corners like this - let alone with terrific ride quality and interior comfort."
While some may discount its two-row configuration, different families need different things, and when price is no object, different priorities take hold.
"Many associate starting a family with the end of your love of driving, but this is seldom the case," admits Roger Biermann. "For the buyer that has had to give up their 911 or 718 due to new family commitments, the Cayenne Turbo GT is the perfect way to add a dose of practicality to their lifestyle without sacrificing the driving thrills provided by a sports car, making it a deserving winner of the Family Luxury category."