Sometimes people just don't know a good thing when they see it.
Just because a car is great, that doesn't mean it's a guaranteed hit. There are myriad different reasons a car just doesn't catch on. Sometimes it's just a slow-selling vehicle that never caught the limelight, the automaker didn't do a great job of promoting it, or an automaker went outside of the lines of a proven formula and people didn't trust it. Now, in the internet age, a car's sales can be affected by the loudest voices because a car doesn't conform to expectations. These are the cars we've noticed do not get all the love they deserve. Whether old or new, they're underrated and deserve a second look.
For the rest of the world, it's the Honda NSX, but however it's branded, one of Honda's greatest performance cars just hasn't had the love it deserves. If anything, the second generation is a victim of the same forward-thinking that gave us the first generation. In the 1990s, nobody had any great expectation of Honda's crack at building a supercar. The New, Sportscar eXperimental was a conceptual experiment that made it to production. It became a classic and influenced supercars in many ways, and the new hybrid-powered NSX followed a vaguely similar blueprint. The problem is that a large core of enthusiasts expected the NSX to use the same blueprint and were resistant to the idea of hybrid technology. Somehow, they believe that a car with the word "experimental" in its initials should just be a modern update on the existing vehicle.
When it comes to sedans, Subaru has a forgotten gem in its current catalog. It flies under the radar of mainstream car buyers and enthusiasts alike, but it deserves a closer look. The Subaru Legacy's naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine is excellent, but the new turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder makes 260 horsepower while its torque weighs in at 277 lb-ft and is available between 2,000 and 4,800 rpm. On top of that, the current generation rides on a 70 percent stiffer platform that makes this sedate looking sedan a dive bomber in corners. Add a smooth ride, a comfortable interior that is punching above its weight, and a terrific CVT for smoothness, and you have a fantastic low-key sedan people will continue to ignore unfairly and run to the Honda Accord instead.
The Lexus GX has been overlooked since the first generation that went on sale in the US in 2002. People complain about the lack of body-on-frame SUV's with a bit of luxury and, well, the GX is still here, it's still great, and it's still massively overlooked. The small market for old school ladder-frame chassis-based SUVs still exists, and the current GX sits in it nicely. A choice of big V6 or V8 engine is hooked to a mechanical a full-time 4WD system with a locking differential and offers all the rugged ability of the Toyota 4Runner but with upmarket creature comforts. There's everything to love about the GX, and yet it's still so regularly forgotten.
The Nissan 370Z is the Jeep Wrangler of sports cars. It offers old school appeal in a world of electronic assistance, it's more than capable in its core competency and has an extensive aftermarket. The engine is bulletproof, it stands up to a tremendous amount of abuse, and the people driving them tend to use the word 'bro' a lot. Unlike the Jeep Wrangler, it only comes with a V6, but like the Wrangler, age isn't a big factor in its fitness for purpose. We're likely in the last model year of the 370Z, and the used market is full of them and its equally acceptable previous 350Z generation. Don't let its age fool you, the 370Z is still the stuff sports car dreams are made of.
The vast majority of truck buyers do not want to face the fact that the Honda Ridgeline is the truck they need and not the truck they want. They think they need a big body-on-frame monstrosity with a massive engine to bring back a load of fertilizer, a lawn ornament, a box of nails, and maybe some drywall from Home Depot a couple of times a year. It can tow up to 3,500 or 5,000 lbs depending on the drivetrain selected, which might not impress drinking buddies but is plenty for most people's real-world needs. It comes with a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, the only body style is a crew cab, and it has road manners that make it a truck you can easily live with as a daily driver. The Chevrolet Colorado and the Toyota Tacoma are more suitable as work trucks, and that's great if you need a work truck. Most people don't, though, and that's why the Ridgeline is so overlooked.
Honda doesn't make an Accord Coupe anymore, which is one hell of a shame. If you want a relentlessly reliable and affordable coupe with comfort in abundance and fun, sharp handling, then just pick a previous-generation Accord to suit your budget. If you can, get the V6, and then live your life with occasional bouts of wonder as people ask you what it is. Seriously, we can tell you through the experience of owning an eighth-generation 2009 model. The ninth generation was last with a coupe option, and while the current generation Accord is great, you can't beat the styling and sportiness of the two-door.
Big front-wheel-drive sedans are some of the most overlooked vehicles on the market. The Toyota Avalon is often cast aside as a Florida pensioner's car with not much use past driving to a buffet restaurant for an early dinner. Toyota has sought to move on from that stereotype with the latest generation and has delivered a stylish and extremely comfortable sedan. It's an incredibly sensible car, which is what most people really need, particularly in hybrid form. Its softly sprung suspension is a respite from the demand of firm and sporty setups people rarely take advantage of in the real world.
Among the slew headlines about the latest, greatest, and upcoming electric cars, the Chevy Bolt is often forgotten. It's the little electric car that follows a familiar pattern in this list. While people want the latest and greatest, the Chevy Bolt is going from strength to strength and is as close as we've seen to be the perfect city car. It's 200 horsepower, and 266 lb-ft of torque makes it zippy, but the Bolt also handles great, has an excellent infotainment system, a comfortable ride, and will manage 259 miles on a full charge in perfect conditions, besting all but the priciest EVs along the way.
The Jaguar XE and XF both suffer from slow sales, and it comes from a mix of people defaulting to the German competition and the tired stereotype of British-car reliability. The Jaguar XE is a sharp sedan, though, and you don't need to tick an option box for super-comfortable suspension and nimble handling. The base model comes with a four-cylinder 2.0-liter turbo engine generating 247 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels, while the R-Dynamic S model is more eager in handling and the engine tuned up to make 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. In a world slammed full of BMW and Mercedes badges, you would think people would appreciate something different but still packed full of comfort and style.
It's surprising to realize the Kia Sportage is in its fourth generation now. It's also an incredibly well-rounded alternative to the market-leading compact crossovers from Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. It's comfortable, comes with a wealth of standard features, and starts at just $23,990. The plucky little crossover falls short against the competition in cargo space and fuel economy but makes up for it with an excellent infotainment system, a glorious exterior design, and a wide range of active driver safety assistance systems. An available turbo at the top of the range also makes it a solid performer against the likes of Mazda's stellar CX-5.
The Veloster is a surprisingly low volume car here in the US, and Hyundai has a habit of offering deals to boost sales figures. It's a niche car in the compact segment, but despite their dwindling numbers, people love performance-based compacts, and the Veloster is incredibly entertaining. The Veloster N is the performance version, and at $27,600, it's amazing value for money, even when Hyundai isn't offering deals. It's quick, eager, agile, understeer is something you have to work at to induce, and the electronically controlled dampers keep it flat through corners. In a country that no longer has the Fiesta or Focus ST, the Veloster N should sell way more units than it does.