Which are the Best Cars in the World? World Car Awards Narrows Them Down

World Car Awards Jurors Featured Image

Familiar favorites and innovative newcomers vie for the world’s top prize.

Every January, the World Car Awards asks its 100 jurors, all automotive journalists from countries around the world, to rate the new cars they’ve test driven in the past year. They look at the value, design, performance and importance to buyers and drivers as they cast their votes, which are tabulated by KPMG.

Which are the top cars for 2023? The announcement of the top 3 in each category— World Car of the Year, World Electric Vehicle, World Luxury Car, World Performance Car and World Urban Car— are a who’s who of cars: these are the ones that jurors thought most significant in the automotive market.

Related: How To Buy A Car With Your Spouse – Without Ending In Divorce

The 2023 Kia Niro. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The 2023 Kia Niro. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What Being a “World Car” Means

There was a time when automotive awards were all about the fastest, coolest, most expensive cars. And I roundly rejected them all because they had nothing to do with me. Sorry, but as much as I love a Porsche 911, it’s just not practical for school drop off, family road trips or just stopping to get a latte at Starbucks. 

But then, something magical happened. SUVs began to dominate car sales. Female buyers began to flex their muscle. Buyer’s concerns for sustainability and environment were being recognized as a marketplace force. Automakers pivoted. More and more SUVs, electric cars and sustainably built cars were being introduced and also, voted on. 

Related: 9 of the Best 3 Row SUVs – From Luxury to Affordable

How World Car Benefits You

Just look at the standings: Two of the top 3 World Car of the Year finalists are SUVs and all are electric; there are electric cars in all World Car Awards categories; there are SUVs in all of the World Car categories. 

And, there are viable, sustainable, realistic family cars, road trip cars, affordable cars, perfect cars for first time car buyers. While not all these cars are for sale in North America, this is a great list to start your car shopping with. 

It’s an Honor Just to Be Nominated

If ever that statement were true, it’s here: All of these cars are incredible — innovative and industry-leading. An investment in any of these cars delivers a top-rate experience in technology, driving and design.

The 2023 Nissan Z. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The 2023 Nissan Z. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The World Car Awards Criteria

To be considered for World Car Awards, vehicles must be new or significantly redesigned (new look, new features, new powertrain) for the award year. Contenders must produce more than a minimum number of units (5,000 for most categories, 2,000 for performance) and be available for sale on two or more continents in the 14 months ending March 31 of the award year. 

Manufacturers cannot nominate or lobby for a vehicle, and jurors must have driven eligible vehicles in order to vote on them.

Nominees are voted on by World Car Awards jurors, though World Car Design candidates are nominated by a World Car Awards panel of experts and finalists are voted on by jurors. The panel of experts includes Ian Callum, former design director of Jaguar; Gert Hildebrand, founder of Hildebrand Design; Patrick le Quément, president of the strategy committee – The Sustainable Design School; Tom Matano, former head of design – Mazda; Victor Nacif chief creative officer, Brojure.com and design instructor, NewSchool of Architecture and Design; and Shiro Nakamura, founder Shiro Nakamura Design Associates Inc.

The Redesigned Bmw X1. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The redesigned BMW X1. Photo: Scotty Reiss

So… Which are the Best Cars In the World?

There are some familiar names and some new ones—and some surprises. Lucid Air, the upstart brand with the longest battery range on the road right now, landed a spot in 3 of the 6 categories. As did Hyundai Ioniq 6, the successor to the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which took all the top honors in 2022. And some familiar favorites: Kia Niro, Kia EV6 GT, BMW X1, Land Rover Range Rover.

It’s a tight race. But here are the Top 3 for 2023— and a bit about what we think of each:

World Car of the Year

BMW X1 / iX1– We haven’t yet driven the electric car version but we loved the redesign of this modern, forward thinking SUV

Hyundai Ioniq 6 – Finally, the great electric infrastructure of the Ioniq 5 gets a Porschesque exterior, and it’s stunning

Kia Niro – We love this redesign and that it’s available in any flavor you like: gas, hybrid or electric 

World Electric Vehicle

BMW i7 This may be the most over the top car ever and discovering all those delights will be a delight in itself

Hyundai Ioniq 6

Lucid Air Luxury and sustainability reinvented and taken to new heights, from a former Tesla engineer

World Luxury Car

BMW 7 Series / i7 

Genesis G90 There’s so much to love this brand’s flagship luxury sedan, much of which will trickle down to the smaller sedans and SUVs

Lucid Air

World Performance Car 

Kia EV6 GT – Oh, holy wow, this car is as much fun as it is inventive

Nissan Z – a classic updated with modern and heritage details that will keep it a classic for years ahead 

Toyota GR Corolla – notable for all the fanboys who love this car, the most expensive corolla ever but worth every penny for those who love to drive

World Urban Car

Citroen C3 – A city-sized SUV that’s showing Europeans why we love SUVs

ORA Funky Cat / Haomao – This Chinese owned, UK based  electric car company builds fun run-around cars with a cheeky name and brand identity

Volkswagen Taigo/Nivus VW continues to bring with small city-friendly SUVs to countries around the world

World Car Design

Hyundai Ioniq 6

Land Rover Range Rover – We are smitten with the classic silhouette and luscious interior, and for the first time, a third row is an option! 

Lucid Air

World Car Awards Jurors 2022 Nyias

Just some of the 100 World Car Awards Jurors at the World Car Awards at the New York Auto Show in 2022. Photo: World Car Awards

And the Winner Is…

The Top 3 in each category will be narrowed down to a single winner in April. Will it be a familiar favorite or an innovative newcomer? We will find out when the winners are revealed at the opening of the New York Auto Show on April 5th at 8AM. And no, we won’t know the winners ahead of time; just like the Oscars, winners names are kept in a sealed envelope to be opened on stage at the red carpet awards ceremony. Until then, we’ll have to simply discuss the merits, debate the odds and keep our fingers crossed for our favorites.

I serve the World Car Awards as a juror and member of the steering committee, a volunteer role that I support because I believe in the mission of the World Car Awards: To recognize the best cars in the world. 

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss