Peek into the crystal ball with the world’s leading auto journalists.
Every year the World Car Awards culls the opinions of leading automotive journalists from around the globe to determine which are the best cars available for sale that year. As a global awards group, the opinions reflect both what is important to buyers around the world, but also give an early peek into trends that are on the rise.
A few years ago, while most buyers in Europe and Asia were driving small compact cars, the World Car Awards recognized SUVs in those regions and, guess what: now SUVs built for those markets are selling like hotcakes. Hat tip to American moms and families who pushed the popularity of SUVs for their practicality and comfort and gave families around the world a great option to the traditional sedan.
And even though electric cars only represent a fraction of sales in the US (but were nearly 9% of global sales in 2021) and around the world, their popularity is on the rise, a factor that is seen in the 2022 World Car Awards finalists. There are a number of trends at work, trends that you’ll see play out as you shop for your next car.
The Trends That’ll Influence Your Car Shopping
We’ve seen this trend in the media and on our streets now for a while, but electric cars are still the outlier rather than the go-to for daily transportation. I the next couple of years that will change drastically. Partially this is because major auto brands are making the shift to electric car production, some of them exclusively, and new brands are making inroads with opinion leaders, upending old car buying habits, a movement started by Tesla. Add to that the increased pace of innovation, so now many electric cars charge faster and drive further on a charge means that they are now finally capable for most people’s daily lives.
More, and Bigger, Screens
We’ve moved beyond the function of a screen as purely for basic vehicle controls. They are being expanded to include multiple functions, personalized settings and even entertainment, such as video streaming. The screen in the Mercedes-Benz EQS takes the idea of expansive screens to new heights; it spans the entire dashboard, swells at the center and even provides unique media for the front seat passenger. And, many cars now have screens that provide function for things like climate and heated seats, rear passenger screens and more. And this is likely just the start. Many of the other World Car Awards contenders have an expanded and multi-functional screen as a centerpiece of the design, including Hyundai Ioniq5, Kia EV6, Lexus NX, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Audi’s screens that display crisp, video-like images.
This is a trend we’ve seen for a while and it’s getting better and better all the time. So much so that we’re wondering if vegan leather is about to replace cloth seats as the standard. Leather-like materials made from recycled post-consumer plastics and other materials are soft, comfortable and easy to clean. They come in beautiful colors and can often be texturized with quilted or channeled stitching, piping and perforations for heating and cooling. Vegan materials are also offered as dash and door panel coverings and even as carpet or other soft surfaces.
You might be inclined to think that surveying a hundred auto journalists about the best cars may only turn up performance-focused thrill machines that are more at home on a track than in your driveway. And while you might be right, these cars are really a research and development lab on wheels. That’s because performance cars are the ever-changing ultimate that the auto industry can produce; as they add more horsepower, better fuel economy and features like rear wheel steering and torque vectoring— essentially a form of all wheel drive—they innovate for the everyday driver, too. It’s how we get 40 MPG from small SUVs and pickup trucks and all wheel drive that knows how to respond based on road conditions that even the driver may not see.
Is This the Manual Transmission’s Last Hurrah?
This was a surprise to many car reviewers in the past year: There are a lot of manuals in the market right now! Among the World Car Awards Finalists, the BMW M3 and M4, the Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ, the VW Golf GTI and Golf R, and the Honda Civic (in the Si) have a manual option. The manuals are all fun to drive and give true enthusiasts something to look forward to.
The World Car Awards will hold another round of voting and announce the Top 3 in each category March 15th. The winners will be crowned on April 13th at the New York Auto Show. Here are the finalists for 2022:
World Electric Vehicle of the Year:
World Luxury Car:
World Performance Car:
World Urban Car:
- Dacia Sandero
- Opel Mokka
- Renault Kiger
- Toyota Yaris Cross
- Volkswagen Taigun
World Car of the Year:
- Audi Q4 e-tron
- Cupra Formentor
- Ford Mustang Mach-E
- Genesis G70
- Honda Civic
- Hyundai Ioniq 5
- Hyundai Tucson
- Kia EV6
- Lexus NX
- Toyota GR86
World Car Design of the Year