List: Ten Most Involving Non-Luxury Brands

By Brandon Turkus

June 01, 2012


10) Subaru Average Involvement Score: 69 Most Involving Vehicle: Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 81 Least Involving Vehicle: Subaru Tribeca, 63 Subaru’s got no shortage of involving rides outside of the WRX and STI camps. The new Impreza is worlds more involving than the one it replaces, boasting a decent score of 68 on our index. There’s also the Legacy range, with the turbocharged 2.5 and naturally aspirated 3.6 scoring right near Subaru’s average score.


9) Ford Average Involvement Score: 69.118 Most Involving Vehicle: Ford Mustang Boss 302, 86 Least Involving Vehicle: Ford Edge, 62 This score isn’t all about Mustangs. Ford’s excellent turbocharged engines are responsible for a good bit of this. The Flex EcoBoost, Edge EcoBoost, and Taurus SHO all have scores around Ford’s overall average. We suspect that as EcoBoost technology finds its way in to other cars in the range (Focus, Fiesta), that Ford’s average score should climb noticeably.


8) Hyundai Average Involvement Score: 69.250 Most Involving Vehicle: Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec, 77 Least Involving Vehicle: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, 64 It’s no secret that Hyundai has been building much better cars for some time now. What may surprise is just how involving many of them are. In particular, the Genesis Coupe, Genesis R-Spec 5.0, Equus 5.0, and Sonata Turbo all help Hyundai’s overall Involvement Index score. We suspect this average will climb a couple of spots once we get behind the wheel of the Veloster Turbo.


7) Dodge Average Involvement Score: 69.444 Most Involving Vehicle: Dodge Charger SRT8, 74 Least Involving Vehicle: Dodge Avenger, 64 With the exception of the Avenger, Dodge’s scores are remarkably consistent. Challenger, Charger, Durango Citadel, and Dart all have very respectable scores relative to their competitors, and it shows through in the brand’s average.


6) Volkswagen Average Involvement Score: 69.615 Most Involving Vehicle: Volkswagen Golf R, 75 Least Involving Vehicle: Volkswagen Tiguan, 64 You could make an argument that VW is a premium brand, but the fact remains that, with the exception of the Touareg and Golf R, the brand sells a whole lot of vehicles for under $30,000. The Jetta SportWagen TDI, GLI, and GTI all give VW’s average a healthy bump up the list.


5) Scion Average Involvement Score: 70.333 Most Involving Vehicle: Scion FR-S, 81 Least Involving Vehicle: Scion xB, 62 We can place credit for Scion’s score squarely on the shoulders of the sublime FR-S. That’s not to say the rest of the range is that bad, but simply that the FR-S’s score of 81 is just that darn good.


4) Chevrolet Average Involvement Score: 70.455 Most Involving Vehicle: Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Carbon, 85 Least Involving Vehicle: Chevrolet Malibu Eco, 63 You might be thinking that Chevy’s excellent average is due to the presence of Camaro’s and Corvettes. You’d be wrong (although only slightly). The Cruze and Sonic both have scores that hover just below (Cruze) or just above (Sonic Turbo) Chevy’s average score. Volt also had a reasonable showing, although it does more harm than good to the average score.


3) Mazda Average Involvement Score: 71 Most Involving Vehicle: Mazda RX-8 R3, 82 Least Involving Vehicle: Mazda6 The company that’s known for “The Soul Of A Sports Car.” This one shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as the Mazdaspeed3, RX-8, and MX-5 all populate the list for Mazda. Besides those three, the rest of Mazda’s range is populated with fun-to-drive cars like the CX-5, Mazda3, and Mazda5.


2) Fiat Average Involvement Score: 72.667 Most Involving Vehicle: Fiat 500 Abarth, 77 Least Involving Vehicle: Fiat 500C Pop, 68 Fiat burst back on to the North American market just recently with the 500. The diminutive Cinquecento has done well on the Involvement Index, thanks to its right-there handling and overall spunky demeanor. It also helps that we recently added the hotted-up 500 Abarth to the list.


1) Mitsubishi Average Involvement Score: 74 Most Involving Vehicle: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X MR, 87 Least Involving Vehicle: Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, 64 The biggest boon to Mitsubishi’s average comes from its Lancer Evolution X, a favorite among the WR staff for its powerful turbocharged engine and super-visceral handling. This isn’t just a case of the Evo carrying the brand though, as the standard Lancer and Lancer Ralliart both boast decent scores, as do the Outlander and Outlander Sport crossovers.

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As magical as the world would be if everybody could buy a BMW, Mercedes-Benz, or Porsche, the reality is that many of us are stuck with more mundane means of transport. Generally, we’ll be buying cars from the so-called non-premium brands. The thing is, non-premium doesn’t have to mean uninvolving.
We’ve drawn up this list of the ten most involving non-luxury brands on the market today. We took the scores from each make’s vehicles, and found the average of each manufacturer, along with listing the most and least involving vehicles from each brand. As always, if you don’t agree with something, be sure to let us know in the comments section.