Editors' Picks August 2021 | Honda Civic, Mercedes S-Class and more

·6 min read

This month of Editors' Picks saw us award the honor to a couple of redesigned stalwarts like the Honda Civic and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Plus, a new crossover that splits the difference between the compact and subcompact class takes home the prize. On top of this, we'll introduce you to a new term: midcompact. We'll be using this to describe those in-between crossovers that are a tad too small to be considered compact, but too large to neatly fit into the subcompact class. For a few examples of these "midcompact" cars, we'll point you to the Ford Bronco Sport, Kia Seltos and VW Seltos.

In case you missed our previous Editors' Picks posts, here’s a quick refresher on what’s going on here. We rate all the new cars we drive with a 1-10 score. Cars that are exemplary in their respective segments get Editors’ Pick status. Those are the ones we’d recommend to our friends, family and anybody who’s curious and asks the question. The list that you’ll find below consists of every car we rated in August that earned an Editors’ Pick.

2021 Genesis G70

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Quick take: Genesis hits all the right buttons with its G70. It's attractive, fun to drive and can be had for a fair price. Enthusiasts should give it a shot before taking home one of its German competitors.

Score: 8

What it competes with: Alfa Romeo Giulia, Lexus IS, Acura TLX, Infiniti Q50, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Cadillac CT4, Volvo S60

Pros: Sharp handler, stunning exterior looks, strong engines

Cons: Average interior, loses manual option, small backseat and trunk

From the editors:

News Editor Joel Stocksdale — "I was already a big fan of the Genesis G70. It has brilliant handling, and the twin-turbo V6 is a beast. It's even a bargain against the competition. And Genesis just made it look a lot better. I wish they'd done a bit more to update the interior, but it's still not a bad cabin. Besides, you won't think too much about it when you're hustling down a fun back road."

Features Editor James Riswick — "Yes, it is small, but in a sport sedan segment where "sport" means increasingly less, the G70 still delivers (in part because of that smallness). It's also incredibly well equipped for the money with excellent tech and good build quality."

In-depth analysis: 2022 Genesis G70 3.3T First Drive | If it's not broken, just restyle it

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

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Quick take: The S-Class is the standard of luxury sedans for a reason. It offers the best ride, quietest interior, most cutting-edge tech and sets the stage for the next several years of luxury cars. Others try their hardest, but no competitor executes better than Mercedes in this class.

Score: 9

What it competes with: BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Lexus LS, Genesis G90, Porsche Panamera Executive

Pros: Classically stellar styling, pioneering tech, luxury on top of luxury

Cons: Expensive, lack of standard equipment

From the editors:

Road Test Editor Zac Palmer — "The new S-Class does all the S-Class things you'd expect in that it's smooth as silk to drive and wows with its interior. What was so unexpected is how much the rear-wheel steering made the S-Class drive as small and maneuverable as a C-Class. It's difficult to find places to critique this sedan, which is the mark of an industry leader."

In-depth analysis: 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class First Drive Review | The flagship reborn

2022 Honda Civic

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Quick take: Honda is winning yet again with the new Civic, as it marches on even better than the last. It's a superb driver, offers loads of space and is less likely to be an eyesore for many now. You won't find an all-around better option.

Score: 8.5

What it competes with: Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Sentra, Volkswagen Jetta

Pros: Drives comfortably, handles excellently, massively utilitarian

Cons: On the pricey side, controversial exterior styling

From the editors:

West Coast Editor James Riswick — "Everything we came to expect from the last Civic (exceptional acceleration and fuel economy, well-balanced driving manners, spacious interior, above-average build quality) has been elevated with cleaner and classier looks, improved tech and the overall increase in refinement. A class leader."

Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder — "The new Civic is a solid vehicle in many ways. It’s affordable, attractive, comfortable, economical and, yes, fun to drive. It helps that the interior is such a pleasant place to spend time, and that the updated technology makes the whole experience safer and more convenient."

In-depth analysis: 2022 Honda Civic Review | What's new, price, fuel economy

2022 Volkswagen Taos

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Quick take: The Taos plays bigger than its price and appearance suggests. It's a stellar value for families looking for space, quietly attractive looks and solid technology to boot. VW even gave it some respectable driving chops.

Score: 8

What it competes with: Kia Seltos, Ford Bronco Sport, Jeep Compass, Subaru Crosstrek

Pros: Fantastic value for its size, subtle but stylish looks, superb fuel economy

Cons: Front-drive model drives worse than AWD version, not VW's best interior quality

From the editors:

Road Test Editor Zac Palmer — "Buy the all-wheel-drive version if you want something mildly entertaining to buy, because the front-drive Taos is a much different (and worse) experience behind the wheel. Most of all, though, buy a Taos if you want maximum utility for well under $30,000. This little crossover ain't so little.

Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder — "If you think having kids means you need to buy a big SUV, the Taos has a big “ahem” for you. I was completely blown away by the sheer amount of space afforded in this small crossover, especially the fact that I didn’t have to move the driver’s seat forward one iota to accommodate a rear-facing car seat directly behind me. It’s also pretty entertaining to drive, at least with 4Motion all-wheel drive."

In-depth analysis: 2022 Volkswagen Taos First Drive | Back where we started, but better

Not quite yet: 2022 Chevy Bolt EV and EUV

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The 2022 Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV are both vehicles that based on our usual set of metrics would receive an Editors’ Pick. They’re great EVs that are fun to drive, are equipped with useful tech (Super Cruise on the EUV) and offer a ton of utility for their size and price. However, we’re putting a pause on bestowing the Bolt EV and EUV with an Editors’ Pick for the time being.

Why? It’s all to do with the multi-year recall and stoppage of production currently plaguing the Bolt. At this point in the saga, GM is recalling every Bolt ever built worldwide due to the risk of the vehicles spontaneously catching fire. Not only that, but GM has stopped production on the 2022 Bolt EV and Bolt EUV while it waits for LG to engineer and build “defect-free” battery packs. GM has said that it is not confident LG can build defect-free products, so GM is not building any Bolts until it’s confident in LG’s technology.

Since all 2022 Bolts are subject to this recall (with no solution in sight) and new Bolts are not being made, we’re withholding the Editors’ Pick award. Once GM comes up with a fix and production resumes, we will reconsider the Bolt EV and EUV as an Editors’ Pick.

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