2022 AAA Car Guide: Going High-Tech Often Means Going Electric

Andrew Gross, AAA

Changing Automotive Manufacturing Focus

Fuel Efficiency and Active Driving Assistance Systems Top Car Shopper Wishlists

New vehicle shoppers primarily want two things in their next ride: better fuel efficiency and more driver assist safety features. According to AAA, nearly 80 percent of drivers want automakers to focus on improving fuel economy. And 76 percent want active driving assistance systems (ADAS), such as automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control. Addressing these twin desires can be accomplished with the newest batch of electric vehicles (EVs), which are often the most technologically cutting edge and the most fuel efficient.

Increasing Electric Vehicle Production & Adoption

Many of the world’s major automakers have announced plans to dramatically increase electric vehicle production or phase out gasoline-powered vehicles entirely by 2035. The AAA Car Guide helps consumers navigate the changing automotive marketplace by ranking and rating the newest vehicles available for sale, including alternative fuel vehicles.

In 2021, EV sales rose to nearly 477,000, representing 3.3 percent of total vehicle sales—but a whopping 81.5 percent increase over 2020 sales. Of the 62 vehicles reviewed for the 2022 AAA Car Guide, six are electric. “EV sales, while small, are growing, and the signs are everywhere that the future is electric,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automotive Research Center. “And that future may arrive faster with consumer preferences changing because of factors such as high gas prices and the gradual phasing out of gasoline-powered vehicles in some areas.”

2022 AAA Car Guide Overall Top Score

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Combines ADAS & Fuel Efficiency

For the 2022 edition of the AAA Car Guide, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD earned the overall top score. Researchers noted this Mustang has a dramatic new profile and is powerful, electric, quiet, quick, roomy and fun to drive. The AAA Car Guide provides consumers with reviews highlighting how many ADAS are included in the vehicle, along with other criteria and information. All category winners for 2022 are electric, plug-in electric hybrid or hybrid vehicles. In addition to being highly fuel efficient, the winners are also loaded with the latest in advanced driver assistance systems.

AAA Car Guide Eliminates the Guesswork for Consumers

The 2022 AAA Car Guide includes comprehensive reviews of each vehicle based on 12 criteria, including the number of ADAS safety features, fuel efficiency, emissions, braking, handling, ride quality and acceleration. These vehicles are tested, scored and placed in one of five vehicle categories by the Automotive Research Center (ARC) of the Automobile Club of Southern California, a member of the AAA federation of motor clubs.

“Our research is designed to eliminate the guesswork for consumers when they are looking to purchase a new vehicle,” continued McKernan. “The AAA Car Guide is an easy-to-understand resource that can help improve consumers’ decisions when it comes to car buying.”

Guides for New and Newer-Used Vehicles

Industry analysts forecast that the COVID-19 pandemic, the semi-conductor chip shortage and the proliferation of EVs will affect the availability, types and prices of new and used cars in 2022. For those in the market for newer used vehicles, the 2022 AAA Car Guide is available online at AAA.com/CarGuide, and it also contains links to the two prior editions in 2021 and 2020.

Each of the 2022 AAA Car Guide winners have numerous ADAS safety features and achieve high fuel efficiency by being hybrid or all-electric, generating a higher score. The highest scoring ranked by category are below.

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews, and an in-depth analysis of the ADAS technology can be found at AAA.com/CarGuide. The AAA Car Guide also contains detailed information about AAA’s recent research on current automotive technologies and topics, such as ADAS, gasoline quality, headlight effectiveness and safely transporting a pet in the vehicle.

2022 AAA Car Guide Highest-Ranked Vehicles by Category

  • Overall: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD (electric)
  • Small: 2021 BMW 330e (plug-in hybrid)
  • Midsize: 2021 BMW 530e (plug-in hybrid)
  • Large: 2021 Mercedes-Benz S580 4MATIC Sedan (hybrid)
  • Pickup: 2021 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew Hybrid 4x4
  • SUV/Minivan: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD (electric)
  • Best Under $35K: 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited
  • Best $35K–$50K: 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition (electric)
  • Best Over $50K: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD (electric)