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Buying a New Car? Check the AAA Car Guide First.

Use the free 2023 AAA car guide to find top-rated vehicles

How do I find the right car to buy? How much car or truck can I afford? Is it the right time to go electric? 

Buying a car is exciting. Today’s car shopper has more choices — and questions — than ever before. That’s why AAA Washington recommends that you check out the free AAA Car Guide

Here’s just some of the information you can find in the 2023 AAA Car Guide: 

  • Ratings and detailed reports on more than 70 vehicles in the 2022 or 2023 model years, including gas-powered, hybrids and electric cars;
  • The top overall rated vehicles and the best vehicles at certain price points; 
  • The top 10 most fuel-efficient vehicles and most fuel-efficient gas-only vehicles; 
  • A look ahead to 49 new cars, SUVs and light trucks that will be debuting later in 2023 or the near future;
  • Plus, auto industry trends, tips and advice every car owner and buyer should know. 
A couple buys a car at a dealership, to illustrate the useful tips in the AAA Car Guide.
The AAA Car Guide contains report cards on selected 2022 and 2023 models, safety tips and trends about the auto industry to help car buyers make good decisions. Photo: AdobeStock

AAA Car Guide facts

The AAA Car Guide contains detailed information on recent trends in the auto industry, including:  

1. Rising prices: The average car price increased to a record $46,381 at the end of 2022 from $40,827 at year’s end 2021. Prices rose dramatically because the demand for cars returned after the pandemic, but the supply of vehicles remained low. Tip: Mid-sized sedans have lost popularity to pickups and SUVs in recent years. As a result, you can often find the best deals in the mid-sized class of cars.

2. Parts shortages: A national microchip shortage and breakdowns in the supply chain have made it harder for auto companies to ramp up production. As of late 2022, these challenges were continuing. So, car buyers will likely find it hard to get the vehicle they want at a price they would like to pay. (All the more reason to read AAA’s Car Guide for advice.) 

3. New technology: One positive development in the auto industry is the now widespread use of advanced driver-assistance systems (also known as ADAS). This technology uses cameras or radar to see what is happening on the road, compute the information and then brake or change a vehicle’s direction as necessary. More vehicles today are equipped with these features as standard equipment. See more information on advanced driver-assistance systems in AAA’s deep dive in the chapter on traffic safety. 

4. Road safety: AAA is a strong advocate for “move-over laws” that require drivers to slow down and move over when an emergency responder or tow truck driver is stopped to assist a motorist on the road. All 50 states have “move-over” laws, but only a third of Americans are aware of them. Find out more information in the safety chapter in 2023’s AAA Car Guide.

Tip: Did you know that AAA Washington members can save up to 8% on car insurance?

What comes next

The AAA Car Guide also makes some predictions about where the industry is headed, plus devotes an entire section to cars and light trucks that are likely to debut in 2023, 2024 or the near future. These include every kind of car from the tried-and-true Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Blazer to the futuristic looking Tesla Cybertruck. 

According to AAA experts, we can expect to see: 

  • More EVs and hybrids at possibly more affordable prices; 
  • More cars and trucks equipped with advanced and improved safety systems;
  • More crossover SUVs and pickup trucks.

Interested in becoming a AAA Washington member? Click here to learn about discounts, roadside assistance, AAA tickets and other benefits of AAA Washington membership.  

A sleek black car, to illustrate the usefulness of the AAA Car Guide.
The AAA Car Guide devotes an entire section to cars, SUVs and light trucks that will come out later in 2023, in 2024 and beyond. Photo: AdobeStock

Car “report cards” 

The core of the guide consists of a series of car “report cards” (accessible online here or in the back of the AAA Car Guide e-book) on every vehicle tested. Each report contains a write up from the testers’ observations, plus key information including:

  • The base price for the model and the listed price of the particular vehicle that was tested;
  • Fuel efficiency expressed in the miles per gallon for gas-powered cars and hybrids, or equivalent miles per gallon for electric cars;
  • The average charging times for electric cars;
  • Advanced safety features, such as blind-spot warnings, advanced headlights and adaptive cruise control;
  • The overall strengths and weaknesses of the vehicle;
  • Horsepower and towing capacity;
  • Ride quality. 

EV and hybrid highlights

The AAA Car Guide also pays close attention to trends in electric cars and hybrids. 

 See detailed information on electric car and hybrid models, including compacts, SUVs, sportscars and a 2022 model electric pickup truck (yes, that’s right, manufacturers are now rolling out fully electric trucks with more planned).

EV Fact: About 6% of all passenger cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. in 2022 were electric vehicles, according to the AAA Car Guide. Additionally, between 2020 and 2021, EV sales nearly doubled to 476,679 sold. 

Want to learn more about electric cars? Find more information on EVs here.  

An electric car is plugged into a fast charging station, to illustrate that the AAA Car Guide devotes significant space to alternative fuel vehicles.
The AAA Car Guide reviews the performance of several electric cars and hybrids, and discusses the future outlook of electric cars. Photo: AdobeStock

Industry Trends 

Aside from the specific reports and rankings, the guide also contains an abundance of information about trends and advancements in the auto industry, as well as tips that all car buyers and owners should know. 

Here is just some of the information you can learn: 

  • Recent trends in small, mid-sized and large cars, pickup trucks and SUVs;
  • What’s new in the world of gas-powered, hybrid and electric cars;
  • New rules to obtain a federal tax credit to purchase EVs;. 
  • The pros and cons of buying a new car or repairing the one you own; 
  • The true cost of owning a car, including finance charges, fuel and maintenance and depreciation; 
  • Learn the basics of car care and when to do routine preventative maintenance that you can do yourself;
  • How to prevent theft of your car and key components, like catalytic converters;
  • What you need to know about car safety and the latest vehicle safety features;
  • Trends and technological advancements in the auto industry that we are likely to see in the next few years. 

Tip: Looking for savings on insurance? AAA Washington members get up to 8% off car insurance from several insurance companies that partner with AAA Insurance Agency.

A young woman steps out of her car, to illustrate the 2023 AAA Car Guide.
The 2023 AAA Car Guide includes a deep dive into road safety, plus numerous tips to help car buyers choose their next ride. Photo: AdobeStock

10 steps to buying a car

The AAA Car Guide also provides car buyers with a step-by-step guide to buying a car, which includes:

1. How to use research to find the right vehicle. The more research you do the better the chance you can buy at a good price. Get tips on where to find reliable information. 

2. Strategies to use if you can’t find the car you want in your area. Due to ongoing supply chain issues, sometimes you need to think out-of-the-box and remain flexible to find your perfect ride. 

3. Creating a budget. Learn how much car you can afford and how to budget for it. 

4. Buying insurance. You will need a new insurance policy shortly after buying a new car. Find where to look.

5. Securing a loan. See what your car loan options are. Hint: You don’t have to get a car loan through the dealership. 

6. Visiting the dealership. Tips to give yourself a leg up when you visit the dealer. 

7. Taking a test drive. What you can learn by taking a vehicle on the road. (PS: Never skip this step.)  

8. Getting a fair price to trade in your old vehicle, plus where to go if the dealer doesn’t give you a good price for your old vehicle. 

9. Finalizing the deal. How to evaluate offers of extended warranties, pre-paid maintenance plans and other pitches at the closing table.  

10. Bringing home your new car. (This is the fun part.)

Tip There are lots of options when it comes to car insurance, and it is always a good idea to periodically review your coverage with an insurance agent. Chat with a AAA agent to find the best coverage for you. 

Who produces the AAA Car Guide? 

To help AAA members better understand advances in car manufacturing, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center (ARC) began testing and reviewing vehicles more than a decade ago. 

For the 2023 edition, AAA drove and ranked cars, SUVs, minivans and light trucks. These are either new models for 2022/2023 or completely redesigned. To be evaluated, the vehicles also had to have at least one advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) feature, such as a forward-collision warning or automatic emergency braking.

AAA tested the vehicles on Southern California roads and at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The testing on each vehicle usually took seven days and involved three evaluators. Each vehicle received a score based on 13 criteria that includes the advanced safety features, fuel efficiency, interior size and interior noise, EPA emissions, acceleration, drivability, among others.  

The guide also covers several useful topics in detail—for example, how to properly maintain your vehicle, a deep dive into safety advancements, and buying and manufacturing trends that we’ll likely see within a few years. 

Using the Guide 

AAA’s Car Guide contains a huge amount of practical information about new vehicles on the market, future models and the auto industry generally. It’s a great resource for buyers and car owners alike. 

Start here to search for vehicles by fuel and vehicle types, makes and models, and their safety ratings. Begin your search for a new car, SUV or truck with the 2023 AAA Car Guide

—Written by AAA Washington Staff

 —Top photo: AdobeStock

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