Now that 2015 is here, it’s time to look back at the top cars of 2014 and see what we can all learn. Different consumers have different reasons for purchasing vehicles, so no list should be taken as an authoritative opinion. All lists should be viewed instead as guides and taken with a grain of salt, especially if they don’t reveal very much about their criteria for selection.

Today, we’ve decided to take a look at Car and Driver’s “Editors’ Choice Awards 2014: The Best Cars, Trucks, Crossovers and More”. The full list can be viewed here.

They don’t give an exact breakdown of all the criteria they used, but they do stipulate that “. . . [T]hese are the vehicles that we’d choose for our own garages.” So, we are assuming that these vehicles are being selected on some sort of balance between price, performance, design, and features.

One thing that jumps out immediately about the list is that it appears to be primarily European. Asian vehicles are taking the second place by volume and American picks seem to be the least popular. Over the last decade, American and Japanese manufacturers have had some issues which may have contributed to the rise of their European competition.

The popularity of American autos has been shaky for a while, but the aftermath of the recent “Great Recession” left American auto manufacturers in a downward spiral. Investors and consumers alike were shaken by the large loans and government intervention that resulted from the fiscal problems of the big four. Looking at 2014’s relatively flat performances doesn’t really give much insight as to whether or not this bad spell is over either. This is especially true for GM, which has been on a major decline since 2004. Their truck sales came up considerably, especially the Silverado, but many industry experts speculate that this was primarily due to major discounts that were designed to move inventories, rather than increase profits.

Toyota and Honda have also had their share of serious problems over the last decade—in particular, between 2009 and 2011. Both companies had to recall hundreds of thousands of vehicles due to faulty accelerators and brakes. Their diminishing presence in this list may be an indication that consumers haven’t quite gotten over these instances yet. In years just prior to this time, it was rare to see any list that didn’t assign the highest marks in value to either one of these companies.

Another major event that has affected almost all auto manufacturers are the faulty Takata Airbags. Takata is the largest airbag manufacturer in the world and has been providing most of the auto industries in the world with airbags for many years. Unfortunately, a number of these bags have been determined faulty, and the recall numbers are so massive that Takata and auto manufacturers have both been very reluctant to issue recalls.

Getting the right vehicle requires careful selection and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’re going to be in the market for a new car soon, check out the list above to see if any of Car and Driver’s choices align with your own. And be sure to check out a few alternative lists to get an idea of what other industry experts have their eyes on for 2015. If you end up purchasing a slightly used vehicle this year, bring it by any of our Master Muffler locations for an honest third party inspection. We’ll let you know if there are any major issues with your vehicle and if your dealer is trying to take you for a ride.