We’ve been giving out our annual 10 Best Cars awards since 1983. In the ensuing 34 years, more than 100 different models have earned at least one 10Best trophy. But if you’re a regular reader of this publication, you’ve probably noticed that some cars stick around on the 10 Best list a lot longer than that. After detailing the longest 10Best winning streaks, we thought it would be interesting to tally up the total number of wins and see which cars have emerged as the most often honored. What follows is a list of the cars that have won the most 10Best awards, ranked in ascending order by the total number of wins.
Years Won: 2007–2008; 2010; 2014–2017
Mazda built small cars by several different names during its first few decades in the U.S. market—remember the GLC, the 323, and the Protegé? But things really started going Mazda’s way once it settled on the simple “3” moniker. The first Mazda 3 to grace the 10Best list was the first-generation Mazdaspeed 3, a rip-roaring, turbocharged, torque-steering hot hatch that won the award in 2007 and 2008. The entire second-generation Mazda 3 lineup won in 2010, and the current, third-generation 3 arrived for 2014 and hasn’t relinquished its 10Best spot since then. Beautifully styled inside and out, lovely to drive, and affordable, the current 3 is one of the best small cars—now all that’s missing is a return of the Mazdaspeed version
Years Won: 2007–2013
The Fit hatchback, which arrived in the U.S. in 2007 and almost instantly earned a spot on the 10Best list, exemplified everything we loved about Honda small cars for decades. Fantastic interior packaging, class-leading efficiency, and spunky dynamics made the Fit a dynamite value. It stayed on the 10Best list through 2013 during its second-generation model run but fell off when the third-gen Fit arrived for 2015. The new version maintains the packaging genius of the Fits that came before it, but it no longer has that same driving verve that’s a mandatory qualification to earn a spot on our list.
Years Won: 2000–2004; 2012–2013
The Ford Focus nameplate was new for the new millennium, and Ford’s global small car was quickly granted entry into the 10Best club for 2000. That lineup of hatchbacks, wagons, and sedans held on to the trophy for four more years thanks to a sharp chassis, a high level of refinement, and a spacious interior. As Ford let the first-gen Focus languish in the U.S., it fell off the list from 2005 until 2011, only to return in 2012 when a new global Focus arrived. The next year, a rorty turbocharged Focus ST hot hatch achieved 10Best status along with the more mainstream versions.
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