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The best coupes of 2018

The original Ford Mustang captured the world’s attention when it made its debut in 1964. In 2019, it’s still the best coupe you can buy new because it delivers accessible performance and emblematic styling at an accessible price point. The current ‘Stang is the best one yet; you’ll find tech in spades, and it handles better than any of its predecessors.

While the coupe segment is declining, there are still several great options to choose from if you don’t feel love at first sight when you look at the Mustang. Digital Trends has driven nearly every coupe sold new; we published almost 90 car reviews in 2018, and we attend every major auto show to check out the newest entries into the segment in person. We’ve also selected the best affordable coupe and the best luxury coupe, among other options.

Ford Mustang

The best

Alex Kalogianni/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: It’s an American legend that lives up to the hype.

Who’s it for: Anyone who has seen Bullitt.

How much will it cost: $26,395+

Why we picked the Ford Mustang:

The Ford Mustang is an icon, but that doesn’t mean every version of it has been a good car to buy. That is the case with this one, though. Introduced for the 2015 model year and significantly refreshed for the 2018 model year, the current-generation Mustang has the spirit of the 1960s original, but also has what it takes to be a standout performance coupe in the 21st century.

Mustangs have always been good at driving fast in a straight line, but Ford added cornering to the current generation’s resume by adding independent rear suspension (with adaptive dampers as part of the optional Performance Pack), and creating the hardcore, track-focused Shelby GT350 and GT350R variants. On the tech front, Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system is a major improvement over the automaker’s earlier efforts, and the 2018 model added a new 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster to the options list. A Bullitt edition inspired by the 1968 Mustang GT from the iconic Steve McQueen movie joins the lineup for the 2019 model year.

A real Mustang needs V8 muscle, and Ford doesn’t disappoint. The Mustang GT sports a 460-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, the Bullitt bumps output to 480 hp, the GT350 and GT350R get a 5.2-liter V8 with 526 hp, and Ford is planning a Shelby GT500 version with more than 700 hp. On the other end of the spectrum, Ford offers a 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that gets a good-for-a-muscle-car 25 mpg combined, and still churns out 310 hp.

Read our full Ford Mustang GT review

Honda Civic

The best affordable coupe

2019 Honda Civic Coupe Sport

Why should you buy this: It’s both stylish and sensible.

Who’s it for: Style-conscious commuters.

How much will it cost: $20,650+

Why we picked the Honda Civic:

Honda is one of the last mainstream automakers to offer a coupe that is just a two-door version of a regular car, rather than a sports car. The Civic is also available in more practical sedan and hatchback body styles, and choosing the coupe over the hatch means missing out on the red-hot Type R variant. But the two-door Civic does exactly what a coupe is supposed to do: Turn heads (especially if you go for the Energy Green paint).

Sleeker bodywork aside, the Civic coupe is still a Civic, making it a sensible choice. The current-generation Civic offers an impressive level of refinement for a compact car, and a decent array of available tech features, including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility and the Honda Sensing suite of driver-assist features (forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, and lane departure warning).

Honda also offers the coupe in sporty Civic Si trim, with a 205-horsepower version of the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine used in the standard version, a six-speed manual transmission, and chassis upgrades. It’s not the hottest performance car around, but the Si adds a decent amount of go to the Civic coupe’s show.

Read our Honda Civic Si first-drive review

Audi RS 5

The best luxury coupe

best coupes 2018 Audi RS 5

Why should you buy this: It’s as fast as it is luxurious.

Who’s it for: People who want a coupe that’s as quick as it is high-tech.

How much will it cost: $74,200+

Why we picked the Audi RS 5:

The RS 5 is a descendant of the original Coupe Quattro that terrorized rally stages in the 1980s. It’s not retro, though; it’s thoroughly modern, combining the latest version of Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system with a smartly designed interior brimming with tech features.

Audi reserves the “RS” designation for souped up versions of its regular models developed by its go-fast Audi Sport division. The RS 5 is Superman to the A5 coupe’s Clark Kent. It features a 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 that makes 444 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Audi claims the RS 5 will do zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, or 174 mph if you opt for the Dynamic Plus package.

But the RS 5 has brains as well as brawn. Like all recent Audi models, the interior is well designed and features high-quality materials. The RS 5 is available with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, which replaces the conventional instrument cluster with a 12.3-inch reconfigurable display screen that can show everything from a speedometer to detailed satellite maps for navigation. Audi also offers a Bang & Olufsen audio system with 19 speakers and 755 watts of power.

If you can live without the speed, the Audi A5 ($42,200+) and S5 ($52,400+) variants offer many of the same luxury features at a lower price point. Audi also sells the RS 5 as a five-door “Sportback” hatchback, which is perfect for high-speed Ikea runs.

Read our full Audi RS 5 review

Dodge Challenger GT AWD

The best all-weather coupe

best coupes 2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD

Why should you buy this: You want a muscle car, but live somewhere with snow.

Who’s it for: People who want to drive a cool car year-round.

How much will it cost: $30,895+

Why we picked the Dodge Challenger GT AWD:

The Challenger is far from the only all-wheel drive coupe, but most others are more expensive luxury models that also lack the Dodge’s retro cool. It’s the perfect car for reenacting Vanishing Point, even if you live in Alaska.

Dodge only offers all-wheel drive on the Challenger GT model, which is only available with a 3.6-liter V6, not one of Dodge’s awesome Hemi V8s. That is the bad news. The good news is that the V6 still makes a respectable 305 hp, and the all-wheel drive system reverts to rear-wheel drive when the road surface is dry, so the Challenger GT still feels like a traditional muscle car. Dodge’s engineers even programmed the system to allow some sideways action, should the mood take you.

The Challenger features an aging design that isn’t as fresh or sophisticated as its eternal rivals, the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. There is something undeniably cool about the big Dodge, however, and Ford and Chevy don’t offer all-wheel drive. If you live somewhere with harsh winters and want something less common than an SUV or Subaru Outback at an affordable price, the Challenger GT fits the bill.

Read our full Dodge Challenger GT AWD review

How we test

The Digital Trends automotive team tests vehicles through a comprehensive scrutinizing process. We examine the qualities of the exterior and interior and judge them based on our expertise and experience in the context of the vehicle’s category and price range. Entertainment technology is thoroughly tested as well as most safety features that can be tested in controlled environments.

Test drivers spend extensive time behind the wheel of the vehicles, conducting real-world testing, driving them on highways, back roads, as well as off-road and race tracks when applicable.

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