A Guide to 2002 Cars

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There were a lot of great cars in 2002, but several critics—Car and Driver among them—were big fans of the Acura RSX for its spirited handling and sporty driveability.
The quest to find the “best” car in any year or category will provoke some vigorous disagreements—and it’s made even more complicated by the fact that nowadays there is such a wide selection of great cars to choose from. Let’s take a look at seven that were considered standouts back in 2002!
To take you on a trip down memory lane—from the 2002
Acura RSX
to the Mercedes-Benz S Series—here's your guide to the cars of the early aughts. 
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The best cars of 2002

From family sedans to faster than lightning sports cars, here are seven noteworthy vehicles from 2002. 

The best car of 2002: Acura RSX

KBB fair market range: $4,864 to $7,585
Powertrain: 2-liter inline-four, five or six-speed manual, or five-speed automatic
What makes it special: 
Formerly known as the
, the Acura RSX was praised by Car and Driver in 2002 for “growing up but not growing old.” With 160 horsepower in the base model and 200 horsepower in the S type, its nimble handling and stellar driving dynamics earned it a spot on many “best of” lists in 2002. 
A comfortable, driver-oriented cabin and a generous amount of standard features meant the RSX was a great value and a blast to drive.  A fun sporty coupe that was still practical enough, the RSX was a popular choice for single, upwardly mobile folks who wanted something zippy and posh without the high sticker price.

The best luxury car of 2002: Mercedes S Series

Consumer Reports average retail price: $3,850 to $5,725
Powertrain: 4.3 liter V8 or V12 with five-speed automatic 
What makes it special: 
Big and beautiful, the Mercedes-Benz S Class was voted the best luxury car in 2002 by the testers at Autoweek. Quiet, strong, and exceedingly comfortable, the S Class was packed with the latest tech and presented as stately an image as one could want. The handling was tight and responsive, and with either a V8 or a V12 engine available, you would be sure to have all the power you want at your fingertips. 

The best SUV of 2002: Ford Explorer

KBB fair market range: $2,539 to $3,760
Powertrain: 4.0-liter V6 engine with a five-speed manual or automatic transmission
What makes it special: 
Freshly redesigned for 2002, the
Ford Explorer
brought a lot of exciting new features to the table while still retaining its classic Explorer styling.  Improved handling and dynamics made for a smoother, quieter ride, while increased safety features made it a popular choice for families. 
Speaking of families, 2002 was the first year that the Explorer offered available third-row seating. It was indisputably the most popular SUV of 2002, selling 433,847 units that year. 

The best luxury SUV of 2002: Lexus LX 470

KBB fair market range: $11,587 to $15,580
Powertrain: 4.7-liter V8 engine with four-speed automatic transmission
What makes it special:
Top marks from the likes of Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and several others make the
Lexus LX 470
the best luxury SUV of 2002. 
With all the luxury of a Lexus and the functionality of an SUV, the LX 470 lets you four-wheel it in supreme comfort. The silky-smooth V8 delivers 230 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque while the all-wheel-drive with Active Traction Control takes all the guesswork out of navigating rough terrain. You won’t notice it’s rough, though—you’ll be nicely insulated in Lexus luxury. 
MORE: 7 things to look for when buying a used car
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The best family car of 2002: Honda Accord

KBB fair market range: $4,269 to $4,569
Powertrain: 2.3-liter four-cylinder or 3.0-liter V6 engine with four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission
What makes it special: 
Sometimes things are popular for a very valid reason—take the
Honda Accord
, for example. Stalwart and reliable while still delivering a satisfying driving experience, the Accord has long been a favorite among family sedans and is the best family car of 2002. 
Not only are Hondas known to be incredibly safe, but they’re also reliable. RepairPal gave the 2002 Accord a 4/5rating and ranked it number one in reliability among similar cars. Add a comfortable interior, plenty of cargo room, and an accessible price point and you’ve got yourself a car that’s worthy of family
road trips
throughout the ages. 

The best sports car of 2002: Corvette Z06

KBB fair market range: $20,567 to $23,638
Powertrain: V8 engine with six-speed manual transmission
What makes it special: 
Corvette upped the ante in 2002 with its fastest model yet, the
Corvette Z06
. With 405 horsepower and the ability to go 0 to 60 in four seconds, the Z06 was widely hailed by critics for its precise and agile handling, rock-solid braking, and being ridiculously fun to drive
It was equally impressive on the city streets as it was on the racetrack, and for a sports car was still remarkably well-suited for day-to-day driving. At a price tag that was less than $50,000, this was hands-down the car to get if you wanted the most performance bang for your buck

The best truck of 2002: Chevrolet Avalanche

KBB fair market range: $5,898 to $8,885
Powertrain: 5.3-liter V8 with four-speed automatic
What makes it special: 
Chevy Silverado
Ford F-series
tend to get all the attention and “best of” awards when it comes to trucks, and it’s fair to say they’ve earned it. But another Chevy truck made a big impression when it debuted in 2002—the
Chevrolet Avalanche
Selected as a finalist in Motor Trend’s Pickup Truck of the Year for 2002, the Avalanche was notable for pushing the boundaries of traditional pickup truck design while still retaining the utilitarian and flexible performance of a truck. 
Blurring the lines between a truck and an SUV and combining the best elements of both, the Avalanche’s patented convert-a-cab system allowed for extreme versatility in carrying passengers or cargo. A strong V8 engine and a solid tow rating meant that you could still do “truck things” with ease, and the interior was roomy (though not super luxurious). The design certainly wasn’t liked by all consumers, but critics at the time and in the years that followed hailed it for its groundbreaking design. 

What cars came out in 2002? 

A wide variety of cars made their debut in 2002, from the sporty to the simple to the…kind of strange. Here’s a glance at a few of the notable arrivals of 2002:
Vehicle type
Fair market range
Ferrari Enzo
Sports car
6 L V12
$2.7 million
Only 399 made
Kia Sorento
3.5 L V6
$3,295 to $4,648
Optional four-wheel drive available
Porsche Cayenne
Luxury crossover
3.2 L V6, 4.5 or 4.8 L V8, 3.0 L turbodiesel
$1,982 to $7,950
Controversial for its “Porsche meets SUV design”
Mazda 6
3.0 L V6
$1,229 to $3,711
Discontinued in 2021
Hummer H2
6.0 L V8
$19,227 to $30,430
Fuel economy was an offensive 9-10 mpg
Honda Pilot
Crossover SUV
3.5 L V6
$4,314 to $5,887
Midsize crossover with three rows of seating
Audi RS 6
Executive sedan
4.2 L V8
$15,732 to $17,967
Top-tier performance level trim
Subaru Baja
Coupe utility…thing?
2.5 L flat 4
$5,927 to $8,954
Funky mash up design—car, truck, SUV, all of the above?
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A perennial favorite for many years, the
Toyota Camry
was the best-selling car of 2002.
With a V12 engine firing out 650 horsepower and a top speed of 217 mph, the Ferrari Enzo was the fastest car of 2002.
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett.
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