Full disclosure: this is the most subjective "best of" list you'll read this year. It's not based on instrumented testing, owner surveys or sales performance. It's simply the five cars that we drove this year that floated our boat the most. To take it even less seriously, we've come up with a few categories you probably won't see anywhere else. Don't agree with our choices? It probably means we didn't spend enough quality time with a car yet, like the Tesla Model S, to make a fair assessment, or maybe our tastes are just different than yours. Don't feel bad, you're probably right.
The Fiat 500 Abarth was the obvious choice here, but as much fun as that spicy little Italian number is, she's a little too rough to live with every day. The Chevrolet Spark may look like something a Higglytown Hero would drive, but despite its diminutive dimensions, it has more rear legroom than a Cadillac ATS, a snazzy interior, cushy ride, and enough scooter-style spunk around town to put a smile under the beard of even the most ironic urban hipster.
Look, the new Ford Escape is very good and the Honda CR-V just about perfect for what it is, but if you want to save the last of your car guy or gal soul as you make the turn onto crossover curve, please do yourself a favor and take the sweet-handling, distinctively styled and nicely packaged Mazda CX-5 for a test drive. Is it really a four-door Miata? Until they make one of those, it's as close as anything gets.
Sure, the Chevy Camaro ZL1 is a high tech wonder, and the SRT Viper...well, we haven't gotten our hands on one of those yet. No matter, whoever thought stuffing a 662 hp V8 into a pony car with a solid rear axle and gearing it to hit 202 mph (his name is Jamal Hamedi) should be committed...to the hall of fame. Stepping on the gas makes you laugh so hard you'll think it injected a shot of nitrous oxide, not into the engine, but into the cabin.
It may cost a quarter of a million dollars, but it drives like a million bucks so it's a bargain. The high-tech MP4-12C can tear up any track in a way that's worthy of its F1 racing roots, but its best asset is an adjustable hydraulic suspension system that turns it into a Lincoln Town Car for the ride home.
This car is right because there is simply nothing wrong with it, and if there is you really don't care. It's a thrill to drive, the 550 hp V8 under that epic hood sounds like apocalyptic bliss, it's drop-dead gorgeous and the only cars on the road with a smoother ride also have Jaguars on their grilles.
Put the pedal to the metal and your tongue in your cheek.