By on May 7, 2007

led.jpgNOMINATIONS FOR TTAC's TEN BEST ARE NOW CLOSED

I recently wrote a “where are they now” update for the winners of TTAC’s first annual Ten Worst Automobiles awards. Commentators Cellman and Drew shook their metaphorical heads at our negativity and challenged us to look at the other end of the spectrum. And so TTAC’s Ten Best Automobiles awards were born. Yes, yes; all the buff books and big sites do it. But TTAC readers are more discerning, our selection process more democratic and our timing… enigmatic. So read the rules below and then tell us which vehicles you consider worthy of a TTAC Ten Best.

Guidelines

A Ten Best-worthy vehicle is a special beast. The vehicle’s overall design and build quality (design, materials or ergonomics) may inspire your nomination. Or technological innovation (fuel efficiency, aerodynamics or electronics) could float your boat. Safety (e-nannies, structural integrity or technological innovations) may play a role. And raw performance (gut-punching acceleration, neck straining cornering or eye-popping braking) is always a fave.

Of course, any of these factors can produce a good car. But truly great cars– the automotive equivalent of a tea bag [loosely] packed with Darjeeling White– are an irresistible combination of all these characteristics, along with a huge noseful of that addictive aroma we call the X-factor. Those are the vehicles we’re looking for.

In short, nominate the cars, pickups, SUVs, CUVs and/or minivans that you consider the best of the best; vehicles that are so good you can’t help but wonder why their cohorts aren’t built with the same passion, care and precision. Oh, and we'd really appreciate it if you stick to the rules.

2007 Ten Best Automobiles  Award

Rules of Engagement

1. To qualify for a Ten Best, a vehicle must have been offered for sale as a new vehicle in the U.S. between May 7, 2006 and May 7, 2007. Otherwise, nominations may be made regardless of the automobile’s price, market segment, country of origin, production/sales numbers, domestic content or average buyer’s average IQ.

2. TTAC will only accept Ten Best nominations that list at least one reason why a given vehicle qualifies for an award. (Nominations bereft of justification will be deleted with extreme prejudice.) The more poetic your justification, the greater the chances your candidate will make it to the final selection process. (That’s our story and we’re sticking with it.)

3. “Me too” and “yeah, like he said” nominations will also disappear. Even if you share a previous nominator’s rationale for a given nomination, practice your anti-plagiarism skills with paraphrasing, thesaurus-based word substitutions and drug-induced creativity.

4. If you disagree with a particular nomination, feel free to offer an opposing view. However, TTAC’s posting policy is in full force. Anyone who flames (personally attacks) the website, its authors or fellow commentators will have their comment deleted and face a permanent posting ban. 

5. Once nominations are closed, TTAC’s writing staff will hold a secret ballot to select 20 vehicles from the nominees. They will base their vote on the number of nominations received, the eloquence of their champions and their personal opinions of the vehicles in question.

6. We will then submit these 20 finalists to you, our esteemed readers. You may vote (via an electronic poll) for the ten vehicles on the list which you deem worthy of a Ten Best. Anyone who votes more than once will be permanently banned from commenting on TTAC, and don’t try any of that new account, different IP stuff with us, Mister.

7. Nominations begin today. We will publish the 20 finalists for voting on or around May 21.  The winners will be announced on or around the first week in June. Winning manufacturers will find out when they read the results on TTAC.

And there you have it. Post your nominations with the required justification(s) below. Meanwhile, thank you for your support and enthusiasm. It wouldn’t be half as much fun without you.

NOMINATIONS FOR TTAC's TEN BEST ARE NOW CLOSED

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205 Comments on “TTAC’s Ten Best Automobiles for 2007: Nominations...”


  • avatar
    kansei

    On behalf of the Mazda community, I would like to nominate the Mazda MX-5 for it’s amazing poise, thrilling agility, and for proving that adding safety and technology ought not come at the cost of additional heft.

    A true driver’s car.

  • avatar
    nmcheese

    I nominate the Mazda MX5-Miata for its ability to produce driver gratification through balance, rear wheel drive handling dynamics and exceptional reliability. Icing on the cake is its value: even with a folding hardtop the MX-5 is an option for a majority of new car buyers.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Honda Fit: for bringing a degree of refinement to a class of vehicles hitherto known for being ‘cheap’.

    Corvette Z06: staggering performance at a ‘relatively bargain price.

    Hyundai Tiburon: for being to Korea what the 240 was to Japan. The second iteration is stylish and offers decent performance at a reasonably price.

    Honda Accord: Dull, but a perfect car for those pragmatic soles who want a family car with a great balance of features, that doesn’t look as objectionable as the Camry.

    Bentley Continental GT: Brings Bentley into the from the “billionaire’ to the ‘millionaire’ segment with great looks and remarkable performance.

    Lotus Elise: For reprising what Lotus used to be about….Lithe vehicles that succeeded by being lightweight and relatively simple. And reminding everyone that performance does not necessarily require an immense engine.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    I nominate the Lincoln Town Car for its level of comfort, reasonable price, reliability, longevity of its drive train (limo companies have recorded 200-300,000 miles without major maintenance)and its design as a modern interpretation of the classic touring sedan.

  • avatar
    gogogodzilla

    I nominate the VW GTI.

    Not only does it’s 2.0 liter turbocharged engine puts out 200 hp and 207 ft lbs of torque(no mean feat itself), it manages to almost completely eliminate the dreaded ‘turbo-lag’.

    Not to mention it’s optional DSG transmission which actually gets faster acceleration times AND better fuel economy than a manual.

    Or it’s really-dang-gum-nice interior, or the versatility of a hatchback…

    …or the great handling that it’s suspension allows.

    Just about the only potential downside is VW’s reliability. But then, the GTI isn’t made in Brazel anymore, it’s made in Germany. So we might actually a noticeable difference, now.

  • avatar
    tcwarnke

    I nominate the Porsche 911. It handels great, it’s comfortable, it has excellent build quality, it sounds awesome, classic looks, street appeal, etc…

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I nominate the following cars, mostly because I really want them, but also:

    Mazdaspeed 3 – Because it is hoontastic, practical, has good style inside and out, is cheap, and has better reliability than VW.

    BMW 335i – Even though the 3 series keeps getting heavier and laden with unecessary electronic gizmos it still handles great, has style and luxury, and keeps the ideal smooth torquey inline 6. Twin turbos are just gravy.

    Porsche Boxter S – Because it usurped the best handling car at any price crown from my current ride, is plenty fast, is styled less like a chick car now, and is reasonable to drive on and off the track.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    WRX Sport Wagon–
    The cheap power potential of ECU flashing, the versatility of a hatchback, the totally capable out-of-the-box handling, the perfectly adequate off-the-lot power, the (false sense of) security of all wheel drive, and relatively low price make it a contender.

  • avatar
    AKM

    I nominate the Audi A3. While being a badge-engineered clone of the GTi, it justifies its higher price by offering a nicer interior, exterior (hatchbacks have never looked to glacially hot, a bit like a German supermodel). It has the great 2.0t, DSG, as well as hatchback practicality. Most of all, it begs the question: why would anyone buy an A4 instead of “me”?

    Mazdaspeed3 is of course a worthy contender as well, looking a bit like the cute geek who started taking steroids and can now take on the School’s Star athlete (and possibly win).

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Porsche Cayman: great looks, and within microseconds of true exotic

    BMW 335i: turbos have come a long way baby, and if they are finally good enough for the Bavarians, they are good enough for the rest of us.

    Saturn Outlook/GMC Acadia: the first crossover with a third row that is actually useful. Makes the entire class of large SUVs superfluous for anyone who doesn’t tow more than 2 tons often.

    Ford Fusion: the first mainstream vehicle in a long time from the Blue Oval that is actually competitive. Important only because it might just get Ford to start believing in itself (or, at least believing in Mazda).

    Jeep Wrangler: sales success shows that Americans still value a true original.

    Lotus Elise: because its mere presence in the marketplace reminds us of what a car can be.

    Prius: I hate the drivers and their fuel-sipping ways, but you have to respect Toyota’s marketing prowess. And also their courage in bringing the Prius to market.

    Mercedes D300: I forgot what Mercedes calls the new E-class Bluetec, but if enough Americans sit in traffic behind one, this country may get converted to smokers.

    Honda Fit: small cars are back, and Honda makes the best.

  • avatar
    philbailey

    On behalf of the Mazda community, I would also like to nominate the Mazda3 for it’s handling, reliability and good value. An excellent driver’s car.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    BMW 335i coupe: The new 3 coupe deserves a nomination for being the first new BMW to feature coherent styling this side of the new millennium. The twin-turbo power-all-the-time motor is just the icing on the cake.

    Volvo XC90 V8 Sport: Volvo’s ‘ute was already best-of-breed, with versatility typical of the marque and untypical of the class, combined with luxury that makes the RX look like a Toyota. From all accounts, the Sport version perfects this car. Besides, who can argue with the awesome R gauges?

    Maserati Quattroporte Automatica: I’ve got yer X-factor right here.

    Acura TSX: On this one I’m no doubt biased due to the fact that I own one, but then again, if I chose well, shouldn’t it be one of the best? Of course it is. Acura engine, Honda handling, and Audi-rivaling interior quality make for a very well-conceived car.

    Honda Fit Sport: Best Hundred Horsepower Ever.

  • avatar
    Dorrin

    I nominate the Mazda RX-8, based on value for performance and style.

    In addition to its amazing handling prowess it has a suprising amount of practicality for a sports coupe, thanks to the nifty hidden suicide doors.

    I was actually able to keep mine after becoming a parent – which would not have been the case with most other cars in that segment (350Z etc)

  • avatar
    mikey

    The Impala just the plain jane version.
    You have a well made inexpensive everyday car that does a lot.It will move 4 adults,and thier stuff golfbags,lap tops,suit cases etc.
    Perfect for the guy/family/single/whatever that can’t stomach a mini van,and that takes in a big crowd.
    I’m not in love with fwd,but give me a foot of snow and fwd and its hard to beat.
    This baby is cheap to buy/lease,run{27+mpg}insure and repair,and comes with a sweet warranty to.
    Its not hard to see why its GMs top selling car.And its my nomination.

  • avatar
    g4zilla

    I stand tall, with unabashed pride for the Big Rig: Toyota Sequoia. In this time of “heshouldbeashamedfordrivingthat” I make no apologies, because there are none needed. The Sequoia is, quite simply: rugged, dependable, comfortable. And spacious.

    For those of you who secretly covet the “pack mules with lipstick” that pass for Clydesdales, allow me to let you in on a little secret: Get behind the wheel of a Sequoia; take it somewhere, anywhere. At some point, you’ll glance in the rear-view, and realize the face looking back at you has an ear-to-ear grin.

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    Regarding Honda Fit from wikipedia:
    “Honda originally intended to name the car Fitta, but did not take a liking to the word’s meaning in some languages – in Swedish and Norwegian, “fitta” or “fitte” is a rather crude slang term for female genitalia – resulting in a last-minute change.”

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    I nominate the 2007 Infiniti G35 Sedan. It’s a great new car, with a wonderful (finally) interior. It looks great, handles like its German counterparts, costs $8000 less than its German counterparts, and can haul four adults comfortably. The Bose studio on wheels ain’t too bad either.

    My favorite part of the car – 3.5L VQ series engine.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    I second the Prius, for its many technological innovations, fuel economy, and scant emissions. The highlight is its 2nd generation hybrid powertrain with Atkinson cycle engine & epicyclic gear CVT, efficiency with a clever combination and transmission which can send energy to the wheels or back to the battery.

  • avatar
    miked

    Although I have never driven this car, as my income is about a factor of 3 too low just to earn a test drive, Loverman’s beautiful essay on the Audi RS4 made me believe that this is really the only new car I want. I’m actually going to add the Avant version to the list, even thought it’s not available in the US, because I think that would be the most. awesome. family. car. evar. Imagine picking the kids up at soccer practice and then carving turns in the canyon at 100MPH.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    I’d like to nominate the Ford Crown Victoria (but not the Grand Marquis – it’s suspension is too soft, and how many GM’s have you seen with lightbars on the roof.) The Crown Vic is, I would say, the quintessential American highway cruiser (even though it’s made in Canada [and ensures a family member stays employed.]) It is also the most easily and quickly recognized car on the road today – the first thing everyone thinks when they see one of these land yachts is “COP!” How many other cars can claim that instant recognization? In fact, Ford has over 80% of the police car market with the Crown Vic.
    Sure, it’s an old platform, but there’s a reason it’s still around – it sells. Rear wheel drive, V8, rock solid reliability, and reasonably cheap – a base model can be had for under $30,000, which, again, can’t be said for many leser cars. Also, it’s wickedly comfortable (the front bench seats are like a big comfy couch) and it gets pretty decent gas mileage (I got about 27 mpg on a long highway trip, with cruise AND the A/C on), not to mention that the A/C in the Vic is freaking awesome. It’s also got more trunk space than pretty much any other vehicle available.
    Fire concerns? What fire concerns? The misconception that Crown Vics burn easily is just that, a misconception. Every Crown Vic fire has happened when the car was stationary, and was rear ended by another vehicle going over 75mph, often times over 90mph – try even surviving a crash like that in any other car. The Vic is also tested in rear end collisions up to 75mph – again, a safety test that no other vehicle undergoes. Plus, with it’s body on frame construction, it is quite safe.
    So in summary:quintessential cruiser, popular police car, RWD, V8, reliable, affordable, comfy, relatively economic, great A/C, trunk space, safe. What better choice for the TBAG than the Crown Vic?

  • avatar
    ash78

    Hyundai Sonata: Middle-of-the-road, but it’s the “foot in the door” that Hyundai needed. In 10 years, we’ll wonder how Toyota slipped, why Honda is still so bland, and how the Koreans snuck up on us to offer the best values in the business.

    Mazda Miata, absolutely.

    VW GTI/GLI, absolutely.

    Ford Fusion (I-4): Bringing reasonably priced, fun driving back to a pseudo-US-made car.

    BMW 5-series (530xi?): My perennial favorite, Bangle notwithstanding. Touring wagon is the best of the bunch, IMO.

  • avatar
    gcmustanglx

    I have 2 nominees. First, the Bugatti Veyron. Whats not to love? 1000 horsepower and a 253mph top speed should give every car guy a woody. Too bad we have artifically low speed limits here. Second, the Porsche 911. A timeless classic that seems to keep getting better with age. The bonus is acting like a Doctor on the way to an emergency to try and get out of a ticket.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Honda Civic
    1)Significant market footprint
    2)Economical as usual
    3)Striking new design that is 5 years ahead

  • avatar
    GasGuzzler

    Jeep Wrangler and Lotus Elise – Because they demonstrate that when a car company stays true to its roots success will follow.

    Volvo V70R – One of the best grocery-getters in the US with any hoon potential at all. Yeah, there is the WRX wagon (nominated above), but for those not in love with the Subie’s looks there are no options other than the V70R. Plus, this is how all Volvo interiors should look and feel.

    Re: the Cayman nomination above – I agree that the car is great and worthy, but I decry its nomination because Porsche de-engineered it to slot below the 911 so as to not cannibalize any sales. It always hurts to see a car with such great potential be withheld merely because it might actually be better than it’s older (and more profitable) brother.

  • avatar
    SpinningAround

    Clarkson digs aside, it has to be the only great car made by GM USA- the Chevy Corvette. Yeah, the interior is still horrid but who cares. It is a wonderful automobile and really does take on the Porsche 911 (well except for the aforementioned horrid interior).

    And it’ll never even get on the list but I vote for the new Holden V8 Statesman. Spent a long weekend with one a week ago. Brute force ‘Vette engine in a fantastic looking shell. Amazing driving dynamics and so much better than any of the American cars in the same league (big Caddies, Lincoln, etc). The interior suffers from GM’s underwhelming decorating skills. I loved driving it though. 5 big people and a ton of boot space. The backseaters literally snoozed through 190K. Upfront I loved the comfy seats, and tossing this big-ass car into the bends was FUN. Even the flappy paddle (err well flappy stick) auto is great. Why can’t GM US build this car?

    I am really really thinking hard about a HSV Grange. Yeah it’s not a BMW M5 but hey, I could buy a couple of HSV Grange’s for the price.

  • avatar
    Alex Rashev

    Maserati Quattroporte – If I’ll making triple figures anytime soon, I’ll get one. The only color it looks good in is black, but there’s no car sexier, meaner, and more refined than a black Quattroporte. Unless you have a driver, this is the best luxury sedan out there.

    Honda Accord – I hate Honda with all my guts, so this says a lot. In a value market, it just doesn’t get any better than this. Accord is the new Camry.

    Subaru Legacy GT – Sure, it’s down on horsepower a bit, and you can’t get a base model anymore, BUT! This is still a grown-up Impreza. Not to forget that this is the first Subaru to look… Decent.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I nominate the Infiniti G35 sedan.

    The update improves upon that which was lacking before with a more refined exterior and sigificantly improved interior. BMW level performance is there at a BMW beating price with reliabiliy and true cost of ownership BMW drivers can only dream of.

    I also second the nomination of the Honda Civic, which condinues to prove that small need not be dull. The Civic continues to set the standard in small cars and when compared to the Cobalt, Focus and Caliber truly shows what’s wrong with Detroit. Honda has a special attitude towards developing unique, technologically advanced products and it all starts with the Civic before expanding to incldue the Accord, Fit, Odyessey, Pilot and Ridgeline.

    Speaking of the Odyessey, after looking at the quality and packaging efficency of one of these things, its easy to see why rental lots are full of DCX vans. The Odyessey is a high quality refined package that should be at the top of anyone’s shopping list looking to maximize passenger and cargo ability. I always said that I’d avoid a minivan because of poor gas mileage (not to mention the social stigma), but the Odyessey’s with cylinder shut off get gas mileage equal to or better than most mid-size V-6 sedans.

  • avatar
    Joe O

     Porsche Boxster – Buy it in S trim with adjustable suspension and 19″ wheels, or cheap your way into a base model with 17″ rolling stock and an ol’ fashioned 5-spd transmission. No other car has mastered the roadster like the Porsche Boxster has. Single-handedly bringing Porsche back to the masses, and inspiring a new wave of neophytes into realizing that you can have trunk space in the front. The Boxster has a base price that is not out of reach for most middle-aged men and women who are 1/4th a kid away from a mid-life crisis. Now, alot of cars offer world-class handling at the 30-60k mark nowadays. So I won’t espouse on the nimbleness of one of the few mid-engined cars around. The way it can perfectly pivot around any corner, sweeper, s-turn, or just your average u-turn…all while making the driver look like a freaking pro. And making it look easy. No, what makes the Porsche Boxster so fantastic is that it’s a 2-seat roadster for the masses. This car can now fit 2 pieces of hard luggage and 3 soft duffel bags into it’s cavernous front and rear trunks. Or, if you prefer the mafia measurement, you can fit one and a half bodies in the front, and one more skinny pisano in the rear. What other roadster even comes close to that? It offers real comfort inside. With supportive seats, secondary ride characteristics similar to a Honda Civic, and a top that can retract in less than 20 seconds. But, the topper to all this goodness, the current 2.7 liter engine. 6 glorious opposing cylinders boxing each other to 240 screaming HP. Don’t know what a Porsche sounds like? Go listen to the Boxster pull away from you. The BASE boxster. If he could hear, Beethoven could learn a thing from this car’s noises. But wait, there’s more. Albeit less. The 2.7 liter (240 hp mind you) gets 32 mpg on the highway and 23 in the city. This car does 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and has a top speed around 160mph…and can get over 30mpg on the highway. And can stop in less than 120 feet. Repeatedly. And can offer you over .9 g’s of skidpad goodness, on 17″ wheels…and can slalom, and can outhandle almost every car on the road. In it’s BASE model. But let’s face it. As a TTAC reviewer who shall go nameless said, “…Boxster still appears as if someone is bent over and spreading ‘em. If you think this is a coincidence, you haven’t watched enough German porn. ” The Boxster is one of the most gorgeous cars on the road. Tight and taut in rear. Curvaceous and flowing in the front. And, let’s not forget, it’s more than happy to take it’s top off. I nominate the Porsche Boxster as a 2007 TBAG.

  • avatar
    vento97

     After test driving both, the Mazdaspeed 3 is the better car on the track, but the GTI is the better car for all-around daily (real world) driving. I therefore nominate both cars – but remember – the GTI is "THE ORIGINAL" pocket rocket since its inception in 1976. The Mazdaspeed 3 was built as a response to the GTI along with the Civic Si(s) of the world. If you've read the comparison tests from Road and Track, Car and Driver, etc. – they came to the same conclusion – If you want a blazingly fast, sharp handling car, choose the Mazdaspeed 3. If you want a fast, good handling, well-balanced car that's also suitable for daily driving, choose the GTI.

  • avatar
    labrat

    Here’s one of my faves – Solstice GXP. Yeah, I know, there’s the top issue, the lack of luggage space, the lack of handling delicacy at the limit, etc. But this thing is an out of the park styling home run, and with it’s big torque, it provides American style scoot, with a world class hi-tech engine. It can outrun some pricier rivals around the race track. There are few finer rides for just cruisin’.

    Also, I will second the nominations for the Wrangler (topnotch offroading at an affordable price, Outlook/Acadia (I have an Acadia, it’s an extremely well-done piece), the MX-5 (staying true to the light and tossable roadster ethic), and the Corvette (a perrenial personal fave).

  • avatar

    I would like to nominate the MINI Cooper as an example of a car that is more fun than sex – well at least driving it is fun that lasts a lot longer

  • avatar
    ret

    Mazda MX-5 hardtop convertible:

    Mazda did the British roadster better than the BRits in 1989 and are still the leader of the pack. Poised, balanced, lithe, etc. But special consideration must be given to Mazda for creating the smartest hardtop convertible package available. Same cargo space and only 70 or so pounds heavier than the rag top? I just can’t wait for the Mazdaspeed version…

    Hyundai Sonata:

    The Sonata is easily the equivalent of the Camry or Accord, if just slightly less refined. But how can we deny the thousands of dollars difference in price for a car that matches those perrenial favorites regardless of the criterion being judged?

    Corvette Z06:

    What can be said has been said. YAH-freakin’-HOO!!

    Porsche Cayman:

    Easily the most beautiful sports car since the Ferrari Dino. And it has the chops to take on the 911, if only Porsche would give it a little more power…

    Ford Edge:

    The most surprisingly (and consistently) good American vehicle I’ve seen in years. Stylish, practical, well-built, and affordable.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    i’d nominate the Mini for fun and charcter, and the Aston Martin DB9 (close between that and the Vanquish, hard to make my mind up) for pure beauty and aspirational reasons.

  • avatar
    AKM

    “I would like to nominate the MINI Cooper as an example of a car that is more fun than sex – well at least driving it is fun that lasts a lot longer”

    Huge Billboard Ad for Mini seen in Montreal the other day:
    “Like an orgasm, only faster”
    God, I miss Canada….

  • avatar
    Wulv

    Mazdaspeed 3 : After taking one of these for a test drive at a local dealer, I must say this car is the most fun to drive in this price range. It has everything you would not expect from a Mazda hatchback, great performance power wise, and amazing handling. Overall a very fun ride, and blew me away with how unexpected it all was.

    Audi RS-4 : After reading Jonny Lieberman’s review, I fell in love with this car. Any time a reviewer uses a sentence like, “…you will swear you are piloting violence” and “Forget violence, you are now driving war.” you have to give a heads up. For sheer brutality in driving experience I think the RS-4 needs to be recognised.

  • avatar

    Many of my favourites are already here. Let me add some more unconventional ones.

    Hyundai Entourage/Kia Sedona twins: For a long time, the cheap minivan world has been dominated by the iconic Dodge Caravan. These Koreans are worthy competitors, coming chock-full of things that minivan lovers really care about: A comfortable cabin, copious amounts of airbags, practical 2nd and 3rd rows and pretty decent fit and finish. It’s hard to be passionate about minivans, but this one almost deserves it.

    Lexus ES350: If the Toyota Camry is the new Ford Taurus, the ES350 is the new Lincoln. Featuring an interior quiet enough to hear a mime’s thoughts and comfortable enough to lull you to sleep, an incredibly absorbant ride, rock solid reliability accompanied by great Lexus service, this car can’t be beat in its segment. For all the 40+ dads out there who aren’t interested in sportiness, the ES350 is a great car.

    The Ford Mustang: Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re going to say. It’s got a big, thirsty engine. It’s got a live rear axle. It’s got a crummy interior.

    It’s still the only pony car you can buy today.

    The Mustang is the sole survivor of the muscle era, and thanks to it, many kids have discovered and are discovering all the joy of a RWD car: Burnouts, donuts, drag racing and power slides. In this age of FWD hot hatches, the Mustang is a shining beacon of nostalgia that provides a refuge for a lot of car guys. Where else can you get a cheaper RWD car?

    People think this car is a track car, like an Elise. It isn’t. It’s a highway cruiser, built to go down Route 66 while burbling in approval whenever the throttle is depressed.

    The fact is, the budget adjustments have made the car accessible and cheap, which was in line with its original mission.

    The live rear axle makes it cheap, easy to customize and is more suited for drag strip applications, without harming the highway ride. It also handles the torque from the engine better. The V6 engine brings the sticker and the cost of ownership way down. And so on..

    The Mustang remains the best accessible version of old-school, RWD americana, that can be serviced at a dealer and for which you don’t need to order parts from a junkyard or a magazine.

    For me, this car is right up there with a Wrangler or an Elise for being focused on its purpose.

  • avatar
    passive

    I’ll throw in for the Infiniti G35.
    The first one is still one of the best looking things on wheels, but the new one deserves it’s own set of accolades, for proving that you don’t have to chase the 3-series in order to beat it. Sure, the BMW may still be the better driver, but the G35 provides one hell of an experience, for several grand less, and with none of the downsides traditionally associated with the old class leader.

  • avatar
    Steve Green

    A great vehicle is neither more nor less than exactly what it needs to be. By that measure, the new Jeep Wrangler is a damn good vehicle. The new Wrangler distills 60 years of tradition into unheard-of off-road skills, and better on-road manners than anyone could reasonably expect. In fact, I think I’ve just talked myself into taking my ten-year-old Wrangler TJ down to the dealer for a little trade-in action.

    Oh, and the Nissan 350Z is the best pure sports car you can get for under $30k. Certainly it deserves at least a TBAG mention.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I’ll second some of the nominations:

    Corvette/Corvette Z06: the regular vette offers so much performance for $45k, you’d need to spend more to modify a Z-car, Boxster, etc to make it come even close. And the Z06 is supercar performance for the price of a “regular” 911. Not perfect, but wow.

    Accord: quite possibly the Renaissance Man of family sedans. It does it all with such attention to detail, and it has yet to be surpassed. Add the reliability, resale value, etc…

    Town Car/Crown Vic/Marquis: even with its faults, the Panther is the last real American car on the road. The only way to kill them is to have a 70,000lb big rig whack them on the interstate (cop car fire reference). I’ve seen people walk out of a Lincoln Town Car that got broadsided by a freight train. And these things still get 20+mpg in mixed driving! Handling package makes them disturbingly fun too.

    The simple fact that I always gravitate to these cars at the rental car lot says how much value and satisfaction they provide.

    Porsche Cayman: haven’t driven it, but it sure puts down the numbers and impresses a lot of important people. Definitely a winner.

    Mazdaspeed 3: The bang for the buck cannot be understated. Combined with a nice interior with SUV-like space, its a good choice.

    Audi RS4: it seems to take the E39 M5 and raise it a notch. The interior is fantastic, there’s a real manual transmission, RWD-biased handling, thrilling engine…

    Others I’d like to nominate:

    Saturn Aura XR: I must applaud GM for almost hitting the nail on the head with this one. Its performance is fantastic, probably best in class. It’s just an Accord interior away from being a force in the family sedan market.

    Ford F-150 (Lariat): I still think its the most well-rounded pickup out there, and plenty of people want a truck that does its job without punishing its owner. And its got a seriously nice interior and an overall design that blends well in urban or rural settings.

    Mercedes E63: the attraction to this car is undeniable…crazy naturally aspirated horsepower, E-class refinement, insane handling, muscular stance…its got it all.

    Ford GT: the American supercar with a thrilling engine, inspired design, fantastic handling and limited production.

    Rolls Royce Phantom: its the gold standard for top-drawer luxury cars. The interior is old-world amazing, the styling is a great mix of old and new, and it simply impresses me more than the Maybach and Bentley when you’re in the back seat.

    That’s all for now.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    1) Economy Car: Honda Fit.
    Proof that a fuel efficient car can be fun to drive, have a quality interior, and haul your stuff.

    2) Low-Budget Sports Car: Mazda MX-5 Retractable Hardtop.

    The best sports car value just got unbeatable with a retractable hardtop. Why Ford isn’t marketing the tar out of this car, I’ll never know.

    3) Family Car: Honda Accord
    Quite simply the finest all around automobile for the last 20+ years. Grace, Pace, and Space.

    4) Minivan: Honda Odyssey
    The benchmark that all other must aspire to. Great ergonomics, good handling, insanely high levels of fit and finish, and priced right.

    5) Sports Sedan: Infiniti G35
    Is it as refined as a 335i? No, but you can buy a G35 and put $10K in the bank for what a 335i costs you. A great bargain and an excellent vehicle.

    6) Luxury Car: Mercedes S-Class
    Mercedes is finally back on its game. Funky styling, but it has become the standard by which all others are judged. It’s telling that Car and Driver tested an S600 vs. a Rolls Phantom and the Benz won.

    7) High Dollar Sports Car: Aston Martin V-8 Vantage
    The sexiest vehicle on the road today. Stunning looks, great performance, and Aston exclusivity.

    8) Exotic Car: Ferrari 599 GTB
    Enzo performance with real day to day comfort. A car whose performance envelope is so great that most mortals will never even come close. Will someday be mentioned with the 250 GTO and the 365 GTB4 Daytona as the greatest Ferrari coupes ever built.

    Economy SUV: Honda CR-V. The best SUV for the money. Great packaging efficiency, great fuel economy, and Honda reliability and ergonomics.

    Large SUV: Honda Pilot.
    See above comment for CR-V. The same values, only larger.

    Luxury SUV: Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
    Look, if you’re going to drop big bucks on an SUV, go for insane levels of performance. Simply defies the laws of physics every time you drive it. Silly, wasteful, and thirsty. Also the greatest throw-down statement you can make in a truck. Sends the Sierra Club into seizures when you drive by. What more could you ask?

  • avatar
    N85523

    I’d like to throw my hat in the ring for the Wrangler Rubicon. Though I prefer the TJ’s to the new JK’s, the Jeep still lives up to (and in some cases surpasses) its legendary reputation. It and perhaps the Corvette are the most no-compromises performance vehicles in America and it stands out as being the only 4×4 SUV offered in America that offers two live axles (Mercedes G-class excluded). It’s built for off-road travel and unlike its limited competition; it frequently is used for off-road travel.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Lexus ES350: If the Toyota Camry is the new Ford Taurus, the ES350 is the new Lincoln. Featuring an interior quiet enough to hear a mime’s thoughts and comfortable enough to lull you to sleep, an incredibly absorbant ride, rock solid reliability accompanied by great Lexus service, this car can’t be beat in its segment. For all the 40+ dads out there who aren’t interested in sportiness, the ES350 is a great car.

    Gotta disagree with that. After my negative review (there’s nothing quiet about it on the highway) and reading the same complaints from ES owners via email, clublexus.com and our own comments section, I couldn’t recommend this car to anyone.

    For now, Lexus better work the bugs out of the ES.

  • avatar

    Sajeev

    Is it a pervasive thing for all ES350′s, or did Lexus uncharacteristically churn out a few turkeys?

    All the one’s I’ve been in are a dream.

    Admittedly, my entire list was based on personal experience.

  • avatar
    Haudi

    Honda Accord – Great power, excellent handling, classic styling (even the old ones look good), top-notch interior design and ergonomics, and a top safety rating. This is the perfect “family car” but also a lot of fun.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Second nomination for me: The ubitquitous BMW 3-series, but this time…the 328, and not the 335.

    First off: the 335 loses my vote because it came out without an oil cooler. This little deviation from turbocharged norm allowed the first 7 months of 335′s to reach oil temperatures of 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Such an easy problem to avoid by a Motorwerkes company nullifies the 335 for me…

    The 328: Not the fastest, nor the best handling, nor the most comfortable for the money. Nevertheless, the BMW combines an unbelievable compromise of every aspect a motorhead asks for into an amazing base price of around 32k. Cough up a few more greenbacks, and you’ve got the sport package to boot.

    Liquid sewing machine action? Check. Sport seats with adjustable bolsters and thigh extensions? Check. 50-50 weight balance? Just ask yourself the first time you take a corner and neither end is tugging at the lease of over/under-steer. Pure neutral bliss.

    RWD burnouts. Only a slip of the clutch away. Refined cruising pleasure. Just roll up the windows, shift early, and you become the perfect gentle(wo)man. Plus, you’ve got dual climate control to please the picky passenger.

    Lets forget about how BMW will reach into your pockets and bleed you dry just to get you any options beyond the necessities for hardcore motoring. This is about the car.

    If you’ve never driven a BMW 3-series, from the 1987 325is to todays’ 328i….do yourself an immediate favor and do it. Don’t sit in it; drive it. Sitting in this car is the bane of such nominations as these. All you notice is the spartan interior, small buttons, and hieroglyphics for which there is no rosetta stone.

    Once you get past the too-complex start-up procedure, you are greeted by one of the greatest sounds in the wide world of cars. The inline six. It is man’s best friend. It’s never unhappy, always eager to please. Whether at idle, lugging in 4th gear at 1000 rpms, or making trips to redline. It just hums with a glorious sound.

    The 6-spd in this car is pure bliss. Not because it has the shortest throw or the crispest motion. But because it’s perfectly harmonized with the engine and transmission. Simon says go from 5th gear to 2nd gear at 30mph without a rev match? No problem. The engine easily spins up to match it’s new ratio. The shifting action is fantastic, and the first time you step into the car the clutch feels like an old friend. Like you’ve put 100k miles on it but it’s only broken in, not worn at all. Like a well-oiled baseball glove, it gives you perfect feedback about what your extremity is doing to it, and how it is reacting.

    And that sums up the 328. Like a 10 year old, well oiled baseball glove. Not too fancy, but every time you step into it it just fits. And delivers.

    And that’s what you want in a TBAG, isn’t it?

    Joe O.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Joe O:
    As a question to other commenters and TTAC: Is it fair to nominate a car you’ve never driven?

    I just did, although I really ought to take my brother’s 2nd gen Prius for a, ahem, spin one of these days.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Is it a pervasive thing for all ES350’s, or did Lexus uncharacteristically churn out a few turkeys?

    Its one thing when I say it, but it seems to be a chronic problem with many people on the clublexus forums. One guy got the dealer to buy it back, got a newer one, it had the same problems.

    Here’s one of the scary threads from that forum: clicky

    Ironically enough, one local guy here traded in his ES to the Lincoln dealer for a new Town Car. That made me laugh.

  • avatar
    Carzzi

    I nominate the Ferrari F430 Spider. Does the nomination need any further justification?

  • avatar
    Commuter

    The Wrangler 4 door; the only mass produced 4 door convertable available today. DCX sold over 10,000 wranglers last month, hopefully someone else will see the light.

    The Mazda 5 and Kia Rondo. These cars/vans, are the future of family transport. They put the mini, back in minivan.

    The Honda CRV. Just the right amount of comfort, power and utility to sell over 17,000 copies in April. It’s the small CUV to beat.

  • avatar

    The 2006/7 Honda Civic EX coupe, 5-speed manual.

    Class / price: Compact car, sell new for <$20K.

    While some deride Honda for building boring cars (”appliances”), here we have a car with a fairly radical design. This design has also been called “whacko,” which leads me to believe that a car evoking such passion (love and hate) has something going for it.

    No boring commuter appliance here: From its steeply-raked windshield (at 21.9 degrees, it’s steeper than the one on the Acura NSX super car), to the innovative speedometer (“poor man’s heads up display”), to the well-crafted–and truly ergonomic–interior, the Civic coupe offers a lot for the money, given its “economy-class” price point.

    A few additional reasons why I nominate the 2006/07 Civic EX coupe:

    - It offers a stiffer suspension than the sedan.

    - It is a popular economy car, which is also fun to drive.
    (Honda sells some 85K Civic coupes, per year.)

    - Ultra low polluting (ULEV), from one of the “greenest” car companies on the planet.

    - It gets truly outstanding MPG (averaging 31+ MPG—while using the iVTEC engine like it’s meant to be—with sweeps well up into the RPM range). So it’s economical.

    - The Civic comes with Honda reliability, and fit and finish, which are world class.

    - Safety devices include 8 airbags, active front head restraints, and ABS with EBD.

    In EX trim, you get a sunroof, 350-Watt, 7-speaker stereo (with subwoofer and speed-sensitive volume), an outside temperature display, and an auxiliary audio input jack.

    While low of torque, the 1.8L engine is (otherwise) an engineering triumph. Just as one would expect from a company named Honda Motor Company.

    Few cars in this price class (< $20K), offer the build-quality, economy, fun, technology, resale value, reliability, and low enviornmental impact as the Honda Civic EX coupe.

    FWIW: The 8th Generation Civic coupe (MT) has not been reviewed here at TTAC (only the 8th Gen Si coupe has, which is an entirely different beast).

    My second nomination is the 2006/2007 Honda S2000:
    Long, curvy front fenders, low-slung, sports car.
    Rear-wheel drive fun, yet reasonably ecomomical.
    A drop-top with a VTEC engine that loves to play.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    Joe O:
    As a question to other commenters and TTAC: Is it fair to nominate a car you’ve never driven?

    Joe, how many of us drove the various vehicles in the TWATS…..or want to admit to owning/driving them?

    I’ll add the Range Rover for understated elegance and the Range Rover Sport to my list. If it helps i’ve driven both and loved them, especially the supercharged versions.

  • avatar
    danms6

    Mazdaspeed 6 -

    Everyone is enamored with the Speed3, however the Speed6 was the original. Same turbocharged, direct injected engine only it isn’t detuned to lessen torque steer. An electromagnetic AWD system puts more power to the ground allowing for more expandability other than FWD burnouts.

    Its only shortcomings were the target audience and lack of marketing. I’ve got no problem with the Speed 3, it is a remarkable car for the price. Perhaps we can lump these two together?

  • avatar

    Carzzi: I nominate the Ferrari F430 Spider. Does the nomination need any further justification?

    Yes.

  • avatar

    2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon/Rubicon Unlimited.
    Depending on your definition of “sport,” you’ll agree/disagree with Enzo Ferrari, when he calledthe Jeep “America’s sports car.” If your idea of sport is to travel the road/trail/path less taken, and boldly go where mountain goats fear to tread, then the Wrangler is the vehicle for you. Don’t listen to the crusty but benign CJ/TJ/YJ owners who claim the all-new Wrangler is too city-fied to be a true off-roader. The Rubicon is the real deal, in an off-street ready factory package. For once, DCX hit a bulls-eye on redesigning a classic. As someone who is abso-posi-lutely dead-set against buying new, this is the ONLY vehicle I’m willing to plunk down my hard-earned cash for. Now if I can only decide if I want the 2-door or the 4…

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    I would like to nominate the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer ES. Greatest Mitsu sedan ever built.
    Price is good and very fast if you drive it on manual tranny and to save on gas.
    Drove Honda, Nissan and Toyota they are all good cars but slow especially when your driving a Automatics.

  • avatar
    thebigmass

    I know it’s been done already, but I also nominate the GTI. My fiancee owns one, and my jealousy knows no bounds (and I have a 9-2x aero, which isn’t too bad). The GTI has virtually no turbo lag, is as fast as any cheap hatchback has the right to be, and has a transmission (DSG) that actually makes me question my commitment to shifting for myself. It sticks to the road longer than you’d think possible without understeering you into a guardrail like most front-drivers. In short, between looking for my car and helping her look for hers, I looked at a G35, 325i, RX-8, 350z, WRX, Crossfire and probably a few others, and can say honestly that on public roads (within the safe envelope of performance that they allow) the GTI is the most fun to drive of them all (clearly on the track or on empty, twisting back roads, that would change). Additionally, fully optioned, the GTIs interior is a better place to be than any of them. I’ve been looking at an RS4, and I realize now why the GTI is so darned nice on the inside. The 23k VW and the 66k Audi share a lot of interior bits. Throw in hatchback utility and you’ve got dollar for dollar the best car on the road.

  • avatar

    Maserati Quattroporte.

    1) The exterior is beautiful.
    2) The interior is gorgeous.
    3) It is unique, less like any other car than any other car.

  • avatar
    burning_chicken

    Mazda3: Practical, safe, fun, and decently powerful. plus, you can fit a 42″ plasma tv (box and all) inside. what more could you want?

  • avatar
    Hippo

    Honda S-2000

    Closest thing to a Formula car or a 4 wheel motorcycle for the street. So much fun it makes you feel 40 years 45 years younger.

    Other then that I would second the Mazda MX-5.

  • avatar
    Carzzi

    Justifying the F430 spyder nomination:
    Cost no object engineering… from aerodynamics to engine specific output. All topped off by… removing the top.
    One of the few (maybe the only) production V8′s with a flat plane crankshaft, giving it the distinctive yowl. Not that a cross plane V8 doesn’t sound great… cf. Audi RS4′s V8 or the Koeniggsegg… but that the Ferrari’s V8 sounds feral, even dangerous.
    The F1 transmission’s downshift blips are aurally orgiastic.
    All this, covered in the evocative aluminium body that’s free of frippery… no extraneous spoilers and add-ons; everything’s functional and integrated.
    Everything, except the acrylic engine cover. No, that’s not frippery: that’s indulgence.

  • avatar
    FTM

    Ford Shelby GT500

    I will admit it left a lot to be desired in the “refinement” category, but 500 jaw dropping axle twisting, body shuddering, snap your head back against the restraint horsepower for a mere 40k more than makes up for it. It is unmached HP for the dollar mated to an iconic legend. If this car had any more “soul”, it would drive on water.

  • avatar
    zoomzit

    MB E320 BlueTec – Because compared to hybrids it is simple, exhibits no drivetrain clunkiness gets 35 mpg and is only a $1,000 premium over it’s gas counterpart. In addition, most of the diesel particulate issues are solved by bluetec.

    Best of all… 400 lbs at 1,600 rpm. Eventually, us car nuts are going to be forced to acknowledge the environmental consequences of our automotive purchase. Cars like the E320 makes that trade-off much less painful.

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    My nomination is the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Blutec Diesel. Emissions are low,MPG excellent, and it lasts forever. Plus zero to 60 in 6.6 seconds helps also.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Ferrari F430 Spider: Why? Because of the prancing horse on the hood….THAT’S WHY! Comparing a Cayman S is to the F430 spider is like comparing Jessica Alba to Salma Hayek. They both get make you weak in the knees, but one makes the other seem homely.

    2007 Porsche Boxster – the handling, the degree of care put into engineering this marvel is just awe inspiring. But best of all, I must say that after taking delivery of this two seater, I’m most impressed by its value and total ownership experience.

    BMW335i coupe: While it doesn’t stir the aesthetic soul quite like the last generation body style…it more than makes up for it when you press the go pedal. Good grief WHAT a car! Dialed-in twin turbo goodness deserves the trophy.

    Mazda Miata MX5 – It has to be said that for just a tad over HALF of the money it costs to score a Boxster, you can have this absolute STEAL of a car. Not only that, but it rightfully CONTINUES to dominate market it brought back from the ashes. Next to the 3rd generation RX7s, this is the jewel of Mazda’s all-time offerings.

    Subaru Outback Wagon (basic): The modern Swiss army knife of the automotive world. In turbo form, there is little reason to buy the GT sedan since this thing achieves even greater sleeper status. In NA trim, it’s a package that is sincerely hard to beat in terms of utility and function. A no-nonsense benchmark automobile in an era of cost cutting and injection-molded-spizzarkle (hat tip to Sajeev)

    Toyota 4Runner Sport V6: With body on frame construction, this is the SUV for people who actually have a use for an SUV. With trick XREAS suspension, an efficient (21mpg) AND powerful AND reliable V6…and a comfortable yet capable driving feel, this is a workhorse vehicle if the Outback wagon can’t tow, or do, what you need it to.

    Mazda 6: For all the (deserved) credit the Fusion is getting, the Mazda bests it in just about every category. Sharper handling? -check, better trim level?-check, Obscene lower price?-affirmative. Game set and match.

    Mazda5: For its market, this vehicle does more than deliver the goods. Small footprint, efficient drivetrain, snappy and responsive, adequately roomy, surprisingly handsome and a rock-solid value considering total cost of ownership. A knockout offering.

    Dodge Ram 2500HD Quad Cab: There is just something about the gobs and gobs of effortless grunt that the 5.7L HEMI puts down that intoxicates like no other V8 in the full size truck market. This is a work vehicle with a motor that WORKS. It isn’t the best vehicle around, but with that mill and this offering, it’s the best package.

    Mazda 3: As much as I respect the Civic EX sedan, I simply cannot give it the nod over this base model car as a commuter. If I had to get max MPG and commute any kind of distance, I would gladly give up the cash and pilot this gem instead. Yeah, its THAT good.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Scion Xb

    It’s the unexpected fruit of a succesful mating of a Chevy Tahoe and a go-cart. (kinda like crossing a Saint Bernard and a Chihuahua; don’t think about it too long).

    Interior dimensions are within an inch of the Tahoe’s, eliminating big, fat American’s excuse for not driving a small car.

    At half the price (of the Tahoe), it delivers more than twice the mileage, and three times the driving fun. What a deal.

    Luggage space? get a roof rack.

    Towing? Just sell the damn power boat, and take up kayaking; it’s better for you too.

    And your teenage kids will stop thinking you’re a DB if you trade in the Tahoe for an Xb.

    The most innovative automotive package in a long time.

  • avatar
    docleo83

    I’d like to nominate the Hyundai Azera, which hasn’t gotten anywhere near as much attention as the smaller Sonata on this page. The Azera combines the quiet and comfort of a Lexus with the size of a Town Car (or an S-Class), power equivalent to an Audi V6 and handling at least as good as the ubiquitous Camry. All at a price equivalent to a well optioned Accord. In other words, its the nuclear option in basic transportation. It will get you every where you want to go quickly, comfortably and cheaply.

  • avatar
    Kman

    I’ll be posting my nominations a little later, but had to commend the great comment:

    “and our timing… enigmatic”

    Brilliant!

  • avatar
    KixStart

    The Prius. That’s one car that could be described, in Steve Jobs terms, as “insanely great!”

    Yeah, it’s an appliance. But it’s the most insanely great appliance available. And Toyota didn’t just wrap it in a Corolla body or something, they went the full distance and produced something that was entirely difference.

    Great fuel economy (unmatched city economy, for sure), whiz-bang technology, futuristic looks and it’s the same kind of highly reliable appliance (in spite of the complexity) that appliance drivers crave.

    In that vein, I’d also like to nominate the Ford Escape hybrid. Ford certainly executed it differently from Toyota but the Escape has always struck me as one of Ford’s better efforts and it’s a much more cost-effective hybrid SUV than the Highlander. It even offers decent reliability, in spite of its whiz-bang technology (it’s just not as in-your-face about the tech as Toyota). It’s an excellent, practical alternative to the run-of-the-mill, too-big-and-thirsty SUV that soccer moms so often drive. It’s the one vehicle that has tempted me to buy a Ford since my previous, excruciatingly painful experience with Ford.

  • avatar
    jtfisher2tn

    The Lexus LS430. Not because it is such an exciting car, which it is not, but how comfortable, dependable and error free. Would they all be built this way.

  • avatar
    wstansfi

    Acura TL – 6MT – 2006- The perfect family compromise. Premium fit and finish. Lively but quiet engine. Very responsive 6speed shifter. Outstanding value for price with the Acura “all extras included” mentality. Honda class reliability, and high resale make for a low cost of ownership. Most rear seat room of any comparable class sedan (3series, A4/A3, G35, S40). Loaded with safety features e.g. active headrests, stability control. Broad stance, large tires, relatively low center of mass and well tuned suspension = very capable cornering. Only potential weakness is the front wheel drive – rear wheel drive would give a more gleeful corner entry, and the ability to push the engine harder in corners overall… but would likely make for more trouble in the parts of the country that get snow…
    That’s it – not the best at any one thing, but when you put it all together, you get a perfect car for a young family at a very reasonable price.

  • avatar
    Mr. Soul

    I nominate the Mercedes Benz c55. (I think it just squeezes into the time guidelines.) What’s not to like? 362hp V8 in a Corolla-sized vehicle, with AMG-engineered handling. It really is the modern day muscle car. It’s also a practical daily driver, and provides a great ergonomic environment. This is a great blend old-school MB comfort and build quality with modern day performance.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Ditto the Honda Accord. Even at the end of each generation the car is competitive, if not better than the competition (witness the recent top finish in a C&D comparo). Its the ulitmate Q-ship with above average power, superior handling, and quality good enough to make a Merc blush. Honda’s in general are “engineered” to a higher standard than even Toyotas.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Folks, a gentle reminder that “CAR X – I AGREE” posts are not within the guidelines, take up space, and generally make Frank itchy.

    As for cars not yet mentioned, toss in a nomination for the Subaru Forester, particularly the XT (turbo) model. It’s among the best bang-for-buck performance cars on the market with the WRX’s engine, AWD, and an available manual transmission. It was also the first SUV alternative of the current generation of crossovers. Great to drive, practical, cheap, and a total q-ship.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Commuter:

    I wasn’t sure about nominating my daily driver, but I did use my Mazda5 to chase down an unsuspecting WRX STI on a Beltway S-curved on-ramp this AM at >55mph.

    So, Mazda5, ’cause it’s a minivan you can hoon with.

  • avatar
    NN

    Corvette Z06–America’s best car, and the best performance value on the planet.

    Maserati Quattroporte–most beautiful vehicle sold in the USA (Alfa 159 takes the cake for the world, in my opinion). Also, the most unique vehicle in it’s class.

    Honda Accord–best all-around everyman’s car, ever.

    BMW 3-series–despite having a target aimed squarely on it from every other luxury carmaker on the planet, nobody can develop a better all around sports sedan than BMW, and no model better personifies this than the 3-series.

    Jeep Wrangler–as previously stated; proof that staying true to your brand is a recipe for success.

    Mazda 3–the Japanese still build the best small cars, and the 3 is building a strong reputation for itself currently.

    Chevy Suburban–Gas Guzzler? Sure. Going out of style? Maybe. But the Suburban will never go away; it has become the ultimate carry-all vehicle for large American families, and to this day no vehicle can do it all as well. New styling is great and will wear well. Anyone sad about the loss of large traditional American cars needs to realize that the Suburban is one of the few vehicles that still carries all those old American attributes.

  • avatar
    Chaser

    I second the xB nomination. When I bought mine, I was looking for a commuter car with lots of interior space that could double as my camping vehicle in the summer. I had several hatchbacks on my list including the Honda Fit and Mazda 3. I even test drove a Pontiac G6 sedan just because an old college buddy was the business mgr. at the local dealership. Man, I wouldn’t buy that car if it were 50% off. Anyway…

    I ended up with the Scion for several reasons–huge interior space, good quality plastics (always a TTAC priority!), distinctive looks, excellent visibility on all sides, great factory stereo with mp3 capability and aux input, and 35+ mpg gallon average in mountainous terrain. Oh, and standard traction control, stability control, and ABS for under $15,000. The only downside is the 103-hp engine, but at least it’s tuned for torque down low and only has to motivate 2400 pounds. Also, handling is much better than I expected thanks to the low center of gravity.

    The xB is one of the most distinctive cars I’ve ever driven. Having a limited-edition package with chameleon paint is just icing on the cake. For better or worse, this car gets a lot of attention! If you can get past the looks, though, I don’t think there’s a better car available for the money. The new xB coming out this month should appeal even more to the mainstream, although it lacks some of the uniqueness that I love about my toaster.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I nominate the Acura TSX for its fine blend of comfort (packaging), fun, style, and affordability. It’s upscale but back-to-basics and is the perfect embodiment of its brand.

  • avatar

    NOTE: The spam filter is catching a lot of these comments (due to the large number of brand names).

    Be patient, if you hit submit, it will appear just as soon as Frank or I release it.

    Thanks

  • avatar
    adrift

    1) Porsche Boxster (S) / Cayman (S) – Best handling Porsches outside GT models – not bad for the “entry level” cars. And they are just THAT much fun to drive. Staggeringly composed and competent; make most drivers look like Schumi. Cayman is the best looking car Porsche makes.

    2) Porsche GT3 / GT3RS – I want one so badly I am making my small children get part time jobs on road crews.

    3) Aston Martin Vanquish (DBS – if available) – THE sexiest car on the planet, bar none.

    4) Mazda Speed 3 – Wow, so good, so cheap.

    5) Z06 – Are words really required? Home run for the home boys in a country where the cars depress me more than excite me.

    6) Ford Explorer – Hauls most of America in reasonable comfort within reasonable cost.

    7) Ferrari F430 – Stupid expensive while stupid sexy. But only as a toy.

  • avatar
    RMG

    The Saturn SKY Red Line cannot be left out. Unfortunately, it may be paying a price for its awful predecessors, so in order to give it due consideration you must forget this thing is a ‘Saturn’. Put the images of the ION and L-Series wagons aside, and you will not be able to casually dismiss this car.
    It has a great looking exterior that has an aggressive, futuristic appearance combined with Cadillac XLR lines. The interior design is the perfect combination of a spartan roadster with a modern and logical layout. Based on reviews of the base model SKY, handling will be another plus given even better suspension components and tires that are part of the Red Line package.
    Now lets talk stats, shall we? 260hp, 260ft-lbs torque @ 2500 RPM, and 31 MPG HWY!!! Oh yeah, add it that it will run on regular gas too. Four-star crash safety rating. All for only MSRP: $28,425. Were I to spend tens of thousands more on a new Boxster or Z4, I’d feel really stupid watching this Saturn leave me at the light. Beyond a shadow of a doubt this is one of the best cars ever made by GM. I only wish they made it years ago before I bought my S2000.

  • avatar
    kasumi

    One nomination – the Volvo V70 2.5T. A great overall car, though the design has changed little, it is very refined. Overall, the perfect compramise between an SUV, cross-over or whatever. Nice interior, good mileage, like the Wrangler, the V70 is the brand’s ideal. As the older Volvo wagons give up the ghost, the V70 will be shuttling kids from kindergarten to college and filling up hardcore show parking lots for years to come.

    K.

  • avatar
    adrift

    Forgot one more plug for the Boxster / Cayman – Since they aren’t at the top of the HP heap, they don’ appeal to the my-car-represents-my-manhood crowd, which is a huge recommendation for it, in my book. Car enthusiasts love the 987. Macho he-men do not.

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    Honda Odyssey. A minivan with the most carlike handling of any other minivan on the market, along with the best braking and acceleration. Also the best fuel economy in its class with cylinder shutoff on a V6. How? They use electro-hydraulic engine mounts to cancel the uneven vibrations on 3 cyls, and noise cancelling in the cabin with the stereo to get rid of a weird exhaust note. It’s utterly unnoticeable except for the “ECO” light on the dash. And GM & Chrysler think they’re so cool to do this on a V8.

    Aside from the engine tech, it’s got superb fit and finish, comfort, ergonomic design, and Honda reliability. And they’ve finally seem to have addressed the long standing Honda V6/5-speed tranny issues this year.

    I had a 2006 Odyssey loaner for a week earlier this year while our 2003 (last-gen) was fixed, and it induced genuine minivan lust. As soon as Honda releases this car with a diesel V6 we’re trading up.

    The Sienna comes close but comes standard on lower models with rear drums and a solid rear axle for all models – Toyota cutting costs where most buyers won’t notice.

  • avatar
    rashakor

    On the luxury sedan category i would like to nominate the E320 bluetec.
    First it litterally spank all luxury sedans in the same price point in mileage and range… without any apreciable loss in performance.
    Second it is the first real clean diesel which puts it back in par with most gasoline engines in the market. and should i mention really reduces our dependence on foreign oil.
    Third, it is a stern, beautiful car, possibibly the single most elegant vehicle on the road nowadays, neither blingstatic nor ghettofabulous like most luxury vehicles are becoming (note that this comment applies to all 2007 E-classes).
    Now, if MB could get its act together and bring us a C220 bluetec they would actually have a Camcordima killer.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Mazda MX-5 – The best roadster on the road for the masses. Fine handling, easy to use roof in manual or auto and the availability of a hardtop that still allows you the same luggage space as the soft top.

    Mazda RX8 – The only real 4 door coupe on the market with it’s freestyle doors. Truly a four seat sports car with agility and smoothness and the ability to easily drive it fast. Lastly for the rotary engine, love it or hate it, it makes the RX8 a truly uniwue vehicle.

    Mazdaspeed 3 – The best bang for your buck in under $25k with fine handling, limited torque steer in a friendly and functional package.

    Porsche Cayman – This is the car the 911 should have been, poise, balance and style. Mid engine > rear engine.

    BMW 335 – The 3 series has been the benchmark of a luxury sport sedan/coupe for years and the 335i is one of the best. Powerful engine, good weight distribution, spot on steering in stylish package. A fantastic car as long as you don’t opt for the idrive.

    Honda Odyssey – The best example on the market for a minivan. It comes with all the bells and whistles while not driving like a couch on wheels, the perfect people hauler.

  • avatar
    jd arms

    I will nominate 3 cars:

    The Porsche Cayman S because it is a beautiful automobile, has a nearly 50/50 weight distribution so even a chump like me can drive it well, and comes at a price that will depreciate into my range within 4-5 years. This car gets my third strongest nomination, primarily on looks. It is also a Porsche. Porsches are cool.

    The Lotus Elise. To me, this car states a purpose, and meets the purpose with aplomb. The car weighs less than 2,000 lbs and is the epitome of tossable. Lastly, I could buy it new. I would have to cut back (way back) on most of my other tastes, but I could own it new….and I’m a teacher. And the twenty color options are ridiculous. Unfortunately, I’m also a dad, so the Elise gets my second strongest nomination as it is not very practical and if it breaks down I cannot just zip on over to my local Lotus dealer. When my daughter leaves for college in 13 years, it might get my strongest nomination.

    My strongest nomination goes to the 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport Sedan. I can afford it new – I would be breaking my principle of “always buy lightly used” but I could do it. Moreover, reliability wise, this car should be solid, unlike another brand I won’t mention. Also the exterior displays an understated beauty which I appreciate, and the interior is much nicer than the 03-04 version and 05-06 version. Lastly, as a family man, the car offers a blend of pragmatism (4 doors, reliable, affordable), near luxury (loaners, leather, and gadgetry), and sport (the front-midship platform, a VQ engine, RWD) that works for me, and most of my middle-class friends.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Ferrari F430, but only the berlinetta, not the Spyder.

    Yes it’s a Ferrari, and yes a spyder is nice sometimes, but the F430 isn’t extremely beautiful, so as a spyder I would take the Aston Martin or Gallardo over it.

    As closed coupe however, those two can’t (apperently) cold a candle to the F430s handling and performance. And chopping the roof off of it just doesn’t do justice to this concept. A car like that shouldn’t have to deal with unnecessary compromises. The upcoming challenge stradale will be better still.

    Alternative nomination, BMW Z4M Coupe. The engine won multiple engine of the year awards, even when it’s getting older it’s still one of the best for sale today. Only reason BMW choose to equip the new M3 with the V8 was because they couldn’t get significantly more HP from the I6 without artificial breathing. Handling isn’t bad either, only the Boxster’s might be better in some areas.

    Something which can hardly be qualified as unforgiveable…

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    After taking a Mazdaspeed 3 for a test drive, this is the practical sporty car that VW used to make. Pin-you-to-your-seat acceleration, good handling, comfortable front and rear seating with room to haul that occasional end table, and-let’s face it-better reliability than you can expect from a VW nowdays. You get all of this practical goodness and the smile that comes from blowing the doors of ricers-with all of their go-fast stickers-for under $25k. Zoom-zoom.

    Moving along to the gee-I-wish-I-could-afford-it category: the Corvette Z06 offers supercar performance at a very un-supercar price, starting at $66,465. If that isn’t enough-or too much for your bank account-for the 2008 model year, the “base” Corvette C6 will come with 430 hp, and 424 lb-ft of torque from its V-8 engine (up from 400 hp, 400 lb-ft of torque) for $44k at its basest to $53K with all the extras.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    Corvette: 400hp 3179lbs, good looks, big power, good handling, cheap price, tidy package. The only sports car that hasn’t gotten heavier in the last 20 years is a testament to the technology GM put’s into them and makes me laugh when people call an F430 engineered cost-no-object.

    Z06: Same as above turned up to 11. Everything about it is just so right. GM should have just filed for bankruptcy after designing this baby, THE GREATEST SPORTS CAR OF ALL-TIME?

    Saturn Sky Redline/Solstice GXP: 70% of Corvette. 50% of price.

    Aura XR: A world class FWD sedan hampered only by Camry and Accords reputation.

    GMT-900: It’s sad that this truck wasn’t out 5 years ago. They are infinitely better trucks than the GMT-800s that GM was selling faster than bottled water at a Miami night club on free XTC night.

  • avatar
    Drew

    For the record, I wasn’t shaking my head at the TWATs – people who build crap deserve to be called on it. But, equally, people who build the best should be recognized. That said:

    I disagree with the 335i. I own an e46 3 series and I’ve driven an e90 330. The e90 interior is a step backwards from the e46, and at 335i prices, much nicer interiors can be found. I’m talking about both the design and the materials. By the time you put a few (not all) options on this car, its 45K-50K. A TSX interior is a nicer place to be. And the sheetmetal, while not as bad as the 5 series, is still pretty bad. Acura is building better BMWs than BMW right now. Except for the front wheel drive bit. The current 3 is almost the same size as the e34 5 series! I know that this isn’t unique to BMW, but still. Remember, I say all this as a 3 series owner. I think that, overall, an A3 or A4 is a better call. They’re not perfect either, but they’re not as deeply flawed or as expensive.

    Gotta disagree on the mini as well. Yes, they’re fun. But they’re also expensive. Now that the Honda Fit Sport is on the scene, why would you get a mini again? Yeah, the retro-Brit styling is neat, but at a $10k premium? I don’t think so.

    Mazda MX-5. What a car. I used to scoff at it’s meager power ratings – then I drove one. Nimble, athletic, light, a smile generator. One thing done exceptionally well is worth more than many things each done merely satisfactorily. A hard top that doesn’t steal your trunk space or add 100s of pounds. The price is such that almost anybody can have one. I know I’ll be back at the dealer when the Mazdaspeed version comes out. I’ve just accepted it.

    The Prius. Yes, the people that drive them can be annoying, but the car itself is impressive. I drove a drunk friend-of-a-friend home in her Prius one night, and I was surprised. I expected it to be a dog. It’s not fast, but it doesn’t feel slow. The bluetooth and the center display are cool. Being a hatchback it’s surprisingly roomy and versatile. You have to give Toyota credit for their foresight here. While GM sits around saying “who knew gas would get so expensive so quickly?” Toyota was doing something in case that happened. When it did, they were prepared. It’s also reasonably priced.

    The Acura TL. I know, I know. It’s FWD. I know. I don’t like it either. But that’s about the only thing I don’t like about it. A friends father has one that I’ve driven and it’s magnificent. Nicely chiseled exterior. Wonderful interior. Acura doesn’t nickel and dime you on the options. You can get a 6 speed. And that engine. Wow. Smooth and perfectly happy to rev all day long. The FWD is unfortunate, but the rest of the car is so good I’m almost willing to overlook it. If I were at BMW, the thing that would keep me awake at night would be the possibility of Acura making the TL RWD, or dropping in their AWD system. Who in their right mind would buy a 5 at that point?

    Volvo V70R. I’ve never driven one, but I’ve liked the looks of it for a while and I have driven the V70XC. The seats are the best that I’ve ever felt. Bar none. 300HP and AWD? Sign me up. The fact that it’s a wagon means that it’s completely practical and would ensure a wide-mouthed grin every time I surprise somebody in a WRX or whathaveyou at at stoplight. The ultimate sleeper. Plus, it’s safe as a Volvo. It’s the prefect family car. If I ever have kids, I hope Volvo is still making a car like this.

  • avatar

    At the risk of stating the obvious: I’d make a case that excludes any Corvette for this award.

    If, like the car mags, where reliability (beyond the warrenty) is discounted, then okay, the Corvette qualifies.

    Otherwise, Corvettes are, at least according to Consumer Reports, as unreliable as they come. (Google ‘Corvette problem’ and see how many repair horror stories turn up.)

    But I’m talking practically. Perhaps there’s some wiggle room for fun-to-drive cars that don’t hold up (looking at you, Ferrari) or, am I totally off base here, and Corvettes are better nowadays?

    Just a thought, not trying to start a flame war.

  • avatar
    i6

    Toyota Prius. A car that delivers on it’s fuel efficiency and emissions promise (not just best in class, best outright!) without sacrificing anything that is expected from that segment. The fact that it is poo-pooed by tree-slayers only makes it’s accomplishments that much more worthy of reward in my eyes.

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned this one:

    Mercedes CLS four door ‘coupe.’

    Yes – it’s more than the E class V8

    Yes – You could have two Cadilllac CTS for the price.

    Yes. It only seats four.

    But look at it.

    Look at the sweeping roofline that flows into a tidy, sloping rear deck – the broad shoulders – notice the way the car uses horizontal surfaces – especially toward the rear – to emphasize it’s voluptuous, yet muscular lines.

    There are beter looking sports cars – but nothing with four chairs looks this good. For the price of a loaded vette you can get a real head turning dream machine, in which you can also pick up the occasional in-law at the airport.

    By combining the opulent and exotic in a perfect compromise between dramatic styling (54″ tall) and day-in and out practicality (4 doors) there’s simply nothing like the CLS – unless you would spend twice as much on a quatroporte Maserati. But no valet is going to turn his nose up at the CLS. For the well healed buyer who wants extra flair and a touch of the exotic, but something he use everyday – even for toting kids around the ‘burbs, he simply can’t do better than the CLS.

  • avatar

    I nominate the Toyota Camry.

    The Camry keeps people who do not care about cars out of cars people care about.

    And the Mazda Speed 3.

  • avatar
    Hellhund

    Mazdaspeed6: A classic Q-ship sleeper. Fantastic HP and torque (the midrange torque — yow!) with a high-tech turbocharged 4-banger, laid onto the road with AWD. Corners like it’s on rails. Muscular but subtle style changes from the (already excellent) regular Mazda 6. Comfortable commuter and fambly-toter with lots of luxo-features. A home-run combo of performance, everyday usability and great looks.

  • avatar
    gakoenig

    I second the nomination of the BMW 328i. $34 large for the base model Bimmer with the one option you care about (the sports package) gives you the modern day incarnation of all the BMW brand DNA that made the company what it is. A sweet sounding 6, driving the rear wheels and communicating to you through the best steering, class leading breaking and smooth shifting chassis in the business. For a pistonhead shopping for a new car, I don’t think you can do much better in driving dynamics, build quality, resale value, brand snobbery and cost of ownership (BMW’s full maintenance program pays for everything – save gas and tires – for the first 50k miles).

  • avatar
    Infamous Dr. X

    I will further attempt to get the Jeep Wrangler a spot on the TBAG list, a spot is most decidedly deserves.

    After all, can anyone here name another 4 seat convertible in production that can climb a mountain the hard way, ford a stream, carry all your camping gear, pull your boat AND plow your driveway?

    Jeep Wrangler represents, in my opinion, everything good about America. It works hard, it plays hard. It’s versatile and adaptable. It’s got a big inline 6 cranking out 200 horses and all the torque you need. It’s got a long tradition but isn’t afraid to embrace the future and change incrementally. Sure, it’s got downsides – it’s loud as hell, scoffs at luxury, and sucks down gas like it’s going out of style. But it doesn’t give a rat’s ass about those downsides, either. What’s more American that all that?

    It comes in all kinds of groovy colors and increases the sex appeal of any female driver by 20%. You can tune it or mod it into roughly 73 gajillion different combinations, or you can just rock it like they stock it. Climb rocks, take it to the beach, bust through snowbanks, or just cruise. Whatever…it wants to do any or all of the above and does each with equal style.

    Jeep Wrangler (TJ or JK) is without a doubt one of the Ten Best Autos Going. The Jeep not only has history, it’s helped make history. It has an indomitable spirit and the automotive equivalent of a winning personality. Sure, it’s not sleek or sexy (or even close to aerodynamic). Sure, it’s a hog at the 87-unleaded buffet. And maybe “spartan” is the “nice” way of describing the interior. But you know what? Whether they get banged up, rained out, washed away, beached, bogged, or even just blown off the line by some small-genitals-compensation-car, the Jeep just grins and says “gimme more”.

    The Jeep Wrangler deserves TBAG status. Can we count on YOUR vote?

  • avatar
    dulcamara

    I nominate the BMW 335i. I just got one of these, and it’s the perfect car for the 55 year old guy with knee problems that I am. Mine is more comfortable than my mothers buick, goes faster than the M3 I had ten years ago, handles better (at least on the roads I drive on) than the Porsche Cayman I tested side-by-side, and has a automatic transmission that’s actually fun to play with. I got sport+premium packs + SIRUS. Best features are the motor, the motor, and the MET Opera channel on SIRIUS.

  • avatar
    synthetic

    Acura TSX

    A virtually endless pool of features packed into a beautifully designed modern sedan equipped with a marvel of a power train.

    There’s no need for me to go into things like the reliability, functionality and fantastic efficiency of a car built by Honda, so I’ll just point out a couple of distinctive characteristics of the TSX that make this car different than others even when compared with Honda’s own other marvels.

    Transmission: You WILL NOT find a more slick and smoother 6-speed transmission than then one found in the TSX. If you do, check and make sure it was not a swap with a TSX tranny.

    Interior: The interior of this car could easily be compared with cars in the $60-70K range. Unbelievably expensive looking and rich in details.

    Engine: Bash it for its 4 bangers all you want. When it comes to efficiency and adequate performance in a luxury sedan, it leaves very little to be desired. Sure, an extra 20-30 lb/ft of twist would’ve made this car pretty much perfect in all aspects.

    Handling: Unless you are a race-car driver, the TSX will always out-gut you. Complain about it being a FWD all you want, but don’t associate its competitiveness with a much more expensive BMW 3-series in the handling department with the lack of guts on the Bimmer driver’s side. The TSX can really give the BMW a good run for its money.

    Overall package: Not many TSX owners had a hard-time choosing this car over the others they test-drove. The TSX has no competition in the luxury-sedans under $30K class.

    Honda really did their homework on this one. Two thumbs up for the excellent vehicle made available to public at a very reasonable price.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I’m doing a lot of test driving of new cars since I am in the market. I’ve come across some amazing cars, and some that should have been taken out back and left to rust. My TBAG nominations are (of what I’ve driven):

    1. Lotus Elise. Hands-down, flat out amazing. While the average performance car is well over 4,000 pounds and MB has AMG models with 600hp, 5,000 lbs of bulk, and can’t corner or avoid a steep repair bill, Lotus has kept to their promise of handling, light weight, and pure performance. For those in the know – they don’t care about the road noise, the lack of the latest gizmos, and the fact that you need to be either a horse jockey or an Eastern European gymnist to enter the car gracefully with the top up. Well, I’m none of those and (with the top removed), it’s possible for those of us 5’10″ tall and could lose a few pounds! Combine the track pack tires and shocks, the screaming paint and looks, and the reliable and shreaking Toyota engine for $45,000 (depending on paint and packages), and you have a one of a kind car.

    2. Mitsubishi Evolution (all models): I wasn’t sure I was going to include this since the new Lancer is hitting the lots now and the Evo is due around November (I think – anyone know for certain because the salesman I spoke to wasn’t sure.) One driver – three shreaking “co-pilots!” If you can live with the somewhat harsh ride and noise (see Elise above), this car is brutal. But…while the Lotus is designed as a track car with almost no comfort, the Evo is based on a humble Lancer and for $35,000, I expected more on the interior, especially if other people are riding along. The new Evo interior looks to be much improved. But for the driver who just did a quick downshift in a tunnel with the windows down and the boost up, oh yeah. My license plate should be my driver’s license number. It will save the state troopers a minute or so. I might have to shave that rear spoiler a bit so I can see the police lights!

    3. Mazda Miata (MX-5 whatever): The power hardtop has made it the best sub-30K sports car on the market. Let the GM fans flame on, but anytime you can add a power hardtop to an existing car that adds only 70 pounds, takes up no trunk space, and costs only 300 extra dollars compared to the hardtop on a cart option, you have a winner. With traction and stability control and snow tires for those who need them in the north, the PHT is now a year-round car. It still floors me that GM had a clean slate to build their roadsters and built them with no trunk and a top that gives people heartburn.

    4. In the small car arena, I went with a friend to the Honda dealer and took a Honda Fit out. The era of small economy cars being cheap feeling and boring are over. It is comfortable, smooth riding, has a very attractive interior, and is almost as large as a Civic on the inside. I wish I was sold more on hybrids, but I’d rather have friends and family take their chances on proven technology that doesn’t have hundreds of pounds of dangerous and expensive battery and motor technology.

    I’ll throw the Mazda CX-7 and the Infiniti G35 sedan into the mix. I was amazed on how Infiniti took the rather deserved criticism on the cheap and hollow interior plastics to heart and crafted a very solid and attractive cockpit.

  • avatar
    Stulgs

    I would like to nominate the Mazda 3.

    The affordable car that could.

    The economy car that falls under the corolla,focus,neon, civic category only because of its price.

    Its looks, performance, and overall value make it rise to the top of all the others, while still holding it’s composture in something that doesn’t look like a frog.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    Yet one more nomination for the venerable Crown Vic. Quite simply the car is a tank. They (and its Panther platform cousins) are the last real cars on the road. No other sedan is built so sturdy. I watched a cop I knew get rear ended by a Civic. He simply wiped off his back bumper, much like you’d wipe dog mess off your shoe, and procede to call another agency to write the offending import driver a citation. And tow the Civic, it was not drivable after the accident.
    The performance is startling for such a large, heavy automobile. And since it shares an engine with the Mustang any performance modification you can think of is available. A pistonhead’s dream…and not just for the availabilty of aftermarket tweaks. Open the hood and gaze into the cavernous engine bay…whatever you have in mind…will fit. Name a Nissan or Honda that can be said of.
    The comfort and usefulness of this car is often overlooked. Two adults and three children fit easily. The trunk swallows a week’s worth of groceries or a weekend’s worth of fishing gear without so much as a burp, with room left for emergency supplies and tools. And it does this with mid-twenties fuel mileage.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    Ford Mustang

    If Ford stayed true to the branding roots on every vehicle it produced as much as it does on the Mustang they would not be having the difficulties they are right now. Said another way—the branding is so strong that the Mustang will not go away if Ford goes under—they will just be built by another automaker other than Ford !

    Net, The Mustang is a sharp looking vehicle that provides cheap thrills—the V8 rumble cannot be beat—the V6 w/ stick will surprise most—and the handling is better than expected given the live rear axle.

    Sure the overall quality of the interior plastics need work—but the beauty of the Mustang is the huge aftermarket parts available to customize and make up for cost cutting.

    The Mustang along with the Corvette, F150, and Jeep Wrangler are American automotive icons that have stayed true to the brand and have a bright future regardless of the parent brand’s problems.

  • avatar
    Critical Thinker

    In the interest of the Everyman, I nominate the Pontiac Vibe.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Open this Flood Gate:

    Small Car: Honda Fit – The realization that a sub 15k car doesn’t have to feel like a sub $5k car nor handle or accelerate like one. Car is also to make a new generation of tuner parts makers rich. Yaris a close 2nd with sedan and 2 door hatchback body styles and lower price (but options add up).

    Sports Car $40k: Porsche 911 (C2/C4 Coupe, Targa, Cabrio, Turbo, GT3 & soon GT2) – no other car manufacturer has such a stangle hold on readers minds of what a true sports car is. Only to back it up at the racetrack. Vette a distant 2nd but gaining appreciation.

    Economy Car: Honda Civic (gas, CNG and hybrid models) – top safety and good performance and handling.

    Family Car: Honda Accord – Drive it’s FWD competitors and then compare selling them 5 years down the road and you’ll see why this car is a perennial winner of this class.

    Small SUV: Honda CR-V – sales up ~50% and stayed true to its frugal roots but added style in the process. Quite a surprise from previous bland Honda designs.

    Big / Midsize SUV: gas = $4 gallon – none

    Luxury Car $40k: Mercedes Benz CLS500 – simply one of the most gorgeous cars on the road (Maserati Quattroporte is close).

    Pickup: Silverado / Sierra twins – Good gas mileage and looks with a fisher price interior that 5 years down the road doesn’t look like it has 20 years of wear and tear. Good reliability and built GM Tough – means won’t catch on fire.

    Minivan: Honda Odyssey – quite essentially the hot rod of minivans that even makes Dad’s look cool (well only if they are parked next to other minivans or Buicks).

  • avatar

    Mazda 3 “S” 2.3 or Mazdaspeed 3,
    I know there are other good cars (BMW 335i) that cost twice as much but if we talk apples to apples, there is nothing that gives you so much fun and value at the same time.

    And the MX5, still the one to beat at such low price!

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Can you believe I would nominate the Land Cruiser/Crusher?

    What other vehicle in it’s class offers more value? What other vehicle would you bet your life on? While you can certainly get more status from other luxury SUV’s, are you certain they won’t leave you stranded with an electrical problem? Failed suspension? Bad sensor?

    Only Toyota makes the vehicle I trust to take me the places it can actually go and bring me back without rescue. They have proven to be built to last. In short, the Land Cruiser does exactly what it promises to do, and does it without hardly ever needing more than a fluid change. Wherever I go, I go with comfort and confidence.

    A second nomination would go to the 911. Here is a car that delivers performance and style only rivaled by exotic cars, but has the quality to be a daily driver. On the track or off, the driver gets what he bargained for – a true performance machine that inspires and delivers.

    I wish I was a better author, and I wish someone had something out newer that I could love. I am hoping the new wrangler proves to be the exception to the otherwise poor DCX quality.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    After reading the nominations of others, I offer the following cars.

    Groundbreaker: Audi A3

    Yeah I know it is basically a gussied-up GTI. However, unlike the other hatchbacks, this one is the first hatchback that grownups might seriously consider. In that respect, it breaks new ground in hatches, particularly for the US. For that reason, I give it the nod over the GTI and other worthy hatches like the Mazdaspeed 3.

    Reminder of what a car should be: Audi A4 2.0T

    This car reminds us that it ain’t just about the HP, or any one thing: it’s how it’s all put together. This car like most Audis that do not begin with “S” or “RS” is about balance. Not outstanding in any area except interior, but put it all together and it works.

    Groundbreaker: Subaru WRX STI Ltd Ed

    I nominate this particular model because Subaru ditched the monster spoiler on the back and did a little work on the interior. It’s the boy racer that is trying to grow up. With a price/performance ratio, this car is hard to beat. The only competition is the EVO, but it appears to want to remain a boy racer forever (Peter Pan syndrome?).

    Reminder of what cars should be: Lotus Elise

    For all the reasons previously mentioned: reminds us that cars have gotten too big and too heavy and too laden with electronic gadgets.

    Standard bearer: BMW 335

    Arguably a performance bargain at $45k in that it out performs the old M3 and gives some much more expensive performance cars a run for their money. This nomination will probably vanish with the introduction of the G37, but it ain’t here yet.

    Standard bearers: Porsche Boxster/Cayman

    These are the two cars that all others in their categories are compared to. No sign that either will fall from the gold standard anytime soon. The Boxster is the closest thing to an affordable Porsche and the Cayman is detuned so as to not stomp many variations of the 911.

    A reminder of what a car can be: Audi TT

    Arguably an overpriced GTI, but Audi should be given credit for making a larger car while, at the same time, making it some 200 lbs lighter. Secondly, a reminder that sports cars do not have to guzzle gas and can offer some level of practicality. Fold the joke back seats down and the storage area is cavernous for a sports car. You could own this sports car as your only car. Can you really say that about any other sports car??? A reminder that a sports car need not be totally impractical.

    A groundbreaker (at least for Detroit): Caddy CTS/CTS-V

    Really not a 10 best, given its competition, but one of the few signs that GM is capable of making a competitive car. The ’08 version will tell us how serious GM really is about “walking the walk” instead of its usual talk.

    Reminder of what a car should be: CX-7/RAV 4 V6

    Competent people haulers for drivers who still want to have a little fun driving. A reminder that a CUV doesn’t have to be stupidly expensive to get the job done with a little style. And yeah, I’m talking about the Cayenne, Q7, X5 and all the other “performance SUVs”.

  • avatar
    TeeKay

    WHY do people nominate cars that they have not driven, owned, or otherwise had experience with? (I’m talking about the Veyron, F430, Quattroporte, RS4 nominations.) If we merely go by reputation and the manufacturers’ brochures, then how is the TBAG different from the myriad of other 10-Best lists on other sites and in other magazines. Aren’t we more informed than they? It’s the “truth” about cars, not rumors, etc.

    That being said, here are my 2 TBAG nominations among the cars that I have lived with.

    1. BMW M3 Coupe (e46)

    This one barely makes the time-limit, as it was last produced in September 2006 or so. For $50k, it is about the best all-around car that one can buy on the market today.

    Power? Check. Unless we’re talking about supercar stats, the 333hp combined with a short gearing 6-speed and a free-revving, yet torquey, 8000-rpm will satisfy all petrolheads. And the metallic sound of the engine at its redline (especially, when heard in tunnels) is oh-so intoxicating, even if it makes crying children and women run for cover. It doesn’t win the International Engine of the Year award for 5 or 6 years running for nothing.

    Handling? Check. Afterall, it redefines and sets the handling bar for its class.

    Racing pedigree? Check. It’s one of the most well-known and well tested racing chasis (for production-based cars) this side of the 911.

    Luxury & comfort? Check. The Mitsubishi Evo may be a great track car, but would you consider giving your boss a ride in it as you two are heading out to meet a corporate client? When it comes to understated elegance, an E46 is hard to beat.

    Bling factor? Even your 12-year old nephew knows what an M3 is (and it’s not a Gillett shaver.) Afterall, the M3 badge (the actual badge, not the marque) is one of the most sought-after “mod” for the Civic crowd on eBay and at your local junk yard.

    Together, it’s a perfect car — one that I can comfortably use to drive daily to work, attack the Oakland hills and Marin twisties on the weekends, craddle me and the wife on long trips to southern California, and, a few lucky times a year, burn rubber at the turns and corkscrews of Sears Point (Infineon), Laguna Seca, and Thunderhill raceways.

    2. Mazda Miata MX-5 roadster

    This is your automotive answer to the oft-asked question of what happens when you take a simple idea and carry it out to perfection. Barred none, the Miata is about as much fun as a driver could possibly have for $20k (or much less, in case of used older models.)

    The Miata HANDLES in the twisties. Its lightweight, balanced chasis, and compliant suspension (plus a $60 4-wheel precision alignment) together make for one of the best handling car money can buy. Its steering is pointed and direct. The shifter is smooth and the clutch is light; it’s a joy to row your gears all day in this car. It truly is a driver’s car!

    Power is more than adequate with 130hp (1995-2005 models), and certainly enough with the newer 160hp engine. The revs keep on climbing when you punch the pedal, yet the power delivery is not so abrupt as to upset its balance. The brakes are great when coupled when the 2500-lb physique.

    As for the rest, one cannot complain. Top down in a lightweight roadster while spending an afternoon in Napa is hard to beat. As far as the interior goes, it is not luxurious, but it’s also not your GM-made variety. There’s enough leather and touch in there to not distract you from the driving experience. Great gas milage? Check. Cheap insurance? Check. Ease of maintenance and availability of parts? Check and check. You cannot possibly ask for more from this winning combination.

    Thoese are by 2 nominations.

  • avatar
    ToddL

    BMW 3-series: Although as an admittedly biased owner of an ’06 325i sport package, I think this is a no-brainer in 335i or 328i guide. The overall speed, handling, refinement are unmatched in the entry level sport sedan category. Do they cost more? Yes. Are they worth it? Yes.

    Mazda MX-5: Just about the most fun one can have for the money. Unbelievably communicative and with the recent redesign and power boost it’s decently quick.

    Honda Odyssey: Yeah, not a sporty drive overall but it’s so far better than every other minivan. The ergonomics are superb and the handling beats the pants off many “Sport” Utility Vehicles.

    Mazda 3/Mazdaspeed 3: Both fine cars for reasonable money, especially the Speed3. Handling is very good for a FWD car, power is linear rather than peaky, and the interiors are good.

    Chevy Corvette/Corvette Z06: Simply a stunning deal for the money that shames many cars more expensive. The refinement isn’t top notch but the handling is competent and the motor is exceptional.

    Mazda RX-8: Not a fast car unless you fry the clutch, but the car talks to you in a way that few cars do, and for only $30k it’s a steal. The back seat is even usable …

    Mazda6: (Uh, I might have a bias for Mazda as this is my fourth entry) An older platform, and needs more power, but in terms of fun to drive it beats the pants off any other FWD family sedan in its price range. The handling is neutral and the package is the right size.

    VW GTI/GLI: The 2.0T motor is a gem and the DSG is a winner … much better than BMW’s SMG. Handling is lively.

    Porsche Boxster: Not much to say here … refinement, lovely sounds, trememdous communication. Pricey, but probably worth it.

    Lotus Elise/Exige: The single-minded devotion to performance through light weight is admirable given today’s ever-bloating car waistline. The handling alone makes this one a great third car.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    Nomination: Volkswagen MK5 GTI

    I haven’t read any of the other nominations yet, to steer clear of groupthink bias (though I’m sure I’m not the first to nominate the GTI).

    This vehicle seems to be the best all-around vehicle for both hoonery and family-toting, corner-carving and grocery-getting. I test-drove it and coming from a Cooper S, I was quite impressed.

    1: The 2.0T engine – It has got to be the best combination of power and fuel economy for a gasoline ICE in the world. I mean 30+ MPG highway, 23-25 city, a torque band as wide as my @$$ (and down low where you need it…the torque, not my @$$), what’s not to love about it? Yes, it takes premium, but it’s so perfect, it only deserves the best. And let’s not forget easy tunability to release more horses from the stable.

    2: Actual interior room – There is plenty of passenger room for five people inside. I was shocked at how much room there is in the 2nd row. It’s easily a 3-person bench. As well, the trunk space is much better than I was expecting when I opened the hatch. And… it’s a hatch, giving you the room you need for your trip to IKEA/HOME DEPOT in a pinch.

    3: Performance – Although the GTI has porked up a bit, it’s still one of the best front-drive handlers on the market. Though it feels heavier on turn-in than said Cooper S, I felt like I would have to make a conscious effort to upset its balance or induce understeer.

    4: Looks – This is definitely more subjective, but I happen to think it’s one of the better looking vehicles on the market today. It looks way more interesting and purposeful than its snobby cousin, the A3, and it also has actual headroom vs. the A3.

    5: Price – I mean really, it could be cheaper, but so could everything else. 22K base is not bad considering what you get. And that is…

    A virtual sports car with good power, handling, fuel economy, looks, space and utility in an everyday driver package. I have to agree with Mr. Clarkson on this one. It really is the best of all worlds. And I am so dying to get one.

  • avatar
    stuki

    -I nominate the Honda S2000, for being a better Miata for not much more money. And for being comfortable enough to get to where You can drive it without aches and pains and lotusrhitis.

    -Porsche Boxter / S, for being in some ways even better than the S2000, and possibly ( f430? / gt3? / megaexotics? ) the best handling daily driver on the road.

    -Chevrolet Corvette, for being enough faster than the Boxter S to make it objectively even better.

    -The Tesla Roadster ( They did take deposits back when they showed it off… ), for ( despite above ) representing the best hope there is for America’s auto industry.

    -Honda Civic si sedan for being as close as it gets to an S2000 in a family sized package.

    -VW Gti ( and I assume Jetta Gli ) for combining above with the worlds best automatic.

    -Honda Fit for being only those highway and freeway trips from perfection, all while using no gas and being priced arbitrarily close to zero.

    -BMW 335i for being the best size / power / comfort / handling / reliability compromise around for normal sized people, families and missions, as well as currently getting my vote for ‘worlds best damn car’.

    -BMW 535XiT for being as close as You can get to above if Your space needs are huge, and for effortlessly dotting both i’s in ski trip.

    -Mercedes E63 sedan / wagon, because powerwheelying luxury cars are cool, with or without babyseats and strollers in the back.

    -Mercedes S class, because the latest distronic gets us one step closer to being able to sleep through bouts of bumper to bumper traffic.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    Add me to the list nominating the Mazda MX-5.

    It deserve the TBAG (Tea-Bag?) simply for its diminutive mass alone. All other cars look fat and overweight by comparison, except maybe the Lotus Elise. Why do the comparable Solstice/Sky twins weight houndreds of pounds more?

    Combine this with the car’s absolute brilliant packaging, simplistic roof, and quick reflexes, you are constantly reminded that this car is determined to entertain you.

    Also allow me to add to the chorus nominating the Jeep Wrangler… No other motor vehicle has bigger balls… None. Any other “sport-ute” is just a poseur compared to it. Land Rovers and Hummers have gotten soft around the middle while the Jeep continues its feral lifestyle of eating live rabbits and marking its territory like a wolf.

    As far as the “every” car is concerned. I vote the Subaru Outback XT. Fast enough for proper hoonage, rugged enough to make most crossovers and SUVs obselete, and plush enough to nap in.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I migth just toss in the Ariel Atom. Just for the market segment that firmly believes that getting hornets and chunks of gravel in the face are worth a five pound weight savings.

  • avatar
    enbeem

    I believe good design wears its inspiration well, but great design makes me ask myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
    With that in mind, I too would like to nominate the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited on the merit of great design.

    Even the $20,000 base model is a topless four-door. In a segment crowded with station wagons that insist on being called “crossovers,” the Jeep’s clear sense of purpose ought to put the truck on the TBAG list.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    I nominate the Honda Accord as it is perhaps the best all around family sedan on the US market today. Recently I test drove the 2007 Camry and the Accord back to back. Even in it’s final year of the generation against an all new Camry the Accord is by far the better driving car with the more comfortable and inviting interior. Honda also gets credit for keeping the options game relatively simple and for pricing even it’s highest equipment levels very agressively. A fully loaded V-6 Accord with leather holds it’s head high against many so called near luxury vehicles while still selling for around $25k loaded. It remains the benchmark all around sedan. Resale values are excellent because new or used the Accord is a desireable car. Those who lump the Toyota and Honda offerings together as the Camcord most likely haven’t driven both.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Can’t afford exotics like Veyron’s or Enzo’s, don’t like trucks/SUV’s/CUV’s or minivans, have no time for polluting, unreliable gasguzzlers. So I nominate the humble Corolla!

    Why? The best selling car of all time, affordable, economical, very low emissions and super reliable. It’s a forgiving if unremarkable vehicle that does the A to B trick very well. Many, many people all over the world learned to drive in one. (They are used a lot by driving schools). Everyone on this planet knows what a Corolla is. Now don’t laugh!

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    The Mazda5, maximum seats in minimum footprint and fun to drive. The mini-MPV segment is underserved in the US and deserves to grow. When the $$ align we are seriously looking at one because it can haul the nuclear family and one set of grandparents, or the family and lots of stuff. Also, just to be weird, I nominate the Sprinter van as the ideal self-propelled box.

  • avatar
    creamy

    Subaru Outback 2.5i Basic – Priced competitively with other vehicles in its class with more options included in the base price and one of the best AWD systems out there to boot.

  • avatar
    kericf

    I nominate the Jeep Wrangler. No other vehicle, other than the Land Rover Defender, can do what the Jeep can do stock out of the showroom. Add to that improved pavement ride and slight fuel economy increase (at the expense of the bulletproof but ancient Inline 6) and you have a solid vehicle that is an American icon. There are those vehicles that anyone, even people that know nothing about cars, can identify and know that it is special for some reason or another. The Jeep Wrangler is one of these increasing rarities.

    The new improved modular hardtop is genius and makes you wonder why it took them this long to come up with it. It also manages to dampen a lot of the road noise associated with the Wranglers of the past. Even the soft-top appears to be slightly new and tighter-fitting, cutting down on the normal flapping familiar to most Jeep drivers. And POWER WINDOWS AND LOCKS! Are you kidding??? This can’t be a wrangler, it’s almost blasphemy. Until you realize you can still take the doors off. No other vehicle stands out as the quintessential example of what its market segment was meant to be (except maybe the MX-5).

    Now that it comes in a more mainstream 4-door model, this Wrangler is going to be a crucial turning point for the Jeep, but it looks like a good one. Add in the fact that the Wrangler is carrying the American side of Daimler Chrysler and you have a worthy addition to the stable of TBAG awarded vehicles.

  • avatar
    jabdalmalik

    The Volkswagen Rabbit, for being the best compact on the market during a time when compacts are becoming increasingly mainstream. With cuddly charm and a pleasantly retro nameplate, combined with high build quality, a reasonable pricepoint and an expansive options list, this could be the car to revive VW of America’s flagging image – and put Honda and Mazda on guard, finally.

    The Volvo S40/V50, for making Volvo cool (again?).

    The Toyota Tundra, for spelling the end of the last bastion of Big 2.5 dominance. Even if Toyota doesn’t match its (over-)lofty goals, it’ll put a massive hurt on Big 2.5 revenues.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Let’s see

    1. Mazda MX-5 Miata – the best fun you can have with your pant on.
    2. Mazda 3 – Has driving dynamics that Toyota can only dream of.
    3. Honda Fit – Best small car ever.
    4. Chevy Corvette – best value near-supercar on the planet.
    5. BMW 335(c)i – one of the best driving cars ever built.

  • avatar

    Do you guys even know how great this is, that 122 people have commented and stayed on topic, and haven’t abused each other for their opinions? How cool and [unfortunately] rare.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    I own one so I’ll own up to the fact that I lack objectivity, but Mazda 3 2.3 S hatchback. Even several years into the current iteration, it still beats the pants off of any other competitor in its class for overall value, practicality and fun-to-drive factor.

    I stepped out of a GTI and into a Mazda 3 after a 20 minute test drive where I tried like hell to throw this car off its game. Wouldn’t happen. Thank goodness there’s a car company like Mazda out there that keeps the bean counters in check with a healthy dose of zoom zoom. Now all I need to do is trade-in for a Speed 3…

  • avatar
    jmilanese

    Boxster/Boxster S
    Short money gets you near supercar performance that you can drive every day. And the top goes down. And it gets good gas mileage. And it’s comfortable. And the engine sings. And if, you ever forget what fun to drive is, just fire that puppy up, drop the top, turn off the radio and take it for a spin.

    RAV4 V6
    Does everything more expensive trucks do, only faster. Built like a bank vault, gets great gas mileage for a sub seven second car, and holds its value. And isn’t luxury truck an oxymoron? Or is that who buys them?

  • avatar
    Ryan

    Rashakor, R.F. never said the vehicles had to be all new, just offered for sale as a new vehicle.

    oboylepr, tell us why the Corolla is more deserving than the more engaging duo of the Civic and Fit, and you may just have my vote (hell, I admit I started out on a Corolla).

    As for my votes, I nominate the Jeep Wrangler, the Corvette, and thethe Lotus Elise, because of how pure they are, how the three are clearly designed to a specific goal, not just to fill a void in the market. And I also nominate the Subaru Legacy GT wagon (on the basis that the Canadian site is right, and it’s still available with a manual transmission), because if I had to drive a family car for some reason, I’d be hard-pressed to drive anything else.

    Just one last thing – when all these nominations are rounded up, it’d be interesing to see how many cars were nominated for both TWATs and TBAGs

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    oboylepr, tell us why the Corolla is more deserving than the more engaging duo of the Civic and Fit, and you may just have my vote (hell, I admit I started out on a Corolla).

    Well Ryan it may not be more deserving. The 2 cars you mentioned are absolutely outstanding. I have a soft spot for the Corolla because you can rely on it and no matter where in the world you go, they’re everywhere! (just like the Civic). Besides both the Civic & Fit have been nominated several times (and rightly so)!

  • avatar
    maxspivak

    BMW 3-Series (335i, 328i, esp. w/sport package) – the original sports sedans is still the one to beat. Sporting Drivers get a car that can hoon on interstate and the twisties. (I still enjoy the exhaust note on my 85K miles E46 330 sport). It will hold its own and won’t embarrass you on the track (with an auto, just shift into sport mode). If you listen to what it tells you, this car will make you a better driver. The 3-Series cleans up real good too. The badge snobs get a ‘luxury marque’. You’ll arrive in sufficient style to any upscale establishment. It will carry your spouse, progeny and stuff in ample comfort. For $35K – $45K, why buy anything else? (For a bit less, buy a used E46 model and enjoy.)

    Aston Martin DB9 – I’ll pick it over the Ferraris and Lambos. The DB9 *oozes* presence.

    Porsche Boxster (S) / Cayman (S) – Fantastic performance. Not unreachable price. You can own one without having a midlife crisis. Most important — I want one! :)

    Jeep Grand Cherokee – Wrangler’s big brother. Snow, mud, rocks — it’s still Rubicon Trail-rated. It will tow and haul. If you need its performance, Jeep is still the one. If you don’t understand the attraction, it’s not for you.

  • avatar
    adrift

    Everyone is making it sound like the Wrangler is the only off-road capable vehicle. The Cayenne S won the Transsyberia rallye last year, placing first and second in its class. Run by private owners (no company team). So it may be MUCH more expensive, but it is the ultimate combo of off-road capability un-naturally married to sports car performance. I am not nominating it for a TBAG, but it is noteworthy nonetheless.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    After reading quite a few of these, I can see why TTAC is considered one of (if not the-) best auto site on the Internet. What do I base that on?
    The near universal love of affordable (or semi-affordable) driver’s cars. I am floored in a good way that so many have nominated the Elise. I know others that take one look at the mail slot door opening, the aluminum interior, and all of the scoops and vents and think it is just a car (as one person told me) that shouldn’t exist. Of course, they drive a huge SUV that is sucking over 100 bucks of gas a week… I get the feeling that if any of the automakers read TTAC (and I have a feeling more than a few upper level managers do), they will see the love of the Elise, S2000, and MX-5 and determine there is actually a market for a lightweight roadster/sports car without all of the electronic nannys that have bled 99% of the feel and fun out of certain BMWs and MB cars. (Active steering? Radar suspension? How about make it right the first time and leave it alone! Cooled massage seats with 18 different ways of adjusting? iDrive/COMAND/MMI/drive into the ditch system?)

    Another reason why TTAC readers and posters are a step above than some of the mouth-breathers that get all giddy when their pointless letter is published with a snappy remark from [Ed] is that I have noticed that NO ONE has nominated the
    ***this is NOT a nomination unless TWAT voting has started***
    Chrysler 300 (all models)
    Isn’t it telling that the auto rags darling just 18 months ago is now collecting dust on the lots or runways or ports or any available field where they dump the sales bank cars? I know the rags just drool when they hear the first part of the word “Hemi” but there’s more to a total package than a pushrod engine that gets horrific mileage even with the bad joke of a deactivation system. Add to the mix the high curb weight, Lego-quality interior, wallowing suspension, and, well, some of us like to be able to SEE OUT of the car and pay a toll without turning the money into a paper airplane and hope for the best. It just seems the 300 has turned into a car to customize with huge wheels that will be worth more than the 300 in four years.

    I had a 300C rental through Hertz not that long ago. They had one on the lot, I had over a 1200 mile road trip staring at me in the face and I thought, why not? Of course, a car I’ve rented before, a Volvo S80 with the amazing bucket seats was next to it and guess which one I should have taken? Yup, the Volvo. There was the highway mileage that didn’t break 18 mpg and that was with the cruise control set at 73, there were rattles and terrible seats, and a lot of road noise. Buttons and switches were loose and this thing had only 5,000 miles on it. If this is the best they can do, best of luck when Mercedes kicks you to the curb.

    There is such a broad spectrum of cars and ideas here and almost all of them are driver’s cars and cars that will last a lot longer than the last payment is sent in. I wish the rags were as open for this kind of input.

    (I swear, if Ford shows that Mustang Pony (we have no competition) commercial one more time, I’m going to a Ford dealer with the intention…well…fill in the blanks but the patience level is gone with the stupid car commercials and I’m looking at you Toyota!]

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    BMW 3 Series – No explanation necessary.
    Audi S4 Cabrio – An amazing combination of style, AWD traction, power and sun that no one else can match at $60k. The only other car that can top this is a Bentley, which cost several times more.
    300C SRT8 – It’s just so badass, there is no argument. One of the few “good” Chryslers amongst the current generation of design-challenged automotive duds.
    Jeep Wrangler – Just a competent vehicle that doesn’t attempt to be everything to everyone. It manages to stay true to its original intent, but in a modern way. And it does so without being contrived or cartoonish like that insipid Toyota offroader.
    Lexus LS – Not because it’s good at anything but being generic luxury. But because it has caused all other luxury brands to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant.
    The Panther Platform cars – Obviously not a driver’s car, but has proven to be exceedingly good for what it needs to be. Durable, body-on-frame, easy to repair, rear wheel drive, safe, and cheap to purchase and maintain. It is unlikely that Ford or anyone will ever again commit to the development of a new car with this architecture because of its municipal, commercial, non-consumer suitability. While I appreciate the venerable Panther cars, I do with they’d give them decent interior accommodations that weren’t so third-world.
    Aston Martin V8 Vantage – Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. Honestly, before this beauty was introduced, all of the teardrop shaped Astons just seemed like bloated boulevard cruisers. The V8 Vantage is the right size, the right proportion and the right engine. Too bad the brand is just a hot potato right now.
    The Corvette – Nuff said.
    Mazda 3 – The only car under $20k that doesn’t look, feel or drive like they cut corners in development.
    CTS-V – The only domestic sedan that can run in the same circles as the M3 and S4… and with the added bonus of a real back seat.

    Porsche Cayman – A better 911 than a 911.
    Ford Fusion / Saturn Aura (tie) – These sedans are both visually much more appealing and stylish compared to the competition. The driving dynamics have proven to be a clear match, if not always clear winners, when compared to the Camry/Honda vanillamobiles.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    NickR:

    The Ariel Atom is indeed an aesthetic and performance wonder. It’s not street legal in the USA, though – would that disqualify it from TBAG?

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    The Lexus LS defines luxury from the buying experience, stately exterior, cositing interior (front or rear), electronics that work (Merc?) and are relevant to operating a car (BMW i-Drive) like they’re supposed to, smooth, effortless to drive and reliable. If it does need service(unlike Audi), it doesn’t take 6 months to get the part(BMW).

  • avatar
    G Lime

    Jeep Wrangler: it has stayed true to its origins, and is the only serious off roader available in the US, I’m still driving a heavily modified 91 YJ

    Toyota Tacoma: makes every other light truck seem superfluous

    Mustang: the only true muscle car available today, I have a GT, simply amazing bang for buck here

  • avatar
    beater

    I nominate the Scion xB.

    Rationale:

    Efficient, great MPG.
    Affordable.
    Very useful in the city, easy to park in small spaces.
    Roomy interior, a very capable thing-hauler.
    High roofline for taller drivers and tall cargo.
    Stylish, cool and highly modifiable.
    Toyota reliability and resale value.

    I’d love to see other manufacturers do their riff on this type of design, but for now, the xB is the one to beat.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Prius: Excellent design, remarkable efficiency, and it offers everything that 95+% of car buyer’s actually need.

    Honda S2000: Excellent design, remarkable efficiency, and it offers everything that 95+% of sports car buyer’s actually want.

    Mazda MX-5: Excellent design, remarkable efficiency, and it offers everything that 95+% of convertible buyer’s actually desire.

    Honda Accord: The only mainstream sedan of modern times to actually end it’s model run at the head of the pack.

    Ford Fusion: This sedan has put Ford back in the hunt and with a bit better styling, it may compete head-on with the Accord and Camry for best selling honors.

    Honda Fit: Best small car in the market

    Toyota Corolla: Yes, I know this is a shocker from a sports car enthusiast. However I do have to tip my hat to a model that represent the pinnacle of reliability, fuel efficiency, design efficiency, and just plain common sense. As a commuting device the Corolla simply makes more sense than any other compact car.

    Mazda 3: This is the car that eclipsed the Corolla in virtually every measure other than fuel efficiency. If this had been sold as the Focus instead Ford would be the only one of the big three to offer two class leading vehicles in the marketplace.

    Suzuki SX4: If Suzuki wishes to finally find a foundation in the American market this model represents their only real chance. AWD, a solid powertrain and an intelligent utilitarian design for right around 15k.

    Scion Xb: In my opinion this car (note I said car) represents what SUV’s should eventually become in the US market. Compact but with plenty of room. A fuel efficient car chassis (34 mpg)… and the ability to last 20 years without having to take out a loan for the long-term repairs and costs. Yes, I know that it’s a car…. but that’s the point. In time this formula will become the new standard for what will undoubtedly become a sportier and tougher looking vehicle.

  • avatar
    Point Given

    I would nominate the following:

    MazdaSpeed3 – Nice simple classic styling, practicality of a hatchback, and Zoom Zoom Baby. Nice Power in a very understated “sleeper” shell.

    Nissan Altima 3.5SE – Has Nissans wonderful v6 engine that has plenty of hop when you want it. Nicely refined interior, something vaguely BMWish about the side profile. An attractive well built car. (I suppose the same would go for the Infiniti G35x but a touch pricey vs even the Maxima never mind Altima)

    Props go to The Volvo C30 for being an exciting product, although I have yet to check it out fully. Exterior design props to Dodge for the Charger R/T daytona and a big whack upside the head for it’s lousy build quality, massive depreciation (6500 rebate here in Alberta) and flat ass ugly interior.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    starlightmica:

    Actually, I believe that the Ariel Atom is street legal in at least two states, California and Oregon (where it is assembled in the US). I didn’t include it in my nominations though,because I feel it is a completely impractical and totally wild track car that I have no chance of ever owning as long as I am married :-).

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    I hate to ask this, but of those who have praised the Mazdaspeed3, how many have actually driven one? Some friends of mine claim it’s got one of the biggest “on paper potential” and “real life fun” discrepancies of anything on sale in the U.S. today, but not having driven an MS3, I’m not in a place to judge if that statement is true.

  • avatar
    durailer

    Mazda MX5 – cheap and cheerful, buy it as a toy but keep it for its reliability and surprising practicality; never a bore to drive.

    BMW 328 – great on the track, in the city, and the on open road. Kudos to the Bavarians for sticking with RWD and inline sixes. Great value for your money.

    BMW 335 coupe – for all the above reasons (except the value for your money part) and better looking to boot.

    Lotus Elise/Exige – aside from its uncompromised sporting credentials, if all manufacturers adopted Lotus’ commitment to design innovation and weight-saving technologies, we wouldn’t need CAFE and its loopholes.

    Toyota Prius – high technology made accessible to the masses -and Toyota is applauded for its eco-friendliness.

    Audi RS4 – haven’t driven one, but I can’t ignore Jonny’s rave review -one of TTAC’s most memorable. Clarkson was sold once he got behind the wheel too.

    Saturn Aura – first time I saw one, for a few seconds, I was fooled into thinking it was an Audi. It’s GM’s singular bright star in the four door department.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
    The only off-road vehicle you will ever need. Every other car on the market is for poseurs only.

    Range Rover
    The only Luxury-SUV you will ever need. And if you are only going to buy one vehicle in your life, this car will fulfill any need you might have. It is capable of anything. And I mean ANYTHING.

    Chrysler 300
    Arguably the best looking sedan out there. If you are going to by a sedan, this is it. This is already a classic, and it will never age. This car and the Europe-only wagon has street-prescense not matched by antyhing less than a Rolls.

    Rolls-Royce Phantom
    Speaking of which, Maybachs and Bentleys are for suckers. Nothing states “money” like a gargantuan Roller…

    Ford Flex
    A new and interesting take on the venerable people-hauler. If I were on the market for one, this is what I would buy. But loose the name, please. Fairlane is neater. Perhaps this one is disqualified because it’s not on the market yet? I will nominate it anyway, because it is such a fresh idea.

    Mercedes CLS
    The best looking vehcile you will never have a need for. Like I read in a review of an Aston Martin once: “owning and driving the car was comparable in expense to keeping two mistresses and, many would say, more pleasurable.” If I had a couple of girls on the side, this is the car I would buy driving to and from.

    Aston Martin V8 Vantage
    Speaking of Astons, this car is more sensuous than many women I have met. I want one. I need one. I WILL have one. Some day, some how. Porsche 911 is perhaps the most perfect sports car ever made, but sports cars are not bought with the brains, but with the heart. This car speaks to your heart like nothing else. It is right on the spot.

    Ford Crown Victoria
    For sheer persistence, this one will get a nod from me. I am not american, and I haven’t been to the USA. But if I went there, I would buy one just to feel as american as possible. This is truly the last “real” american car out there. This and the Town Car should be put up in the MOMA or the Smithsonian as examples of true heroes of american industrialism. Its roots trades back to the great Ford T.

    Mini Cooper
    The only car smaller than a 3-series worth mentioning. If you are byuing a small car, why buy anything less than the best?

    Toyota Prius
    The “right” vehicle for the “right” people. I now I am being populistic now, but the Prius talk post-millenia like nothing else. This is the car that people will talk about in twenty or thirty or forty years, remembering the thought of an idea that revolutionized the car industry and consumerism. It wasn’t best, it wasn’t first. But it is the car that made the impact.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    I nominate the VW Jetta GLI. The GTI’s better looking, more practical cousin. It’s quick (200bhp/207 lb-ft with your choice of short-throw 6 speed, or 6 speed DSG magic box), It’s stylish (well, once you put good wheels on it and get rid of the 4×4 ride height, it is VERY good looking), it’s safe (Jetta is one of the cheapest cars to insure because of it’s safety ratings), It’s classy (look at that interior! and the leather seats in Package 2! Mmmph.) and it’s more affordable than the less desirable Acura TSX, long a benchmark in the small sports sedan category. If i had the dinero it’d be my daily driver. Since i don’t, i have a base Jetta (2.5) which i still enjoy (even though i’m aware of it’s accelerative shortcomings.)

    I also nominate the Mazdaspeed3. It’s the whole package for the modern boy-racer. Tons of power, sporty looks, big brakes, six speed, huggy sport seats, 5 doors for usefulness, all starting around 23k. It can’t be beaten, even with a stick.

    The Lotus Elise must be nominated for it’s unwavering devotion to a single purpose – providing the driver with the best experience on the road. Carpets aren’t necessary for handling and acceleration; ditch them. These cars are just amazing – and they’re very environmentally conscious, with low emissions AND great gas mileage.

    After having driven a new (Turbo) Mini Cooper S, i must nominate it for being a sheer riot to drive. There are things i just don’t like about the car (actually quite a few) but i think there aren’t much more fun cars this side of an Elise. It’s just hilarious – the acceleration, the handling, especially the brakes. A great drive even if it’s a little “metropolitan fussy hairdresser” in some of it’s details.

  • avatar
    Mook

    AKILEZ:
    I would like to nominate the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer ES. Greatest Mitsu sedan ever built.

    I gotta disagree completely. I test drove one of these the other day with a manual and found it to be extremely lame. There is no power; the only car in the class that I drove which was slower was the Civic. There isn’t anything that is special or particularly nice about it except for the sound system. It’s just bland and ugly. The steering wheel is too thick and doesn’t feel right, the shifter is a bit too far away, the side mirrors are weird, yadda yadda. To be fair though, the whole class bleeds mediocrity, except for the Mazda 3, which was above average. But I couldn’t find anything that made me want to pay 17-19k to replace my 01 Corolla.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    I would get seduced and cash -stripped by infiniti m45, acura legend, or any lexus sedan today.why? because they represent the unprecedented balance between price ,quality ,gadgetry, reliability and driving pleasure.( sure bimmers drive better, audis have better finish interiors, but none of them offer that staggering, mind blowing feel of aesthetic comleteness ). what do you think?

  • avatar
    HawaiiJim

    Not too wide and not too tall,
    Its versatility stuns us all.
    All-wheel drive for a stormy day,
    Easy loading is its way.
    Entry needs no leaps or bends
    Through curvy roads it easily wends.
    Gorgeous, No, babe-magnet, Not…
    But super visibility makes it hot.
    Common sense makes one thing clear
    I nominate Forester with no fear!

  • avatar
    niky

    Corolla’s a no. It doesn’t bring anything new to the game. Sure, it’s super-competent, good engines, good fuel economy, good ergonomics, good reliability, decent handling. But you could say the same thing about half-a-dozen other cars in the category nowadays. The game has moved on, the Corolla should, too.

    My short-list:

    Audi TT: Sure, it’s a Golf in drag. But those legs!

    BMW 335d: BMW’s best-looking car, currently, with BMW’s most promising engine.

    Ford Edge: Until they figure out how to market sedans successfully, this is their brightest hope for staying alive.

    Honda Fit: Much more deserving than the Civic. While the Civic goes the extra step no one wants, with its five-foot long dash (it feels that way, honestly), horrible lumbar torture device and excessively raked windscreens (fore and aft), the Fit is just what a small car should be. Fun, frugal, fractical… errh… practical. While it does have its flaws, it’s got something for everyone. That huge cargo space for mom n’ pop, the cute looks for lil’ sis, and the mad thrashability for big brother.

    Kia Rio: It’ll never make the list, but if you need a benchmark of where Korea is at now, you’ve just got to compare this to the old one. It’s just like driving a Japanese compact! Granted, a five-year old Japanese compact, but still…

    Mazda MX-5: Some may argue on whether it’s better or not than the old one, but the important point is that it still exists.

    Mazda 3 S: A style revolution for the compact class, but there’s so much more going on underneath that skin. Pound for pound, it’s still a better car than 99% of the compacts out there, and it gives the new Civic a really good run for its money.

    Toyota Prius: I hate this car. Really. No… I actually hate what it stands for. Posturing, self-involved, holier-than-thou “environmentalists” who can’t see the irony in buying an expensive car just to make a point. (Hint: the answer is bicycles). But the car itself… that revolutionary drivetrain, the silent running, the relatively comfortable interior… driving the Prius may not be motor-head nirvana, but there’s something absurdly cool and challenging about driving smoothly enough not to start the gasoline engine. It’s actually quite a bit of fun, if you ever give it a chance.

    EDIT: And two more:

    Ford Focus Mark II: I know you don’t get them there, but heck, it’s worth a shot. Though they’re a bit small in the back seat and under-tired, the new Focii are the epitome of European compact goodness. Terrific sound insulation, controlled suspension, great handling and good features for the money. They’re like cheap front-wheel drive Beemers for the masses. They’re still not up there in terms of interior material quality, but you’re getting so much for your money, who’s complaining?

    Honda Accord: It’s still the benchmark, and rightfully so. Everything is exactly the way it should be… the seats, the steering, the suspension. It strikes the right balance between “sporty” and “comfortable” well enough for nearly everybody, and I hope to God Honda doesn’t ruin it when they bring out the next one.

  • avatar
    Matthew Sullivan

    I nominate the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

    Yes, I own one. I bought mine pre-owned in 2004. I was 38-years-old and it was my first fast car. (I drove a 3-cylinder Geo Metro from age 23 through age 32.)

    I bought my Evo because it was affordable. If you need a reason for the nomination: the Evo is an affordable, practical, reliable vehicle with near supercar performance.

    But it’s more. The first time I sat in one and experienced the near-perfect ergonomics (“near” because of the gauges), I knew it was something special. The car looked ridiculous on the outside, but inside it was all about the driver.

    At first I had no idea what I was getting. But I soon found out. A friend I met at my 3rd Track Day – 5 months after buying the car – had access to lots of cool cars. Through him I got seat time in some of the greats in all prices ranges: Vette, Viper, M3, M5 (the new one), Boxster, S4, Mini Cooper JCW, Miata, Golf GTI, Civic Si, Euro Focus ST, etc. (The only heavy hitters I feel are missing from my “driven” list are the 911 and the Elise.) Each time I hopped out of one of the world’s legendary driver’s cars and back into my Evo I was amazed at how well the Evo held up by comparison.

    Eventually I came to realize that the Evo was my “price is no object” car.

    I’m not nominating the Evo simply because I own one. I’m nominating the Evo because it deserves a nomination.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    Wish I could bring some new nominations to the table but looks like everyone has pretty much covered everything.

    A few things I’ve got to add though:

    I have to agree with what Berkowitz brought up 90 posts ago: the nominations for the Mazdaspeed3 is undeserved once you’ve actually driven it. The on paper potential is huge, but other than the speed I’m not sure it’s really that much better than a basic Mazda3s. Of course, I haven’t taken it to the track and maybe that’s where it all pays off but there is a discrepancy between on-paper and real-world fun.

    That being said, the Mazda3 gets my nomination for being the only true economy car that offers a respectable fun quotient. It’s reasonably priced, handles well, and has no real dynamic flaws.

    I also second the nominations for the Corolla. This seems to be the only car that’s drawing any major dissent, basically the argument is “what does this bring to the table?” I’ve driven all the major economy cars around and I can say that the Corolla is still the best for basic transportation. It’s the roomiest, quietest, and most comfortable in the it’s class despite an aging design. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s the only economy compact car that wouldn’t be punishing on drives over 3 hours.

    The 4 cylinder Accord’s really should win this thing. It’s really the most perfectly designed car around. Those who doubt it’s ability to appeal to enthusiasts only need drive one.

    Additionally, the Acura TL is also a spot on nomination. Like the previous poster said, its FWD but the combination of speed, handling, dynamics, interior quality (even the nav system is top notch), and gadgetry trumps the other cars in it’s very competitive segment of entry luxury vehicles.

    The 3series of course, remains a consistently viable nomination. It’s more expensive than the TL, G35, and A4, (comparably equipped) but it’s an arguably superior car to all of them.

    Lastly, I haven’t driven many of the high-end nominations of this list so I won’t comment on those, but I have to disagree on the Porsche Cayman. Sure, it’s a gorgeous, fast, beautiful car and I certainly wouldn’t “kick it out of bed’ as the expression goes. But at that price what does it offer that is so utterly compelling to deserve a top 10 nomination? It’s not any better than a standard Boxster in my estimation, but you lose the open-air fun and add expense. I’d say there’s better choices out there.

  • avatar
    mrcknievel

    Honda Fit

    The only “penalty box” that will give you a chance to silence the snickering if you can get the heckler to hop inside. The amount of space in this cracker-jack box makes you wonder if Honda has Michio Kaku on the payroll engineering holes in the space time continuum disguised as Fit doors.

    Mazda MX-5

    It’s a toy in all of the good senses of the word. The price takes the “guilt” out of guilty pleasure. Proletarian Pistonhead goodness.

    Mercedes E320 Bluetec

    This is where eco-friendly luxury should be headed. Snob appeal that extends from lunch at the Country Club to dinner with the Sierra Club.

    Porsche Cayman/Cayman S

    Give it more horsepower and the 911 will be reduced to mumbling “Etu Brute?”

    MazdaSpeed 3 –

    The little car that could. In a country that still hasn’t made peace with hatchbacks, the bright red Speed3 makes it hard to ignore what you’re missing.

    BMW 335i

    Best of the benchmark. The 3 series remains the car to beat in it’s segment and the 335 continues to fend off competition from Germany and Japan by doing something better than any competitor.

    Corvette Z06

    The beautiful brute that inspires many a qualifying remark from exotic supercar fans the world over to justify the time they’ve spent looking at it’s tail lights from their over-priced
    bucket seats.

    “Yes it’s faster than my car..but the seats aren’t handstitched Tibetan yak-leather with baby seal inserts like my Italiogini 745 GT7!”

    Honda Accord-

    No, I don’t want one. Yes, I should probably get one. It’s decent in everyway imaginable and good in many ways that you’d never want to admit. At a time when Toyota is making Camrys that look a lot like Godzilla’s head from the wrong angle, the Accord continues to be a Japanese sedan in all the right ways.

    And of course:

    The Jeep Wrangler-

    I really want a diesel Jeep. Honestly, this thing is as indestructible as a cockroach and speed has never been it’s strong point so a diesel just makes sense. When I have dreams about roaming Mad Max style landscapes my chariot is a diesel Jeep. I gotta lay off the vodka and cold pizza before bed…

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    So many cars, so little time! The only way I can possible approach this task is, when I am driving, sometimes I imagine the perfect car to be in RIGHT NOW.

    Am I on a twisty road on a beautiful day? Then a Miata, of course. Or a Boxter.

    Am I on a long haul on a boring highway? Then a Grand Marquis or a Mercedes Bluetech.

    Am I going to dinner and need a cool ride to impress the 19 year old valets? Then a Mustang GT convertible.

    Having dinner with the Intelligencia? Then a Mini Cooper.

    Never need to carry anything, and want to look cool? My nomination for the Heartbreaker of the Year is the Pontiac Solstice. The perfect trophy wife. Petulant, gorgeous, useless. Eye candy in the extreme.

    One car to do it all? A VW GTI. The best of the breed, I think. Smart, goodlookin, a little naughty. Perfect.

  • avatar
    BigChiefMuffin

    BMW 335i Touring ( or even better, the diesel 335d but don’t think you can get that Stateside ).

    If you could only have 1 car which can carry the family and their junk in comfort for long journeys ( when needed ) but can also entertain ( when needed ), is reasonably reliable, can tour at over 30mpg and is not ludicrously expensive, then this is the only car I can think of which fits the bill.

    The best all round car in the world.

  • avatar
    gogogodzilla

    I don’t find the Acura TSX all that good of a car. It’s suspension is kinda mushy, there was not much ‘oomph’ off the line, only had a 5-speed transmission, and the interior was kinda cheap when I compared it to the VW GLI.

    And it cost more than the GLI to boot… and tried to gip me out of some back-seat air conditioning vents at the same time.

    All in all, it kinda came across the same way US cars… a day late and a dollar short.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A quick aside…

    Although it’s nice to focus on the excitement side of the equation, you have to keep in mind that most buyers are simply looking for a reliable, comfortable and fuel efficient vehicle.

    The Toyota Corolla and Honda Accord, in my opinion, are the two best fits for those seeking these attributes in a compact or midsized car.

    A few other things.

    There are some model types that are being ignored altogether. SUV’s, minivans, and large luxury cars are in very short supply in these lists. I think that’s actually a good thing and is reflective of the fact that more Americans in general (especially the under 35 crowd) are going towards more compact and fun to drive vehicles.

    It would be fun to consider 10 vehicles that Americans would love to have on their shores. ‘The Ten Best Cars Needed In The USA’ would be one idea that I wouldn’t mind seeing in the next few months.

    Thanks again for all the good work and keeping my workday a bit more interesting than usual.

  • avatar
    Cowbell

    I’m adding my support to the Mustang. I was originally going to just say the GT model, but even the V6 isn’t a bad car. I was very surprised to learn that the V6 mustang is the fastest 0-60 car under $20,000.

    While, the engine of the GT is great, what makes the Mustang truly great transcends Horsepower numbers or quarter-mile times. All I can do is describe my experience with my car: I love the small thrill when you feel the power during acceleration, anticipating the song of the engine right before you turn the key, relaxing with the top down on a lazy drive during the summer, admiring the look of the car from as I walk up to it. I just think I have a connection with the Mustang, and I think a lot of people do. Isn’t that the goal of any car; for it to make you happy? That’s where the Mustang excels.

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    niky:
    Honda Accord: It’s still the benchmark, and rightfully so. Everything is exactly the way it should be… the seats, the steering, the suspension. It strikes the right balance between “sporty” and “comfortable” well enough for nearly everybody, and I hope to God Honda doesn’t ruin it when they bring out the next one.

    The next Accord will have their new Advanced VTEC, which adds variable valve lift, and they claim another 13% improvement in fuel economy for their 2.3L 4-cyl. In 2009 it should also pick up their (50-state legal) 2.2L CDTi diesel engine which is renowned as one of the finest diesels in Europe.

    I really doubt they’re going to ruin it :)

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Justin Berkowitz:
    May 8th, 2007 at 12:52 am
    I hate to ask this, but of those who have praised the Mazdaspeed3, how many have actually driven one? Some friends of mine claim it’s got one of the biggest “on paper potential” and “real life fun” discrepancies of anything on sale in the U.S. today, but not having driven an MS3, I’m not in a place to judge if that statement is true.

    I’ve driven and ridden in one as part of a test drive with my wife. We didn’t get to try it on any twisty roads, but the fit feel, braking and acceleration are all great for the price. If it handles the twists and turns like a regular Mazda3-and why wouldn’t it-then it has the full package that a Dr. Responsible and Mr. Hoonery driver wants.

  • avatar
    nino

    I nominate the Ferrari F430 Spider. Does the nomination need any further justification?

    If you factor in the buying experience for this car, I’d nominate this car as one of the WORST cars out there.

    First off, unless you’ve owned Ferraris in the past and are a customer in good standing, you CANNOT buy a new F430. You will be allowed to buy a used Ferrari at up to $120,000 over the sticker price of a new one.

    Even at that, you need to limit the mileage that you put on the car as the offer at trade-in (remember, you want to be able to buy a new one) will be sustantially LESS than what you paid if the mileage is deemed excessive. And we won’t even mention the insurance and maintenance costs that must be dealer provided or else it might void your warranty (remember, getting on the list, customer in good standing, etc.).

    The final cruelty is having such a spectacular driving machine being relegated to being a garage queen to be driven only occasionaly.

    I speak from the experience of a friend.

  • avatar
    adrift

    re: mazdaspeed3

    I have ridden in a friends and loved it. It was very fast, tight, looks great, and looked well constructed and not at all cheap on the interior. I was very impressed. He has taken it to a track, and despite having a mazdaspeed miata before, he still loved the MS3.

    re: Ferrari buying experience

    I have heard even better (worse) stories. Try being forced to buy a Maserati before being allowed on the list for the new Ferrari… lol

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    Acura RSX-S (A-Spec package, for preference): IMHO, The car hit the perfect sports/luxury/handling/power combination this side of an M3. I was very sad to see it go, but I feel that it should be nominated in this, it’s last year.

  • avatar
    tulsa_97sr5

    Will we need to bother voting for the Miata, or can we just agree to give it a free pass as #1 and vote on 10 others?

    I’ll add my support to the xB. It’s a surprising car in every way. From the overall build quality that is much more solid than you’d expect for the price, to the fun to drive quotient that’s higher than the specs hint at (stick with the 5spd).

    I never get tired of seeing the shock on peoples faces when they realize how roomy it is. Even with the front seats all the way back the rear has plenty of room for 6′+ passengers to sit knees straight forward and not touch the front seats. The love it or hate it styling is a plus for me too, at least it’s not bland. Throw in real world 30mpg+ in mixed driving and you have a vehicle that exceeds the needs of most drivers today.

  • avatar
    nino

    I nominate (or second them as the case may be);

    Mazda3 (not the Mazdaspeed3)

    The Euro Focus we don’t get. Roomy, good performance, handling, and economy. Low price with excellent build quality. The car for those put off by the styling of the new Civic.

    Acura TSX

    Another “just right” package that combines good performance with excellent handling along with fuel economy and luxury accoutrements in a package that’s sized and priced right.

    Acura TL

    Say what you want about the BMW 3 series, this is a car that is roomier, better equipt, more realiable, and…..STYLISH. Both the interior and exterior could be confused for a car priced way higher that what the TL comes in at. And for those that will criticize the TL for being a front driver, all I can say is drive one, you’ll be surprised. And of course, we won’t go into reliabilty and Honda value.

    Mazda6 Wagon and 5 Door Hatchback (not the sedan)

    Let’s see, a moderately priced wagon with good V6 power that is comfortable, sporty, and can carry a ton? What else is out there that competes with it? Ditto for the just slightly less practical, but much more stylish 5 Door Hatch.

    Chevy Malibu Maxx

    OK, while it lacks in styling and excecution, it is a concept that needs to commended and encouraged. I believe that this car shows that there are those at GM that still have some courage that allows them to think outside the lines. And the Maxx in SS trim isn’t such a bad driver.

    Chevy Impala with the 3.9 V6 engine

    While this is another car that is routinely criticized, I believe this car is roomy and now stylish enough that it would give serious pause to anyone needing something a little bigger than a CamCord. With the 3.9 V6 (admittedly a pushrod design), the car has respectable performance with good overall fuel economy. And this buggy can be had very well equipt for a price lower than you think.

    Saturn Aura XR

    This is another car that shows that there are some at GM that want to compete against the Hondas and Toyotas of the world. Other than a few shortcomings in the interior, I found this car to be a worthy consideration for those in the market for a CamCord.

  • avatar
    nino

    I hate to ask this, but of those who have praised the Mazdaspeed3, how many have actually driven one? Some friends of mine claim it’s got one of the biggest “on paper potential” and “real life fun” discrepancies of anything on sale in the U.S. today, but not having driven an MS3, I’m not in a place to judge if that statement is true.

    I have driven the MazdaSpeed3 and while it is a good performer, I would agree with your assessment that it looks better on paper.

    I prefer the Mazda3 with the 2.3 liter engine as I feel that it represents a better value in the line.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    “Ford Crown Victoria
    For sheer persistence, this one will get a nod from me. I am not american, and I haven’t been to the USA. But if I went there, I would buy one just to feel as american as possible. This is truly the last “real” american car out there. This and the Town Car should be put up in the MOMA or the Smithsonian as examples of true heroes of american industrialism. Its roots trades back to the great Ford T.”

    Funny thing is, the Crown Vic is manufactured in Canada. Not the USA. I do agree with you that it is a venerable car.

  • avatar
    JosephH1

    I nominate the VW GTI. This descendent of the original hot hatch looks forward with technologically advanced features like the 2.0T engine, DSG tranny and ESP, while paying homage to the original within its refined interior. It offers good interior space, very generous headroom, and a lot of standard goodies while maintaining reasonable fuel economy.

  • avatar
    nino

    I question the nomination of any BMW, but especially that of the 3 Series in any guise.

    Can a car really be all that good when BMW routinely forces its customers to pay for “options” like paint color that allows the cars to sell at prices way above their base price?

    And do they offer all that much when you then compare them to cars that in some cases are sold at prices substantially less?

  • avatar
    mrcknievel


    “I question the nomination of any BMW, but especially that of the 3 Series in any guise.

    Can a car really be all that good when BMW routinely forces its customers to pay for “options” like paint color that allows the cars to sell at prices way above their base price?

    And do they offer all that much when you then compare them to cars that in some cases are sold at prices substantially less?”

    Some would argue that your best bang for buck within the segment would be one of the Japanese premiums, notably the Infiniti G35.

    Honestly though, luxury sport sedans are as much about performance as they are about snob appeal and owning one of the Germans definitely provides a decent amount of both.

    That said the BMW 3 isn’t receiving throwaway praise. It’s a solid performer that sets the bar with precise handling, impressive power (335i) and enough class to make you look responsible when you get to the office. Now the 7-series on the other hand…..

  • avatar
    mrcknievel

    “I question the nomination of any BMW, but especially that of the 3 Series in any guise.

    Can a car really be all that good when BMW routinely forces its customers to pay for “options” like paint color that allows the cars to sell at prices way above their base price?

    And do they offer all that much when you then compare them to cars that in some cases are sold at prices substantially less?”

    Some would argue that your best bang for buck within the segment would be one of the Japanese premiums, notably the Infiniti G35.

    Honestly though, luxury sport sedans are as much about performance as they are about snob appeal and owning one of the Germans definitely provides a decent amount of both.

    That said the BMW 3 isn’t receiving throwaway praise. It’s a solid performer that sets the bar with precise handling, impressive power (335i) and enough class to make you look responsible when you get to the office. Now the 7-series on the other hand…..

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    I’m really surprised I am practically alone in advocating for the WRX STI. This car is similar to the Elise in being about performance with a minimum of frills. The STI along with the EVO offer stunning amounts of performance for the money. The major criticism of both cars has been the absense of amenities which would really make them viable off the track. I nominated the STI because Subaru is beginning to address with with the Lt. Ed version of this car with an upgraded interior and omission of the whale tail spoiler on the trunk. I wouldn’t feel silly behind the wheel of the Ltd Ed unlike the regular STI and EVO. In fact, the STI reminds me of Bimmers before they got so big, heavy and filled with gadgets (ie the 2002s).

  • avatar
    Bunter1

  • avatar
    Aeroelastic

    Funny enough, the last car that really grabbed my attention at a car show was the Crown Victoria. Ford had it in the back, but among the sea of plastic tubs they call cars, the Crown Victoria really stood out. Compared to the rest of Ford’s offerings, it looked small and focused. You could even call it stylish, in it’s own special way. It definitely turns heads, even if it’s just the police spotting reflex kicking in.

    It’s the kind of car you can cruise all day in, then embarrass “sporty” cars from a red light. Yes it’s a boat, but it was meant to be a boat. The last of the real luxo-barges.

    Next I would have to recommend the 4 door Wrangler. A true Jeep owner’s Jeep, now it’s even more useful. You can take a few friends along for the ride, but you can still pull the top and doors off and show them what trail-rated really means.

    I won’t nominate the GTI, because I own one and I’m incredibly biased towards it. Plus I think it will make the final list without my support.

  • avatar
    evohappy9

    mrcknievel:Corvette Z06

    The beautiful brute that inspires many a qualifying remark from exotic supercar fans the world over to justify the time they’ve spent looking at it’s tail lights from their over-priced
    bucket seats.

    I run with the exotic supercar crowd and have yet to meet anyone who was overly impressed by the Z06. I’ve driven about 100 hot laps in a Z06 and some pretty tricky driving is required in order to pace most supercars. All of the people I drive with have either a regional or national racing licence and cannot be considered hacks – if they need a machine to evoke a paroxysm of rage from a supercar owner (Pagani, Koenigsegg, LP640, Enzo, DB9) for less than $50k it is invariably the Lancer Evolution. ECU remap, solenoid boost controller and higher output tailpipe ($2,200) you will be running 0-60 in 3.2 seconds with a standing quarter mile of 11.4sec. Unless you are at a track where the top end of the “supercars” can be utilized, some super driving is required to keep the Evo at bay. STI’s are almost never seen at the track and require quite a bit of work to correct their understeering problems at high speed.

    The single devastatingly bad attribute of the Evo just so happens to be what makes it great – it’s AWD. There is no weather too inclement to have an excuse to stay home from work. And as for being on call, once your co-workers figure out what the car can do in the snow, rain, sleet…….

    My supercar nomination is the LP640. I have been unnerved the past few years watching Audi’s sterilizing effect on Lambo and how that enabled Ferrari to metaphorically stomp on Lamborghini. The LP640 put an end to that. (Not that I have anything against Ferrari, but I looove Lambos).

  • avatar
    rprellwitz

    1. AUDI RS4 – The first non M-Car i have owned since 2000. pros – IT has a fantastic interior, effortless power, phenomenal brakes and room for the kids.
    cons – SD card reader in place of Ipod integration is a crime.
    Over the Top – Add Bridgestone Blizzak’s, 6 inches of freshly fallen snow, the curvy unplowed and vacant roads of the local business park and this vehicle allows you transform into Tommi Makinen. Amazing!

    2. Mini Cooper S – Coool! The only small car that has character good looks and is fun to drive.

    3. Chevrolet Avalanche – A unique mix of truck and SUV functionality that has no direct competitor. With the GMT-900 platform the unsightly grey body cladding is gone and the interior is class leading. Score one for the General.

    4. Chevrolet Corevette Z06 – The generals gem. An amazing vehicle at an even more amazing price, this beast answers to no one. The performance compensates for the parts bin interior, now if only i could figure out how to justify this and the RS4…..

  • avatar
    kken71

    Honda Odyssey

    It is as smooth and fast as my father’s ’95 LS 400 ever was.
    It will hold seven adults in comfort and still has a decent amount of storage behind the third row.
    The third row is easy to get into.
    Its easy to put kids in car seats because of its huge sliding door and high seating position.
    Its cheaper than faux SUVs like the Highlander and Pilot, has much more room, and doesn’t look any stupider.
    It can handle mid-Atlantic region snow with no problem.
    Chicks dig it. Well, my wife does anyway.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    1. Mazda MX-5: Though I’m sorry to have lost the M2’s near-perfect steering feel, the MX-5 remains the purest expression of the traditional sports car on the market. Its chassis can be as forgiving or as “educational” as you want it to be, depending on your mood. Two advantages over the Lotus Elise: it can be bought on a student’s budget, and your mother could use it as a daily driver with little learning or inconvenience.

    2. Toyota Prius: Everyone knows it averages a real-world 45 MPG. What fewer people mention is the reason for its market success: it’s every bit as easy to live with as a Camry. Lots of room, mindlessly adequate road manners, hatchback versatility, quality construction, and it never breaks (speaking from experience; my wife owns one).

    3. BMW 328i: Yes, iDrive sucks. But the 3 is not overrated. There’s a certain X-factor to its chassis that makes 8/10ths driving positively effortless. It goes exactly where you steer; you feel like a god. And that’s arguably the intended purpose of a “premium” vehicle.

    4. Honda Accord: The best example of the traditional family sedan on the market. Nothing about it grates, yet several aspects surprise upon close inspection, including powertrain refinement and suspension tuning. And you can get the V6 with a 6-speed, pairing 21/30 MPG fuel economy to a 5.9-second 0-60 time.

    5. Nissan 350Z: Its brawny performance and handling capabilities are near-as-dammit to the perennial-performance-bargain Corvette’s—for $15,000 less. And unlike the ‘Vette, the 350Z possesses continuity of character: everything about it is dense, hefty, and quick-acting, from the steering to the shifter to the body structure. The ‘Vette, by contrast, asks you to ignore aspects beyond the motor.

    6. Scion xB: Honda’s Fit gets all the credit, but the xB was the first (recent) vehicle to revive the notion that small cars can be cool. This $14,030, 30/34 MPG subcompact provides 90% of the qualities that drove America into SUVs: “Can we fit all that in the car?” is never an issue, and everyone looks at you.

    7. Lexus RX 400h: For the last 10% of the SUV’s appeal—the inspiration of fear and awe treasured by balding, impotent 50-somethings—the 400h allows you to lord yourself over the proles while getting 33/28 MPG in pose-tastic FWD guise.

    8. Mazda 3: Like the Protégé before it, the 3 is a worthy choice regardless of your finances. Good efficiency, great reliability, and taut road manners. (IMO, the MazdaSpeed’s hoarse engine note, top-end weakness, and clunky shifter aren’t worth the extra $5,000 over the 2.3 S).

    9. Ford Mustang GT: For pure sense of occasion, there’s no better buy for $25,000. The Mustang’s burbly exhaust note and nostalgic styling make you feel like you’re living the American dream, even if you’re just headed to Safeway.

    10. Mazda 5: Mad Mehta-esque props to Mazda for bringing the European MPV segment Stateside. People who rush out to buy an Odyssey because they’ve had two children will find the 5 plenty roomy and versatile, shockingly affordable, and surprisingly not-boring to drive.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    BMW 335i: Satisfying to drive, fast, great handling, gorgeous looks, all around the best in its class. A shoo in.

    Porsche Cayman: Crisp reflexes, as agile as they come, 911 for half the money, pure motoring.

    Toyota Prius: I’m not recommending this for its driving experience, but for its ability to spread fuel consumption and emission awareness to the masses, and make hybrids popular and “mainstream”, not to mention it’s pretty cool in the respect to how technology laden it is.

  • avatar
    italianstallion

    Another enthusiatic vote for the current (under-rated) Scion Xb. Not just because I loved Farago’s review, but also because I’ve owned one for four years. I can’t find another vehicle to replace it (I’ve looked) that strikes a better blend of comfort, utility, spaciousness, reliability, fuel economy and fun-to-drive character. The Honda Fit comes close, but is smaller and it looks and feels way more like an econo/penalty box. The Prius is a wonder on most of these fronts, but no fun to drive.

    The Acura TSX is another car that at least for now, we’re lucky to get (but don’t deserve). Another perfect blend – here of luxury, rock-solid reliability, fuel economy, reasonable performance and fun-to-drive character. if only it came in a hatch or wagon. The Mazda3 is a close second in these regards, IMO.

    BTW the proposed new models of both of these vehicles are not improvements.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I second, third, and fourth the following models:

    Toyota Prius: Reliability, a long warranty on hybrid components, Fuel economy, reasonable accelleration, good handling, and good (but not great) comfort for all-around driving, hauling and convenience are all there.

    You’ll think I’m talking about a pickup truck or SUV here, but I’m not. I’ve carried 50 cubic feet of bagged mulch in my Prius on one trip, and 5 people (including me) on the next for lunch. Within its limitations of cargo capacity and weight-pulling power, it’s a workhorse. And it cleans up nicely for a night out on the town with your Greenpeace friends, of which I don’t have any.

    I’ve had my 2004 for over three years now, and reliability has been excellent. No problems with the hybrid system, computers, or equipment. The 2007/2008 model year vehicle is essentially the same as what I drive, just without the three-year-old parking lot dings and hurricane dents. I’d buy another in a moment!

    Mazda MX-5 Miata: There’s a special place in my heart for this affordable and well-balanced model. Easy to shift, easy to work the top, easy to drive, easy to park, and easy to love. Excellent gas mileage and that pretty-bird sing-songy engine note for back-road motoring complete the package. Make mine a red one with a black ragtop, please.

    BMW Z-4: BMW’s inline six and gearbox make this a more muscular (and more expensive) alternative to the Miata. Worth every penny and built for driving, this car has more storage, an excellent sound system, fine road-noise abatement, and that “James Bond” look that will never go out of style with THIS lover of roadsters. If it’s not a black-on-red ragtop, it’s only slightly less appealing, but would still be on this list!

    Honda Fit: Honda may be onto something with this little entry. Body style and fuel economy are the name of the game for many who are still in college or early in their working careers. Or looking at retirement in the next few months. I know people who fit (no pun intended) into one (or more) of these catagories.

    Mathematically, it cannot be avoided or denied (although many will try). The Earth has less oil now than it did ten years ago. Or last year. Or yesterday. Cheap gas is probably gone forever, and the cost of energy will likely continue to rise over time. It’s very possible that we’ll all have to drive smaller, lighter vehicles in the coming years, just out of necessity. At least this one has some get-up-and-go, a cool body style, and is fun to drive.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    My nominations:

    mazda MX-5 – still the classic sports car it always was, but now I can fit in it

    Mazda 6 – for not following the insane midsize horsepower wars

    mini cooper s – For being the first premium small car in the U.S.

    Prius – revolutionary

    chevt aveo – Cause I’m guessing no one has yet. It feels good to be the first!

  • avatar
    TeeKay

    “I question the nomination of any BMW, but especially that of the 3 Series in any guise. Can a car really be all that good when BMW routinely forces its customers to pay for “options” like paint color that allows the cars to sell at prices way above their base price? And do they offer all that much when you then compare them to cars that in some cases are sold at prices substantially less?”

    I seriously recommend that you test-drive a 3 series. No need to try the 335i; the entry level 328 with a 6-speed (only 230hp) will do just fine. You will find that BMW probably lied when they say it’s only 230hp. You will also find that although it is indeed overpriced, the answer to the question of “whether it’s really worth it” is tougher to answer after a test drive. AND – this is important – don’t let the salesman stop you from revving that engine through 2nd & 3rd gears to enjoy the glorious sound of the inline 6.

    “Some would argue that your best bang for buck within the segment would be one of the Japanese premiums, notably the Infiniti G35.”

    That being said, I probably agree that the G35 coupe is the best bang for the bucks in this segment.

  • avatar
    Dream 50

    Many folks have nominated similar cars over and over and have mostly given great justifications for all of them. My nomination has only been mentioned once, I think, so it deserves a little more notice.

    As I am a working man and will likely never be able to justify buying more than one car, my thoughts usually sway toward affordable dreams. If you could only have ONE car for all your needs, what would it be? Yea, an MX5, Mini or a Boxter would be fantastic, but are essentially only a fun cars. A good motorbike is better than any of those.

    A G35 (coupe) is also a great car, and a little more practical.

    An F150, despite its attraction to mullet-sporting rednecks is very utilitarian though no damn fun to drive.

    Accords, Civics and Fits speak to the depth of Honda’s whole lineup.

    A WRX is close, but for grown up thrills, utilitarian defensiblity, AWD safety, and a touch of uniqueness, the Subaru Legacy wagon can’t be beat. Fuel economy is reasonable, and the flat engine configurations can only elsewhere be found in Porsches. OK, the shift action kind of sucks and it is a bit common, but for all-around love it, throw stuff in it, toss it around and eat the odd 3 series for lunch, a Legacy is obviously the underdog of choice.

    Buy one before the Toyota Borg buys the whole company.

    Keith

  • avatar
    Mook

    seldomawake:
    Acura RSX-S (A-Spec package, for preference): IMHO, The car hit the perfect sports/luxury/handling/power combination this side of an M3. I was very sad to see it go, but I feel that it should be nominated in this, it’s last year.

    Yes, I think it’s actually better than the Civic Si. There are still a few new 06s available too. I just love the design of the interior. It’s snug, and everything is focused toward the driver, something BMW abandoned years ago. The new Civic actually has the center stack facing somewhat toward the passenger. I could barely reach some of the controls. And don’t get me started with the Civic’s rediculous 2 tier instrument setup. The RSX-S is a little faster, it has a hatchback (BIG plus in my oppinion), and it’s better looking inside and out. It doesn’t handle as well, but it’s still quite competent. Others would say that it loses out to newer hot hatches like the GTi and MS3, but at least for me, the interior and shifter/clutch setup alone are enough for me to take the RSX. I’ve heard people say that the shifter and clutch are the best this side of the S2K, but I think it’s even better. Once you snick you can’t stop. It’s a special car, and I’m dissapointed in what they replaced it with.

  • avatar
    210delray

    I’ve read through about half of these, and it’s pretty obvious by now what cars will get the nominations. Still I want to put in a plug for the Toyota Prius — arguably the most fuel-efficient car sold in America today AND one of the cleanest running in terms of the traditional “noxious” pollutants — hydrocarbons, CO, and NOx. Considering its small exterior size, it has essentially the same room inside as the much larger Camry for 4 adults (the Camry is wider and can carry 3 in the rear easily), plus the hatchback design means its rear cargo area is LARGER than that of the Camry with the seat up.

    In regard to the Crown Vic and its Panther siblings, I just don’t see these as particularly noteworthy for 2007. Being rear-wheel drive, these cars are basically a 4-seaters as far as adults are concerned. Safety? Well, even with the optional side airbags, the car scored only a Marginal in the IIHS side impact test.

    Seems to me a more fitting nominee for a large car would be the front-wheel drive Five Hundred and Montego (soon to become Taurus and Sable) — tons of room inside for 5 large people and a gigantic trunk. Good front, side, AND rear ratings from the IIHS. Unfortunately, the larger engine and stability control won’t make the cut because the revised car doesn’t go on sale until the end of this week.

    But I’ve not seen another person mention this car in the posts I’ve read, so it’s not going to get very far anyway.

  • avatar
    rheath2

    The 2007 Jeep Wrangler is my top vote. DCX engineers walk a very fine line anytime they begin to modify the Wrangler. The enthusiasts know what they want and will raise ten levels of hell if they change too much (Case in point, CJ to YJ with the square headlamps). The new Wrangler maintains that classic look, while packing in a slew of new features and federally mandated safety equipment.

    My other nomination goes to the Volkswagen GTI. VW took a vehicle that had been an icon and was slowly losing status and turned it back into the fire-breathing wild-child it was meant to be. Say what you will about manuals and autos, but the GTI could easily get my vote solely on the DSG transmission alone. Props to VW for incorporating that supreme piece of technology into an affordable enthusiast’s car.

  • avatar
    nino

    I seriously recommend that you test-drive a 3 series. No need to try the 335i; the entry level 328 with a 6-speed (only 230hp) will do just fine. You will find that BMW probably lied when they say it’s only 230hp. You will also find that although it is indeed overpriced, the answer to the question of “whether it’s really worth it” is tougher to answer after a test drive. AND – this is important – don’t let the salesman stop you from revving that engine through 2nd & 3rd gears to enjoy the glorious sound of the inline 6.

    I have driven both the 328 and the 335 and I didn’t say they sucked. But I didn’t find them all that impressive when I compared their selling prices to that of the G35 and even the Honda Accord Coupe with the 6 speed, cars that provide almost as much “gee” factor as the BMWs

    That being said, I probably agree that the G35 coupe is the best bang for the bucks in this segment.

    So I’m not alone?

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Mook and seldomawake:
    (side note)
    Thank you for the Acura RSX Type-S love! It was a very cold day overhead when Honda decided not to make an 07 RSX on the Civic platform. The interior is what sold me on it – the solid black seats, carpets, and dash were a little too dark, but the accessory trim helped a lot. The mods were dirt easy to do on the car also.

    Please Acura – give us another generation RSX or TSX coupe – lightweight, fast, and in the spirit of the fallen Integra and RSX!

    (If it is eligible, I cast my vote for the RSX also – I didn’t put it in my original list since I think it has been a year since they stopped selling them.)

    Who else thinks Nissan/Infiniti hit a major homerun with the G35/37? While the 3-series without the electronic junk is still a blast to drive, the bang for the buck and style goes to Infiniti and that Studio on Wheels…wow.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Summary of all the posts so far:

    Honda/Acura
    Mazda
    BMW 3
    Toyota Prius, Scion xB
    Subaru WRX
    VW GTI

    Did I miss anything?

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    In regards to 210delray's comment: "In regard to the Crown Vic and its Panther siblings, I just don’t see these as particularly noteworthy for 2007." This is the ten best automobiles, not the ten most noteworthy automobiles. Who ever said best had to be noteworthy? The Crown Vic sells quite well (mind you, it's pretty much only to fleets, but so what?) while the 500/Montego/Taurus/Sable/Whatever are rotting on dealer's lots. Besides, what's the first car you think of when you say "cop car?" The 500? The Mazda 3? Any BMW? No, you think immediately of the Crown Victoria. The Crown Vic is the most visible and easily recognized car in North America. What other car can boast that? Either in cop markings or cab colours, everyone knows a Crown Vic when they see it. It seems to me that most of the cars nominated so far have numbers for names: Mazda 3 and 6, BMW 3- and 5-series, Infiniti G-whatever, Lexus LS460 or whatever. No one remembers those names (if you can call them that.) But the Crown Victoria. That is a name to remember. It's actually a name for one, and it rings of royalty, of command, and command it does. No other car can make people's hearts flutter, and brakes come on than seeing a Crown Vic on the road, even a civilian one. And I would say it does its job better than any other vehicle on the road.

  • avatar
    epresta

    MazdaSpeed3: FSI technology with turbocharging. One of the best bangs for the buck ($24,000). Excellent utility in a small package (i.e. 17 cu.ft. cargo space, can fold the seats down to accommodate larger items like blow up dolls, large TV’s, bikes etc.), good fuel mileage, Mazda dependability and awesome power combined with viseral handling and a relatively comfortable ride! Seats five but will also accelerate, at speed, on par with most exotics (45-65 mph in 2.8 sec). Lowered ride height provides an athletic/muscular stance. Limited numbers. You simply can’t buy another car that does as much for so little money!

  • avatar
    gpeake

    As an owner of a 2006 VW GTI, I’d like to nominate the…GTI. I bought it in June of last year and now have just over 11,000 miles on it. I’m very glad I bought the car. I’d like to second what many commentors have noted: the nice mix of performance and practicality that the GTI offers. I’d also like to note something that I don’t recall reading from any other commenters: the remarkable improvement in quality that VW has generated with the the new GTI (and maybe with their other new models, too?). I feel somewhat qualified to comment on VW quality because my wife owns a 2001 VW Cabrio, which we bought new in 2001. Without getting into the specifics, the quality of the Cabrio is and has been quite disappointing–not so much from a mechanical point of view but in terms of the fit and finish, durability of the fabrics, seats, dials, buttons, etc. Had VW continued to make cars the way they did with 2001 models, I shudder to think where they’d be now. The GTI, by contrast, is night and day in terms of quality (again, not so much from a mechanical side, although I’ve found the GTI to be very good there, but rather, in terms of fit and finish, quality of materials, etc.). One might think that comparing the GTI to the Cabrio is an apples to oranges thing, but it still makes me shake my head to think that we paid, if memory serves, $21K+ in 2001 for the base, no-options Cabrio (2001 dollars, mind you); last June, I paid $21.5K for the base, no-options GTI. In addition to performance, practicality, and quality, then, I firmly believe that the the GTI is a good value for the money, too. None of these comments is meant to slight the GTI’s competitors, which are themselves outstanding cars (including the Civic Si and the Mazdaspeed3, although others make a convincing case that the GTI is not in the performance league with these two; I would agree, but I would also say that that’s irrelevant when it comes to one’s appreciation for the unique attributes the GTI does bring to the table). Based on my needs and experiences, I see the GTI as an outstanding car.

  • avatar
    sawaba

    BMW 3-Series: In a day and age when most car models have the longevity of a tabloid headline, there is something to be said for not just one model, but an entire line that has kept to its roots for more than 25 years. Some models don’t even remotely resemble the spirit of the original (Charger, Volvo Familymobile Type R), and in some cases, entire brands have lost what made them special (SAABaru, SAABlazer, Forduar). Tracing all the way back to the 2002, of which the 2002tii was the ultimate form, to the present twin-turbo 335, BMW never forgot how to make the Ultimate Driving Machine.

    A few other models and brands deserve nominations for their ability to consistently deliver vehicles that live up to their original goals and marketing hype.

    Subaru Legacy (and the whole Subaru line, really): A perfect example of success in trying to create the best of all worlds: Decent fuel economy, performance, off-road ability, cargo, reliability, and practicality. Subaru’s ability to make a vehicle that is proficient in so many areas at the same time has been especially impressive in the last decade, when US models began shipping in turbocharged form.

    Toyota Corolla – Sure they’ve got the Prius now, but Corollas were getting 50+ MPG in the SEVENTIES. How’s that for consistency and foresight? Compare that to all the “lets slap an electric motor on some random models” guys jumping on the bandwagon so late in the game.

    VW GTI – Like the 3 series, this model has stayed true to its roots, and from the original to the most recent version remains not only a popular model among driving enthusiasts, but has had a huge amount of support in the modding and aftermarket industries. I’ve seen the 1.8T transplanted into almost as many frames as Ford and Chevy crate motors. I’m sure VW got their money’s worth out of that engine.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    Volvo V70R – This was perhaps one of the best cars to ever come out of Sweden. The S60R is less spectacular in a world full of sports sedans, but an insanely fast wagon is a unique thing. Fit and finish and materials quality is excellent, the sports factor is way too high for a station wagon, and it will never be built again because it was more Audi than Volvo. What a shame.

    Lexus IS350 – Lexii are the true driving appliance, they have the soul of a toaster, but what a perfectly assembled toaster they are. It should get some recognition, not for being boring, but for being perfectly boring and oddly desirable as such.

    Acura TL – Value is what the TL brings to the table. I admire Honda for the guts to make a 6 speed manual available in the USA competing in a sea of slush-only-boxes.

    VW GTI – The GTI continues to prove that there is hope for VW if they could only control pricing and quality. The ride is superb for a small sport hatch and the ability to get that rear wheel up in the air around tight corners is amusing to say the least. The DSG is a marvel and just about the only thing that would ever convince me to drive anything but a manual.

  • avatar
    Steve C.

    350Z: It nicely slots between the MX-5 and Corvette in price. It works as well as any 2 seater for a daily driver while still doing well on the track. It’s got better mileage than the RX-8 and doesn’t have the rotary’s foibles. It’s also got the sweetest exhaust note this side of a Porsche. Did I mention it looks sexy too?

    Didn’t pick RX-8 because I was unimpressed with its power. A friend of mine (admittedly not a car enthusiast) had to have her RX-8 towed a couple of times because of engine flooding. I admit that I’d be absent minded enough to have it happen to me.

    Didn’t pick the S2000 because it’s the same size (more or less) as the Miata, but isn’t nearly as affordable as a second car.

    Didn’t pick the Mustang because I’d prefer a car that balances more towards handling/corner carving in addition to pure muscle. I can’t seem to get over its live axle.

  • avatar
    luiz.stockler

    I nominate the Prius. Scarlett Johannson
    and Angelina Jolie own it: If it is good enough for their asses, it should be good enough for all our asses.
    Besides, no one will look at you with disapproval when you park it at the Malibu Certified Organic Farmers’ Market.

  • avatar
    Yuppie

    I also nominate the Audi A3 2.0T; I have owned mine for just under a year.

    First, I must disagree with others above who have accused the A3 of being badge-engineered or a GTI clone. The 2.0T is an Audi engine, just like the famous 20V 1.8T; that’s why I pity those who have bought the 3.2, which is VW’s last-gen VR6. The 5th gen chassis is shared (TT, A3, GTI, Jetta and Golf/Rabbit), but is designed with all of these vehicles in mind. Also, all of these cars appear distinct. So to use “badge engineer”, a term more appropriate to describe GM’s efforts (or lack thereof), does not seem fair, because of the bad connotations.

    The A3 2.0T is both a good commuter and a fun-to-drive car. It has good fuel economy and decent space for people and cargo. Best of all, when you are really in a hurry, it does not attract as much attention as most other “hot hatches”. And the 2.0T has good aftermarket support; a reflash puts it at 245hp/280ft-lb (crank) easily. The fit and finish of its interior rivals that of the E class and the 5 series; I know this sounds crazy but I am not the only one who thinks so.

    The DSG is also a major innovation, and for that alone the A3 should be nominated.

    The only con with the A3 is that many say that it is a “girl’s car”. But then again, these people say the same for the Miata.

  • avatar
    pdohara

    I’d like to nominate the following

    Mazda MX-5 PRHT for it efficient design and enjoyable ride.

    The basic Boxster 5 spd because it’s the cheapest Porsche but still offers some of the best handling in comparison to any competition.

    The Subaru Legacy Wagon – maybe not the coolest car to be in but classified as one of the safest cars on the road.

  • avatar
    ronin

    Chevy Impala SS.

    A US car with incredible trunk room and seat folding capability, allowing the storage space of an SUV.

    Long distance cruising comfort.

    And a true V8 with enough torque to kick you in the rear.

    Heres to a company that took what it had from the tranny department, and had the guts to couple it to a real v8.

    (And let’s forget FWD criticism… since FWD is good enough for one model sure to make the list- MS3).

  • avatar
    exnilo

    I nominate the Mazda 5. This car is the perfect mix of family practicality, non minivanness, and great fun as a ride. It looks attractive, is very well priced and fits family life really really well. Finally it is NOT a minivan which makes its ability to carry 6 in fun and style an excellent choice.

  • avatar
    Dmarque

    Different cars, at different prices, with different purposes, have different appeals. But I love one kind of car best, a small coupe. I don’t understand the love for big is better, or big equals safe, or a big motor and lightning pick up equals fun, or that expensive cars, like clothes make the man kind of thing. Instead If everyone had small car with modest performance, everyone would be safe, and the world, less dependance on oil would be a safer place,
    and there would be a lot more road space.

    If money wasn’t a concern, I’d love to own a Porsche Cayman. But it is, and the Cayman misses related to some of my beliefs and needs, and needs of most drivers. But it’s a beautiful car and deserves a vote.

    The small coupe I think is best, is economical to buy, sips gas, has exceptional resale value, has the capacity to hold a ton of stuff, is exceptionally fun to drive, fits into tiny parking spaces, and still garners compliments after five years of existence. I’ve owned one for four years and even today a woman, all smiles, ran up to me before I could drive away and said that’s a cute car,” and then asked, “ What is it?”

    “It’s a Mini.” I said.

    ”What’s a Mini?” she said.

    “It’s made in England by BMW.” She was satisfied, I guess. Obviously she isn’t into cars if she hasn’t noticed a Mini for last half decade. but than she is old, but I’m older.

    But it’s not only a great car for a seventy-six year old, it goes beyond any other car because it makes me feel fantastic as i constantly compare it and my image with any other car at any price. When I’m driving my Mini I don’t feel like a secondary citizen to anyone driving anything else regardless of any criteria they may think makes their car, the car. And the talk, my wife and I call it Mini talk, adds to the fun. What other car can you drive up to the Ritz and the valet treats you with as much respect as they teat a driver of a Rolls Royce.

    But that isn’t all. It looks good parked in my garage. And it especially looks good when I see my driving it about town from my bicycle vantage. It’s like having the girl driver in the Italian Job in the family.

  • avatar
    saddlesore

    My nomination is for the humble yet quirky ’06.5 Scion xB.
    No it isn’t a “hot rod”, or a expensive car, yet it is functional,safe,dependable (after all it is a Toyota)and draws a crowd whenever I park.. and nearly everyone can afford one.. Isn’t that the mark of an exceptional vehicle?

  • avatar
    gTicJ7

    One day my Uncle begged me to look at an 1985 CJ7 on the side of the road… i was hesitant but i checked it out… I was hooked as soon as I saw it. I bought it the next day. and have enjoyed driving every minute since…(except the day i forgot to put the top up when a summer storm came through)

    Having said all that I will have to nominate the 2007 Jeep Wrangler 4 door. If that was around 2 years ago i would have looked hard into getting that. To have all the creature comforts of a modern vehicle and all the capability of my 85 (if not more) is an incredible package. On top of that you could easily recognize the heritage in a 2007 jeep to the first one built 60 years ago.

    Recently i decided i need a more modern and reliable daily driver. I test drove a wrx, mazda 3, and a gti. The gti was the clear winner. A great interior, fun 6spd, amazing engine, and the versitlity of a hatchback.
    I nominate the VW GTI

    I also have to nominate the corvette. I have lusted after the corvette since i was 13 when the C5 came out. I have never driven one, but I know i will love it. True American Classic. The z06 is Porn for auto enthusists

    Jeep Wrangler
    VW GTI
    Corvette

  • avatar
    Aardappel

    I nominate the Nissan 350Z, for being the best sports car value below 30k$.

    It’s superb handling, on rails cornering, great balance (front-mid engine layout!), massive low-range torque (VQ35DE engine), RWD propulsion, and maybe not unimportantly great styling, make this car unrivaled in the segment.

    Assuming you enjoy driving, and driving fast, there is no better car below 30k$. The MX-5 may have mildly better handling, but significantly lower HP/torque. The first car I could name that beats the Z in most respects is the corvette, so maybe it could be argued that the Z is “the best value sports car below 40k$”, especially because you can then pick the even better track model.

    I don’t understand why anyone would nominate the G35 coupe over the Z, unless you value a slightly more classy look over driving behaviour.

  • avatar
    doctor.lightwave

    The Nissan Xterra is perhaps the most rational and utilitarian vehicle ever produced. Big windows, quiet, tall cabin, comfortable and easy to drive. Flexible cargo area. Compact length. Entirely practical in every detail, well worked out, reliable. Amazingly competent off the highway or in deep slush; high ground clearance and every conceivable traction option including low range 4WD, lockable rear diff. Simple, clean interior with MANUAL controls using nice big knobs. No fluff. No candy-ass leather seats, no “electro-chromic” rear view mirror, no “moonroof.” Gas mileage is not great but not bad for a trucklet. Handling quite OK when toodling down the highway or around town. And with a powerful 6 cyl engine, only a few bucks more than your girly-man 4-cyl “SUV’s” such as RAV4 or Subarau. The Swiss Army Knife of motor vehicles.

  • avatar
    digitalsoul

    Two nominations, then some contention about another.

    1. Honda’s Ridgeline. I like Honda’s approach to building a truck (or more appropriately, a sport utility with a bed). The [initial] styling has to grow on you, but I think the overall execution is done quite well. I’ve heard the Accord described as a ’90 percent car’ that’d satisfy 90 percent of drivers everywhere. To some extent, I’d say Honda wants the Ridgeline to do much of the same thing in a truckish package. It hauls a respectable amount of humans and hardware, and do so reliably, comfortably, and efficiently (well, they’re trying). It’s not your traditional truck, and in a good way. I hope Honda keeps doing its own thing instead of chasing the money spent on F-150s and Silverados.

    2. A ditto toward the nomination of Chevy’s Impala SS. It isn’t rear-wheel drive, but then, Evangeline Lily still isn’t your girlfriend. Let the 300 horse V8 and room for four local hotties sooth your inner hurt. At the very least, you’ll out-Whataburger your co-worker’s V6 Imp. Date or dream about Mustangs–marry cars like the Impala SS, as most of the go-fast goodness you were looking for can still be had.

    Now, my contention: What I really don’t understand is this lovefest for the Crown Victoria. If a car isn’t ‘noteworthy’, then it just exists. And that’s all that cars like the Crown Victoria do. GM was notorious for building such cars that ‘existed’ pretty well–names like Corsica and Ciera come to mind. For the Crown Victoria you can snag in 2007, suddenly, it’s 1998…

    It’s being praised for its recognizability. Right. Recognition as taxi cabs (that we experience through someone else’s adventurous driving), and as cop cars (who want to penalize us for our own adventurous driving). CVs are recognizable, but not for any pleasurable reasons.

    Better money would be spent on a nice pair of running shoes–the Crown Vic has all the appeal of Ensure-drinking folks who like socks with their sandals.

  • avatar
    JuniorMint

    Count me in for the SCION XB. The Fit may be the safe (boring) bet for the economy car class, but let’s face it – beating out the Chevy AveOMG is no great challenge. Let’s go for something a little more exciting, boys! If you weren’t too chicken to actually be seen in one, you’d have bought an xBox instead of a Fit, too.

    I guess the Fit hits the car buyer demographic sweet spot – between “young enough to be trendy” and “too old to give a damn” – but the xB is a much better value for the money. Power-everything, VSC, much more respectable safety ratings, and a host of too-fun-not-to-have options like glowing cupholders and color-changing radio consoles make the xB surge ahead of the pack as a true TBAG contender.

    Owners are likely to be just as shocked by the amazing features as the fact that the thing squatting in the driveway is something they actually paid money for.

    With a Tahoe-sized interior (take that, Civic-sized Fit!) and lots and LOTS of vertical space, the interior is less like an economy car, and more like a full-size SUV. Minus, of course, the cargo hatch and Pam-Anderson-sized “headlight assembly.” Actually, the exterior looks a lot like that, too.

    I’ll admit, there are times I’ve longed for a few more than 108 horses, but it’s specced just right for zipping around Caravans and Suburbans in mall parking lots, and let’s face it, that’s 80% of what we do with our cars anyway.

    The Fit may be just boring enough to be driveable by most of the American population, but it’s still a go-kart with doors. The xB is more of a party box. On wheels.

    And besides…aerodynamics are overrated. :)

  • avatar
    joshpaul2006

    I’d like to nominate:

    2007 Saturn Vue because of it’s classy European styling and its almost perfect interior.

    2007 Jeep Patriot just because its 100000000000 times better than the Compass and Caliber and is actually a kick ass off roader.

    2007 Chevrolet Silverado because it’s got the best interior and towing capacity in its class(Toyota can kiss it)

    2007 Cadillac Escalade bling ain’t everybody’s cup of tea but it’s working for Cadillac and all the other luxo classers are copying the bling factor.


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