By on August 5, 2008

Will someone knock the king off of the hill?

Ten Best Nominations Are Now Closed

The truth hurts. But not always. Sometimes the truth about cars is the key to genuine insight and automotive ecstasy. This is one of those times, when TTAC's Best and Brightest select their annual Ten Best automobiles. In other words, this is your chance to help the wider world discover genuine automotive excellence, and reward those who produce it with a much-deserved hat tip. The name of this collective endeavor changes, but the rules remain the same: you nominate the cars, our writers narrow your selection to 20, then you get the final say on the Ten Best [more details below]. But before we get stuck in, here's a recap of last year's winners…

To refresh your memory, here are last year's winners and what we had to say about them.

10.  Audi RS-4 –  How about a 4.2-liter engine cranking out 420hp, all-wheel drive, precise steering, ohmigod brakes and a [nearasdammit] racing suspension? All we can say is: who's your Daddy?

9.  Infiniti G35 –  The smart-handling Infiniti G35 makes Lexus owners wonder what IS is, and forces 3-Series owners to check both their rear view mirrors and diminishing bank balances.

8.  Acura TSXPurposeful design, aggressive good looks, inspired handling and excellent build quality make the Acura TSX a heady yet elegant brew.

7.  Porsche CaymanIf and when the Sultans of Stuttgart give their whipper-snapper more power, it will add "unassailably" to "best."

6.  Mazda MX-5 –  Whether you're a hard core enthusiast attacking an apex or a retiree enjoying a bit of drop top nostalgia, the still-svelte third gen Miata is the simplest, best handling, most fundamentally honest and joyful automobile made. 

5.  Subaru WRX / STI The WRX is working class hero, while the STI is destined to end the decade as the benchmark for compact sports sedans.

4.  Mazda Mazda3 / Mazdaspeed3 The Mazda3 offers family-friendly fun to the financially fastidious F1 fantasist. The Mazdaspeed3 retains these virtues, kicks it up a notch, and eats the competition for lunch.

3.  Porsche 911Whether it's maximum lateral G's or vanishing point-and-shoot, Porsche's "everyday" supercar offers terminal drivers terminal velocity.

2.  Chevy Corvette / Z06The endlessly rejuvenated Corvette shows what American automakers can do when the beancounters take a back seat to engineering excellence.

1.  BMW 3-SeriesThe completeness of the 3-Series' dynamic package- ride, handling and brakes- puts the Zen into zenith. In a world of reliable mediocrity, driving the 3-Series remains a peak experience.

Are these still the best things on four wheels? Or did 2008 bring new players into the arena?  There's only one way to find out.

2008 TTAC Ten Best Rules of Engagement

1. To qualify, a vehicle must be offered for sale as a new vehicle in the U.S. between Jan 1, 2008 and now. Where it's built, where the company is headquartered, sales volume, price or neat swag from the manufacturer play no part in the selection process.

2. We'll only accept nominations that give at least one legitimate reason why a vehicle qualifies for the award. It helps if you've had some time behind the wheel and can pass along first-hand experience.

3. Nominations that don't include justification, just say "me too" or similarly indicate lack of mental prowess and it will simply disappear. Boom! Gone.

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 gather in a secret e-conclave to select 20 finalists from the nominees. The more eloquent the nomination, the better chance it has of surviving our (let's face it) subjective process.

6. We will submit these 20 finalists for your consideration. You may vote (via an electronic poll) for up to ten vehicles on the list which you deem worthy of a place TTAC's Ten Best.  Don't get carried away, though. We're going to do everything we can to prevent voting improprieties. After all, this isn't Chicago!

7. Nominations begin now and run through midnight Saturday, August 9 (all times EDT). We will publish the 20 finalists for voting first thing on Wednesday, August 13. Voting will close  midnight Saturday, August 16. The winners will be announced on Monday the 18th. These dates may slip a bit if our Managing Editor gets distracted by something shiny. Since they ignore our press releases, winning manufacturers will find out the same way everyone else does.

Post your nominations with the required justification(s) below. We couldn't/wouldn't do this without you. To quote that great philosopher Frank Bartles, we thank you for your support.

Ten Best Nominations Are Now Closed

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174 Comments on “TTAC’s Ten Best for 2008: Nominations are Now Open...”

  • avatar

    The MX-5 deserves to stay on the list.

    It is still a honest roadster that will always be a fun ride regardless of gas prices and market trends. As happy owner of a ’06, I can tell you that it is a hoot to drive and is essentially guilt free. I just don’t get its rep as a “chick car”.

    I’d drop the Acura TSX. The current model is a giant step back from the original. Everything got fatter and uglier, except the engine, the one thing needed improvement.

  • avatar

    Mazda5. Its the right car for the right time. Compact outside, and roomy inside. All of the conviences of a minivan without the bulk and thrist. Great price and a great feel. The 2008 model gives us an extra speed in the automatic and replaces the ugly rear tails with..less ugly rear tails. Still available in base trim with a manual, too. Not a dashstroker’s dream, but durable inside. All this for under 24K MSRP. I’m biased, coz I bought one, but I can’t imagine any other car I looked at being any better than this, its just right for a new family.

  • avatar

    I nominate the Honda Fit – what fortuitous timing. Plus (as opposed to the Aveo) it’s more than just a small engine, it’s a complete handling and versatility package that even this late in its product cycle continues to outshine the competition.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    I would re-up last year’s panel, but subtracting the Acura TSX and adding the Nissan GT-R.

  • avatar

    The Jaguar XF.

    Looks like a sports car, convenience of a sedan, innovative gear box, beautiful interior, brilliant fit and finish, icy cool looks and quick as hell!

    Not to mention, reliable, loaded with toys and proof positive that the UK car industry isn’t dead! ^_^

  • avatar

    Honda Civic- Millions of people agree, it’s frugal, feels more upscale than it’s peers, and I drove it at Willow Springs Raceway…get this, it’s fun too!

    VW GTI- Hatchback versatility, decent mpg’s, upscale interior, and an absolute fantastic drive. I’ve driven back to back with 3-series and the brand spankin’ new ’09 A4 (at an Audi event) and I’d still take my GTI, seriously. It delivers all you need to have a blast on back roads and interstate cruises for a mid 20k price.

  • avatar

    I second the nomination for the Honda Fit.

    I spent a morning test driving pretty much every small car in that price range, and the Fit quickly became the standard by which every other car was measured. It was so much better than everything else (I’m looking at you Yaris and Focus) that we started to wonder if the other manufacturers ever drove their competitor’s vehicles.

    Clever interior packaging, nice looks, peppy engine, and a reasonably low price. Sign me up.

  • avatar

    Mazda3: With 2 possible great (refined, not buzzy, torquey) engines mated to a slick manual transmission (can’t comment on the AT), great steering and ride characteristics, proper brakes, THE leading interior in its class and tons of small touches (ACC, Xenons, leather, etc) that cannot be found in the competition (I’m looking at you Civic/Rolla/Golf), the Mazda3 has created a new class of vehicles in the NA automotive landscape: the “premium but on a budget car”. And to top it all off, it still is the one to beat even after 4 years on the market.

    Disclosure: I own a 2004 GS (2.0L, 5MT, w/sport package) delivered in July ’04 that just passed the 80.000 kms (50.000 miles) mark last night. Besides regular oil changes and a rear brake job (rotors and pads) at 65.000kms – the longest I’ve ever been able to go on any car so far; the front ones have tons of kms left on them – I’ve had one CEL that required a 20 minute appointment to change a sensor. I get an average of 7.9 – 8.4 L/100kms depending on how I drive the car, although I must admit that the amount of smiles/miles is much higher :)

    MazdaSpeed3: Clearly, I love the Mazda3, but an unpolished brute that suffers from torque steer is not fun to drive. Take it off the list! This is no better than the Caliber SRT4.

    GTI: Class leader in the hot hatch segment. Great power train, superb interior where lots of clever touches abound. Those seats/that steering wheel! That engine! Oh that engine!

    Mazda5: A minivan with a manual transmission that actually looks good. Four proper captain chairs, great price. Now if only the fuel econ could be a little improved. Does everyone really need an Odyssey for 1.5 kids?

  • avatar

    Ford Flex – it’s great and it ain’t gonna sell and that’s a shame.

    Ford Focus – SHOCK! It’s quiet, it’s got Sync and it will return 31+ mpg on the cycle in the real world and costs thousands less than the competition. A better car than it’s given credit for.

    Jeep Compass – OK this one is actually a joke.

    Nissan GT-R – say what you will about gadgetry, this sub-$80,000 supercar is a game changer.

    Prius – until there’s a reasonable competitor, the Prius should be on every top 10 not just because of what it represents, but because it is so well executed.

  • avatar

    First, the BMW 3-series has to stay: beyond the pure RWD performance and balance (no matter which engine or bodystyle option), it’s got great looks and is practical enough for every-day use. The 3 also stands apart because it has such a wide range of bodystyles and engine options to suit just about everyone, whether enthusiast or not.

    I would also like to nominate the Mini Cooper S. Here is a great performance car for the era of $4+ fuel: Fun to drive, fast, thrifty, handles great, outstanding resale value, and the look is still unique after all these years.

    One last nomination from me: The Mustang GT: it still feels like the best performance value on the market after all these years. Sure, it could use more refinement, but a tire-burning 300hp V8 powering the rear wheels in such a beautiful body for only about $27,000 before incentives is one hell of a deal!

  • avatar

    A RWD chassis lifted off the 350Z? A beefy 6 cylinder engine turning out 86 hp per liter? The availability of manual 6-speed transmission and a limited slip differential? Standard equipment the Germans make you pay dearly for? For 32,000 USD?

    Yes please.

    I vote to keep the G35 on the list. Having spent the last 2.5 years driving a 06 Sedan, I would say it’s a great deal. The interior isn’t the greatest, the badge doesn’t have the snob appeal, and the styling is very restrained-Japanese but it can be driven in complete anger (well) or be as smooth and quiet as a baby’s bottom(?). And the list of affordable RWD (or well tuned AWD) cars under 3500 lbs (that are reliable) with a decent chassis, dynamic engine, and the availability of a manual transmission is getting shorter every year…

  • avatar

    #1 – Honda FIT, for excellence in practicality, efficiency, handling and reliability. The perfect small runabout. This is the benchmark for what a small hatchback should be. (test driven the 08, and plan to buy either the 08 or 09)

    #2 – Honda Civic, for excellence efficiency and reliability in a small / mid-size sedan. Another benchmark for small sedans. (I’m on Civic number 2, #1 went 12 years and 200Kmi without a single repair other than brake pads and a muffler. )

    #3 – Ford Mustang GT. Fun to drive, great retro styling of us late boomers, and still livable road manners. (Spent a lot of time, and burnt a heck of a lot rubber, in my cousin’s Rouch)

  • avatar

    I’ll nominate the (base) Corvette. There is no other car close to its price that can even come close to matching its all around performance. What else needs to be said?

  • avatar

    I would like to nominate the following:

    2008 MINI Cooper Clubman S: Fantastic all around package, superb fuel economy, acceleration and handling, a more practical and comfortable MINI.

    2008 BMW 135i coupe/convertible: Most significant car of the year for BMW since the BMW 2002 and E30 models. Better handling, acceleration than the 3 series. More affordable too. Great looking machine.

  • avatar

    My revised list; I’ve added comments to changes from last year:

    10. Mercedes CLK 63 “Black” – For hairy-chested German cars, this one has trumped the Audi RS-4
    9. Infiniti G35
    8. Honda S2000 – Honda deserves two slots on the top 10, and the TSX seems to have lost its edge; the S2000, despite its age, remains a quintessential performance car.
    7. Porsche Cayman
    6. Mazda MX-5
    5. Honda Fit – Even F1 is starting to make some concessions to fuel economy; this is a superb little grocery-gatherer.
    4. Mazda Mazda3 / Mazdaspeed3
    3. Audi R-8 – The 911 may be a perennial favorite, but this new Audi is just far more audacious; the world needs another mid-engined car.
    2. Chevy Corvette / ZR1 – If the YouTube videos are anything close to what the ZR1 actually sounds like, this one deserves a mention solely for sound track; it is also incredibly fast.
    1. BMW 3-Series

  • avatar

    Honda Fit, for best subcompact, game-changer, and being here at the right place, at the right time

    Audi A3, for being the true pioneer of what will likely become the next big american thing: The luxury compact

    Mazda3, for being the best compact – still. Cooler and less popular than the Civis and Corolla: what’s not to love

    Toyota Prius, because hate it or love it, it’s THE car of the 2000s

  • avatar

    I fourth or fifth the Fit as well. Supremely practical, solidly designed, and it only costs $33 bucks to fill from E.

  • avatar

    Honda Fit.

    The best car to buy this year with rising gas prices and the interior is superb for a low cost car.

    The mid size sedans are all the same.

  • avatar

    Jaguar XF

    For proving that there are other ways to select a gear. Its new JaguarDrive Select show that you can select a gear in a new and refined way. Plus the entire dash lights up blue like a VW

  • avatar

    Z06 and Mazda 3 are keepers. Add the Honda Fit for not making small car owners live in performance or comfort penury. The Bentley Brooklands (maybe) in the ‘People who drive F430s, Gallardos, and S classes are also part of the great unwashed’ class. And add the Mazda 5 for being a people mover that is okay to look at, okay to drive.

  • avatar

    (1) Mazda3: Still better than the Civic, with the latter only beating it only in gas mileage.

    (2) Corvette ZR1 (Z06)

    (3) Saturn Astra: Did not move much metal because of lack of incentives and lack of marketing and lack of the right engine. It is still a top-seller in Europe, good looking, and more standard options than the competition

    (4) Pontiac G8 GT

    (5) BMW 3 series

    (6) New Cadillac CTS

  • avatar

    In no particular order:

    Infiniti G35/37– More competent RWD sports sedan than the 3-series, restyle looks great even in coupe form. Available AWD for the snowbelt.

    Nissan Altima– the modern day 4DSC and one of the better looking and driving FWD sedans on the market. Something that the last Mazda6 was, but I’m not sure if the next one will be.

    Mazda MX-5– A pure joy to drive and truly without competitors.

    Mazda 3– I own one, I’ve greatly enjoyed it. Especially as a wagon. It’s driving dynamics are tops in its class and offers many features for the price. Be even better with the MX-5’s 2.0l I4.

    Aston Martin V8 Vantage– the most beautiful car on the market right now, with a wonderful sounding V8 and performance to back it up. May not be the 911, but at least you get exclusivity.

    Lotus Elise– the go-kart of the group. A blast to drive and look at it. Not much else though.

    Chevy Corvette– best value out there for a sports car, and amazing performance.

    Cadillac CTS– finally a well-executed GM product that offers excellent performance, attention to detail and materials used with a comfortable interior, feels as rock-solid as any of the Germans as well as the Infiniti G.

    Toyota Prius– it’s a car for the times and it’s beat many expectations.

    Volvo C30– a classic style and a bit quirky like a New England professor. But a high-quality long-distance companion with a smooth ride, good performance from the old T5 (when will they dump I5s?), and rather flexible cargo area. Plus, it’s a platform companion of the Mazda3.

  • avatar

    I nominate the Chevy Silverado; the quintessential pick up truck. Can be had in all manner of lengths, number of doors, 2 or 4 wheel drive (6 if you want the dualie), 1/2 ton or heavy duty. And every combination can be work-truck plain or dressed up to full cowboy-Cadillac. Even with $4.00/gallon gas, the General will still them to contractors, weekend-boaters, country-poseurs, farmers, and anyone else who has to tow, haul, carry, or move… or thinks that they might one day have to.

    It’s not a roadster, or a sports sedan, or super car. But it’s a vehicle that does what it’s supposed to do, day in and day out. And long after the TTAC crowd forgets about this year’s crop of performance wunderkind, the Silverado will still be filling the driveways of people all across the country.

  • avatar

    Unfortunately I haven’t actually driven too many new cars, but I’ll mention some of my most desired new cars…

    Fit since they are huge on the inside for how small they are on the outside and everyone says they drive great, I know honda makes a good car, etc.

    G37 is out now, saw one last week looking good. Would love to drive a G37S coupe (or the convertible when it comes out).

    BMW 3 is always a solid choice.

    I’ll go on a limb and say Solstice Targa. Maybe it needs better handling, more room and more power. Nothing the aftermarket can’t handle except maybe the room part, but just look at it. That is a classic beauty if I ever saw one. Even better looking than the roadster. And it’s got more room, more power and better handling than the roadster, so there’s that.

    MX-5 a little dainty for my tastes, but it’s still a better value than anything else (including above).

    ZR1 – just badass.

    BMW X6 – I hated this car when I heard about it. I was thinking “another oversized SUV to clog up mall parking lots”, then I read about how good it goes and started thinking “Dakar Rally Dominator”. Yeah I can dig that.

    Maybach, okay I sat in one. That’s it, I’m sold. Puts Bentleys to shame.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand the continuing fascination with the BMW 3-series (and I own one!). The manual gearbox is just OK, it’s super heavy (and drives like it) and the run-flat tires are so bad (noisy, lousy handling, etc) that if I knew how bad they were, I would never have purchased a 325i. It’s a very good car, but there have to be better sports-sedans out there.

  • avatar

    Nissan GT-R: Unparallel Performance for the price. Not to mention it’s been the US has waited a long time for this.

    Toyota Prius: At no other time since it’s implementation has this car made more sense.

    Honda Fit: A car that is fun to drive AND gets great milage.

    Obligatory Nods to the: 3 Series and Corvette

    Black Horse Candidate: Lotus Elise SC:
    0-100 in 10 seconds, exceptional fuel economy for the performance, and even though Lotus improved the performance of the elise drastically with the addition of the super charger – weight is still under 2000 LBS, weighing in at 1918 LBS. Not to mention when practically any auto-enthusiast talks about sport car handling, the benchmark for excellence is the elise. I think its time to give the Brits some credit on this. While the rest of the world keeps adding bigger engines and more weight, lotus stays true to form. Even if it is hard to get in and out of the damn thing.

  • avatar

    I also nominate the Miata. Nothing else on the market says “Fun!” like the Miata. And it’s reasonably priced, accessible to anyone wanting a roadster experience but on a budget and (the last I checked) very reliable. And it scores points over the Sky and Solstice for low weight and having a useable trunk.

    And I also nominate the Prius. Nothing else on the market says ” Transportation” like the Prius. But this is what most people actually need and more and more people are coming to this realization every day. This is a no-nonsense vehicle with one amazing dimension (I would have saved over $200 in fuel on a recent driving vacation, if I’d owned one) and it’s still a nice vehicle to drive (yes, I have), not just something to be endured to get good fuel economy. Love it or hate it, more cars like this are coming, and by looking at sales and the competition, the Prius is w-a-a-a-y ahead of the rest of the pack.

  • avatar
    John R

    Nissan GT-R.

    Hate it or Love it, the R35 GT-R is Japan’s best incarnation of the Über sports car to date. I’m not surprised this thing broke Clarkson’s neck, the car looks like it will break something of yours if you cross it.

    The handling and quickness are unfathomable, the power is brutal and its pretty much undeniable in whether or not it accomplishes its purpose. Best of all is its consistency. You have to try to make a mistake in this car.

    All this for a price that will have 911, Z06 and M3 owners checking their diminishing bank balances. (Provided you can get one, or any of its competitors, for MSRP.)

    Point and Shoot.

  • avatar

    Mazda3/Mazdaspeed3: I love the looks of the hatchback, the interior is practical and comfortable, and the handling superb for its class. Why anybody would buy a Corolla or Civic after test driving a Mazda3 is beyond me.

    Lotus Elise or Exige: I’ve got to nominate a car that has managed to stay small, light, and quick in the ever expanding car market.

    Mazda Miata: See above. They were actually able to reduce the weight in the latest generation of Miata.

  • avatar

    BMW 3 series: I own one. It’s peerless.
    Mazda5: A true original among minivans, with the right size for the times and fun to drive to boot. We’re thinking of trading our Cadillac SRX for one.
    Mazda MX-5: The only modern reinterpretation of the classic British and Italian roadsters.
    Ferrari F430: Do I really need to explain?
    Hummer H2: Just kidding.

  • avatar

    Favorites right now:

    1/Toyota Prius, for all the right reasons. It’s not unpleasant to drive, and it’s technologically intriguing. I did not get bored driving it.

    2/Chevrolet Malibu. Stop making fun of it, people; I’d take it over a Camry seven days out of seven. It’s good-looking, comfortable, powerful and efficient (with the 3.6, at least.)

    3/Cadillac CTS. What an American luxury car circa 2008 should be.

  • avatar

    Small is in 2008:

    BMW 135i

    For 35k you get a sub 5 sec 0-60, great looking enthusiast machine, with great build quality and best in class brakes. This really is the year 1 of the 1.

    MINI Clubman

    Beautiful car with extra space just in time for high gas prices. Continued evolution of the brand just in time. What Toyota should be doing with Scion BMW is doing with Mini.

  • avatar

    My vote for the 10 best, alphabetically by manufacturer:

    1) Audi R8: Visually stunning, an engineering masterpiece that takes on the best from around the world, and gives up very little in daily driving.

    2) BMW 3-Series: The classic sports sedan stays at the top of the heap with sedan, wagon, and convertible styles.

    3) Cadillac CTS: The sedan that finally proves that GM can make a world class, no compromises sedan that can go head to head with the germans.

    4) Chevrolet Malibu: It’s not the best family sedan, but it’s close, and I want to see it succeed. If it doesn’t I’m scared what GM’s next move will be.

    5) Ford Mustang: It’s fairly primitive, but a hoot to drive, and affordable There’s also something iconic and All-American about it.

    6) Honda Fit: Even though it will have to be the old model, because the new one was not on sale in January. The old one still proves you can have fun and save gas at the same time.

    7) Honda Civic: The Mazda 3 is great, but it’s getting a little long in the tooth. The Civic also boasts better gas milage and a hybrid version.

    8) Infiniti G35/G37: A great Japanese sports sedan that lets you have all the fun of the 3 Series with a lower price and supposedly better reliability.

    9) Mazda 5: Follows the same less is more principal as the Honda Fit, but in an even more family friendly package.

    10) Pontiac G8: Rear wheel drive V8 performance without body cladding dripping off. Probably the last of the breed with gas prices and fuel economy standards.

    Also, as a 2006 TSX owner, the new one should be but on the list of ten worst for that botched redesign.

  • avatar

    Third for the Honda Fit, for the reasons listed above.

    I’d also like to second the Mazda5 (and possibly the Kia Rondo), again, same reasons as above. If there was a “If you can only have one car” award, it should qualify automatically.

    I’d drop the 911 (not worth the money, no matter how good it is and certainly not with the Corvette and GT-R in the mix) and twin the G35/37 and 3-Series on the grounds that they’re nearly the same car depending on whether you value reliability and value or all-out competency.

  • avatar

    MazdaSpeed3 – The Speed3 has been on sale for a good while now and it still tops the list of hot hatches you can buy for less than $25k. I mean, come one? 263hp, the moves of the vaunted regular Mazda3, only amplified and an interior that’s ahead in quality of the more powerful Caliber SRT-4 and a more practical body?

    Honda Fit – Just in time for $4/gallon gas, this econobox shows that being cheap doesn’t mean you have to skimp on quality of the fun-to-drive factor, which the Fit has in spades. Whether you choose the manual gearbox or the 5 speed auto (which comes with shift paddles) you can make the most of the modest 109hp engine and go-kart like handling and get over 35mpg while at it. Plus when it’s time to carry stuff, the rear seats can be moved around to accommodate whatever size cargo you have.

    Mitsubish Evolution X – Okay, I’ll be the first one to say, I’m not the biggest fan of flappy-paddle gearboxes (lol) but the MR version of the Evo X does prove that the concept works, especially when connected to Mitsubishi’s army of electronic AWD hardware. The Evo may be down some 10 or so hp compared to Subaru’s WRX STi, but Evo proves to be the more skilled handler when you want to carve som canyons, and in an attempt to reach a wider audience, the Evo is more livable as a daily driver. If you want a manual so bad (and you’re willing to live with a high-rpm-buzzing engine at highway speeds) go for the GSR.

    Chevy Corvette ZO6 – What the Nissan GT-R does with 480hp and a slew of AWD hardware, the ZO6 does with light, well developed chassis and a big cubic inch hammer under the hood. The interior might not be as posh as a Ferrari or Porsche, but the big 7.0 Corvette spanks those high dollar exotics (and many other high priced cars) when it comes to the track. Plus, it gets very decent gas mileage when it comes cruising. 7.0 liters and 505 hp?….and good fuel economy?…sign me up!

    BMW 3 Series – The looks may not be to everyone’s taste, but the 3 Series is the only car in its class that can speak directly to the driver. There’s a reason why it’s called “The Ultimate Driving Machine” – the handling on this car is second to none in its class and equipped with a smoothness of an inline 6, plus the power of twin turbos, the 335i makes for a speedy ride. The M3 ups the ante with its high revving 4.0 V8, plus makes the M3 even more practical by having it optional as a 4 door sedan. It may be expensive, but when it comes to handling and quality, you get what you pay for.

  • avatar

    Incredible how people prefer the 3 series over the 1-series.

  • avatar


    Audi S5.

    Okay, so I haven’t driven it. But the qualifications:

    Incredible styling
    Great interior
    V8 power and soundtrack

    Give me 60 grand to spend on 1 car and this would be it. Okay, maybe a Boxster, but it would be a tough choice.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Allow me to nominate the venerable Accord….yes I know it has ballooned up in size and weight faster than Kirstey Alley run amok in a bakery, but it still delivers best in class Honda reliability in a comfortable, reasonably efficient and not un-fun-to-drive manner. Long after the 08 Malibus and most of the 08 Camry’s of the world are so much detritus in the scrap yards or recycled into Yarises (Yari?) or 2nd gen Cruzes (Cruzi?), most of the several hundred thousand 08 Accords sold this year will still be on the road….

  • avatar

    Audi A3 – This little car blew me away. Great looks, but even better handling, steering, braking and acceleration. The least “front drive like” front driver I’ve driven… ever. I took it around the exit ramp from the 101 North to Topanga Canyon and the thing just held on. It had the sport package, and while the DSG is nice, the manual still can’t be beat for driver involvement.

  • avatar

    Top Ten:

    Porsche 911 – still the epitome of the driver’s car. Now coming with DSG, Direct Injection and trick dry sump 4 point oil system (on more expensive models).

    Corvette Z06 – this is the one car that Chevy continually and consistently updates for the better and doesn’t let it rot on the vine. It will embarrass many cars even those twice it’s price.

    Honda Fit – excellent little $15k grocery getter and the Sport model can handle like no other car in it’s class even better than many that cost twice (even 4x) it’s price (managed to go through C&D’s slalom faster than a C6 Z06!).

    Honda Civic – the car for the masses that looks good, drives well, gets excellent mileage and just does everything from commuting to having simple and safe fun at the race track (prefer Si model).

    Toyota Prius – no one makes a better and more dominant hybid than Toyota. It holds the mileage crown and with constant evolution Toyota (and to some degree Honda) has brought down the price of entry yet marked improvements.

    Mazda5 – a small people carrier true to its roots and can get 30mpg and have decent handling as well. It reminds me of the 1g Odyssey and how fun that was to drive before it became a true minivan.

    Audi S4 / RS4 – Audi has constantly evolved their S4 series to make it a true driver’s car and outshine its Bavarian rivals ultimate driving machine.

    Subaru WRX – The base model is more pleasant to look at (no more bug eyes) retains its handling and gets a power boost to boot to 265 ponies of grocery getter power.

    Mercedes Benz C300 – Ever since the detachment of scatter brained and money loser Chrysler from Daimler their focus has substantially improved. The C300 has improved in vehicle performance and quality – with typical Benz luxury.

    Mini Cooper – Although pricey to get into one (notwithstanding the mile long options list) it is definitely worth the money in packaging and performance. Good performance, fun to drive, and endearing looks.

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    The Citroën C6 HDi V6 208 hp FAP

    It represents everything that the US of A doesn’t get* with cars:

    * Advanced (air) suspension
    * Great diesel-engine
    * Low fuel consumption
    * Interesting design that’s a result of a skilled team of designers, not a result from a committee or focus group
    * Did I mention stylish and full of flair? :-)

    It’s the antithesis of an ugly American, leaf spring, gasoline (guzzling) V8, two-seater pick-up.

    * “get” as in both “can’t or won’t buy” and “does not understand to appreciate”.

  • avatar

    Ok, ok, I forgot what fun this is.

    1. BMW M3. Even though it wasn’t what most of the hardcore enthusiasts wanted and it got fat, its still awesome. It has all of the performance it should, the coupe looks great, and that engine note!

    2. BMW 135. Even though BMW offered the false promise of 2002 and then shat all over that promise with a 3400lb car with a beer gut and Bangled styling, its an amazing enthusiast car, fast as hell and extremely agile. Seeing one demolish Porsche’s (and everyone else) on the autocross track won me over.

    3. Mini Cooper. Yeah I’m a fanboy, so? This car is great as well. 42 mpg, cute styling, but a track warrior at heart and residuals so high its cheaper to lease than any of the competition (when they weren’t sold out). Talk about the right car at the right time.

    4. Mazdaspeed 3. Practical hothatch with outstanding power and nice styling. I want one.

    5. Tesla Roadster. I know I dog Tesla alot here but they’ve actually delivered a few and even though they likely don’t live up to the hype, I can’t argue that the car has stirred things up.

    6. Honda Civic. It was the best selling car in America for one month.

    7. The Volt! Ha, ha, j/k.

    8. Wow, this is harder than it should be, are cars getting crappier? I would have nominated the Cayman, but I only recently found out it doesn’t come with LSD? Whats up with that??? Also Porsche is nearly dead to me with their Panamera and likely (rebadged Chrysler) minivan due to come out.

    9. I’ll give an obligatory nod to the GT-R. Its a game changer, although I fear in the direction of even more overnannification and bloat.

    10. Corvette ZR1. Cuz when it set the record on the ring it was near disaster the entire time. Anybody could drive the GT-R fast, whats the fun in that?

  • avatar

    It scares me that the Honda Fit could end up on the list. Sure the price is right and the gas mileage is decent but do people seriously want to ride around in a car that looks like a tennis shoe? That thing is a Ked with wheels.

  • avatar


    I think it will end up on the list.

    It is far an away the best subcompact on the market and its possibly the first subcompact that felt like a full fledged car, not just the cheapest possible ride.

    I love mine. Its no sports car, but it certainly has a place in the automotive history of 08, more so than some generically named luxury car.

  • avatar

    I should have also given a vote to the Miata, which is another track rat disguised as something your wife would ask for, yes hunnie the coil over suspension and rollcage I’m installing are for your safety, as are the shaved R comps.

    Also the Audi S5 is the most beautiful car I’ve seen come out recently. I’d love to get an RS5 version of this with the V8 retuned to 420hp.

  • avatar

    You can’t argue with the 911, I’ve tried to dislike it, tried to rationalize it’s capabilities with respect to its price, but the car is the perfect sportscar and the only sportscar you can drive every day. If petrol still exists in some decades (and it will) you can buy one now and drive it happily every day for at least the next 20 years.

    Now they’ve upgraded the interior with the facelift, I see no more flaws with it. The PDK box has an awkward manual mode (pushing the lever up for upshifts and down for downshifts and stupid steering wheel buttons) but you should order a manual anyway.

    Yes, it is expensive, but it takes a lot of cash to get to the highest level. If you look at Formula1, it takes a budget of 150MM to create a quick car, but those last tenths cost 150MM more.

    A Corvette will be tacky in 10 years or sooner (in Europe it’s tacky new), a GTR will have lost its appeal because of more modern machinery, but the 911 will still be a 911.

  • avatar
    John B

    Mazda3: My wife has one (I drive it very frequently) that is now four and a half years old with 115,000 km., absolutely reliable. In addition to great handling, fuel mileage is very respectable as is driving comfort. Hers is the auto transmission (wouldn’t be my choice) which works quite nicely. I can’t think of a current comparable car that I would choose over the Mazda3.

    MX-5: I don’t own one – yet, but I promise I will sometime (I have driven an older one). This is one of the few cars that put a smile on my face. Affordable (but overpriced in Canada relative to the U.S. – come on Mazda) with decent performance (as Blunozer said, I don’t get the “chick car” thing either) and great handling. Top Gear loves it too:

    Nissan GT-R: Over the top performance at a fraction of the price of other exotic supercars.

  • avatar
    Scorched Earth

    I agree with most of the picks listed, but these HAVE to go:

    WRX/STI – I’m a huge Subie fan, but they SO dropped the ball with the styling of the new models and the handling of the WRX

    TSX – take that fat turd off the list! You yourselves blasted the shit out of it!

    1) Another nomination for the Fit!
    2) Agreed with Rix above, the Prius is the most innovative machine (and truly practical) machine on the road.
    3) How’s about the S2000? Surely it’s getting old but DAMN what a car.

  • avatar

    Being both poor and having fat kids…

    The Mazda3 and speed3 are the very best there is.
    It makes me feel as if I am somebody!
    And please don’t tell us the civic is a fun car.

    Taurus for families.
    Next, no other car for 20K will hold my fat family other than the 2009 Taurus.
    Now, if I can get a job…its the Avalon.

  • avatar

    2008-2009 Bullitt Mustang
    A mix of raw power, tight handling, retro styling (in the best sense of the word) and 20-24 MPG if you treat it right. Performance without the in your face stripes, spoilers or police attention.

  • avatar

    I forgot to add the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer and Evolution X. The regular Lancer is roomier than a Mazda3 and BMW 3 Series Xi.

    I was inside a BMW 3 Series Xi yesteraday and man that car is small. Head console was shaking and to much road noise inside the cabin with window close.

    Don’t believe me? test drive one and you will know what I’m talking about

    too bad NO ONE except me voted for 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS a great price for a car that is fully loaded with Nav system and 650 watts rockford fosgate car stereo with sub-woofer. I can fit a mountian bike in the trunk without any problems try doing that with a Mazda3 and BMW.

  • avatar

    Honda Civic. Having driven a Civic and a Mazda3 (2.0L) back-to-back, those who say the 3 is a better overall experience are on crack. Interior quality, road noise, engine noise, seating comfort (for driver or passenger) are all better in the Civic. The 2.0L 3 has slightly better torque and power and a better stereo, but it doesn’t make up for all of its shortcomings compared to the Civic.

    The Civic provides laser-precise handling, a quiet comfortable interior, and decent power. It’s a blast to drive, yet somehow manages to get class-leading fuel efficiency. Among non-hybrid compacts it’s the king – one can easily get 40+ MPG on the highway without driving like Grandma. Its higher-than-class-average sticker price is fully mitigated by its high resale value, making this car about the smartest buy on the market right now.

  • avatar

    Here’s my short list:

    Lexus ES: The Lexus ES is badge engineering done right. While the big three just give a car a new front fascia, tail lights, wheels, and maybe throw some woodgrain or aluminum in the interior, Toyota goes a step further and give the ES a distinct look and personality from its Camry counterpart. In other words, it deserves a spot on the list because it is how badge engineering should be done. The big three should be taking notes.

    Cadillac CTS: It transformed Cadillac from a joke to a legitimate competitor in the luxury segment overnight. Nuff said.

    Toyota Camry: The Camry deserves a spot on a list because it is the car that all of the mainstream manufacturers wish they can build. It not only has a great interior, top notch build quality, and great value for the money; the latest generation manages to have great widespread popularity without being a totally lifeless appliance. On top of that, it also has people lines up nine-deep waiting to buy one. The Camry has since become the standard of which all mainstream sedans are built. If you watch an advertisement for any sedan (especially one from an American or Korean manufacturer) you will always seem them trying to make their product look superior to the Camry.

  • avatar

    M-B C Class – what an awesome car. Beautiful to look at, decent interior, and does everything well. Shame the wagon never made it here (again).

    Honda Civic – perfect daily driver and dead reliable

    Honda Fit – fun, stylish (sort of), reliable, and cheap!

    Audi A3 – this one is a joke. Nothing that unreliable should ever be considered class leading

    Volvo C30 – what a cool car. Lift gate will get copied once it’s off the market. Too bad it never got any press or took off

    Mazda5 – yuck. I vote against it being on the list

    Honda S2000 – great package, awesome seats

    Honda Accord – love the new styling & size, can’t wait for the diesel wagon to arrive so I can buy it!

    Ford Focus – risking my credibility, I think it’s only fair to submit the Focus because of it’s well-done Sync, quiet interior, and good fuel economy. If you must buy domestic, buy this car.

  • avatar

    Mazda MX-5 – I’ve owned three including the excellent MSM. Great fun, great handeling, great car, great price. I had a smile on my face EVERY time I started the engine.

    Mazdaspeed 3 – Now I have a son, an extra seat was required. With the MS3, I still get weekend track days, a fun car to flick around on the streets, and trips to IKEA and the nursery are easy as pie with the great cargo room.

  • avatar

    The TSX should definitely be dropped from the list. The new version drives like it has peanut brittle in place of a suspension and the new styling is way beyond gay. It looks like it had cheek implants in all the wrong places.

    I’d also take off the MX-5. It’s had its day. They’ve really stopped developing it, and have been resting on their laurels for too long. The new styling manages to be both bland and annoying. If I were a single woman beginning her first job in Human Resources, it would be the perfect car. But come on, it’s a relic that’s exhausted whatever originality it first offered. Time to move on.

    The Jaguar XF is clearly a winner for 2008. It’s beautiful, different, and drives like a dream. It’s a genuine alternative to more panzerhaftig offerings from Deutschlandia.

    This may seem somewhat left field, but I really like the Ford Flex. They’ve taken the station wagon and turned it into something from a ZZ Top video. It’s very stylish, well made, and drives surprisingly well. No, it’s not a sports car. But it would be a fantastic car to drive across country in, and it’s not a minivan and it’s not an SUV.

    I also don’t see how you can avoid listing the Smart for Two, if only because it’s a revolutionary car for the US. And it’s priced to sell.

  • avatar
    Jeff in Canada

    #1 – Audi R8: No other car in the last decade has created such a stir as this one. Incredible styling, performance and presence. The R8 stops traffic, then peels out leaving bystanders to wipe off their drool.

    #2 – Mazda MX-5: Still the best, BEST ‘toy’ car money can buy. A peppy 4 cylinder engine, a brilliant handling package, and a covertible top that puts all others to shame. (Ahem ‘Solstice’.)

    #3 – Honda Fit Sport: What a perfect car for the sensible car-guy in all of us. Uber-practical, revvy engine that barely sips fuel, and nimble handling that makes some sports cars blush, all for a low admittance fee.

    There’s my top 3.

  • avatar

    Is there any requirement on number of wheels? I know this is The Truth About Cars, and I’ve seen articles about how much you cagers hate motorcycles, but how bout meeting us halfway at the 3-wheeled 2008 Can-Am Spyder? More or less a street-legal snowmobile, complete with storage space, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, a real mechanical reverse, and an optional electronic gearbox. For under 16k it’s a steal, has the gas mileage of similar-costing subcompacts but is infinitely faster and cooler. By far the fastest vehicle for the price that doesn’t make you put your foot down at stoplights. And in California and a few other states, you don’t need a motorcycle license to ride one. You guys should do a review, I love mine to death and I’m sure you’d get a kick out of riding one.

  • avatar

    1. VW GTI – I can say from personal experience this car is amazingly fun and practical. Anyone who wouldnt nominate the GTI hasnt driven it or lived in it.

    2. Lancer/EVO – if you can nominate the 3 and the ‘Speed on the same ticket this should work, right? I dunno if the Rallart is onsale yet but the rest of the line goes from fuel-efficient to fun-efficient.

    3. Jetta Diesel – Does this make the on-sale cutoff? Maybe not… but 30 city/40 highway and super-high tech make this car very relevant today and will hopefully change some people’s ‘pinions.

    4. Audi A5/S5 – ** Homer Drool Noise **

    5. Audi A8 – THE Supercar for the everyone in the world.

    6. GTR – barely makes the cut… supercar for more of the world with looks only a mother could tolerate.

    7. BMW 1-series – right-sizing for our eco-world.

    8. Honda FCX Clarity – Not sure if these awards are about ‘doing everything right for the most amount of people’ or ‘high quality engineering for the few’. I think if the GTR can make it as an engineering achievement , we should consider the Clarity as well.

    9. Porsche 911 with PDK – does that make the cut? if not lets wait til next year and go with the GT2/GT3.

    10. Mini Cooper/Clubman/JCW- Its a sign of the times that their sales keep going up and up. They are more relevant now than ever with an expanded lineup and i think they should be commended for their customization which kicks scion to the curb.

    No im not nominating an American car… just because they are ‘good for an american company!’ or in the case of the koreans ‘pretty good for a Hyundai’ doesnt make it the best in the world, It just means they are on the right track which i commend them for but the Malibu/Genesis/Corvette/CTS/whatever wouldn’t make my list…

  • avatar

    Mazda5 – i’ve owned one since 2006, and even though i’ve had a few issues with mine, i think that nothing else comes close to it in its price range for its combination of utility and fun to drive factor. the rondo is ugly and boring.

    Honda Fit – Packaging genius.

    Mini Cooper S – Ridiculously fun to drive, and surprisingly efficient.

    Mercedes Benz C350 4Matic – This car reminds me of the old benzes that felt like tanks and would last forever. After driving one, i was trying to figure out how i could own one.

    Honda cr-v – the only small utility vehicle that remains focused on economy and utility. i had one as a rental a few months ago, and i think that it is perfect for what it is and does.

    Toyota Prius – toyota is the only one that has been able to sell hybrids at a profit, and the prius is why. this car was executed very well, and having driven one, it is very refined and as a city car, very, very efficient while offering the interior room for a family.

  • avatar

    I can’t see any reason why the BMW 3 would budge. There have been some new models this year and some improvements of old models. The BMW 3 is mostly the same sexy beast it was last year. There really is no need to fix what ain’t broke.

    The 3 is a dream machine with a perfect balance of luxury and performance. And for the money, there’s nothing that comes close. Sure, the G37 is catching up in the rear view mirror but she’s still no 3. Drive them both and you’ll see for yourself.

    So, back in number one, needless to say, I nominate the venerable BMW 3-series.

    2. Infiniti G37 (the only 3 threat). It has all the performance and luxury highpoints of the BMW but it’s a new engine and it still has a lot to prove. Maybe next year G! (but don’t rely on BMW to sleep)

    3. BMW 1-series. A more affordable 3 lite. Less space, a little less refinement but shares the same monstrous inline 6 twin turbo engine. If an engine could be nominated, this is the one.

    4. Toyota Prius. It’s ugly. It’s slow. But it can’t be beat for it’s fuel economy. It’s the right car at the right time for those who care about miles per gallon. And after several years on the market, there have been no scandals regarding malfunctions or other quality issues that have affected it’s increasing sales.

    5. Honda Accord. A poor man’s Bimmer. Most importantly, it’s an Accord. Decades of reliability back this choice up. Great resale value. New more potent engine and new styling (but controversial). The coupe gets eagle eyes and a more Acura-like styling. Both coupe and sedan get bigger but mpg doesn’t get badder. A great choice for the middle-class.

    6. Honda Civic. A poor man’s Accord. Much less power than its big brother but has the same reputation for reliability and Honda quality. Another interesting style-design with some fun modern interior features (the LED dash). A great price, great mpg, and and overall everyman’s and everywoman’s car.

    7. Honda Fit. A poor man’s Civic. Honda has every income level covered this year. The Fit has, so far, proven to have what every other Honda has- reliability and great gas mileage. This one will make the nature folks and kids a great conscientious choice. It’s also cute as heck.

    8. Toyota Camry. Another dirigible that has a long history of reliability and consistent quality. It’s mostly a blander version of the Accord with similar specs, if not just a little less of everything.

    9. Nissan Altima. The G35 with subpar parts. Cheap plastics don’t eliminate this car from being a good choice though. Nissan has, year after year, improved the quality and thus reliability of their autos. The Altima offers many convenience features found in luxury cars and is packed with plenty of horsepower to get you across town. The coupe is sexy and not a bad alternative to the G37 for those with fewer bucks to burn.

    10. Mazda Miata. There is no car more fun to drive. Top down and taking turns in this little tiger is like a grown up rollercoaster ride. It is sprightly, decent on gas, and an amazing deal overall. You can’t get that sports-like fun in any other car for this price. Why number 10? It’s not good for anything but having fun. There’s barely room for the driver’s kneecaps! Your dog will love going to the vet in this little spitfire.

  • avatar

    i still put the lotus elise as the number one car. unfortunately, it gained a bit of weight to cross the pond, what with all them luxury fittings (carpet? who needs a carpet?) & its safety gear, yet it’s still difficult to get into, even if you’re below the average displacement for this continent.

    but what a driving experience! can’t be beat. take it over highway 9 from santa cruz to saratoga. boot it in those “15MPH!” hairpins (don’t need no 15mph, jeeeem!).


  • avatar

    1. Honda Fit: Basic, Economical, Utilitarian, transportation has that is actually fun to drive, comfortable, and nice to look at. One of teh really nice things about this car is actually its shiftable 5spd autobox.

    2. Honda Civic/ Si: The jewel of the under $20,000 automotive world. The Civic is a close call over a Mazda3 but in this case the subtance(quality) of the Civic does trump the extra features offered on the 3. In Si form the Civic feels like it will last forever were the Mazdaspeed3 feels like it will pretty worn-out after a good 3 to 4 years of hard driving.

    3. Honda Accord EX-L 4 Cyl: The best family sedan you can have for under $30,000 and one of the best PERIOD at any price. This is a full-sized 4cyl car that actually works very well due to its powerful and ultra smooth engine. It can seat 3 adults in real comfort in the back. It is also a rather luxuious car in EX-L trim. In addition to being decently powerful it also handles very well. This is a car both husband and wife can easily agree to purchase.

    4. Mazda MX5 PRHT: The one PRHT convertible that does NOT force you to compromise trunck space for open air motoring. WTF is the point of a convertible that you cant store any luggage in? personally if I buy a drop top I do want to drive further than my own neighborhood. Oh, the MX5 is about the most fun anyone can have on 4 wheels in the real world without fear of killing self or innocent party.

    5. Infiniti 35/37: Lets see, a good $50,000 for a loaded 328xi or $40,000 for a loaded, larger, more powerful G35x (just one example). This IS the new 3 series! Ok, OK, I know the 3 series might pull .90g to the G35 .89 and the 3 series will go throught the cones 2mph faster, WOW! At the end of the day for all but the BMW fateful the g35 is just much more car than a 3 series.

    6. BMW 5 series: Have to admit that in the mid-level luxury/sport sedan class the 5 series rules/ rocks! It has the E-class, GS, A6, M35, STS, all beat hands down. In sedan or wagon I dig this car. Equiped with either the TT inline6 or v8 you cant go wrong! Give me a 535xi Touring.

    7. Nissan GT-R: Such a force to be reckoned that folks can’t but help to hate on it. This is the car that has Porsche and Ferrari fans making claims “that it is NOT all about performance” FUNNY! This thing a track car for the road that can spank just about any other dual purpose car about any track (it called winning) yet folks just cant get over the fact that their $150,000 Porsche just does not seem to be worth that much anymore.

    8. Porsche 911: In a world full of silly looking VW Lambos/ Bentleys, Wannabe Ford Aston Martins the 911 still says “CLASS” in a big way! This is the one sportscar that does not make the driver look like he is screaming for attention (hey look at me in my yellow origami Lambo, I think I look cool) yet still allow them to look special. It is fast, handles very well, and is also rich and comfortable. Nevermind the chicks this is the car that makes men give the driver the thumbs up!

    9. Lexus LSh 600L: Like Nissan with its GT-R I must give Toyota/ Lexus props for pushing the envelope with this car. If high-tech and luxury are your thing this is the “luxury” ride for you. V8 power, Electric Motor, AWD, CVT, AND a whole host of RELIABLE, WORKING eletronic gizmos to play with. Lets also not forget that this is a 5000lbs +, 400hp+ automobile that does manage to get better than 20mpg! One demerit: lack of trunk space.

    10. Ferrari F430: What can I say, “sex on wheels” here! I am sure like most men the more you age the less desire you have for a “over the top” “notice me” machine. The cars you would hang on you wall as a kid just do not do it for you anymore. For me the F430 is the one Italian exotic that I still lust for in the same way I used to lust over a lowly 308/328. Oh the sound of this thing! Give me one just for the flat-crank engine!

  • avatar

    I can’t understand how anyone would even consider putting the Ford Focus on the list. Sure, it gets 31mpg in real world driving – I get, on average, 32 (US) mpg in my 01 Impala. Plus, the whole duct-tape covered wiring things covered in the TTAC review a while back. It’s a decent car, to be sure, but one of the best? Hell no.

    And the BMW 1 Series shouldn’t be nominated either. It’s a small 3 Series, that costs just a bit less than a 3 Series. The 3 is better than the 1 because of the relatively high cost, so hang the 1.

    And there should not be the Smart car. It’s hideous, sucks gas, no room, hideous, underpowered, and incredibly expensive for what it is. Did I mention it was hideous? Hell, you can buy almost 2 Hyundai Accents for the price of a Smart car.

    Which brings me to my nominations:

    1)Hyundai Sonata – it’s a cheap, but viable, alternative to Toyota and Honda mid-size sedans. It’s powerful, comfortable, lots of accessories, and is proving to be very reliable.

    2)Toyota Camry – it’s the best selling car in North America. Boring? Maybe. But it still sells quicker than booze at a Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan party. (I can’t believe I just used the hookerette twins and Toyota Camry in the same paragraph. Oh well.)

    3)Honda Accord – it’s another quick seller. It’s practical, comfortable, and offers people what they want, apparently. Plus it’s a bit less vanilla than the Camry… maybe more like french vanilla… or vanilla chip.

    Anyway, I know my three nominations are boring, vanilla cars, but vanilla is the best-selling ice cream flavour (I work at a grocery store.) There must be some reason for that.

  • avatar

    Thinking mainly of technology…

    Tesla Roadster – you guys love to hate it but if we’re seriously going to move beyond oil, new storage technologies need development and they’ve put a lot of work into a viable Li-Ion battery. The management is a soap opera and they have a lot of work to do but they did come up with a battery that’ll go 200+ miles on a charge.

    Nissan GTR – Sucessfully uses all sorts of gadgets to go brutally fast. Consistent 3.5s 0-60 times don’t come from any old drivetrain.

    Z06 – lots of racing technology starting to trickle down into everyday cars. (I see one on my street everyday so this counts). Carbon fiber body panels, dry sump oil, rear mounted transmission, the list goes on

    Toyota Prius – everyone’s favorite revolutionary car…until they have to get rid of all those batteries anyway.

    BMW 3 series – Perennially the best handling car in its class, twin turbo’d magnesium injected aluminum blocks, idrive (I don’t care about journalists beating that dead horse, makes sense to me), includes the M3, best styling in it’s class and imitated by everyone so they must be right. Right?

    Audi R8 – Expanding the target demographic for the mid engined V8 platform from millionaires to…lesser millionaires.

  • avatar

    #1 – Honda Civic. The benchmark of the compact car deserves the list. I would even put it in place of the 3 series. Why? Because the Civic is a class leader that the masses can afford both in purchase price and operating expense. It’s the perfect car for a time of high energy prices, home forclosures, economic uncertanity and national elections.

    #2 – Honda Fit. As others have echoed, it’s the new benchmark for the sub-compact. See above for why it belongs on the list.

    I’ll throw in a vote to drop the 3 series. Haven’t liked the style for a few years now and the price doesn’t seem justified with the competition from Infinity.

  • avatar
    Ryan Knuckles


    How is an Accord a poor man’s BMW? It does not have any sporting pretensions and its wrong-wheel-drive. That’s like saying a CRV is a poor man’s H2. And I seriously doubt that there are very many people cross shopping Accords and Civics. So again, not so much a poor man’s anything. The Civic is near the top of its class, as is the Accord, but classing them as you have doesn’t do them justice.

  • avatar

    Toyota Prius: Just made a 3000 mile camping trip that really sold me on this car. We got 50.3 mpg, were able to carry a ton of camping stuff, and the driving was smooth and comfortable. Best car for this time.

    BMW 3-series: Unbeatable driving experience.

  • avatar

    Honda tends to give their economy cars a more direct environment and feel (just like BMW). The “poor man’s BMW” is thrown at a lot of cars including VW and Honda. Both just are drivers cars but they are FWD and for the masses.

    As for those who think the TSX should be a TWAT nominee? That’s just absurd – the car is not completely ruined it’s just no longer as good as it was after the refresh. It’s a big disappointment b/c the car had so much potential to remain great but it’s not a TWAT – that’s just an over reaction. PS my wife’s daily driver is a 2004 TSX and we were going to get the new one until we drove it. Instead, we’ll keep it for another several years and save our money.

  • avatar

    Civic – Great handling and fuel economy. Much more passenger and trunk room than the Mazda3–at least thats how I felt after trying them both. I made mine an Si sedan.

    Infiniti G35 – speed, handling, and luxury without the ownership costs and “reliability” of German cars.

    Ford Flex – American style without body on frame handling and heft.


    GTI – Oh so Euro. Just be sure to sell it before it starts making the “4 year old Volkswagen noise” or it needs an $800 starter.

  • avatar

    Toyota Prius – As said above several times, it is the car for the times: Affordable, practical, reliable.
    BMW 3-series – No other car offers such variety. Sedan, coupe, wagon, convertible? Check. NA or turbo straight 6? Check. RWD or AWD? Check. The great thing is that all versions are fantastic cars to drive.
    VW GTI – The jack of all trades. Sporty handling and acceleration, great driver accomodations, great interior, good cargo space (w/ the seats down), clean styling, and good fuel economy.
    Honda Fit – For the sub $20k budget, I can’t recommend anything else as a daily driver. Cargo room, fun to drive, and economical.
    Nissan GT-R – This car made me eat crow. It is amazing how it performs based on the given specs. I was certain it was going to be an overweight, overpriced pig.
    Audi R8 – One of the most beautiful and elegant cars made this decade. It apparently drives well, too!

  • avatar

    The Honda Fit. Given the disaster that is Acura, the hideous and bloated Accord, and the pointless Pilot, the Fit remains a welcome sign that Honda hasn’t completely lost the plot. Savagely clever engineering in a segment most automakers treat as a loss-leader. So brilliantly packaged that it makes you wonder why you’d need a bigger car. (I’ve talked at least two people into buying them just by persuading them to go sit in it and play with the rear seats.)

    BMW 3-series coupe. Chris Bangle had come very close to convincing me that I wouldn’t want a BMW even if I won the lottery, but the coupe is a wickedly good-looking car. The astounding 335i twin-turbo engine makes the M3 seem a little redundant. Attractive, good to drive, more efficient than I would have thought, for my money, this is the best modern BMW.

    Toyota Prius. Tomorrow’s car today. Not really a driver’s car, but a practical and painless transportation module that is optimized for the conditions in which most urbanites actually drive. Not a back-roads car, but every time I get stuck in semi-stationary traffic, I wish I had one.

    Mazda3. The segment’s only serious alternative to the Civic for people who don’t drive like my grandmother. Good looking, quick, reasonably agile, and well-equipped, it feels like a more expensive car than it is. When I bought mine, I realized I would have to spend at least $10,000 more to find something I liked more than the 3.

    Honda Civic. The previous generation was a dud (I didn’t even consider it when I bought the 3), and this one’s science fiction styling took a long time to grow on me, but it’s reclaimed its place as the gold standard of its class. The Si is fun, but my choice (EX sedan with manual shift) is the slickest combination of refinement, poise, and price. The Mazda3’s bigger engines have more torque, but you pay for it at the pump. The only things I don’t like about the Civic are the Bizarro World dashboard and the fact that you can’t see the nose from the driver’s seat, as you could in most earlier Hondas.

  • avatar

    @Voice of Sweden

    Thanks for the link to the Citroen 6. Maybe there should be a ranking of the 10 Best we can’t get here, even if we’re very nice.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Audi RS4 – Yes. For the unalduterated way in which it stills makes the M3 look like an inferior product, for it’s raw soundtrack, for it’s gorgeous interior. For it’s extreme blend of everyday functionality and OMGWTFBBQ driving abilities.

    I’d like to un-nominate the VW GTI – Although a perennial favorite (including a glowing review by Mr. Farago) has driven me to test drive it 3 times, I can’t get over it’s ridiculously bouncy ride quality (it never settles in) and it’s spit-in-the-face-of-all-that’s-holy vertical wall at the base of the interior windshield.


  • avatar

    In no particular order…

    1 – Mazda MX-5 Miata. The most pure, most fun car on the road today – and still with a modicum of practicality, too.

    2 – Mazda3. In both sedan and hatchback form, the Mazda3 offers enough zoom-zoom to satisfy your wants and enough practicality to satisfy your needs. It is THE premium small car on the market today.

    3 – Mazda5. The future of the family hauler is now. Is it a tall hatch? Is it a small van? I can’t tell, but it’s what the Scion xB should have become. Seating for six was never so much fun.

    4 – BMW 3-series. Status symbol of yuppies everywhere? Yes. Ultimate driving machine? Absolutely.

    5 – Honda Fit. King of the subcompacts.

    6 – Toyota Prius. The game-changer.

    7 – Ford Fusion. In a market full of dull midsize sedans, the Fusion offers the best balance between fun and frugality in its class. (Note: this would go to the Mazda6, but it doesn’t seem right to nominate an outgoing model – especially since the new 6 appears to have gotten fat.)

    8 – Chevrolet Corvette. Conspicuous consumption that you can drive every day, made in America.

    9 – Avanti. Greatness never dies, it just goes into limited production.

    10 – Ford Ranger. While all around it pickup trucks grew into bejeweled behemoths, the Ranger never strayed far from its roots as an honest truck earning an honest day’s living. Sure, it’s rude and crude by today’s standards. But while fancier trucks languish on dealer lots, The Little Truck That Could keeps earning one reprieve after another. For simply being what it is – a truck – the Ranger is the best truck out there today.

  • avatar
    Point Given

    Nissan Altima – very underrated car, as I recall this site gave the coupe version 5 out of 5

    Toyota Prius – for having the right product at the right time. True foresight on Toyota’s part

    Lexus IS-F – oh my god fun. the paddle shifters work great with an 8 speed transmission, the sound is intoxicating and it’s just a blast

    Honda Fit – clearly the segment leader

    BMW 1 series hatch – 1 series was fine but give me the ti hatch and I’ll be a happy camper

    Audi A3 S-line – something I can actually buy in canada and love to death.

    MazdaSpeed 3 – tourque monkey maybe, but a good seller, nice car mission accomplished.

    Yes, I like hatchbacks!

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Porsche Boxster (S) – Unbelieably still the single most easily accessible modern vehicle which embodies all that is right in a genuine sports car. Let me put this in perspective:


    Flat-six engine
    Supple ride quality with nigh-on unbeatable handling
    Steering that is never harsh but always “on”
    Ergonomics/control placement perfected over more years than I’ve lived (carried over from the 911)
    ~3000 pounds with all of today’s safety requirements

    This is the everyman’s sports car. While the BMW 3-series bloats to 3500+ pounds (let alone the 4000 pound hardtop convertible automatic 335 behemoth) still carries the tagline of the ultimate driving machine, this car has a perfectly balanced driving character and has perfectly balanced the needs of modern accomodations, safety, and emissions with the purety of the original 356 vision.

    If it doesn’t have a place on a list such as this, nor do I.


  • avatar

    Having gone car shopping for several members of my family in the last year, I would nominate the following:

    1) Honda Fit – it is an impeccably designed small car, with good mpg, an ingenious interior (those seats fold in every direction!), reliability, and playful handling.

    2) Honda Civic/Si – much better than a comparable Corolla, and while the interior is not as chic as that in the Mazda 3, it has more space and a much bigger trunk.

    3) Honda Accord – yes, it’s bigger, but it still looks and handles better than the Camry, and it has reliability that the domestic offerings lack.

    4) Subaru Forrester (base or XT) – the old one was crude and rugged but the new one has a bigger, quieter interior, nicer fit and finish, and standard awd for those of us in the snowbelt. The turbo provides power that the CR-V lacks.

    5) Ford Mustang – it is cheap, handles decently, has a tolerable interior, and it has torque, which no other car in its price range can offer. That makes the car more fun to drive than others where you wait and wait and wait for the revs to build.

    I would delist the TSX and Impeza (WRX and STI). Both are steps backward and have lost their focus.

  • avatar

    I nominate two:

    1. Honda Fit (2008) 30+ miles per gallon, outstanding handling, incredible standard safety features/crash test results, highly flexible interior, all at a budget friendly price.
    2. Subaru Forester (2009) AWD but still competitive miles per gallon, superb road manners, great crash test results and safety features, mainstream restyling, starting under 20k! (oh yeah, you can still get a 5 speed too)

  • avatar

    I nominate Audi’s R8. To me, this is the best car available in the world today. It’s the spiritual successor to the Acura NSX; a proper mid-engined, user-friendly supercar with enough power to excite, but not to terrify. It’s styled with grace, shunning Lamborghini’s ostentation and Ferrari’s incessant functionalism. A spectacular vehicle, and a future classic.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Because of all the depressing news, value is a major factor in all my choices.

    1- Honda Fit. Frugal, flexible, fun.
    2- Infiniti G37. The executive express starts here.
    3- Audi R8. The supercar to have if you are only going to have one supercar. Value is almost incidental here.
    4- Chevy Corvette. The car for Americans to be proud of.
    5- Toyota Yaris. Renewing faith in the subcompact hatch segment.
    6- Lexus LS 600h. No value here, just an amazing flagship.
    7- BMW 130i. Smaller, cheaper 3 series. What’s not to like?
    8- Toyota Prius. It’s America’s car.
    9- Mazda5. Leading a segment that is only going to go up.
    10- Nissan GTR. Monstrous, practical, affordable, all relatively speaking of course.

  • avatar

    Mazda 5- It’s a great idea, needs to be more noticed.
    Saturn Astra- OK, so it took European design and manufacture to make the best “American” compact. So be it
    VW Jetta TDI Sportwagen. It’s a diesel AND a station wagon, how cool is that?

  • avatar

    Mazda5 – The best people carrier for the times. 4-cylinder engine? Check. 3 rows of seats? Check. 5-speed manual available? Check. Cheap, stylish, fun minivan for a pistonhead with a family? Check, check, check.

    Tesla Roadster – Flame all you want, but this is the first production electric sports car since early 20’s. Granted, they’re barely making them, but the same can be said about Veyrons. Regardless, it’s driving, living proof that one doesn’t need 30 billion dollars to develop and produce an electric car.

    Toyota Yaris – cheap, cheerful, and actually fun. Interior is full of Toyota-style plastic-craptastic, but there’s plenty of room, the hatch is extremely versatile, and it actually looks nice. The best car in Toyota’s lineup.

    Lotus Elise SC – How can you guys possibly forget this one? It’s within a spitting range of a Corvette, weighs nothing, goes fast, and attracts more attention than an alien spaceship. The lone flagship of once-proud British sports car industry. I’m getting one as soon as I get even slightly rich.

  • avatar

    Honda Civic

    in regular trim you get a well loaded car that’s relatively fun to drive (relatively – compare it to the competition . . . actually its objectively fun to drive compared to anything!) plus its fuel efficient, reliable and retains resale value

    with the Hybrid model you get extended gas mileage uber alles

    with the SI model you get a sedan or coupe that can clean up at track and autocross days, yet haul the baby around when needed.


    Porsche 911

    need I say more?

  • avatar

    My contributions to this proccess:

    AUDI RS4 An amazing engine /transmission package providing stellar performance – extremely agile (especially for it weight) and AWD for foul weather make this an unbelievable package. 4 Doors making room for friends / kids are icing on the cake. The interior is not bad either. Gas mileage is, well you can’t have everything but at this price point it doesn’t really affect the buying decision.

    Chevy Corvette Pick your variant – these are the shining jewel in GM’s very tarnished crown – the value / performance combination they represent can’t be beat.

    Honda Odyssey As people movers go it can’t be beat. It can easily haul 5+ people and their gear and do so economically. Its not as fun to drive as the commercials describe but is far superior to other vehicles in this space.

  • avatar

    Dodge Challenger SRT-8. It’s about time somebody got the “retro” thing right. Totally impractical, but it just looks awesome! (Also has the power to back up the look)

    The Honda Fit appears to be a very popular selection, for all of the stated reasons, and deservedly so. However, I don’t know that I’d want to be *in* one in a wreck. Outside my office, last year…there was a Honda Fit in a wreck with a 2003ish Camry Solara. A drivers-side offset head-on collision (Both tried to make left-hand turns from opposite directions simultaneously into eachother). Estimated combined speed was about 40mph. Both cars were totalled. Camry driver (whom I worked with) was totally fine (airbag scrapes on inside of his arm). Fit driver was carted off in an ambulance on a backboard with a neckbrace. Didn’t look so good.
    1 point does not make a trend, but it sure didn’t look so good.

  • avatar

    * nice steering and handling
    * nice acceleration
    * great mpgs
    * extremely reliable
    * technological tour de force

    fun, frugal, exceptionally reliable, and practical

    pretty much same as fit

    best bang for the buck in a roadster, wonderful handling

    just kidding!

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X: The tenth entry into the evo family has brought us superb handling and more refinement, and let’s not forget how fun it is to drive! Bring it on Subaru…

  • avatar

    Fit Sport/5M-Great handling,shifting, price , mpg and packaging. Sunroof and rear discs would be even better Honda. Does everything it’s rivals does plus.

    Prius Touring-Mid-size interior (almost exactly ‘Bu size), mid size price, Motorcycle MPG. Touring option perks up the handling.

    MX-5 Miata-The elemental sports car done right, fun, frugal, reliable (hear that Pontiac?). PRHT gives great weather protection and takes away…nothing!

    Wrangler 2DR-The best at what it does. If you NEED to get out in the boonies, past the posers, this is your buggy. Demanding but there is no compromise for the unbelievers.

    Lotus Elise/Exige-The best at what it does. If you need a tarmac scalpel this is your buggy. Demanding but there is no compromise for the unbelievers.

    Aston Martin DBS 6M- Gorgeous, v-12, gorgeous, leather to die in, gorgeous, fast, gorgeous, handles…did I mention the looks? Beauty is its own justification.

    S2000- I do not think it lost a head to head with the Boxster when it came out. Reliable, 8 grand RL, sweet handling, good looking. Enough bucks left to get the Fit for every day and insure both vs. the Boxster. Cool.

    Some categories that don’t deserve a nomination.
    Midsize sedans
    Large SUVs

    There are some prefectly fine vehicles in these categories but none that stand clear of the pack (unless you’re a brand zombie).
    The “best” is not a light personal preferance, the machine needs to stand up and be counted. IMHO.


  • avatar

    Keep the 3er. I know he was talking about the E46 M, but like Clarkson said…the 3 is the yardstick by which all others are judged. I miss the hell out of my 325i.

    Take the Speed3 off the list. As someone who drives one everyday, I cannot say in any way does it belong on that list with any of those other cars. I shoulda bought an Evo or STI.

  • avatar

    This is my first post, and I’m only 22, so I haven’t had the chance to own/drive many of these cars. With that said I nominate the Nissan GT-R.

    I’ve always been a fan of the Supra,RX-7,Z cars, etc. because they were examples of great engineering. Not too complex, not to simple, but those cars are fun, fast, beautiful, and not made anymore. I’ve been waiting for a 2008 Supra or RX, but it’s not gonna happen. So the GT-R seems like the return of the Japanese “supercar.” And for the price, it seems like I could afford one before I turn 30.

  • avatar

    To all who nominated the Honda Fit…

    Suzuki had this car out 4 years earlier… called the Aerio SX (hatchback).

    Before you laugh, next time you see an Aerio SX take a good look. You’ll see it has all the same attributes the Fit offers that now has everyone gushing. The fact that the Aerio never got any love demonstrates the (not-so) subtle power of BRAND…
    Suzuki = Irrelevent
    Honda = Brilliant

    But they are substantially the same cars (and I still love my Aerio)

  • avatar

    Mazda 3 should stay – what a great overall package in terms of price, features, economy and fun factor. I cannot deny the civic is a car for the masses – but I disliked the dashlayout and felt like the masses driving one. It was very close to the current corrola in its appliance-like feel. I miss the old corrola 2dr SR5, and I really miss VW.

    The new Honda Accord styling is great. Hard to get too excited about driving one but you have to respect another generation of a perputaully improving practical sedan over the past 30 years.

    Honda Fit – great product, great timing.

  • avatar

    2008 Toyota 4Runner. I bought the V8 full time 4WD SR5 a month ago and continue to be amazed by 20+ MPG average, silky smooth ride, superb build quality, classy looks, and off road performance.

    I’ve owned seversl BMWs in the past including a 540i and find this 4Runner to be of equal quality though not quite at the BMW’s mark of handling prowess. Then again I paid only $29K on a $34,500 MSRP vehicle.

  • avatar

    I second the nomination for the Boxster and would like to ad the Cayman/Cayman S.
    I’ve had my Cayman S for almost two years now and what a car it is. It’s comfortable and luxurious when I want it to be (when the girlfriend is in the car)and scary the rest of the time. This car is so well balanced that I can drive it like a pro with no training or experience. When I take it to the track all, the instructors can’t believe how well the car drives and handles. This really is the perfect car. And with two trunks, it’s practical too. I’m in the car business and have driven almost every car out there but there is nothing that’s thrilled me more than my Cayman S.

  • avatar

    My top 10:
    1) BMW M3 – Still the standard by which real-world (sub $70K) sports cars / sedans are judged
    2) Mazda 3 – Proves that economical can still be fun
    3) Chevy Malibu (let the hate begin) – A meaningful step to U.S. automakers producing more than SUVs, trucks and land barges I mean large cars.
    4) Honda Civic – the gold standard for small, reliable transportation
    5) Audi A3 – Widely popular in Europe, proves that luxury can come in small packages
    6) Toyota Prius – the yardstick for hybrids for the next 3-5 years
    7) Mercedes Bluetec E320 CDI – the diesels are coming…finally
    8) Mini Cooper – still the icon, still a waiting list, still sells for MSRP
    9) Honda Odyssey – for all the moms and dads out, this is still the choice. Solid engine, tranny and build quality
    10) Audi S8 – rare, underappreciated, fast as stink, AWD, more technology than you can shake a stick as. This is the car I want when I’ve “made” it.

  • avatar

    Mitsubishi EVO X : This car needs to be on the list. It will outrun all but 2 cars nominated so far on this list (on a track). It completely outclasses the new STI. It looks fantastic. Rear wing aside, even us old guys can drive it now without having to hide our faces as we exit.

    Honda S2000: Retro nominee. The only retro design that’s still cool simply because it’s the same as the original. If they continued manufacturing the PT Cruiser in current form, I would nominate it in about 20 years as well.

    Any SRT8: Sorry guys, not everyone thinks it’s cool to be green. Not being holier than anyone, I love stomping on the gas and being thrown back in my seat by 6.1 liters of premium guzzling HEMI goodness. No danger here of running over blind people either. Consider these cars a public service.

    Porsche 911: It’s a 911. Wether we admit it or not, we all aspire to this car.

    Nissan GT-R: Like the original Lexus, it’s game changing. German luxury got better after Lexus threw a ball into the court. I look forward to the competitions answer to this supercar.

    VW Touareg Diesel: Proof again that an engine makes the car. If I were pumping $5 per gallon diesel into a machine, that machine should have 10 cylinders and be able to pull Iceland.

    Honda Odyssey: This is a surprisingly good car. It fits absolutely everything. It actually drives well. It’s really comfortable. It’s not too slow. It’s just such a surprise every time I get into it that it should be on the list. It’s like a puppy that didn’t mess on the carpet.

    Any Aston Martin: Just for their beauty. Weak in the knees, trickle of spit, flaccid lower lip, quiver in the groin beautiful.

    Ford Mustang: Even the proletariat can go fast. Not turn or stop, but go fast. The cheapness suits the car and complements it’s mission.

    There is no 10th best car.

  • avatar

    Hey Swede!

    The C6 diesel may be fun to drive, but really if we wanted to drive massively unreliable cars, we’d still be driving Fiats.

    The C6, like most Citroens, is a reliability disaster. Please, keep it in Europe, where it belongs.

  • avatar

    Prius – For representing everything we hate and love, being ahead of the curve, and eerily amusing to operate.

    Honda Fit – It’s that perfect combination of sporty and economical. Even the ones with the automatic gearbox are fun and spunky. Unlike my next proposed nomination, I’ve actually driven a few, as well as it’s competition.

    GTR – 911 Turbo performance for Z06 price–Need more be said?

    Corvette ZR1 Because it’s simultaneously one of the the dumbest and and brilliant cars they’ve built in recent times. No telling if GM will survive long enough to build another Corvette of similar performance.

  • avatar

    Saturn Astra: Great quality, and handles fantastically.

  • avatar

    Great question so here goes:

    Ford Flex – in a world of dull, ubiquitous SUV-styled crossovers, here is a genuinely exciting piece of design from Ford of all people. Interior is excellent and it drives beautifully. Car companies should be rewarded for exciting designs that stand out.

    Jaguar XF – what a design, what a car, what handling, what an interior, and wait until you hear the Bowers and Wilkins stereo – it will blow your mind. A perfect antitodote to dull Lexus’s, BMW’s and Mercatron’s. Deserves to turn Jaguar around.

    Mazda MX-5 – one of the very few convertibles in the world that a man can drive without looking like somewhat effeminate! Wonderful handling and sublime steering that is just spot on. And great value for money.

    Ford Mustang – it is just so wrong, so basic, so dynamically flawed, so imperfect. And yet, every time I see one, I want one. Madness in a depressingly sane world!

    Aston Martin Vantage – it is not as good as you might think, but who cares when something looks like that. Avoid the convertible so as to not appear completely effeminate. Also, avoid the one with the Nurburgring sticker – how silly. Manual gearbox elevates it to greatness as the result is that most Americans won’t buy it which is fine by me!

  • avatar

    MINI Cooper S

    It’s fuel efficient, fast and nimble.
    It’s design invokes “sporty fun”
    It’s affordable.
    It has incredible resale value.
    It’s interior is modern but has retro touches, like an 8 inch wide Speedometer in the middle of the dash between the driver and passenger.

    Mercedes Benz C-63 AMG

    This car is strikingly beautiful on the outside, the inside and under the hood.

    453 horsepower from a 6.3 litre V-8.
    Its proof that when i am that rich I WILL BE FLASHY!
    Its interior is beautiful, and it differs itself from the S4 and M3 in ways I can’t explain.
    Plus, its a Mercedes!


    – This car is terrifyingly fast, unbelievably nible, and SOOOO Cool looking.

    The first time I drove this car I under estimated its performance, WOW!!! I nearly Pooped myself!

  • avatar

    After a quick scroll through the nominations, I don’t see this car. So I’ll go out on the limb:

    I nominate the 2009 Hyundai Genesis


    1: Value for the money. For a full $10,000 less than an Infiniti M35 you get all the toys and more, more power, more space.

    2. Think of what it represents for Hyundai. 20 years ago they were almost laughed out of the US market. Now here they are, the #5 automaker in the world producing a fully competitive luxury car right out of the chute that might not sell well but surely will change everyones perception of the Hyundai brand.

    …and if you’re a badge snob, Hyundai made it really easy to remove the Hyundai “H.” It’s just stuck on the trunk, you can shave it in 5 minutes.

  • avatar

    Mazda RX8 – Drive one. For the love of God, drive one. That silky-screaming rotary engine and that snickety six-speed are the stuff of dreams, and with four real seats and plenty of storage space it manages to be useful as well. The gas mileage is somewhat awful, but you won’t care. Any car that can make you not care about getting less than twenty miles per gallon deserves a spot on the list.

  • avatar
    Dangerous Dave

    I nominate the Jaguar XF – excellent fit and finish, beautiful lines and inovative gear changer, proof that the Brits can still build a proper motorcar.

  • avatar

    I tend to be loquacious. So I won’t be: just a list to cast my ballot.

    A few that make the cut:

    Honda Civic

    Honda Fit

    Mini Cooper

    Mazda Miata

    Infiniti G37

    Jaguar XF

    And a few that wouldn’t:

    Cadillac CTS

    Hyundai Genesis

    Acura TSX (full disclosure: we love our ’06)

    Acura RL

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    My nominations are a combo of cars that are a little different from the pack (mostly in a good way) and standard bearers. They are in no particular order.

    1) STI/EVO: Yes, they are not as hard edged as before, but even with their edges smoothed off, there is nothing else on the market quite like these two rally cars. Either can embarass cars that cost quite a bit more than either the STI or EVO. If you can tolerate a relative lack of sophistication for performance, these 4WD sedans are tough to beat.

    2) Lotus Elise SC: a reminder that light cars rule. Even more primitive in terms of ergonomics than the EVO/STI, but arguably the best handling car of this group and the most fun to drive at legal speeds

    3) Audi TTS: Not sure if it is on US shores yet, but this is the best version of TT which is here. The TTS is more than a dressed up GTI, has the added versatility of a hatch, dual clutch transmission, 4wd and gets great gas mileage for a performance car. A great sports car for days of $4/gallon gas

    4) RX-8: A car that is often overlooked and should not be. Real world prices for this sports sedan are well under $30k and I can’t think of a single car that compares in terms of handling and amenities. Yes, the gas mileage sucks, but the savings over any car that comes close to its performance will pay for a lot of gas.

    5) BMW 335 (coupe or sedan): Let’s get real. This is the car, NOT the entire 3 Series. So good that the M3 is superfluous for the street and the much smaller 135i is just too small to be so close in price to the 335. As for the rest of the 3 Series, I’d rather have a G35/37. This car belongs on the top 10 list, not the entire 3 Series!!!!

    6) Audi R8: If there has to be a supercar on the list why not something new and different? Not particularly good reasons to be sure, but is there really any good reason to have a car like this with American speed limits??? Kind of like being all dressed up with no place to go.

    7) Cayman: standard bearer for what a sports car should be. This cars are the standard, not the 911. Only Porsche’s unwillingness to put a bigger engine in the Cayman keeps it from owning the 911.

    8) MazdaSpeed3: the most racuous of the pocket rockets. Not the most civilized (that would be the GTI), but civilization is not always that much fun. There may be complaints about the MS3, but boring is not likely to be one of them.

    9) Audi S4 Avant: if you had to drive a wagon, isn’t this the one you really want??? Tons of power, good handling, and NOT a oxymoron performance SUV!!!! It is no accident that there is not SUV on my list!

    10) Jag XF: best car jag has made in years and a break from the usual suspect in this category. Plus the shifter rising out of the panel is cool and unique.

  • avatar

    Jag XK – Gorgeous – Maybe bested in looks only by an Aston…

    Cayman S – Is their a better 2 seater? Looks/Drive/Feel/Performance/Bang for buck…

    Mazda 3 – Great Style and Quality for a Great Price. The best choice in its class (the Corolla is butt fugly)…

    But all or that is flavoured by the Australian Market…so they prob. dont and cant count :-)

  • avatar

    1) Mazda MX-5: Approaching classic status in its own right with sensible/recognizable evolution from one generation to the next. Can’t wait to grab one when my son’s old enough to get out of his booster seat.
    2) Honda Civic: Just keeps getting better and with the availability of leather & bun warmers (Canadian Acura CSX, right?) it looks even more appealing.
    3) Mazda 3: What the Honda Civic should be.
    4) Mini Clubman: I live in a small town deep in the heartland. Translation: haven’t yet seen one of these up close, but the specs look good and its unique styling/clear brand identity are appealing.
    5) Dark horse: Mitsubishi Outlander. We picked up a new 2007 earlier this spring (fwd, 6 cyl, loaded) for a song. Mileage has been exceptional (easy town driving 27 mpg+/interstate travel 26-27 mpg), ride is comfortable, bells and whistles (including bluetooth handsfree phone system, dedicated ipod/mp3 connection, and ridiculous 10″ subwoofer + 8 other speakers) delight, and 5 year warranty w/roadside assistance brings a certain peace of mind (as in: it’ll be paid off well before the coverage ends). My thinking on the fwd v. all wheel went as follows: fwd easier on gas & if the snow’s too deep then we’re probably better off waiting an hour or two for the snowplow anyway. Best part: I’ve been approached on no less than 5 occasions by people wondering if it was a new Lexus or some other higher-end brand.
    6) Dark horse 2: Volvo V50. I like small wagons and this one offers a lot IMHO. Excellent design inside and out. Juice w/the T-5 and a degree of utility. Roll in the pricing/package/travel benefits that come via overseas delivery and there’s much to like.

  • avatar

    While reserving my right to nominate and/or dispute other vehicles, I choose to dedicate this post to one vehicle, the 2008 Suzuki SX4.

    For well under $16,000 USD, you can get a very well-equipped FWD vehicle, including standard GPS navigation system, in either hatchback or sedan configuration. If you’re seeking an affordable AWD vehicle (as I did), you can buy an AWD SX4 hatchback for $15,339 MSRP.

    My behind-the-wheel experience, based on my MY2007 SX4 hatch, is that the SX4 is grin-worthy, especially in the twisty mountain roads here in Arizona.

    With all due respect to the other nominees, I would ask whether any other nominated vehicle offers the SX4’s features (including a 3 year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, with a 7 year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, both fully transferable) for so little money.

  • avatar

    Cars That Shouldn’t make the list

    Smart for two- This car is not only ugly, it’s slow and its horribly inefficient for its size…30 mpg for something 1/3 smaller than a MINI… PLEASE… its garbage.

    Honda FIT – Oh, my God! The honda fit is certainly a good car, but come on people, Its got 109 ponies horsepower. … This is the 10 BEST… not the 10 pretty logical choices!

    Honda Civic – This is a good car… if you don’t drive. For those of us that enjoy “spirited driving” this car means 1 thing “Hideous Under steer! … Go ahead and try to go around that sharp curve at 50 mph, you’ll wake up 3 days later, spitting up pieces of tree bark that you swallowed when you veered off the road and into a willow tree!

    Dodge… anything that comes out of that factory should be brought to the 1 dealer that could sell them… The Dollar store!

    Toyota Prius-It’s ugly, Its ugly, Its ugly!!! This car is like the civic. It’s great if you HATE to drive. Did I mention the fact that if you take into account the pollution that goes into producing this car (batteries from Canada, dash board in eastern europe, etc…) This car emits more pollution over its life time than its competition. (full size sedans)

    V-DUB- Welcome to the brand that guarantees you will need a new car in 10 years/100,000 miles.

    BMW 3 Series Lets face it people, Todays 3 series is uglier than its predecessor, and with the redesign came a serious case of elephantiasis!!!

    Ford Mustang- Look under a Mustang and what do you see? A conestoga wagon 1970’s chassis. Bad handling, horrible interior, terrible gas mileage, Yup its a muscle car alright!

  • avatar

    Pontiac G8 – RWD performance on the cheap.

    Hyundai Genesis – Luxury on the cheap – IF Hyundai doesn’t screw the pooch on service…

    BMW 3-Series – Still the best.

    Infiniti G37 – Just behind the 3.

    Honda Odyssey – still the best people-mover (what my wife drives). It drives better than many cars I’ve been in.

    Honda Civic – What I’d get IF I was going to buy a car for mileage.

    Hummer H3 – Yes, I’m serious. It offers a front locker in ’09 so it’s even better off road. I’ve been in my friend’s H3 and, while it’s not fast, it’s not that bad in regular driving. (If you never plan to go off road, see one of the two Hondas above).

    Toyota Tundra – If you need a truck.

    Honda Accord – Best family sedan.

    ZR1 – How could this not be on the list? It has 638 HP!

  • avatar

    I just read reviews. The only car I’ve driven recently is a 2007 Accord V6. I’m trying to see if I can get 30 mpg out of it in my mixed freeway/urban driving. I like it even better than my previous 5 MT Accords. But what belongs on the the list?

    Cadillac CTS. Direct injection; available manual; nice styling; Good price/performance.I’d consider an AWD version (snowbelt resident).

    Honda Fit. Fits the bill.

    Ford Edge. Which would you rather drive? A loaded Edge or a bare bones CRV? I’ve buddies with each. The Edge has the edge. V6. 6spd. Huge sun roof. Mazda underpinnings.

    Mini Clubman. Freaking expensive but cute and practical.

    Mazda MX5. Carrying on the MG/Triumph tradition in transcendent style.

    Corvette. Supercar performance for minimal bucks.

    Pontiac G8. Holden has been building nice RWD sedans since the late 70’s. The latest incarnation deserves to be seen in America (pity the Aussie dollar [formerly known as the South Pacific peso] is so strong and the real dollar so weak).

    3 to go…

    Infiniti G37. Undercuts the Bimmers in great style.

    Honda Accord. I’m seeing a lot of the 2008’s on the road. The coupe looks really sharp. The 4cyl gets 190hp, has large car room, never breaks, and drives pretty well for a FWD. My dream car in my wife’s budget constraints is a 6MT Accord coupe. Without that constraint, we come to my next nomination.

    Jaguar XF. Just drooling. Ford should have hung on just a bit longer.

  • avatar

    1. 2008 Infiniti G35xS (has it all – now with the Sport pkg AND ATTESA AWD)

    2. 2009 Audi A4/A5/S5

    3. VW GTI – still the best value for a true German road car

    Get all the Acuras with beaks off the list (except for the MDX – small beak and a great SUV)

  • avatar

    I’m throwing my opinion in, just because I can!

    Jaguar XF, one of the best cars I have driven in a long time. Fantastic good looks, drivetrain, fit and finish, and the right car for Jaguar to make a statement saying, “screw you stodgy dentists, we are taking Vesper Lynd out for dinner tonight!”

    Chevrolet Silverado, growing up in Eastern New Mexico (Roswell to be exact), I grew up with the pick-up truck. You were either a Ford guy, a Chevy man, a Dodge dweeb, or just a weirdo with a Toyota. Having driven everything in the current field, I can say that the new Silverado reigns supreme in the truck market. Toyota can go sit in the corner and build up sludge.

    Audi R8, has ever an Audi caused such a stir that people in the middle of Oklahoma have asked, “whats an Audi, and where are they made!” Has done as much for their image as the original Quattro rally car of the early 1980’s.

    BMW M3/Audi RS4, how do you choose between the two? Flip a quarter, thats how, and the only way to truly decide between the two most fantastic sedans in all of autobahn-dom. If you ever have the chance to drive either, you will walk away knowing your entire state of thinking has been shifted in under 4.9 seconds.

    Cadillac CTS 3.6 Direct Inject. Holy crap, look at that style! Beautiful in a way only Cadillac can do beautiful. As uniquely American as a 2000lb bomb being dropped on a Taliban, and as shocking in real life as well. The interior makes an Audi or BMW look positively old fashioned. But then you drive it, and realize, its 96% of the 3-series, which is all I will ever really need except when it comes time to outrun Jason Bourne. And they offer it in a manual in every trim level. Thank you Cadillac for waking up, and drinking Red Bull.

    Mercedes-Benz C-Class, because Mercedes finally gave us a “Benz” again. You have an alternative to the A4/3-series twins, and alternative thats just as much fun to drive, yet feels so different, as if it didn’t even care the other two existed. Mercedes found its roots again, and it shows.

    Porsche Cayman/Boxster, because if Porsche ever put more power in the thing, the 911 would not have a case for existence. What Porsche should have made after they ditched the rear-engined, VW sourced mechanicals.

    Mitsubishi Evo, because its really is that awesome, and the STi sucks now. One of only two cars ever to scare me while I was at the helm.

    Mazda5, because you can get it in a stick-shift! A manual shifted, Mazda3 engined, buttoned down, family carry-all for under $25K? Where can you not go wrong! Thank you Mazda for putting the soul of a Miata in everything you build, if only people would realize they don’t need the size of a CX-7.

    Saturn Astra XR. Rethink Saturn indeed. There is not a better handling car for under $20K anywhere. A simple case of grip outlasting power, but who cares! If only America could get past its perceptions about hatchbacks.

    Nissan XTerra, because you still get 24mpg with 260bhp. It will go as far off-road as you could ever need. Its as reliable as hell, its decent to drive on-road, clever, comfortable, and as true an SUV as you can get without buying a used Jeep Cherokee. It might not be a convertible a’la Wrangler, but it will last a lot longer.

  • avatar

    Keep most of last year’s list.

    Drop Infiniti G35/G37 — it’s outclassed by the 3 series in poise, balance, and there’s no Nismo sedan answer to the ///M3.

    Add GT-R. A technological triumph

    Drop Acura TSX — it has gone soft and weak.
    Add Honda Civic: a great value of efficiency and utility with acceptable performance.

    Drop Mazda 3 — it’s all about the power to a lame FWD chassis. Harshness and torque steer detract from the driving pleasure.

    Add MINI Cooper, still looks fresh, economical and offers sharper handling. In 2002 MINI was hot because it was new; in 2008, it’s hot because it offers engaging diving without conspicuous consumption.

    Add A5/S5. In the old days,the Ford Thunderbird was a big stylish and fast coupe, (or in 2001, an Acura CL-S) without being as brash as a Trans Am or ‘Stang. Audi’s bangle-free design looks great, and the chassis is improved from the A4.

    Add one big GM car: Pontiac G8 that looks like a MW 550i or the Malibu that looks like a Subaru Legacy. After decades of kitch,GM deserved rewards for understated handsome design in appropiately sized autos.

  • avatar

    I’ll be the oddball and say my 2008 Car of the Year is the Saab Turbo X. For both psychological as well as solid reasons.

    Psychological: I’m so damn glad to FINALLY see Saab make a car worthy of their heritage and reputation. I’m a huge Saab fanboy, but it’s been really hard to get behind them when you consider the crap they’ve been cranking out lately (9-2x and 9-7x? Come on.) But the Turbo X has that quiet “who needs a BMW?” menace that older Saabs used to have, that’s been missing – it says “you can try, but I wouldn’t advise it.” And it’s got the power and performance to back it up. It’s genuinely impressive.

    Logical: This is an impressive car, especially considering the platform it’s based on. Let’s look at the greasy bits: a 2.8L twin-cam 24v V6 with a twin-scroll turbocharger and VVT that makes 280 horsepower (not bad) and 295 lb-ft of torque (even better) at 2,150rpm (whoa!) This is an ideal sports sedan motor – smooth, responsive, lots of power where it’s needed. It’s quick – 5.4s to sixty. Then there’s the clever “XWD” all wheel drive system, with rear axle torque vectoring that creates neutral, nearly infallible handling. Oh, and the tighter suspension and bigger brakes don’t hurt. It’s rare, it’s pretty, it’s fast, it’s unique, it’s Swedish, and I want one more than anything. And for the first time in longer than I can remember, this feelings of Saab longing are justified.

  • avatar

    1. Honda Fit – The definitive subcompact, practical and fun-to-drive to boot!

    2. Honda Civic/Honda Civic Coupe – Up against lots of competition, still the best all-around, in spite of its weird instrument panel.

    3. Honda Accord/Accord Coupe – Good balance of handling, reliability and comfort in a large wrapper.

    4. Mazda 5 – A bit underpowered, but oh-so-practical and still a bit of fun.

    5. Mazda MX-5 Miata – Reliable affordable fun with the top down.

    6. Infiniti G37 Coupe – GT extraordinare. What the Mustang should be.

    7. Lexus LS460/LS460 L – A bit bland, but what the Cadillac DTS and Lincoln Town Car should be.

    8. Honda CR-V AWD – Refined and comfortable CUV.

    9. Toyota Highlander AWD – What a 3-row-of-seats CUV should be.

    10. Nissan Frontier/Suzuki Equator – Just in case you need a sensibly-sized pickup truck, that only sees medium-duty, this is the best.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    I’m not going to present an entire list of 10 cars, just my favorites. I have personally driven all of these cars.

    1. BMW 128i/135i – I have a feeling I am going to be quite alone in this nomination, but I feel it (at least in 135i guise; I have not driven the 128i) is one of the best cars I have ever driven… and I drove the automatic. My next car.

    2. Lotus Elise – Pure fun. Unreal handling, incredible speed (though no dragster, of course), and beautiful looks.

    3. Honda S2000 – Still the best roadster available, behind the Elise; in my opinion, it far surpasses the Miata in driving dynamics and performance. It’s pretty cheap, too. One of the best 6-speed manuals available.

    4. Honda Fit – My current car. Zippy acceleration (!) when you step on it, awesome handling, extremely frugal. Why buy a smart fortwo when you can buy one of these and get nearly the same gas mileage?

    5. Subaru Legacy GT Spec.B – Excellent compromise of smooth handling and real power. Amazing amounts of power are an ECU remapping away.

    My laptop is about to die, so I’ll end there…

    I fourth or fifth the Fit as well. Supremely practical, solidly designed, and it only costs $33 bucks to fill from E. Please tell me where you buy your gas! :)

  • avatar

    Cadillac CTS – A no-excuses great car inside and out and on the road. If this is GM’s last Hurrah, then, well played.

    Dodge Challenger – Because good-looking is always in style.

    Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 – Yes it is on sale now. No, you can’t beat it with anything remotely in its price class.

  • avatar

    1. Honda Fit– elegantly efficient engineering, a Honda trademark, lives. Right car at the right time.
    2. Honda FCX Clarity– an engineering tour-de-force and a glimpse at our future. See what happens when money is spent on R&D?
    3. BMW 3-series– sports sedans don’t get any better. The benchmark.
    4. Toyota Prius– gotta give credit where it’s due; although Honda was right there with them, Toyota was smarter with packaging and marketing.
    5. I tried to think of one domestic that belongs on this list, but honestly, nothing close in terms of engineering, foresight or ingenuity exists (yet). Which I find embarrassing. Oh well.

  • avatar

    GTI. enough has been said about it that I don’t need to ad anything

  • avatar

    I’d like to nominate the Corvette ZR-1 and the shiny new M3.

  • avatar
    Jay Bee

    I want to keep this love fest for the Fit going. I’ve had one for close to two years now, and this car just has no reliability issues. After VeeDub hell, I must say it’s a nice change. This car gets by with more fun out of 109 hp than anything else I’ve seen in recent years, lets me jam more stuff into it than anything I’ve had since an old Volvo DL wagon (total disaster of a car), and is ridiculously nimble.

    And the paddle shifters really work on the Sport!

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden


    First I don’t agree that Citroëns today are of bad quality, it’s probably on par with Chevrolet – that makes Corvette. But there may still be a “perception gap” :-)

    Secondly Citroëns are sold all over the world, the USA and Canada are almost the only exceptions.

    The only real critisism I’ve heard about the C6 is that its handling is not “sporty”. That doesn’t matter for me. The ride should be comfortable, and the handling good enough, but sportyness is not required. But reading most of the other comments here sporty handling seems to be important to many car geeks.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    I want to keep this love fest for the Fit going. I’ve had one for close to two years now, and this car just has no reliability issues. After VeeDub hell, I must say it’s a nice change. This car gets by with more fun out of 109 hp than anything else I’ve seen in recent years, lets me jam more stuff into it than anything I’ve had since an old Volvo DL wagon (total disaster of a car), and is ridiculously nimble.

    And the paddle shifters really work on the Sport!

    Agreed about the paddle shifters. I scared my brother once when I put it in “S” and floored it to redline. :)

  • avatar

    I have three cars that should be on the top ten list:

    Subaru WRX: I own the 08 WRX sedan, and even though the looks are DIFFERENT from the old it is so much more practical. Yes it may be slower than the old WRX by one tenth of a second, but this thing still cooks. I recently put a SPT cat back exhaust on and an Agency Power Cold air intake and im now running about 280 hp. Mustang GT’s cant keep up. Plus one of my girlfriends asked me if my car was a cadillac (shes not very car savvy) because it rode so nice. I think the WRX still deserves its spot… so just dont look at the hatchback.

    Audi RS4: This car pratically speaks for itself, i just wanted to say that didn’t BMW and Mercedes get killed by the RS4 when the B7 came out in the fall of 06? Yes it did. Did BMW and Mercedes redesign the M3 and C63 after this happened….? and the RS4 still performs just slightly worse than these two cars now. I happen to have access to an RS4 as well and that car will rip most cars of thier axles. Have you ever driven one in snow, the first time my father drove me in the snow i started laughing bcause it seemed like we were driving on pavement. Id love to see the M3 and C63 actually drive well in snow, and i know the M3 doesnt to well. Enough said here.

    Audi R8: Let’s be honest, who wouldnt want an R8. The thing is absolutely stunning in real life and has such a unique exhaust note. It ain’t slow and it stickers for alot less than most other “supercars”.

    BMW 3-series: I know i just dogged the M3 alot in the RS4 section, but the 3 series is such a gorgeous family of cars. i don’t need ot say too much considering most people will probably vote the 3 Series number 1.

  • avatar

    I just traded my 2007 G35X – wonderful car, but developed a problem – the dealer and Nissan hung me out to dry – too bad – I loved that car.

    So, I just took delivery of a 2008 VW GTI. Yes, I’ve been burned a bunch of times by VW in the past – but this car is WONDERFUL. Hopefully it is built better than the MK IV…

    It feels lighter than 3100 lbs thanks to it’s superb suspension, the 2.0T engine is very eager, and the DSG tranmission – I can’t stop grinning every time it shifts quickly and perfectly.

    As a 4-door hatchback it can do everything. Haul the kids, go to home depot and attack and off-ramp.

    I drove the Honda Fit – nice car, but it really needs an additional 50 horsepower (and a better interior) to be really fun.

    There you have it – my nomination – a 2008 VW GTI.


  • avatar

    Cayman S. The prototypical sportscar. Try this – drive one for a couple of hours (on the street, on the track, wherever). Now get into any other car offered for sale in the US. You will think it’s broken. Who knew that every other car in the world had steering so vague, a chassis so wooden, a driving position so poor and an engine note so uninspiring? Cayman S drivers do.

  • avatar

    westhighgoalie, lying, even in the service of cars you really like, isn’t cool.

    This car emits more pollution over its life time than its competition. (full size sedans)

    That study’s been discredited by everybody and their next-door neighbor by now. Nice try.

  • avatar

    I can’t NOT look at one when one goes by.

    No compromises. No excuses. It doesn’t play the domestic value card. It’s what a Caddy should be.

  • avatar

    – Best Performance Bargain –
    Mitsubishi Evo X. I dont think this really needs to be explained. this is the true Giant Killer of 2008, not the GTR. Its half the prices of the Nissan but dishes out 8/10s of the performance.

    – Most Underrated Car –
    Ford Focus. Sure it looks like it was already in a fender bender and poorly mended but, at the price point you will be hard pressed to find a better day to day car. Plus SYNC is just cool.

    – Best Family Car –
    VW Jetta TDI Sportwagen. Wagon. Diesel. Winner.

    – Best Sport Compact –
    VW GTI. Not the fastest, or cheapest, or quickest. But its the most well rounded for daily use. gets great MPG if you dont beat on it. AND…you dont have to tell people you drive a Caliber!

    – Biggest Poser –
    Nissan GTR. Anything claiming to be a sports car that only offers an automatic transmission and more acronyms then a spoon full of alphabet soup does not deserve to be in the company as the true sports cars. Regardless of performance.

    – Super Model –
    Anything from Aston Martin. Seriously, you cant go wrong. They are all beautiful.

    – Best Subcompact –
    I dont want to say the Honda Fit because everyone else is, but i cant think of one other vehicle that could compete. the Fit is Go!

    – New comer –
    Hyundai Genesis. Penny pinchers unite! Someone at Hyundai has some pretty big coconuts. Skipping the whole mass market thing and going squarely for BMW.

    – Best Convertible –
    Everything is better topless. And the Mazda Miata does it better then everyone.

    – Best Sportscar –
    Tie. Lotus Elise/Exige. Porsche 911. The lotus is the epitome of what a sports car should be in a perfect world, with perfect roads and no giant SUVs. The 911 is the realization the world isnt perfect.

  • avatar

    @1169hp: CTS/CTS-v
    I can’t NOT look at one when one goes by.

    I feel the same way, but for a different reason: Why did they have to make a great car look sooo ugly? The CTS race car and XLR both show how good this design language looks without the old-man’s-belted trousers look of a too-high beltline. Great underpinnings, however.

  • avatar

    Nissan GTR. Anything claiming to be a sports car that only offers an automatic transmission and more acronyms then a spoon full of alphabet soup does not deserve to be in the company as the true sports cars. Regardless of performance.

    UMMM, Correct me if I am wrong but the ENZO also only comes with a Clutchless auto-shifting manual transmission. For that matter the majority of F360 and F430 were sold with the same setup.

    Are cars NOT real sports cars?

  • avatar

    never have and never will be a fan of the flappy paddle gear box. its still an automatic. i dont car how much fast it is…its boring. i want to drive my car, not ride it.

    who cares if your GTR does 0-60 in 3.5sec. my grandmother can get in and do the same thing.

  • avatar

    Voice of Sweden:

    Both the C5 and C6 have terrible reliability records.

    North America is the most competitive, demanding car market in the world. If Citroen can’t compete here, it’s because its cars are no good.

    There’s a reason you don’t see any mainstream French or Italian cars in the US.

    Though I am glad you did not recommend any Swedish cars for their reliability, since Volvo and SAAB also have terrible reliability records.

    Come on over to the US, where we have cars that actually run! Don’t be shy!

  • avatar

    gaycorvette has concerns about reliability. Besides that (yeah I’m the one that said I’d put up with an Alfa GTV’s reliabilty) Many of these cars have other are really shells of their former brands. The mini Pueget is just a tiny FWD econobox, Look at the MiTo.

    I still would keep the Miata on the list because it was only changed in 06 & there isn’t anything else in it’s range. The next step up is what a Boxter or M-B? (maybe a TT) That’s a big step. I wish they had gone the MazdaSpeed route. My only complaint is that the suspension is too stiff for lousy roads (I know I’d hate the lotus). I’d put in selection for the suspension but now it’s not a Miata anymore.

  • avatar

    I have to give a vote for the Fit also.

    Test drove one a few months back and just loved it, even with the automatic. I was so surprised at how quick it felt, comfortable it drove, the steering was great and it looked good. Plus with the fun you get innovative folding seats, excellent packaging and a lot of standard features for a really great price.

    Unfortunately I need more room than that and finding one without a slushbox has been difficult.

  • avatar

    Has anyone considered the Dodge Sprinter? Make mine a cargo van in Brilliant Silver Metallic, dressed up with aftermarket (read: Mercedes factory) badges with the CRD engine!

  • avatar

    Honda S2000 – It’s fun as hell to drive, and the price is right.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    Though I am glad you did not recommend any Swedish cars for their reliability, since Volvo and SAAB also have terrible reliability records.

  • avatar

    It seems the Volvo C-30 is fading fast. It COULD have been a top ten if: It had guts and a decent trani and the price of options (or the ability to have them) didn’t cost so much. I hope in the top ten there is room for a quirky but fun car.

  • avatar

    Cant think of 10 new cars I want to own, but here are a few:
    1) MINI Cooper: Goes where you point it, and quickly. You dont need to $pend extra for the S, as the base model is plenty quick. And you cant have this much fun and still get 42mpg in any other car.
    2) Mazda 3: This was my runner up car. If our other car dies, I am definitely back in the market for one.
    3) Audi A3: The serious Mazda 3. If I had more $ to burn, I’d look again at these. I wish they brought over the two door I saw in Italy last year.
    4) VW Jetta Wagon: I’d have to look into the economics of the diesel, but I’d take it either way. Better looking than the bland sedan.
    5) Saturn Astra: Saw these all over Italy. Very nice looking and they were popular. I guess the engine choices make for a wider audience there. They arrived on our shores just after I put my money down on the MINI, so I have yet to drive one.
    6) And if I had extra cash on hand, I have to say I would look into the Audi A5. I dont want a V8, so you can keep the S5. But this is one nice looking coupe.

  • avatar

    1. M3 – like mine, true jack of all trades. It comes at a cost, but you only need one car.

    2. 1 series – I drove one as a loaner, also drove 335i for a week. Would much rather own the 1. Even though it weighs almost as much, and is smaller, numbers don’t tell the whole story. Much more engaging to drive than the standard 3.
    Seats do suck, though.

    3. Fit, as others have commented, timely. Needs better ride quality to really grab market, like a GTI. New one supposedly addresses this. This is crucial in our highway based roads.

    4. GTI has a very nice engine note and ride. Reliability??? Dealerships???

    Vote AGAINST

    Smart – as in, not so Smart. Haven’t driven it, but don’t really think I need to.

  • avatar

    Only listing cars I have driven, so GTR is out until someone I know buys one.

    Audi R8 – Gorgeous with a surprisingly comfortable ride
    VW GTI – Lowest price point currently available to sample DSG-goodness
    Maserati Quattroporte – Inner and outer beauty set it apart from S class and 7 series
    Chevy Tahoe – Yes, an SUV, but tows what you need and cruises in comfort with clean lines to boot
    Mitsubishi Evo X – A performer that gives you thrills without destroying your kidneys anymore
    Lexus LS…L – Surprisingly enjoyable package of comfort, tech and luxury and the looks are growing on me
    Audi RS4 – Puts a grin on my face every time
    Infiniti G35 – The best value or compromise in the near lux category – beats out the CTS only because I find the front end hideous
    Chevy Corvette Z06 – Intoxicating power and now yours with 0% financing

    Cars often mentioned I just can’t agree with:
    Fit – Yes it’s a very good player in the economy category but then again I’m not nominating the Odyssey just because it’s great in the minivan category
    BMW 3 series – I know they will make the list but I can’t get past the styling and pricing
    BMW 1 series – Same as above but double on the styling
    Saab Turbo X – This one I just can’t understand. An ancient platform with AWD and a stronger turbo that gets 15/24mpg. It’s outclassed on launch in every way by Legacy and the Mazda Speed6 before you even consider an lux marquees.

  • avatar

    I’ve driven a few, and here are my noms:

    Camry V6. 260 hp for 22.5k (after discounts you can find anywhere), SUPER quiet (a little wind rush over 70, but w/e), SUPER smooth, SUPER cheap, SUPER reliable, Toyota doesn’t charge you for metallic paint!! 0-60 in high 6’s, resale value, etc.

    Lexus LS460. 380 HP, interior room of S-class for price of E550. SUPER quiet, BEAUTIFUL interior (door panels might not be sexy, but the dash and everything else is immaculate), single chrome window surround, no charge for metallic paint, nice handling… it’s a Lexus. Reliable, inexpensive, beautiful, prestigious, FAST, powerful, stylish and understated.

    I like the Yukon, too, and think it’s class-leading, but I’ve only ridden in it and can’t judge driving it.

    Cars I hate are the FIT. It shouldn’t be on there. It’s way too freaking expensive for what you get. For 1-2k more, you get a Civic which is roomier, 50 more HP, better MPG, resale value, etc. etc.

    Civic is amazing, too. Right-sized (Accord of 90’s) :)

    Camry V6 (v4 sucks ass/interior only downside)
    LS460 (S550 for E550 price… for people who don’t dispose of their cars every 3-5 years)


  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    The Civic roomier? Ever try to put two bikes in a Civic? It ain’t gonna happen.

    And I didn’t know the Camry came with an optional V4! That’s awesome. …

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden


    First I would like to mention that reliability isn’t a top concern for me. But It’s always interesting to discuss.

    Both the C5 and C6 have terrible reliability records.

    Link? If you look at this: (lower number=better)
    it’s not easy to crown a champion car brand

    North America is the most competitive, demanding car market in the world.

    Well every market is competitive in it’s own way. But if you are right, how come some of the least competitive makes have lasted this long?

    If Citroen can’t compete here, it’s because its cars are no good.

    Well the Citroën C1 is the same car as the Toyota Aygo, and Toyota have a good quality reputation.

    Also there can be many reasons why a manufacturer chooses not to sell cars in a specific market. Let’s assume that the USA is the most competitive market in the world. That would mean that there are very small profits to be made there for the car companies. An thus little reasons to sell cars there.

    The world’s most successful truck maker Scania has chosen not to sell trucks in the USA because of the market structure and low possibilities of high returns. The success of a company should be found in proven high financial returns over time.

    There’s a reason you don’t see any mainstream French or Italian cars in the US.

    The same could be said for American mainstream cars in Europe, but I don’t think this proves anything.

    Though I am glad you did not recommend any Swedish cars for their reliability, since Volvo and SAAB also have terrible reliability records.

    I belive Volvos and Saabs are up to par with their American siblings.

    Come on over to the US, where we have cars that actually run! Don’t be shy!

    Could you elaborate on this? Should I go to the USA and buy a Toyota?

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    Jay Bee :
    August 6th, 2008 at 8:56 am
    I want to keep this love fest for the Fit going.

    That’s a very suitable phrase! The Honda Fit originally was named Honda Fitta. Fitta means p*ss* in swedish. Wikipedia has the story:

    This detail made the planned (japanese) slogans even more fun:
    “Honda Fitta – small on the outside, but it feels big once you’re in it”


    “Honda Fitta is a daily enjoyment”

    This naming mistake cost Honda a lot of money, but it seems they rescued the car image and they seem to have found a winner car. Good work Honda!


  • avatar

    Can the best and the brightest help me out here…….

    I just traded my ’07 Mazda3 Touring in on an ’08 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport. This is our fourth Subaru including my wife’s current Legacy GT limited. While I liked the Mazda I didn’t think it compared favorably with the Subaru which feels much more substantial, i.e. doors that ‘thunk’ rather than rattle when closing. The exterior styles are similar but I would rank the Subaru interior as better and more roomy. They get approximately the same mph, cost about the same, handle about the same, has a little more horsepower and the Subaru is awd to boot. The found the Mazda3 to be scary in the snow without winter snow tires. It would barely get up a small incline in packed snow when starting from a stop. I don’t see why the Subbie Impreza Sport would not be on the list. Is there something I’m not seeing here or am I just a Subbie toady?

  • avatar

    2009 Mazda6 – A huge improvement of an already very good car without diluting the “Zoom Zoom” personality. It’s larger, more refined, arguably the sexiest looking car in its class and the optional V6 has more horsepower than any competitors.

    Suzuki SX4 Sport– easily overlooked but funky, fun-to-drive and very well built small sedan that delivers exceptional value and high levels of standard equipment.

    VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI– Sporty, fun to drive, TDI power and torque leave all the others in the dust and the wagon version is very utilitarian, to boot.

    Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart– turbo power, great looks, reasonable price and much easier to live with as a daily driver than an EVO.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    You can buy the Ralliart now? Can you drive it?

  • avatar

    Mike Solowiow: Having driven everything in the current field, I can say that the new Silverado reigns supreme in the truck market. Toyota can go sit in the corner and build up sludge.

    Now is that nice?

  • avatar

    The EVO X does not belong anywhere in the company of these cars. It is fatter and more complex than the older one. Same goes for the STI.

  • avatar

    I say remove these:
    Acura TSX: 09 model is dumbed down; the enthusiast feel gone.

    Infiniti G35: Always gets high praise but every one I have ever driven has been boring! And no it’s not that cheap.

    Add the:

    Jaguar XF: I did things on a track with this 4 door that should only be reserved for the M3/RS4 & STI/EVO crowd. The best premium sedan on the market, period.

    Chevrolet Silverado: Track cars don’t get to the track without a tow rig and this is the best full size truck on the market. Fit & finish is excellent. Build them all like this Chevy. And surprisingly, of the many brands I have owned this is the only one not to return to the dealer for a repair.

    I’m going to cheat and lump the M3 in with the 3-series on the list. I hear the whining about BMW, news flash, it’s still the benchmark!

  • avatar

    I nominate the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI.

    Yes, Subaru changed the style of the STI, and made a lot of their fans unhappy. True, it is a little larger, and a bit softer than the old model, but that’s the point. The car is more sophisticated and is a far better daily driver than the car it replaced. They managed to do all this while still retaining the performance of the old car. If Toyota, Honda or even Hyundai produced this car, there would be waiting lists and thousands in additional dealer markups. The 2008 STI is to Subaru what Pet Sounds was the to the Beach Boys, and maybe in a few years people will understand their work.

  • avatar

    I’ll nominate the Saturn Sky Redline. After much consideration, including the review on this site, I bought an 08’Sky Redline convertible. I have been very impressed so far and believe many of the issues found in the 06’/07′ models (some of which this site pointed out) have been worked out. Related, the and similar solstice website are thriving with information for Kappa design enthusiasts. Recommend you look at this vehicle for an update. I found the wet weather driving to be secure with now standard stabilitrak and I can put the top up and down in 20 seconds, a small price for a car that seems to me to exceed the Miata in every category. Full disclusure: My Dad worked for Olds for 30 years so I felt the need to find something GM I could like. I surely found it. What fun!

  • avatar

    a small price for a car that seems to me to exceed the Miata in every category.

    Every category? Really?

    I’m reminded of a line from a barmaid in The Blues Brothers:

    “Why, we get both kinds of music: Country and Western.”

    I’m sure the Sky Redline exceeds the MX-5 in the categories that matter to you. That’s what counts.

  • avatar

    Well, next iteration needs to have a trunk well just thick enough to slide in a couple of medium-sized soft suit cases to be closer to perfect. The Sky trunk layout, though as big as a Miata’s, is not as functional. You can lay a single set of clubs in the Sky but only with a small bag, and not a second if you want to take your significant other. Other than that it is a matter of dependability over the long haul, which is a big question, but from the starting gate I think Sky is better. I just hope GM can cover the commitments they so generously made (and they have admirably) and survive to fight less fettered and deliver more good products like SKY and Malibu. I agree with the consensus on this site that they would be better to go chapter 11 now and come out stronger, but I am pround that they took care of workers in a humane way, more reflective of what American business used to care greatly about, reputation.

  • avatar

    Yes, please!

    GT-R Don’t care what you have to say… it is F@#$^n’ AWESOME! and you know it!!

    Jag XF looks like an Aston… for ten times less the price.. I dig it.

    Mini S… I give you guys a nice big boot to the face for not giving this little guy an award last year… Mini is top notch, a golden ticket!

    No if’s or buts

    08′ STI is crap… looks like crap and drives like crap.. end of story (total upset)

    BMW 1… oy vay! I love this car.. handels like a drea….. well.. it it has love-handels, its just too heavy and too expensive!

  • avatar

    Best new car: Jaguar XF – It looks fantastic (not in an Alfa Romeo way but certanly elegant). It has RWD (unlike Alfa’s). It is likely to be as reliable as a Lexus (unlike BMW or Mercedes). It’s fast. It handles like a dream. And it’s not a clone of a German Burberymobile. Oh and it has a really cool interior.

    How can it not win? And to think the Jag XJ is rumoured to be twice as good!

    Best concept car (as no one else thought of it): Land Rover LRX. With today’s mad oil prices, making a “baby Range Rover” that can do 60 MPG is a very good idea and it will come to market at just the right time. Clever, very clever if the pull it off!

  • avatar

    My list is real easy:

    Honda Fit

    Honda Civic – drove one recently and I remembered why this car is so good. Decent power, great mileage, and great handling in a not too small package.

    Honda Accord – Another recent drive that re-inforced what a great car this really is. A V6 coupe with a luxurious leather interior that goes like a bat out of hell while returning 21 real world MPG.

    Mazda5 – A fun to drive minivan, right for the times.

    Mazda MX 5

    Cadillac CTS (not the V-Spec) – An american car that can hold its own against those Ur-a-peein cars.

    Infiniti G37/G35 – BMW 3 Series? This car has it all over it at 3/4 the cost.

    Toyota Prius – Not a fan, but it is the most succesful hybrid out there for a reason.

    Audi R8 – A gentleman’s supercar much in the mold of the Acura NSX, but with much more power.

    Ford Flex – Again, not a fan, but it represents a truly honest effort to build a car that carries 7 people while being as economical as possible and still offering a modicum of style.

  • avatar

    Just squeaking this in I hope, but I nominate against the VW GTI. Last year I was all for it, but the one my sister and her husband have has been a reliability nightmare. My sister is on a first name basis with the mechanics at their dealer. Recent items that have crapped out include the air conditioner, a tail light assembly, and just this past week the entire transmission. They have the paddle shift transmission, and apparantly one second it was working and the next it was jammed in 1st. Fun!

  • avatar

    The Infiniti G35/G37 for sure.

    …and the BMW 3-Series.

    Both do everything so well, there isn’t really any compromise in owning them. I don’t even really see a need to buy something larger or more expensive.

    The 2009 G37 Sedan is coming with 328HP and a 7-Speed automatic, will make it even more appealing than it already is. The 09 G37 hard-top convertible and AWD Coupe will round out the G line.

    The 3-Series is also getting refreshed.

    Also, another vote for the GT-R. It has changed the game.

  • avatar

    I’m going to have to nominate the GT-R. Not because I like it, I really don’t and would never pay for one, but because it is such a feat of engineering.

    On a similar note, I will nominate the ZR1 and/or Z06 because they are beautiful, feats of engineering (albeit on a different scale, let alone price point), and because I like Corvettes.

  • avatar

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned the . . .

    Honda Fit- It’s the modern day classic Mini.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Here’s an odd one just for fun: The Ford Ranger. Sure it’s old as the hills and lacks the technical wizbangery to inspire gearheads. However, the Ranger is also the closest you can get to a modern equivalent of the original VW Beetle (or even the Model T). What other vehicle on the market has defied “planned obsolescence” for so long? What other truck is still designed to emphasize honest simplicity, economy and practicality?

    Sure, Ford needs to update this truck. But give the company credit for continuing to offer a real compact when everyone else has upsized and glitzified.

    If TTACers really want to see the return of the compact truck segment, I think we need to put our votes where our mouths are.

  • avatar

    Here are three cars I’d submit as best for their role, depending on what stage of life you’re in:

    Single guy or recently married with no kids: Porsche Boxster. It’s everything that you folks love about the Cayman plus it’s a convertible. the mid engine layout, the awesome brakes, the tuned suspension, everything about the car puts a smile to my face.

    Married guy with a kid: Honda Civic. You need to think about saving for the kids’ tuition money, so you need a fun car that’s frugal and cheap to buy. The Civic is that car.

    Married with kids: Honda Odyssey. It’s pretty fast for a minivan. It’s comfortable on long trips and can still be used to bring home your plywood when you need it. It gets decent fuel economy for such a large vehicle. It’s Honda reliable.

    Empty Nester: Porsche Boxster again. The list comes full circle.

  • avatar

    Volkswagen GTI

    I’m seconding (or however many there’ve been) this one. I may have traded mine in on an R32, but the R32 is far more an esoteric f@nboi decision than the GTI.

    Incredible poise, unflappable quality, a magnificent engine, everyday liveability, and a great price point. Plus, the DSG is an engineering marvel.

    Ford Flex

    Ford’s savior, but it’s a little (ha!) late to the party. Great quality, three rows of seating, great storage space, smart, handsome styling, and a pretty good starting price. Now, if they offer some clean/hybrid options it’ll be a runaway success.

  • avatar

    Re: Ranger – not a bad idea. Hmm…

  • avatar

    I nominate:

    1. MX-5: boring choice, but you don’t understand cars until you have driven one of these… to its limits. There are no cars that give you this level of handling enjoyment for this price range, and way beyond.

    2. Cayman S: superbly composed, makes much of the Porsche range superfluous.

    3. 350Z: the best deal in handling+power+looks under 30k$, bar none (sorry canadians). This needs to replace the G35/G37 on the list, as it is the better sportscar.

    4. GT-R: The ultimate no-compromise car. No other car breaks the laws of physics so well (not even the MX-5 ;)

    5. R8: with the GT-R, this completes the new order of supercars… so much beauty and handling that is apparently very easy to control and very neutral.

    6. Cooper S: the only FWD that is worth a damn, GTIs and Mazda3’s need not apply. Handling, balance, and frugal too.

    I would like to counter these choices:

    3 series: it has become too heavy and too vague steering to be anywhere near an ultimate anything. It used to be brilliant, but it is time to let go.

    G35/G37: Like I said, if you want to pick these, the 350Z deserves its place.

    Any Mazda3: Has no business being in a top-10 list as long as the Cooper S exists.

    911: Has been outdone by its own little brother the Cayman-S for fun/handling, and outdone by everyone else for speed/features. It is still brilliant, but not deserving of the top-10.

    Any Corvette: It has lost its bang for the buck crown, and has never been a particularly great sports car (terrible at the limit handling). It will always be a great deal, but not top-10 worthy anymore seeing how many fantastic cars we have nowadays.

  • avatar

    Hate me: Hyundai Elantra. I just helped my mother negotiate for a 5-speed SE. She paid under $14K for it and in her first 5,000 miles has yet to see a tank of gas under 34mpg. Best mileage so far is 38mpg. 38! Sure, the resale is shit but MAN is that a lot of car for the money. 38!

    I’d also like to de-nominate the Miata/MX5. So much of what was fun in the old ones is gone. Way too much tire for the car, you can’t slide and toss it like the old one.

    And no BMWs. Any good dynamic package is smothered under too many idiot warnings and control systems. Dealers asking $45K for a 1-series? You can get an E30 M3 for that.

  • avatar

    Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited

    The ultimate on-road/ off-road convertible with multiple top options from a soft-top, hard-top, or no top at all. There is no other vehicle like it that in it’s stock form can comfortably take four adults and their gear to enjoy the great outdoors and what is inaccessible lands for most all other vehicles with it’s heavy-duty axles, two-speed transfer case, skid plates, electronic locking front and rear differentials with limited-slip, electronic stability program, the ability to electronically disconnect the sway bar, and a ton of after-market options including lifts to make it your own.

    It is truly rare to find such a capable vehicle that creates passion and brings a smile to the owner’s face every time that they drive it.

  • avatar

    The 2008 Chevy Malibu has to be on the list. GM hit a home run with this one, when they needed it the most. The Pontiac G8 GT also needs to be a contender, considering its style and ability to be “fun to drive.”

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