By on October 4, 2012

It’s been a few years since TTAC has held an award ceremony for the best and worst vehicles, but 2012 marks the re-birth of two storied traditions for the site – and it’s all decided by you, the readers.

The rules and process are similar to our TWAT awards, though we’re looking for the vehicles that stand out for positive reasons. Just as it’s difficult to find a truly bad car in this marketplace, it’s also hard to find something really oustanding. Everything on the market is pretty good, but we’re looking for great.

Have at it, but don’t forget the rules listed below.

1. To qualify, a vehicle must be offered for sale as a new vehicle in the U.S. between Jan 1, 2012 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.   The winners will be announced whenever we get around to it.  We have nothing to give the winners but our disdain, so the winning manufacturers will find out about it like everyone else.

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158 Comments on “TTAC’s Ten Best Cars Of 2012 Nominations Are Now Open...”


  • avatar
    weneversleep

    Mitsubishi Evolution X. Still the best-handling four-door sedan you can buy.

  • avatar
    weneversleep

    Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. A true supercar from an American manufacturer that we may never see the likes of again.

  • avatar
    weneversleep

    Ford Mustang. All trim levels. Ford just keeps improving this car, and 2013 has some of the best improvements yet. The everymans American sports car that can go, stop, and handle with the best of them, and even has a nice interior.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Another vote for Mustang and even though I’m a dyed in the wool GT500 guy, I’m going to narrow it down to the Boss 302. Its one of a few cars that is certainly greater than the sum of its parts – the Boss 302, not the ZL1 Camaro is the reason why the 2013 GT500 got a 112 horsepower shot in the arm and was fitted with two mode electronically adjustable shocks and struts. Further the Boss is such a balanced package it makes accessing its performance comparatively easier than the GT500 (launching a GT500 prior to the 2013 model with less than a full set of slicks is an excersize in frustration) and with a few mods said Boss 302 can shame older GT500 owners at both the strip and on a road course.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Hey bitches, I keep telling you the North American Car of the Year is/will be either the Skoda Yeti or the Citroën C6.

      What’s that you say? They’re not sold in North America?

      SONOFABITCH!

  • avatar
    Off a Cliff

    2013 Mazda CX-5
    Mazda’s first major foray out of Ford-dom, complete with all new chassis, engine, and other major bits.

    2012 BMW 3-series
    First ‘bimmer’ in over a decade to attempt a forced induction base model, which is faster and more fuel efficient than its predesessor

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      2012 BMW 3-series coupe
      Available with a great naturally aspirated engine and communicative hydraulic power steering. As a bonus, unlike the sedan, it doesn’t drive like an Audi A4.

      • 0 avatar
        copanacional

        2012 AUDI A5/S5 Coupe

        Available with a great naturally aspirated V8 or a spunky turbo charged 4 cylinder. Great design, fantastic interiors; as a bonus, BMW fan-boys even admit it’s better looking.

    • 0 avatar
      gregx-5

      I second the CX-5. It is laying the groundwork for cheap, powerful, fuel efficiency tech for the next two decades. They are forgoing going smaller (and more complicated) with turbcharged engines so they can bring HCCI into a mass produced vehicle:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homogeneous_charge_compression_ignition

      … for even more gains in efficiency.

      Hopefully in 2013 I can come back and nominate the diesel version…

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I also nominate the CX-5. It drives great and gets mileage at least as high as my Protege5. When it was released in Japan, it was selling at 8x the expected rate, and is still going for over MSRP in my neck of the woods.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      I take issue with the 3-Series precisely because of the 4-cylinder. Or more succinctly, they abandoned the inline 6. The inline 6 is part of what makes a 3-series a 3-series. Inline 6, rear wheel drive, stick shift. I know most folks who buy these don’t know and don’t care. But it does matter.

      I also question the real-world performance of the 4-cylinder. From the early reports I’m seeing, the rated mileage might be just that.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      Mazda 6 wagon! Oh wait, they are going to offer it here. Mazda 6 hatchback! Oh wait, they aren’t going to offer it here. Ford Fusion wagon! Oh wait, they aren’t going to offer it here. Ford Fusion hatchback! Oh wait, they aren’t going to offer it here. Chevy Cruze wagon! Oh wait, they aren’t going to offer it here. Chevy Cruze hatchback! Oh damn, nevermind.

  • avatar
    rockit

    Wouldn’t you have to drive all to really make a decision? This seems more like a fanboy/arm chair ceo exercise than anything.

    • 0 avatar
      weneversleep

      I own an Evo X, and have driven numerous C6 Vettes (including the ZR1) and very late model Mustangs (many trim levels). I’m a track driving instructor; I know of what I speak, and I did read the rules. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      They could just do it the old fashioned way like most buff books, inform the car manufacturers about the the prestigous TTAC 10 best award with an awesome polycarbonate engraved trophy which will be awarded to the highest bidder.

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    VW GTI. Even in it’s last year of production, it’s still a uniquely compelling product.

    • 0 avatar
      V8Roving

      Second that.
      It’s just the perfect all around car for an enthusiast on a budget. Fun to drive, quick, practical and it looks classy while doing it all

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Seconded. BTW – The VW GTI is not in it’s last year of production, only the MKVI version is in it’s last year. The MKVII GTI will be back next fall and should be even better.

      There aren’t many cars out there that can match the GTIs blend of performance, price, practicality, refinement, interior quality and luxury.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The US could have MKVI’s for years to come. The MKV was released in Europe in 2003 and the US in 2006. The MKVI was a 2008 in Europe, came to the US as a 2010 model. Chances are the MKVII won’t come here until it has aged a bit too. Fortunately for VW, their US customers enjoy coprophagy.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        VW has confirmed that the MKVII Golf and GTI will be available for sale in the U.S. next fall. The efficiencies of VWs new MQB global platform are changing their standard method of releasing models to the U.S. late and de-contented.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    Jeep Wrangler. Buckets of fun, cheap to buy, slow to depreciate, and you can fold down the windshield! Probably the only vehicle that deserves to be both one of TTAC’s Ten Best AND Ten Worst autos today.

    • 0 avatar
      ezeolla

      I have to agree. I have a TJ and I like the new ones (with the 3.6) so much (from valeting them and whatnot) that the only thing stopping me from going to the dealership is my fiancee (and all the rumors about diesel powered/pickup versions in a couple of years)

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        I haven’t had a chance to drive one with the Pentastar yet but I’m looking forward to it. That 3.8L was a lump, and a step down from the venerable 4.0HO I6 before it.

    • 0 avatar
      holydonut

      I completely agree – the reason the Wrangler is one of the best cars today is because the Wrangler is open to being the worst car in the eyes of many.

      The Wrangler is at the absolute bottom of Consumer Report’s list for vehicles in its class. Which is also the exact reason why it’s the best vehicle for Wrangler buyers.

      The pragmatic attributes that CR uses to define a quality automobile are the exact traits that Jeep sought to ignore to make the Wrangler the best vehicle for the other purpose of being awesome when off-road or when you’re out having fun.

      The trade off to being able to quickly remove the doors and windshield is road noise. The trade off for steep approach angles is twitchy handing.

      In a world where cars regress towards a generic set of compromises, the Wrangler sends a giant middle finger towards pragmatism in order to be a great car.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      If you had nominated the Jeep any time from 1946 to 2006, I would have agreed. But the 2007+ rendition is just too big and a good 800 lb overweight. This is a Jeep for people who grew up on SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      Totally agree with the Wrangler. I just got rid of my TJ (needed room for twins)and even after having it for 10 years I was never able to park it and walk away without turning around to look back at it. You get a convertible for the summer and 4wd for the winter. Its probably the only vehicle you can own that will change you. Any car you get after it is going to feel like the smoothest, quietest, best handling car though. I was in a rented Aveo for a week and I was like this is so nice, wow .

  • avatar
    weneversleep

    BMW M3. Probably the last normally aspirated M car that we’re going to see, and still a fantastic car. Coupe, convertible, or four-door sedan, and all are amazing (even if the convertible doesn’t have quite the level of driving dynamics that the coupe and sedan do).

  • avatar
    carguy

    2013 Mazda CX-5
    Light, precise, affordable and fun in ways the BMW X3 can only dream of.

    2013 Ford Escape
    While there were some initial recalls, the levels of refinement in this compact CUV approach those of luxury contenders in this segment costing $15K more.

    2013 Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe
    Forget refinement and grace, this lunatic creation seems to be the last car built to 60s muscle car formula: Way too much motor for the chassis + fantastic noise = the most fun you can have with your pants on.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      I second the nomination of the CX-5. Great looks, no stupid grin, nice handling (I’m told, full disclosure, I’ve not driven one yet), good space, and great economy. This one is a slam dunk. My only criticism, and this holds true of all Mazda’s is their limited color selection. I really wish they’d open up the pallet. But that’s it.

  • avatar
    mjz

    One of them simply has to be the 2013 Dodge Dart. This car represents the first fruit of the marriage between Chrysler and Fiat. Judging by the Dart, there will be many more successful “love” children to come.

  • avatar
    tatracitroensaab

    How about either the Jetta or the Passat? Not due to their inherent qualities, mind you, but due to their role in VW’s quest for global domination. After years of making cars with nice interiors that handled well but had bad reliability, VW finally realized that Americans really want a big, cheap car that looks nice (if conservative) from the outside. They researched their market well, their sales increased greatly, they are increasing their market share, and making record profits while doing so. If that’s not a “great car” (at least from a manufacturing standpoint) I dont know what is.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      You make a very good argument to support your recommendation.

      • 0 avatar
        joeveto3

        You beat me to it. The first car that came to mind was the Jetta. It looks good, handles great, and unlike a lot competitors, it doesn’t game the system to offer class leading numbers at the expense of real-world performance.

        By that, I mean, on paper, the 2.5 might not look that great. But if you’ve spent time with a Jetta, you’ll realize the entire package is a delight. The real world performance does not disappoint. It accelerates strongly, the automatic transmission is smooth, and the real world mileage is in the low to mid 30′s in mixed driving. Even the sound of the 2.5, different, a bit of a growl, but refined, was a surprise for me.

        The ergonomics are solid. Everything is where it should be. The seats are comfortable and the vinyl trim, is a very convincing “leather” that forgoes the insult to its consumers by calling it leather, when no cow, or very, very little cow was ever involved in the seat making process. Thanks for the honesty Volkswagen.

        That all of this can be offered for less than $20K is surprising.

        I think that’s what sums up the Jetta for me. It’s honest. The styling is honest. The interior is no nonsense, functional, Germanic. The performance is real.

        I understand others here have had nightmares with some VW’s. My familial experience with the VAG group is much, much more positive.

        I like the Jetta so much, that had I not just purchased a 335i, I would have considered one.

      • 0 avatar
        V8Roving

        JoeVeto beat me too it, but I have to agree with everything he said. In my family we have both a 2012 Jetta and Passat, picked up this past year, and both are outstanding. We replaced a 2003 passat with a new one and VW really hasn’t missed a beat with the passat. Both are great cars that are well rounded packages for their segments, and like was said before they may not hit all the crazy numbers of others but in the real world none match the space efficiency and general driving fun that both have

    • 0 avatar
      Type57SC

      By this argument, you would have to vote the Civic over the Jetta. While the jetta grew more as a %, the civic volumes appear up in the face of a torrent of bad reviews, are probably actually reliable in the long run (vs people just hoping VW has turned the corner) and outsells the Jetta 2x. So I say Civic. I also say ugh.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    2013 Dodge Dart!

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    The 2013 Honda Accord. It’s predecessor rebounded from the Tsunami and finished strong, the new one is an objectively better product, and actually garnered positive reviews across the board for a CVT.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    2013 Ford Focus ST

    Euro-spec handling and interior quality combined with GTI beating power output and electronic options, and built in the USA.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Trippy auto steering gear adjustment comes free with the immense amounts of torque steer.

      Honestly, I love the car. It just begs to get flogged. I just wish it had revoknuckle.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Just drove an ST today and the Veloster Turbo. I like the power in the ST (have to go through so much to defeat its nannies though which is upsetting) and it had decent handling. However, the Veloster Turbo felt more engaging to drive (ST is porky and you can feel it). The ST was much more solidly built and you can tell.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    At the risk of getting lynched as a fan-boy, the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ. It generated the largest amount of media coverage of any car that went on sale this year, and also generated the most discussion among enthusiasts about what it meant to be an enthusiast. Many criticized it for a variety of faults, while it received equal or greater praise as well for its virtues.

    The point is, it was easily the most important car of the year in two senses. It is the ultimate test case of the viability of enthusiast oriented cars for the mass-market. Toyota and Subaru have invested heavily in bringing to market an affordable enthusiast car which had no badge history or ready-made following. The sales success or failure of this car will demontrate pretty clearly how viable enthusiast cars are as a concept. Mustangs, Camaros and others have already presented fan bases and support. These do not. If they aren’t viable, then it makes a pretty compelling argument that outside of the true-believers, driving fun is dead as a sales tool.

    The other aspect of the Toyobaru’s significance is the discussion it had generated about what a “fun” car is and needs to be. Does it need to be really fast, or really cheap? Does it need to be a technological marvel? There are no actual definitive answers, but this car generated more discussion about those questions than anything else that was on sale in 2012. Yes, these discussions have always been going to an extent, but they didn’t get the front page, centre-of-attention focus that the wider enthusiast community gave them as a result of these two cars.

    For these reasons, the FR-S/BRZ deserves a place as one of the ten best cars. It raised the most existential questions of car enthusiasts, and enabled those enthusiasts to find their personal answers to those questions. And knowing what your own truth about cars is, matters.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll second this one. However, note that I have not driven a BRZ/FR-S yet.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Agreed on the FR-S/BRZ. It is handsome, simple, focused, attainable, and, most importantly, makes you smile every time you throw it into a turn. It is definitely one of those cars that is just more than a sum of its parts.

      • 0 avatar
        Synchromesh

        I’ll fourth on BRZ/FRS. I’ve driven a BRZ twice and loved it, especially the manual version. Excellent car.

        I would also like to add WRX. I own one and it’s a great car. Very flexible, has power, awd, utility. Mine is a ’12 and I love it.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      My BRZ will be in sometime this month (in production right now). I’ve yet to drive one but did get a chance to sit in an FR-S. I like the car and it’s low and agile look. I think the BRZ has a cleaner, more sporty look to it. Can’t wait to drive it.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      I completely agree with this nomination. If you call yourself an enthusiast, you must like the FRS and BRZ. To a non-enthusiast, this would seem a stupid argument. But the fact is, if we don’t embrace a manufacturer’s effort to offer up a light weight, rear wheel driver car with true sporting intentions, shame, shame on us.

      The typical argument against the twins, too little power, is evidence of an imposter and they should have their “Car Guy” license summarily revoked and as punishment should be forced to live with something really shitty. I’m not sure what that is…ok, that new Mitsubishi electric. Yeah, that’s it.

      The only valid argument can only apply to half of the twins, and that’s the Scion. Because we ALL KNOW only administrative assistants drive Scions, and that if Toyota really cared, they would have blessed this car with their own logo.

      So let’s review: Light weight, rear wheel drive, available stick shift. Done deal Pal. Done deal.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        ”evidence of an imposter and they should have their “Car Guy” license summarily revoked”

        Man if that doesn’t smack of elitism.

        I can certainly understand the appeal of a small lightweight and nimble ”enthusiasts” car but y’know after driving my buddy’s FR-S I’m not particularly enamored to it. Its fun in its own way but hardly the apogee of all things automotive.

        And frankly to answer your unspoken question as an automotive enthusiast, I am insulted.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        I have to agree with Ralph. My point is that they ask existential questions about what a person likes as a car enthusiast. I didn’t say that they established a truth, only that they allowed gearheads to find their own in response to the approach the cars took.

  • avatar
    Neb

    1. Mazda MX-5: for still being a affordable and lightweight roadster despite all the pressure to go in other directions.

    2. Ford Mustang: for being everything a Pony car should be. Especially for that turbo V6, which makes more power than most of the old V-8 cars did!

    I know these are not new cars, but they stick out for me as being genuinely impressive. Not only for what they do, but for being as they are in a market that favors compromise.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The V6 in the Mustang is NA.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll second the MX-5. The fact that this car is still being made today earns it a place in the top 10, plus the fact that it’s still the most satisfying car to drive on the road or track made today.

    • 0 avatar
      Speed Spaniel

      Vote 3 for the MX-5. A great example of power to weight, balance, tossability, refinement, affordability for the common man, top notch fit and finish, economy and beautiful to look at with the hard top up and down. I understand the backlash of this generation as too big and soft, but that extra bit of refinement sold me on it. I don’t believe a perfomance vehicle should “beat you up”.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      The Miata is a brilliant car and it deserves to be on the list for many of the same reasons as the FRS and BRZ. Or more correctly, the reverse is true, the FRS and BRZ deserve a place and Mazda, by virtue of its tenure, deserves first mention.

      Though the interior of the Miata is best described as “cozy,” drop the top and the world is yours. Just the same, you haven’t lived until you’ve spent time in one during a rain storm. The sound of the rain bouncing off the roof will make anyone a romantic.

      Get caught in a snow storm, and assuming the snow isn’t too deep, the mounted tires too shallow, get ready for a fantastic ride. There’s something about being nestled in a cozy tent on wheels, sliding through the neighborhood apexes, that warms the heart.

      If that’s not enough, the reliability is legendary, the steering is genius, the handling is perfect. And if you can turn a wrench, Miatas are very easy to work on.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Caddy ATS, while Ford is all blah blah blah, GM actually builds something to take on the Germans

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I ALMOST nominated the ATS – I think it is a valid nomination. Admittedly, it does benefit from BMW going backwards on their latest 3-series offering.

      Sometimes playing in a niche, albeit a very big niche has its advantages. BMWs latest 3-series offering feels like its trying to be something for everyone (e.g. blandish) and a victim of tightening CAFE standards. This gaffe makes the ATS offering stand out even more.

      Before BMW owners scream blasphemy, the proof is in the sales numbers, and Mercedes Benz is certainly feasting off of BMWs mistakes. Where the ATS only hit the sales floor in September, the judge and jury is still out. But given GMs current track record on “smaller” cars (e.g. Sonic, Cruze, Verano) I think the ATS will be a hit.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Third the ATS. If it wasn’t for the balky shifter, it would have beat the 3-Series in one comparo I saw, and it will be competitive in others as well. I know everyone keeps saying Cadillac should stop chasing the Germans, but it worked on this one. It might be because BMW un-3ed the 3, but it’s to Cadillac’s benefit.

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    FRS/BRZ/GT86.

    It may not be faster than a Mustang or Genesis Coupe, but it marks a return of Japanese affordable RWD sports coupes that are light-weight and no-frills.

    It wasn’t designed to be perfect, and it isn’t – but it was designed to provide a good base for tuners to improve on it – and it does.

    The fact that it is widely-praised (if not in TTAC) for its intangibles, such as feel and fun factor, goes to show that for a lot of people, this is a very good car.
    Sure, there are faster/more powerful cars to be had (*cough* Mustang *cough*)- but that will always be the case – this is a car that set out to break step with the horsepower wars.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    I’m nominating the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Anyone who has prejudices and ill feelings about what Chrysler can accomplish needs to give this vehicle a test drive to show them how times have changed.

    The vast improvements to the Interior and Powertrain should be recognized as proof Detroit knows how to make a car when they are given relaxed cost pressure and when they are given the opportunity to seek excellence. Cars like the JGC will slowly turn the tide against the Anti-American-Car sentiment that pervades many minds.

    I know doctors and lawyers who have purchased this vehicle even though they would not have even looked Jeep’s way a few years ago. The fact that this car actually has decent sales in California speaks volumes to the notion that we’re seeing a turnaround from the DaimlerChrysler influence.

    This car ticks all the marks for anyone who wants the increased utility. The Explorer can’t tow much, the Highlander and Pilot have regressed toward a watered-down mean, and the Germans will require a $10K price premium for the same results.

    Urbanites don’t need this car, but people with boats and second homes have a new car to consider. Given a comparison free of prejudice, the Grand Cherokee will come out on top.

    • 0 avatar
      Type57SC

      I agree that this vehicle has just about the broadest appeal I’ve seen for a design. Has anyone ever said “I just don’t like the direction they took with this new GC”? I can certainly remember many discussion like that for the Explorer, Focus, Civic, Jetta, 3-series, accord…

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Of new cars released this year, I’ll go with the 2013 Dodge Dart.

    They have sucessfully raised the bar in the C segment by offering more of that small(ish) car buyers want with very competitive pricing. It’s truly a small car that isn’t a compromise to drive and you could actually live with in comfort while being frugal.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Ford F-150. First, it’s a half-ton with towing up to 11300 and payload up to 3120.

    It offers at least 11 different rear end options and trims levels that range from work truck to Baja racer to motorcycle leather fetish to steakhouse.

    Then there’s the engines. I thought the 3.7L in a RCSB F-150 was more fun in the truck than in the much-loved V6 Mustang. I have a feeling the 5.0 might be slightly under-rated by Ford in truck trim. The 3.5L EB offers good unladen fuel economy, big power, might be the future for pick ups, and represents one of the biggest risks taken by Ford in years (a company I’ve criticized heavily for its very conservative product strategy). And of course, there is my personal favorite, the full Hoss iron block 6.2L, which is now available on trims as low as an extended cab XLT.

    • 0 avatar
      Type57SC

      That and selling 463,733 of them this year so far (53,352 more than the GM twins before someone brings up the CK issue). #1 selling vehicle = #1 vehicle? makes sense to me.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        The #1 selling F-Series number includes the wholly unrelated Super Duty which makes up about 35% of its sales figure.

        I don’t know if the F-150 has ever outsold the GM half ton twins, if so it wasn’t recently.

        The Camry has outsold the F-150 for 4 of the past 5 years counting this one. The Accord did at least once in that time span.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Dan –

        F-Series has been outselling the GM Silverado/Sierra combined numbers for most of the past year. GM and Dodge report the sales numbers the same way – the HD lines are included in the figures for the half tons.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        I know GM and Chrysler combine them too. You can find them broken out if you look. Last year:

        F-150 359K
        Chevy 1500 332K
        Ford HD 203K
        Ram 1500 152K
        GMC 1500 117.5K
        Ram HD 93K
        Chevy HD 83K
        Tundra 83K
        GMC HD 32K

  • avatar
    RV1458

    2013 Mazda CX-5 – The best CUV I’ve driven and the first CUV I’ve had any interest whatsoever in owning. It also has a nice interior that doesn’t leave a low-rent impression. Not only does it stand out, it does so while remaining price competitive with entry-level CUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I agree with this, for sure.

      - The vehicle handles well.
      - As a CUV, it’s a very effective one. Good tow rating, impressive quantities of space.
      - Very impressive fuel economy for its class. Fuelly reports it gets about 1.5mpg better, overall, than the CR-V.
      - It’s nice to be able to get a stick in a CUV. Getting that stick with AWD or other ugprades would be better but we take what we can get.
      - The exterior and interior are quite nice. Even the interior on the base car is attractive. Upgrades are damned nice. Base car has decent options list.
      - Impressive value. Only $22K or so; all the other CUVs start out higher (exc maybe Kia/Hyundai – haven’t checked those).
      - The one drawback is that acceleration is so-so. I’d be OK with it but many others have remarked on it.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Actually, the Mazda is no longer Zoom. MT tested it and found it to be slowest in class. NYTimes too.

      • 0 avatar
        CelticPete

        Best car for who?

        135is

        Best car for me? BMW 1 series. RWD + decent size inline 6 + stick + manual transmission = very fast car that feels refined an fun to drive.

        Best car for everyday person..

        Dodge Charger SXT plus AWD or R/T v8 (warmer areas)? Why? most people won’t/can’t drive sticks. The most ‘fun’ they have on a daily basis isn’t canyon carving (traffic) but pulling away from a stoplight. They also need lots of room for kids and stuff.

        Dodge Charger with a V8 gives you honest to god BMW 5 series performance at 1/2 the price. I also like the GCG – but lets be honest most people don’t need 9 inches of ground clearance.

        I’d put the Acura TL in there too – cept looks too ugly..

  • avatar
    tuffjuff

    2013 Hyundai Santa Fe. They’ve taken the excellent quality, high-tech interior of the Hyundai Azera (a great place to spend some time), brought almost the entire thing into the Santa Fe, added a ton of features and charged much less for them than their similarly sized competition, i.e. Chevy Equinox and to an extent Ford Edge.

    • 0 avatar
      John

      I’m guessing you haven’t driven it yet. I wanted to like it for all of the reasons you sited but the steering is numb, the engine struggles when pushed (much more so than the smaller engine in the CX-5) and the road noise was excessive. I was seriously disappointed – if it had been anywhere near as nice on the road as it appears I’d have one.

  • avatar
    JohnTheDriver

    Chevy Volt. Seriously. As much as TTAC collectively hates this car can anyone deny the game changing technologies involved? In another 10 years I think most cars will have at least some of the Volt tech under the hood. Or to put it another way … 35 miles, no gas!

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I disagree. While it’s a notable technical achievement, GM had been able to consider the competition for a decade before they started to develop it. With $7500 plus in credits and other considerations from Feds and States, GM should have been able to deliver something that would actually be a very hot seller (imagine any other car with $7500 in tax credits attached).

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        I’d second the nomination and disagree with KixStart. The Volt was intended to be a niche vehicle from the start, especially with that high price tag. The fact that it is outselling many cars that aren’t niche vehicles is nothing short of amazing, notwithstanding the smirks from the TTAC peanut gallery. The second generation will be a better and cheaper car, while the first generation was to achieve the proof of concept (and to out-Toyota Toyota). Everyone I talked to when GM first announced the Volt thought they’d never be able to achieve the goals set forth, but they made it work.

        It may not be selling as well as people like, but if any other company other than GM had out-Toyota-ed Toyota, we’d have this car on every single list. It’s really only because of the “government motors” criticism that lots of people seem to hate this car.

        Obviously the Volt was an expensive program, but the nonsensical estimate of how much GM loses per car was stupid. You have to amortize the program over every single vehicle that will be sold in the program, and GM said they would lose some money on it, but would make it back on Gen 2.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        The Volt was never intended to be a niche model.

        The Volt was intended to sell in the pre crash market of full employment, unlimited credit, and skyrocketing oil prices. Where it would have been a 10K monthly success instead of a 10K yearly punchline.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        If it was intended to be a niche vehicle, that’s really a scathing criticism. Hybrids have been on the market for over a decade. GM should have been intending to build something that would sell and the result… should have sold.

        Just 2800 units with a whopping $7500 rebate? That’s bad.

        My criticism has nothing to do with the bailout; I endorsed the bailout. My criticism goes to the heart of GM’s problems… GM does not have what it takes to develop a competitive hybrid and they don’t seem at all concerned about it.

        Nor do I agree with the ridiculous loss-per-car numbers that have been bandied about. I took accounting; I understand how this stuff really works. They might be taking a loss but it’s not computed by (development cost / current production total).

        And the market has not crumbled so badly that it shifts the Volt from a 10K/month success to its current volumes.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        When discussing the $7,500 tax credit, I think it’s important to note the starting price. $40,000 (before rebates/credits/etc) basically gets you a Chevy Cruze with a battery.

  • avatar
    RV1458

    2013 Honda Accord* – The 2013 Accord looks much better to me than the previous generation, having trimmed some excess bloat, and vaguely reminds me of the sixth generation Accord (that ended in 2002). Best interior in its class. Good fuel economy/power.

    *This is based solely on what I’ve seen/read since I haven’t driven one.

    • 0 avatar
      d524zoom-zoom

      I had to reply to your post only to agree with you about how the new Accord looks…I thought the same thing when looking at it from the front i thought i was looking at my brothers 2000 Accord. That generation on Accord was the best, last, “simple” Accord on the road

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I would also nominate the 2013 Accord, they seemed to have nailed the CVT experience. It is an attractive, understated design that will age well. They made the car shorter but through good packaging kept the same internal space. The option of a manual gearbox is available on more than just the base model which makes a pleasant change. It seems a good return to form for Honda after a few mis-steps in the past.

  • avatar
    raded

    I’ll throw a couple econoboxes into the mix…

    2012 Mazda3 Skyactiv
    Mazda’s are fun to drive but get horrible fuel mileage. Until now. All the real world fuel mileage tests I’ve read put the Mazda3 above everything without an electric motor or a diesel engine and it’s still the most fun car in the compact segment.

    2012 Ford Focus
    The gap in good-ness between the 2011 and 2012 Focii is huge. The 2011 Focus was garbage. The 2012 Focus drives like a much more expensive car. Just driving around town, you’d think you were in a BMW 3 series.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      I second the Mazda3. It shows that diesel or hybrid tech is not necessary to be fuel efficient.

    • 0 avatar
      tbp0701

      I agree with the Mazda 3 with Skyactiv. I have 4200 miles on mine, some driving around the Hocking Hills roads, and am very impressed with the car so far. It’s fun, responsive, and very fuel efficient. I am an enthusiast driving a manual and, according to the car computer, have averaged 36MPG, and have had a lot of fun.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Another site noted the HUGE incentives Ford has placed on the hood to move Foci, something like $2000.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Exactly right, I was amazed that Ford was offering $2000 (or around 10% of the mid spec SE, since S was “only” $1500) so soon into the model year. Since it was Spring of 2012 and not even related to the end of model year clearance typically seen. I fully expect this with the Fusion, where they offer $1000 off even before it has been released! So come next year it was easily be $2000+ off.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    2013 Ford Fusion. It may be a little pre-mature, but this one is a game-changer. It has very few faults, good quality all around and sells for a fairly low price. It marks the competitive return of Ford into the midsize segment.

    2012 Subaru Outback. It is well made, very reliable, and extremely efficient the new engine has a timing chain vs the old one’s belt, a big improvement. It is a jack-of-all trades and can do just about everything a vehicle can do.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Disagree on the Fusion. What makes you say it is good quality all around? Ford’s other recent new model introductions don’t inspire confidence from a quality control perspective.

      I also disagree that it marks the competitive return of Ford to the midsize segment – the outgoing Fusion was often praised.

      Furthermore, it starts at a competitive price that climbs fairly quickly once you make it desirable. For example, I would rather have the base powertrain in the 2013 Accord than the one in the Fusion. The Accord also includes desirable standard features like automatic climate control and a backup camera in the base model.

      The Fusion is a good looking car, and I would consider it. Long way from a “game-changer” though.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I can’t wait to see how the 2013 Fusions 1.6 liter, 178hp motor, laden with that turbo, holds up after hauling a vehicle having a curb weight of 3,400ish pounds (figure 3,600 lbs with a driver and “stuff”) around for a few years, let alone a decade.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Ford C-Max. A real competitor to the Prius with more refinement.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Well, I’m probably going to get roasted for this.

    The Chevrolet Sonic.

    The B-Segment car has surprised in almost every review. High praise for the interior, both materials and space. Doesn’t drive like a small car. The sedan version is almost, attractive. Although the 5-door looks are bit more controversial, the LTZ version in black it looks good.

    Sales are beyond solid, surpassing the Fit, Yaris, Fiesta, Mazda2, Accent, 500, and have almost caught the Versa, the darling in this segment.

    I would venture to say that even chaffing out fleet sales numbers (given that the Fiesta is almost 40% fleet sales the last data I saw – no idea on the Versa) that the Sonic still enjoys a health sales lead over the competition.

    Additional kudos should be given to GM for helping keep the manual transmission alive. You can row the gears through the trim levels of the Sonic, something that almost no car in North America can claim today.

    The introduction of the RS trim adds to the product line, although the price point is steep (even questionable so).

    Does it have some hard plastic? Well of course, this is an economy B-segment car and even factoring in a few hard bits and some oddities, its interior is head and shoulders above the competition and easy to navigate from a driver stand point. Does it have rear drum brakes? Hello, so does the Honda Fit, the respected “fun” one of the pack. So does the Yaris, the Accent, the Versa…I think you get the point. Is the suspension on the primitive side? Yes, but it does more than work, it offers surprising handling and a good ride that is larger and better than the sum of its parts. Hey, doesn’t the same strategy work for the VW Jetta? Is the GM 1.8L 4-banger leave you wanting for power? Yes it does – but again, this is a B-segment car and no one is going to praise the Versa, Yaris, Accent et al for their horsepower and torque. The 1.4L turbo 4 changes the dynamics and moves the Sonic to 60 in the 7 second range. That’s not bad for an econobox. Did GM change the game? No. Did GM up the game and could one argue set a new benchmark. In the interior its no question, and when it comes to what is standard equipment, it does make one think. You don’t find AC in a base Versa or Accent for starters.

    I’ll be clear, this would not be a car for me for a daily drive (but nor would any B-segment offering) but GM did get the Sonic, and their B-segment offering right. I think there is a deserving recognition for the Sonic launched this year (and the Fiesta last year) that Detroit can finally build a decent B-segment car.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      @APaGttH: No roasting required – I second the Sonic. Equipped with the 1.4t, its a well built, stylish subcompact that people might actually want to own.

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      Definitely no roasting required, Edmunds has one long-term and reading their blogs it seems they love it. They feel it’s sort of a mini-GTI, or perhaps, closer to the original GTI than the current one.

      I wish the exterior styling was a bit better, but either way, if I were in the market for a B-segment car, I would definitely be taking a look at one. I can’t really say that for Chevy’s bigger cars, but this is actually one very good bit of work that deserves wider recognition.

  • avatar
    LBJs Love Child

    2013 Ford SVT Shelby Mustang GT 500 coupe. 662 hp pony car that stops and turns, too… and gets 25 mpg cruising on the highway. Just insane, and just what the world needs.

    2012 Chevy Volt. They did it.

    2013 Ford Fusion. It’s 1986 (Taurus changes the game) all over again!

    2013 Ford SVT Raptor. Because catching big air in the badlands oughta be stock in a pickup/utility.

    2013 FIAT 500 Abarth. Because a city-car shouldn’t have to be lobotomizing.

  • avatar
    PhilMills

    Subaru Outback 2.5.

    In spite of TTAC’s poor (unfairly so, IMO) review when the 2010 redesign came out, the fact remains that this is:
    * a wagon
    * …solidly under $30K out the door
    * …that seats five >6′ adult men -comfortably-
    * …and a dog and luggage
    * …with very good sight lines
    * …that’s AWD
    * …available with a 6MT
    * …that really honestly gets 30+MPG on the road.
    * …and will reportedly bolt on a lot of STi suspension and brake bits if that’s just not good enough for you.

    No, it won’t ever be an Impreza STi hooning around corners nor can you boost it to the 600+ HP my mechanic claims his 06 Legacy GT has, but this is A Good Car.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      The most impressive thing about the Outback is that Subaru was able to build an adult sized, substantial feeling wagon that isn’t any heavier than the 175″ cute ute class. Even the H6 is just 3,600 lbs.

      Makes you wonder what the Edge, Journey, Equinox do with those extra 6-700 lbs.

      • 0 avatar
        PhilMills

        Let’s also toss in that it drives like a car waaaay smaller than it looks. The turning circle of the Outback is on par with my little ’04 ION sedan and the 2000 Accord Coupe that it replaced in our house – it’s a big car to look at but it parks like a compact.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Agreed- the 2010 Outback was a good car. The 2013 Outback with the newer engine (better mpg), adaptive cruise, memory seat, updated navigation, lane wander warning, is now a great car.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    For worst car, I nominate the Acura ILX.

    This is Honda’s Cadillac Cimmaron. This is an answer to a question that many have asked, but it is the wrong answer. Unlike GMs approach to the Verano, which offers completely different power trains for starters over the Cruze, the ILX offers the same engines in its configurations as the Honda Civic. They aren’t even trying it seems. The price point is near criminal, and the ILX does nothing to harken back to the golden days of Acura when the Integra was affordable, a blast to drive, stood out from its Honda parts mate, and was the desired car in the segment.

    The ILX is little more than a tarted up Civic at a criminal price point that has no real reason to exist in the Acura line up. Given Honda/Acura recall track record of the last 24 months, and its less than stellar reputation with automatic transmissions (when mated to a V6 admittedly not offered in the ILX) one can’t even say with confidence, well its built to a high quality standard and reliable as the sunrise.

    Who would have ever though, EVER, that Buick would out Acura Acura and Acura would out Buick Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Seconded. When I first saw the ILX, it was extremely difficult for me to distinguish it from a Honda Civic, excluding the Monroney sticker. Acura has been about badge-engineering for a while now, but the ILX takes the cake. If you want to pay double for a Honda Civic, now Acura gives you a way. This is not like the Legends, Integras, and Vigors of old. It’s basically leather in a Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Where can I get a 2012 Civic with a 2 liter engine? The UAW needs to edit the talking points they’re handing out.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Best Blend of Old School & New School: W-body Impala (Old platform with DI, VVT, and 6 speed shift-able automatic…)

    Best 2 door, 4 seat, HP bang for the buck: Ford Mustang

    Greatest “Rocky” Story: Fiatsler and Sergio

    Best Looking New Sedan: Fusion

    I’d nominate more but I’ve run out of enthusiasm…

  • avatar
    zznalg

    The VW Golf R. All the goodness of the GTI plus more power, better brakes, AWD, lower suspension and refined stealth appearance inside and out. The other way to look at the R is as an undercover, less expensive and more practical TTS. When viewed from that angle, its price makes sense. As a bonus, with AWD, its modding potential is off the charts. (I’ve driven one 1600 miles and counting).

    • 0 avatar
      THEGOLDENJ

      About 7800 on mine and I absolutely love the thing. As is fairly obvious it is an absolute blast to drive – even on the stock all seasons. More surprisingly is how easy it is to drive and how comfortable it can be. When shopping for a car I looked at a lot of cars and the Golf R won out based more on how competent it was at being civil. Any car is fun pushed to the limit (the R more than some, less than others) but ultimately some comfort is needed.

  • avatar
    joneill1955

    Focus ST. Take everything that’s good about a regular Focus hatchback, add even better handling and a ton more power at all rev levels, and you have the ST.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I’d say the Chrysler 300; I think it’s portending Lancia’s to come. Sergio gave the zombie some salt and it perked right up

  • avatar
    KixStart

    The Prius Classic. It’s a transportation appliance, sure, but it’s an excellent transportation appliance. Good visibility, quiet, decent handling, excellent interior room, ridiculous fuel economy (I can get over 60mpg around town, I get 52mpg on trips without worrying about how I drive it) and, for the tech and utility you get, a very reasonable price.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    The Prius C. It’s quite a nice little car to drive, has most of the good qualities of the regular Prius just with less room. But the price is the shocking part… a full hybrid, availble here for $19K in spite of the high yen.

  • avatar
    Dan

    The Chrysler 300C.

    The only American luxury car left. Probably the last American luxury car ever. Please leave off the 20″ hood rat wheels.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    Toyota FR-S (or Subaru BRZ). Finally a fun and affordable car made by bringing together stock parts from other models. This is hoiw MG started from bits of other Morrises.

    • 0 avatar
      ccd1

      Second this nomination. The formula used in this car (low weight, reasonable hp, relatively low tech) could point the way for all affordable sports cars in the future

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Jetta Tdi wagon. It is a wagon for one, it comes with a stick , and it is a diesel Enough said

  • avatar
    bd2

    Kia Optima SX

    Still the best looking midsize sedan (better looking than the luxury midsizers as well) with one of the better interiors for its segment and a pretty fun drive.

  • avatar

    Perhaps under-appreciated because of its particular niche, the 2007-2012 Acura MDX is a wonderfully-versatile vehicle. It manages to do most of what a body-on-frame vehicle can, while still providing the utility and comfort of a unibody. Moreover it features intelligent styling that looks comfortably apart from most other vehicles and is fun to drive for something over two tons in weight…

  • avatar
    DubTee1480

    Honda Civic, for it’s sales success in the face of overwhelmingly negative reviews.

    Ha

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I nominate the Mitsubishi I. No- not for the worst car. Stop snickering. For the best car. The reason is this is the cheapest electric car on the market, and this is a solidly engineered simple car. The batteries, etc are all simple to access with quick connect connectors. A return to elegant, simple cars.

  • avatar
    -Cole-

    I think the new M5 is the best car of 2012.

    It’s better than the Audi, and better-looking

    My other reason is that you’d be wrong not to list it

    • 0 avatar
      ccd1

      It would be wrong not to list the M3. The new M5 is a bit of a porker as it is about 250 lbs heavier than the previous model. And according to at least one review, it shares the same problem as the new Porsche 911: generally more competent in every way than its predecessor, just not that much fun to drive (Inside Line). And Inside Line, unlike TTAC, is not known for it’s biting reviews.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      I was thinking of nominating it for one the worst. I think the previous M5 was a better car and that BMW is starting to lose it. M cars are suppose to be the BMWs for drivers and this one comes across as a poser. It plays a soundtrack of an engine note through the speakers, not even the sound of its engine, an engine from a completely different car. It comes with more standard luxury features than a regular 5 series BMW and none of them make it faster or handle better, what’s the point. A regular BMW 5 is no slouch the M is suppose to be special. Its a nicer car than I will ever own, but it isn’t one that I aspire to.

  • avatar
    jconli1

    I nominate the Kia Rio5.

    My fiancee and I spent the better part of 2012 researching every entry level hatch to replace her Forester-turned-money pit… I assumed that the Mazda2 or Fit were our shoo-ins. She really wanted the Fiesta at first. We were both wrong. After 5,000 miles, we’re incredibly happy with our choice of the Rio.

    It’s got modern (but not gimmicky or garish) styling both inside and out. Although it’s small, it’s hardly cartoonish, with believable proportions – though a high beltline. The gauge cluster, controls, switches, and surfaces are all well designed and not out of a generic parts catalog – the car looks and feels unified in its design in a way that others in the class (or its platform cousin the Accent) do not. Kia hiring Herr Schreyer might be one of the best automotive decisions of the last decade – many laud the Optima as proof, but I think the Rio shows just what he can do, especially compared to the prior Rio. Our neighbors thought it was a VW or Audi…

    There’s a long list of useful standard equipment and safety technology even at the base trim – items that were completely missing from cars even four years ago and are still missing or optional elsewhere in the class. As you go up the trim levels, the features list approaches most current luxury cars.

    It’s got a DI 138hp powerplant with a real-world 40+mpg highway, mated to 6 cogs regardless of manual or auto. Our auto doesn’t hunt around or bog quite like the 4- or 5-speed rivals did.

    Then you have the old standby – despite progressing leaps and bounds in quality and design, Kia still offers their 5-year bumper to bumper and 10 year powertrain warranties – something we hope to never need, but are happy to know is there with the new DI motor.

    In the end, for only $14k, it was the only one that checked all the boxes – styling, features, comfort, driving dynamics, efficiency, and value. There are many good base-model cars in the class, but I think the Kia is the only great one.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Boxster. duh

    • 0 avatar
      ccd1

      I’ll second the nomination for several reasons. The biggest reason to choose a convertible 911 over a Boxster was that you didn’t fit in the Boxster. Now with a larger cabin, that reason is less true for many people. Second, with its added performance and refinement, there are now even fewer reasons to pick a 911 over the Boxster (apart from snobbery, of course).

      Porsches are still stupidly expensive to start with and their insistence on making you pay extra for options that should come standard on a car this expensive is maddening. But at least now, you can choose the least expensive model and know all the fat cat got over you with his 911 is the 911 “mystique” and not much else aside from a MUCH lighter wallet.

      • 0 avatar
        joeveto3

        I like the Boxster just as I like Porsche. I would LOVE both, if only I could trust them.

        Take her home to Mom, put her in a nice home, take her on vacations, then come home after a 14 hour day only to find her in bed with the mechanic down the street, on all fours, with each of “the fours” gripping wads of your hard earned cash.

        Not my kind of love story.

      • 0 avatar
        ccd1

        joeveto3:

        The book on Cayman/Boxsters is that maintenance is expensive and both are expensive to repair. The good news is that they both have a good reputation for reliability with no particular problem areas (Don’t start the IMS issue, that has been fixed since MY2009). I’d buy either of these used. Would not touch a used Audi or BMW or Mercedes.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    2013 Ram 1500
    New 3.6 engine, new 8 speed tranny, coil spring rear suspension, new interior and best looking truck out there.
    It might just make a Mopar man out of me for the first time ever.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I second the 2013 Santa Fe – styling wise inside and out its a home run, looking like it cost thousands more. The 2.4 is peppy enough, and you can choose the turbo if you need more. 30 mpg is this size and weight is amazing.

    I’ll also nominate the Honda CR-V. Despite it’s minivan mom reputation, its a smart, compact Swiss army knife that gets the job done with minimal fuss, excellent reliability. Not cutting edge, but highly competent. One of the reasons (like the new Accord) Honda may finding their way in from the wilderness.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    2012 Chevrolet Volt – The Volt is still the most successful plug-in electric vehicle that does it all without life style compromises.

    The ELR will redeem the platform to bury Fisker and Tesla.

    Engineering excellence and bold risk taking defines this car. All the while fighting the headwinds of this segment and the press.

    Put your politics in your back pocket and revel in the design and execution to celebrate this accomplishment.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    The cars that give us the most pleasure, not as cars but as topics:

    FR-S
    Volt
    Prius
    2004 Buick Century (to stand in for all the cars that are the real way to minimize costs)
    Civic
    Cayenne
    Sonata
    City bus

  • avatar
    ccd1

    I nominate the EVO as well. There are few really bad cars these days, but on the flip side, few cars that are truly fun to drive and even fewer that are not afraid to be different. The EVO does not look like the potent machine it is. And hardly any OEM would have the nerve to marry a car with such high tech internals to such a low rent interior.

    The EVO scores as a fun car that is not afraid to be different and there are precious few examples of this in 2012. Among the mass of decent, but largely forgetable cars, the EVO stands out.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    I nominate the Cadillac CTS V Wagon. It’s available with a manual, though it isn’t a diesel it does have 556HP and 551lb-ft torque. Has to be one the biggest sleepers performance wise and even more so if you debadge it. It would bring a smile to my face blowing someone’s doors of with car seats (sans babies) and strollers in the back. Unlike a Jeep SRT8 it has impressive handling as well. You could track it with baby on board sign in the window or those stick family stickers.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Best: i’d offer ’13 Mustang GT500. INSANE power, ‘Murican muscle, good looks, and not eurotrashy looking like the upcoming Mustang. Beautiful in it’s own ass-kicking way.

    Worst: boy this is a hard choice…i’d say Fisker Karma (aka, ‘the brick’ when the batteries run dry). Heavily subsidized by the US taxpayer, owned primarily by the likes of Leonardo diCaprio, Justin Bieber and other elites. Disgusting in almost every way.

    And you guys have the audacity to say the Acura ILX is the worst. Please. FWIW the ONLY reason ILX exists is for Acura to comply with impending draconian CAFE standards, and THEY ARE SELLING. The 6MT with 2.4L is a very fun car to drive. The IMA hybrid, however, well…..

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Worst car is easy. I nominate Smartfor2. Doesn’t drive well isn’t practical and doesn’t save money. The gas mileage on it isn’t better then cars 3-4 times the size and it takes premium gas. When it comes time to get it serviced just drop by your local Mercedes dealership, I bet those prices are a shock to the economy car buyer. There is a For2 convertible in my work parking lot and it has parking sensors in the bumpers, makes me laugh every time I see it.

    Coming up with other bad cars though is hard.

  • avatar
    Commando

    F-150 XL no frills regular cab stripper model. Before I bought this as my DD and keeper, I owned two new C-6 Vettes and a new infinity Q45 over the previous 3 years. I have never been happier. I have never washed it in its 6 years of carrying, pushing, and pulling everything imaginable. I have finally shed the anal neurotic and OCD behavior that comes with owning nice vehicles to say nothing of the tens of thousands of $. When it finally snaps in half in 30 years. I’ll just pull the plate, leave it where it died, and walk away as if it was an empty disposable BIC. This showroom loss leader has done everything I have asked of it has never asked for anything in return. The luxury of a rubber mat floor far exceeds any custom Lloyd monogramed luxurious floor mats.
    You could now offer me a CTS-V in my choice of colors and I’d say no thanks. Come to think of it, i’d even refuse a King Ranch F-150. I’d have to wash it…

  • avatar
    kuman

    I’ll nominate Honda Accord 2013. The 2.4L Manual to be precise.
    Laugh all u want, but imho, its much better than the current one, and finally better than the Camry.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    “I have never washed it in its 6 years of carrying, pushing, and pulling everything imaginable.”

    Ya know, I bet it’d love a bath and tire shine…you know…as a treat.

  • avatar

    I would nominate any of the Mustangs for best. For worst it has to be the Smart car.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    I test drove a Ford C-Max, and its the first vehicle I’ve touched that’s truly competitive with the Prius. It also stands on its own merit as a nice compact wagon, that happens to get fantastic mileage. It slots to Ford’s lineup nicely between the Focus hatchback and the new Escape, and it slots.into Toyota’s lineup between the Prius and the Prius V. The C-Max does while having a better back seat than the Prius V, and with better styling all around.

    Not everyone wants or needs a compact wagon, especially one that appears to be a result of an ongoing affair between a Prius and a Mazda 5, but it is an excellent car for the segment. And every fan of the US auto industry can celebrate the fact that Ford is bringing a great product to a part of its lineup that the big-3 have neglected for most of my lifetime. They’re giving Toyota a run for their money in a martlet that Toyota has dominated for a decade, and they’ve fixed the reason my dad bought Japanese cars during the latter half of his career.

    I’ve owned 3 used beater Ford’s because of Faulty Operation / Rapid Depreciation, and the Prius is the best all-around compact car that.I’ve ever had the privelege of owning. But my next Ford may be purchased as a result of Ford winning my business fair and square.

  • avatar
    kjb911

    Might get some slack for this but ford focus especially the SE sport package hatch with manual. I have owned mine for a year it has been engaging, comfortable, practical, and has consistently averaged 37 – 40 mpg I have fit 60″ rolls of lamination in the back, hauled four people to Florida and when feeling the urge flogged it near the situate reservoir where there are no cops and plenty of engaging roads. It might be the best all rounder out there and every person I have taught to drive stick or that has driven my car has gone away with an interest in cars which for my generation is amazing

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The best car of the year?

    No Award.

  • avatar
    Scott Seigmund

    I nominate the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible. The last and greatest big cubic inch Corvette, this is a one model year only basically a Z06 convertible. This car distills all the best ingredients of the C6 series cars. This will be a true collector icon. If that isn’t enough, it will make you feel like a teenager again every time you take it for a spin.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    The award goes to my 2002 E39 M5 (with some Dinan enhancements). Still the benchmark — by far.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    I’ll give a list, hope I’m not too late for the party.

    FR-S/BRZ – because lightweight cheap RWD sports car. It hasn’t existed for a while, and now it does again. It’s not perfect, but it’s as good as we can get right now, and hopefully reignites the segment.

    Miata – It’s the best at what it does, and does it cheap. I have an S2000 but I’ll always love these. Plus I always managed to get beat by some of them at autocross

    Mustang – Because the V6 is the most performance per dollar you can buy, and competent with the track pack. And the GT is M3 fast. And Boss 302 because racecar. And GT500 because stupid fast. And you can see out of it, unlike a camaro or challenger.

    2013 Fusion – Ford is on a roll lately, and I am a fan of where the new fusion is taking them. I agree with some previous posters, this may be a 1986 Taurus-level game-changer for them. Hopefully the 2014 Mazda6 can do the same for them.

    Mazda CX-5 – My household has a 3, I test drove a CX-5 while it was in for service. Great car, I like it better than my friend’s CR-V, and if that’s the segment leader I think that says something.

    Jeep Wrangler – No compromises for the best vehicle at what it does that you can buy.

    F-series – same as the Mustang. They’re all great, I’ve driven my neighbor’s platinum F-150 and it was awesome, but from the bottom, to the king ranch, to the 250 super duty, to the raptor, there is a variant that will do anything you need it for.

    A5/S5/RS5 – Because they’re good looking as hell, and I’m not an a-hole driving a BMW if I have one.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Chevy Volt – put aside the politics, because it is history in the making and a future American classic.

    Miata – unlike so much else out there (I don’t need to name any examples), it remains honest about what it’s supposed to be. The exceptional build quality and reliability are a bonus.

    Honorable mentions to the Corvette and Wrangler for (more or less) the same reasons.

    FR-S/BRZ – No, I would not buy one in its present configuration. But it is a START, a solid platform that Toyota and Subaru will (hopefully) be able to expand on.

    Nissan Altima – everyone is talking about the new Ford Fusion. Okay, okay, I get that it reminds some people of an Aston. But I believe the Altima is the true benchmark for this class. 38 MPG not with turbos or direct injection, but simply through weight savings and clever design? Sounds damn good to me. Plus there’s no stupid high beltline or goofy exterior/interior styling that will age poorly (*cough* Hyundai *cough*).

    And finally…the BMW 1 Series. You might recall that I actually nominated this car for the “worst” award on the assumption that its drivers were nothing more than badge snobs. That might be true, but I take that back and nominate it for the “best” award. Why? Because I fear it’s the last of the BMW “driver’s car” lineage, with RWD and a naturally aspirated I-6. You might need to get rid of the run-flats to appreciate the chassis truly, but I bet it’s worth it…

  • avatar
    Jase

    2013 Lincoln MKZ. It has a very interesting design both interior and exterior, and the hybrid version can be had for only a few thousand more than the Ford Fusion Hybrid.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l5z-o-uCZ4

  • avatar
    Hayden535

    2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI. It’s a diesel wagon that gets 40 mpg, handles great, and has plenty of room for a family and its stuff. Reliability reports have been better than VW averages and it can be had for well under 30k. The car is truly in a category of its own. I don’t believe there is any other vehicle offering the combination of fuel economy, driving fun, and engine longevity. It’s not for everyone, but it’s probably a much better choice for many Americans buying 25-30mpg crossovers instead.


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