By on January 3, 2013
Although the TWATs are still going strong, it’s nice to take a break every now and then and appreciate the cars that manage to excel in an era of homogenous designs and an overarching emphasis on efficiency and profitability. An informal poll of TTAC editors revealed a wide range of opinions on what the most enjoyable drive of 2012 was. And since some didn’t submit their nominations on time, you, the readers, can leave your own suggestions below.

Sajeev Mehta

Favorite car – Kia Optima

Aside from being a decent driving sedan (or pretty fun with the turbo mill), the Optima is one of those rare machines that punches above its weight class. Inside and out, the Optima doesn’t look or feel like a midsize sedan that starts off with an asking price in the low 20s. When boring and generic make way for impressive design, turbo-technology and the fit and finish of an entry-level luxury sedan, you’re done: the Optima is a winner.

Least favorite car – Scion xD

Why bother with this milquetoast attempt at pandering to some youthful demographic when they the Fit, Soul and Cube? Or go a little bigger and get the punchy Toyota Matrix, the boxy-fresh xB, or the mainstream-appeal of the RAV4?  Like the bad old days of GM’s branding insanity, Toyota has too many quasi-CUV hatchbacks in the same general price point: and the xD is the one that gives me an x-D. x-p :-(

Favorite Light truck – Lincoln Navigator

Quick, name a luxury vehicle under 60 grand with a big-dog V8 and more swagger than Kendrick Lamar’s self-aware flow? Now name one from Detroit. Ouch. If you fit that niche, light trucks are your safe haven. And you’re either looking at an Escalade or the Navigator: while the Caddy has the name, the Navigator’s fully independent suspension and modern lounge interior ambiance tops the (more) badge engineered Tahoe with the unique dashtop. Plush, proper and the best truck you never considered.

Alex Dykes

Favorite Car – Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design

Who knew Volvo made the most powerful small luxury crossover sold in America? Next to nobody. This makes the Volvo the luxury brand with the worst marketing department, but the best sleeper portfolio. The 325 turbocharged horses from a smooth inline-six, sexy sheet metal, and  impressive handling will put a smile on your face. The most comfortable seats in the industry, an impeccable safety record and the integrated child booster seats will you convince your spouse the sporty crossover is a solid family choice. Volvo’s rep won’t trump “it’s a BMW” at the country club, but it will put up a strong fight at the stop-lights.

Least Favorite Car – Coda Sedan

The incredibly plain CODA sedan started life as a Hafei Saibao (from China). Hafei claims the Saibao was designed by Pininfarina, which proves that the firm responsible for the Ferrari Testarossa’s sheet metal can create a dud now and then. It’s not just the dowdy exterior and 1980s Hyundai interior that offends, the CODA is truly awful to drive as well. The 88-mile range sounds good but the CODA is the second least efficient EV beating only an after-market van conversion in the MPGe war. The saddest part of the story? The future of the unique and innovative CODA designed battery technology is pegged to a car that’s $9,700 more than a LEAF and worse in every way imaginable.

Derek Kreindler

Favorite car- Mazda RX-7

>Ok, ok, it’s not a new car. There are plenty of good new cars out there, but this one was special. When this car came out in 1993, I was 5 years old. With just under 14,000 miles on it over 20 years, the RX-7 was practically brand new.  Safety and emissions regulations have conspired to do away with this car’s two key features – its voluptuous sheetmetal and deceptively smooth twin-turbo rotary engine. There’s a reason so many stories are written about time machines – we all want to experience the past with the benefit of hindsight. I don’t typically buy into the “old cars are special, new cars are boring” maxim, but the RX-7 is about as strong a case as one can make to support that notion. So what if I had to pick a new car? The Jaguar XKR, with its elegant styling, relatively light weight and prodigious power, gives it an odd kinship with the RX-7.

Favorite Truck – Ram 1500

As a city boy, I ignored pickup trucks forever. What a mistake. In my opinion, these are world-class vehicles, the best in American-made motoring, and right now, the Ram 1500 is as good as it gets. The Ford F-150 and the GM twins have plenty going for them, but the Ram’s high-quality interior and superb powertrains (whether V6 or V8, not to mention the 8-speed automatic) give it the edge in my books. Some say that features like the air suspension might be too dainty for real dirty work. I say it’s perfect for someone with soft hands like me. Then again, so is my runner-up, the Mazda CX-5.

Least Favorite Car – Nissan Sentra

No, not the Toyobaru twins. Now that other publications are ceasing their effusive praise of this car (just as I predicted) my jihad shall cease. My nod goes to outgoing Nissan Sentra, which I borrowed from Zipcar one afternoon. I had never driven a Sentra prior to that, but it was an eye-opener. Someone was still making truly wretched cars, and that someone happened to be Nissan. I’ve yet to drive the revised 2013 edition but it can’t be worse than this one.

Murilee Martin:

Favorite Car – Mazda MX-5

Got to be the Miata. It makes perfect sense as a daily driver, is more fun to drive than ever, and it’s still pretty cheap. The only car I’ve ever reviewed that I might actually go ahead and buy (though I’d save a few grand by getting the non-Club and then swapping in a junkyard 6-speed). As an added bonus, it angers Texas SUV drivers.

Favorite Truck – Nissan NV3500 van.

A LeMons team had one at Gingerman and it inhaled most of a parts car, a couple of scooters, a billion pounds of tools, and still had room for three guys to sleep in. Build quality clearly excellent.

Least Favorite Car: Look for Murilee’s forthcoming “Worst Rental Cars of the Year” for more.

Michael Karesh:
Favorite Car – Ford Focus ST

An outstanding mix of performance, handling, functionality, and refinement with a price in the high twenties.

Least Favorite Car – Acura ILX

A competent car but with far less power than anyone spending over $30,000 should expect.

Steve Lang

Best Car: Fiat Abarth

Derek Kreindler’s review of the Abarth already covers most of my admiration for this vehicle. So I will simply offer the Cliff Notes version. No car under 30k is more fun to drive for normal everyday driving than the Fiat Abarth. The clutch is flawless. The upright seating position puts the tailpipe viewing FR-S and MX-5 competitors to absolute shame. The Abarth’s fanciful interior is also one of the very few that completely shuts out the pointless large infotainment oriented screens of today. Damn I hate those things. Instead you are blissfully surrounded by unique Italian style and flair, along with class leading ergonomics. The only other Italian inspired vehicle sold in North America to have achieved this coupling of credentials is… the 1st generation Miata. Not even the tightwad in me could favor a 50+ mile per gallon Prius C over the Fiat Abarth. That’s how good it is in the real world. The enthusiast within us all will thank your generous soul for buying one, and the frugalist will never regret that decision.

Worst Car: Scion iQ

Hideous. Not just for a lack of joi de vivre, or a front fascia that looks like an angry deformed rodent. The iQ gets my vote because no other car represents so much lost potential in the marketplace. A hand shaker would make it a bit more fun… in a Muzak to light rock kinda way. A bit better modularlity for the rear would give the iQ genuine trucklet credentials for well under 20k. In that incarnation, the iQ has serious commercial potential. Okay, one other desperate hail mary. Few folks realize that the iQ is arguably the easiest car to maintain in today’s car market. All major maintenance items are easy to access and that powertrain, shamefully under-stressed as it stands, has the unique potential to become a truly sound platform of tinkering for the emerging enthusiast who is looking for fun on a budget. The iQ has potential to be interesting beyond the anime ugliness. Instead nothing will be done. Consumers will continue to glaze their eyes, yet again. At another bland, joyless small car that is marketed to old people and city folk. Scion used to conjure up youth and exuberance. Instead, the iQ shucks away those very enthusiasts who have the means to make this car worth owning. At least for the American market, the Scion iQ is a shamefully inept and half-baked car. Let’s hope they change it.

Truck Of The Year: Infiniti JX35

This is the only crossover/SUV/plumped out people carrier that I felt was worth the money. Now mind you I am talking about other people’s money. Not mine. I live in a place where you can buy four acres, two bedrooms, two bathrooms (one indoor, one outdoor) and a 16 car garage for the price of an Infiniti JX35. But maybe the Infiniti is the better deal? Alex, Sajeev, Derek and Michael have already offered all the worthy compliments and salutations that this vehicle rightfully earns. Well, nuts to them I say! I still consider these types of vehicles as nothing more than excusable versions of the old overweight SUV. So why will I recommend the JX35 while weighing in the irresistible opportunity to own the ultimate man-cave instead? Well, because it is the only vehicle of this unique SUV-like ilk that can rightfully lay claim to the trifecta of fun, luxury and value. The only one.Some folks wouldn’t be caught dead living in a small town in Georgia somewhere between civilization and Deliverance. That’s fine. I wouldn’t be caught dead buying a 4500+ pound vehicle that isn’t designed to haul and tow everything I will ever desire between now and the afterlife. Want a luxury SUV/crossover/suburban commuter with today’s fashionable bulk? The Infiniti JX35 is a great luxury vehicle that hits all these targets. It’s a great… vehicle.

Just don’t expect me to be at the front of the line for the Yuppie buffet.

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70 Comments on “TTAC’s Editors Pick Their Best And Worst Cars Of The Year...”

  • avatar

    My picks:

    Favorite car: Chevy Cobalt 1.4 LTZ. The engine is good enough for family driving. The suspension is comfortable and goes about its business quietly. There’s also a hint of performance there. The price is right (for Brazil) and GM is not too skimpy with content. The design that so many denounce doesn’t bother me. It’s conservative but it manages to keep some interest. Most of all, I nominate it because this was the first car from GM in all my life that I’s recommend over competitors. That fact surprised me endlessly and made me believe there’s some life in the general yet.

    Least favorite car: Hyundai HB20. With all the hoopla and hype, you’d believe Hyundai was revolutionizing the small car segment in Brazil. They’re not. It’s a very common car with a suspension that’s unacceptable in this day and age. Add the fawning of the press and the dropped jaws of those who don’t know any better, this is my least favorite car in ages (and I though the Etios would be it, while the Toyo’s design is hideous it’s nice to drive. The opposite Ethos of the Hyundai).

    • 0 avatar

      I had to look that up. I though they were selling you the old junk cobalt of old here in the us. Sometimes automakers ship old tooling used here and make very outdated models for your market.

      Your Cobalt is based on the Sonic here / Aveo elsewhere. I have seen quite a few of them driving around here. They look like pretty nice cars. But, i haven’t driven or sat in one.

      Gm always had conservative styling. The upside being you can own it for quite a long time and not feel your car is old.

      • 0 avatar

        Hey Onus!

        Like you said, this is an all new car that supposedly was mostly developed in Brazil for sale here and other ’emerging’ markets. It sits on a stretched Sonic platform and is quite comfortable. It’s roomier inside and the trunk is bigger than cars like Corolla or Civic or even GM’s own Cruze. Yet it sells at a fraction. Very appropriate for our market. anyways, maybe they had some nametags left over from the US Cobalt and sent them here (just kidding!).

        I did a review on one that you can find on TTAC. I have driven the car for many miles and once I get my situation sorted out, I could be lkoking at one when I get around to changing the Logan. Sorry to repeat myself but I’d finf it very ironic if that happened. Never had a GM, never wanted one. This car though is changing all that (as is the new GM line up in Brazil, except for a few of them, could possibly be the strongest in Brazil right now).

  • avatar

    I’d have to agree on the MX5 as being ‘way cool. Ours was fun, but we decided to downsize, and traveling 100 miles a day was a bit much for me, which made the decision to sell it to our neighbor across the street easy. The Impala won out to be able to ride in comfort – and enjoy cruise control. Wifey loves her CR-V too much with its auto tranny to drive a stick every day – pity.

    Our 2007 MX5 was a rough-and-tumble sport model. Not a comfortable ride for any amount of highway time. At least it had A/C…

    I firmly believe if we had bought a grand touring, retractable hardtop, auto tranny model with cruise control, it may have won out – and wifey would drive it more.


    Funny…the day we brought that car home, the neighbor immediately came to our driveway to check it out and declared he got first dibs whenever we planned to sell it.

  • avatar

    I have to agree with the sentra (I assume that Derek means the CVT, as I assume like most cars the stick is quite rare).

    I rented one of these in Florida, and with 0 luggage, 80-90% highway driving and myself, my wife (150 pounds) my niece (110 pounds) and my son (20 pounds) we averaged 29mpg and the thing couldn’t out accelerate my old 3 speed dodge neon — and got worse gas mileage to boot!

    I’m not really sure why that care exists in general except for Nissan to have an(other) entry in that market segment.

    • 0 avatar

      What’s interesting is that the Sentra SE-R spec-V with the 6 speed stick is actually a pretty fun car.

      The 2.0L CVT on the other hand, wholly underwhelming. I agree that this car deserves the crown of worst for 2012. Numb steering and sloppy handling, brutally slow and noisy acceleration. Poor front/side visibility due to awkwarkly formed A-pillars. Nothing to love or even like in the regular version.

  • avatar

    ” I had never driven a Sentra prior to that, but it was an eye-opener. Someone was still making truly wretched cars, and that someone happened to be Nissan. I’ve yet to drive the revised 2013 edition but it can’t be worse than this one.”

    And why not? Nissan managed to cough up a far worse edition of the Versa than the one it replaced.

  • avatar

    The Mazda dealer next to our grocery store has the exact MX-5 Club configuration I lust after (white with red stripe). I drool over it every time we go grocery shopping, with 2 possible outcomes; my wife lets me buy it, or my wife lets me stay home for grocery trips. Win-Win.

  • avatar

    What impressed me the most this year was Ford coming out with several cars that challenge the imports for value, the new Focus ST and the new Fusion. In particular, the Fusion has self parking tech that even many luxury brands lack and is unheard of in the Camcord class of vehicles. I welcome anything that puts pressure on the luxury brands to justify their price tags.

  • avatar

    “the Scion iQ is a shamefully inept and half-baked car.”

    Although I have taken this clause out of context, there is no way this is true.

  • avatar

    Where is Mr. Baruth’s list?

  • avatar

    I have undying love for the Volvo S60 T6, if only I could fit into one (physically and financially). It has exceptionally beautiful lines from every angle, and where else can you get a transverse I6, turbocharged to boot?

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    Agree in part with Favourite Car Kia Optima. But I would put an asterisk saying “Favourite Mid-Size”.

    Agree overall that Favourite Car is Focus ST. Saw one on the road the other day in Tangerine Scream. And scream it did. He was in a hurry.

    Agree with Least Favourite Car Nissan Sentra. Earthly proof that Satan is indeed real and tormenting the peoples of earth.

  • avatar

    I must say I really WANT to like the Kia Optima – from the side, it’s very nice, but 3/4 rear view, it looks ugly with the rounded rear glass.

    When I was looking to replace my 2004 Impala, I briefly considered looking at an Optima – I admired one down the street, but I couldn’t quite wrap my arms around Korean cars – until last month when a friend bought a Sonata hybrid – wow! what a sharp car!

    I should have waited a while to buy something new instead of jumping right away back in July, especially when I see my old Impala at work at least twice a week!

    Oh, well……………….

    Let the beatings begin…

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Respectfully & kindly, you truly do deserve a beating for calling the Sonata Hybrid sharp. That thing has a gaping maw that could almost swallow your Impala.

      You made the right choice. Even if it delivered anywhere near the fuel economy of the Camry hybrid, I would still take a long-in-the-tooth 300hp Impala over that Korean monstrosity!

      • 0 avatar

        My friend’s Sonata hybrid is a silvery ice-blue color that sways my opinion, perhaps.

        My point was – that I didn’t mention – my Impala gets no where near the mpg’s of my old 3.4L 2004. Strictly back-and-forth to work, I average around 27.5 mpg, whereas my old Impala averaged 30+!

        I do like my new ride, but the diminished fuel economy hurts – I’m cheap!

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Look at it this way, Zackman, you upgraded to a 300 hp barnstormer on an upgraded version of the platform you already loved and it only cost you 3 mpg. Even if you are cheap, that’s a hell of a deal!

  • avatar

    I’d say my favorite current car for all-around purposes is the Chevy Sonic, particularly in 5-door form. I know it’s not at all a numbers car (slow, overweight, not very fuel-efficient), but it drives so damn well…

    My least favorite so far is the Camry. Not because it’s the worst car out there, but because Toyota took the same boring old Camry, made the radio and climate controls far more infuriating to operate, dumbed down the styling inside and out, and made everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) feel cheaper. The carpet got cheaper. The seat fabric got cheaper. The adjustable rear head restraints were deleted. The center console now flexes if you push on it. The center console storage lost its push-open damped covers. The dash skin gained horribly laughable molded-in stitching. The gauges got cheaper. The gauge dimmer control because a stupid push-button instead of the tried and true turnable knob. The front bumpers on 50% of the ones I see on the road have already had their side clips go loose. The rear bumpers on 100% of them flap in the wind at speeds over 30. The styling choices for the SE got just weird (the alloy design is ugly, the body kit is stupid, the interior differentiators from the LE are bad copies of ’80s-chic). IMO, the 2012 Camry is a travesty.

    • 0 avatar

      “IMO, the 2012 Camry is a travesty.”

      I agree – that’s why I never looked seriously at one last summer. Problem is, they’ll still sell a million of them.

      • 0 avatar

        …to the same people who keep re-electing our current crop of failed politicians, Toyota realizes the public is quite fickle but they find a way to market to them. Lemmings tend not to question the march into the abyss…

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Disagree, the The 2012 Camry is a large step up from the 2007-2011 model as far as interior quality goes. A relative has a 2010 and I was appalled at the cheap plastics, shiny surface textures, and poor panel fits. The damped covers stopped aligning properly. I can see the airspace between dashboard panel gaps. That gen completely ruined Toyota’s previous deserved legacy of far-above-average interior quality. The only high points are the drivetrains and spot-on ergonomics.

      Styling is subjective; I like the sharper angles and lower beltine of the 2012, but the front and rear are wonky looking unless you get the SE in a dark color.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting about the Sonic. I had the initial impression from reviews (especially in Europe) it didn’t handle as well as the Fiesta or 2 but I’ve also been hearing very positive things. Makes me even more inclined to check it out.

  • avatar

    I’ll second that opinion on the Sentra. Rented one on my Christmas vacation to California. Until then, I wasn’t aware that anyone was still making an honest to god penalty-box in that segment anymore (besides Mitsubishi).

    Seriously, I can’t imagine why you’d buy that car unless you had a %50 off coupon, or something.

    • 0 avatar

      Rented one on Maui at an extremely cheap Advantage rate. On an island were the maximum posted speed limit is 50 it was ok, and it handled unpaved roads like a third-world champ. I did hate the CVT descending Haleakala (10,000ft).

  • avatar

    Baruth’s picks?

  • avatar

    I gotta pick the Ford Focus ST also. It’s got all of the VW GTI owners totally pissed off (I’m not mad even though I’m a GTI owner). The V-dub guys are hoping and praying the next-gen GTI/Golf will kick its butt. We’ll have to wait a couple of months to answer that one.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      Well the next GTI will have a modest bump in power, but still short of the ST. In terms of refinement, the GTI has always been more of a sleeper. With its central exhaust and available colours, the ST definitely wants you to know it’s not your garden variety Focus.

    • 0 avatar

      I want so badly to love the ST and almost bought one but after 2 test drives it was disappointing. Yes it has lots of power and fast but really only in a straight line as powerful FWD cars that weigh 3,300 lbs really feel like a Camry v6 with a suspension and some low profile tires. It is just too lethargic with inputs for my taste. Now I’ll think about the Fiesta ST which might be the real hot hatch.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, the GTI runs neck and neck with the Focus ST all the way to 120 mph, according to Car and Driver’s numbers. In all but track fantasies, it is no doubt the better car, because it is also at least 10% more efficient in the mpg game in typical North American usage.

      Georg Kacher, an English language Gernan automotive writer I first encountered in CAR magazine over 20 years ago, and who subsequently also wrote and still writes for Automobile magazine, has written what I consider by far the best comparison of the two cars. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth ten minutes of your time.

  • avatar

    No one picked the new Boxster? Nr 911?

  • avatar

    Micheal Karesh fluffs a Ford and bashes a Honda, film at 11! Coming from the guy that ruined True Delta to protect Ford’s reliability scores by eliminating dealer visits for repairs and recalls handled via software upgrades, this is a shock. Consumers aren’t served when they are fooled into buying cars with non-functioning features and basic necessities that require dealer visits to rectify just because the repair doesn’t involve a welder or replacement parts.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      And your taking offense at any dismissal of a Honda product is any less surprising? Does charging $26-28K for an entry level luxury car with a 150hp Civic motor or underperforming hybrid drivetrain seem like a great idea to you? Michael had a lot of good things to say about the new Accord in his review. Because that Honda product actually deserves it.

      You make great comments when you aren’t being an unpaid Honda shill.

      • 0 avatar

        +1 30MF. I am just waiting for his fluff comment defending Honda about this :

        And who says it is unpaid shill work, he impunges people’s honor plenty of times (just as he did to Michael in this thread). Why give the benefit of the doubt?

      • 0 avatar

        30MF, haven’t you read enough of CJ’s “I hate anything ‘Murican” blasts to know better? Lucky for TTAC, it was a Ford not a GM product or it would’ve been a full-page post.

    • 0 avatar

      Thing is, there is a big difference between mechanical reliability and whther or not your car can adequately detect a loose gas cap. I’m much more concerned about the mechanical reliability, and that is the information that I want. The fact that my Mazda6 had to go to the dealer twice to reflash the cpu didn’t bother me nearly as much as having to take my Saturn (many years ago) to the dealer because the moon roof was jammed open. Thank God it happened in the summer and it didn’t rain while I waited for my appointment to have it fixed. Throw in problems with the suspension, teh clutch cylinder,and the fuel pump, and you have a major headache even though I made nearly as many visits for “recalls” on my Mazda.

      • 0 avatar

        Ford claims that their latest reflash stops their 1.6 Ecoboost engines from going up in flames. I’m the shill? What a joke.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m more likely to trust Ford that the software reflash works than the geniuses here who talk about heat soak in the same sentence as engine fires.

        Also, Ford handled that recall admirably — they admitted the problem and provided loaners immediately. That’s far better than certain other companies.

      • 0 avatar

        Escapes & Fusions in flames, grenading Getrags beneath Mustangs, and bucking Bronco dual clutch Focuses & Fiestas, Oh My!

        I’ve never seen more complaints about three major components in some of the highest volume models within a manufacturer’s lineup, posted within Ford Fanbois Forums, at that, yet Ford, being the anti-GM here at TTAC, gets all kinds of crazy love.

        Best vehicle of the year = Chrysler 300 with the Pentastar V6. Solidity, reliability, comfort, efficiency, great materials and a value.

        Worst vehicle of the year = The 2013 Ford Escape (priced like a Range Rover Evoque, with worse reliability, and a propensity to burst into flames as you’re waiting for the laggy MyFordTouch to respond to inputs) or the entire Lincoln lineup, or the Range Rover Evoque (it may have more interior room than the Escape, have superior build quality, driving dynamics and reliability relative to the Escape, and be priced just as high as the Escape, but that’s damning by faint praise).

    • 0 avatar

      But you get a free cool looking USB stick that looks like a key! Everyone wants one of those!

  • avatar

    Gold Jacket award goes to the Miata PRHT.

  • avatar

    I didn’t participate because my sample size was too small (I think I only had a couple of cars to review), but I was very impressed with the Chrysler 300, a modern version of an American RWD sedan. The Pentastar V6 and 8 Speed ZF transmission combination is very smooth, with more than adequate power. It has nice road manners, it’s very quiet, has all the toys you’d want, the U-Connect infotainment system seems to have quietly become about the best out there, and it’s nicely trimmed out.

    GM and Ford should be paying attention.

  • avatar

    I don’t know if this list applies to only cars the editors have driven in the last year, but the Bugatti Veyron should be up there. It is the Concorde of cars.

  • avatar

    I pick the BRZ as nothing in its price range gives you this package of lightweight, RWD and fun drive with a backseat. Yes I love the Miata (race one) but the car is simply too small for anyone over 6′ like me.

    Worst car has to be the Acura RL. What a dud this car has been from its inception. It is the older persons sporty ES350. It is what we’d expect old GM to make and sell today as a Buick or Oldsmobile. Can’t say much for the rest of Acura’s lineup of gussied up Accords, Civics, CRVs and Pilots. I keep on thinking of the Acura Cake episode from South Park.

    • 0 avatar

      The other thing I’ve noticed about Acuras is the terrible fit and finish on new ones. What’s hilarious is that TTAC mentioned this in their review of the 2010 MDX, and I noticed the exact same panel gap error in a brand new 2012 MDX a few months ago:

      Production problem?

      Truth be told, the Honda Pilot next door for $10K cheaper was also shedding interior trim, but that could have been because someone kicked the seat rails hard on a test drive.

  • avatar
    Brendan McAleer

    I can’t believe I forgot to contribute to this. Actually, yes I can: I haven’t sent in anything since October since I’ve been struggling to find that work/life/fatherhood balance. Oh well – like Douglas Adams, I thoroughly enjoy the whooshing noise as deadlines speed past.

    My fav car for 2012/13 was surely the Boss 302 ‘Stang. I drove a lot of interesting sheet-metal, but the Boss made the biggest emotional connection with me. Fantastic car, plenty of flaws, surely, but just a big loveable yellow beast. No wonder “Bark” likes his so much.

    Worst car? Well, everyone knows how much I detest the Lancer, and then there’s the Scion range, which apart from the FR-S and iQ is pretty miserable. This year, though, I didn’t really drive anything BAD, so I make my award to the most pointless car of the year: the Mini Cooper Coupe; it’s marginally worse than a regular Cooper S for more money. Stupid.

    Best truck is probably the Xterra, because it takes the road less traveled that the Pathfinder has now throughly abandoned. Not great of gas, but tough.

  • avatar

    Sajeev, had to snigger a little when you referred to the bloated behemoth Lincoln Navigator a ‘Light Truck’; however, do agree if your needs are for the plush life and something to tow the house behind you, the Gator is a very nice choice if you got the cabbage.

    Question, how did the Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet miss the hate mail?? I’d take a shovel to the face before you could drag me into the driver’s seat of that hot mess. So bad it makes the Juke look good. I’ll take a Sentra please! Id say to the rental counter if they were the choice.

  • avatar

    Call me crazy, but I’m going to give some love to the bloated, ugly, Scion Xb…for having the biggest back seat in anything this side of a limo, at less than 20 grand. Really, it’s amazing. 90% of people buying CUVs to haul their spawn around would probably be happier with an Xb as their family truckster.

    • 0 avatar

      That, plus the peerless reliability record (no matter which publication you consult) is exactly why I ended up buying one this year. It’s a fantastic daily driver; I would like for it to weigh a little less, and be a little more fuel efficient, but those are flaws I can live with for the low, low price.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s growing on me as well after hitching a ride in some xB cabs in Chicago. Seemed like a great truckster for hauling kids, bikes, groceries, etc around.

  • avatar

    I tested a few this year, and for my fave I’ll give the FR-S/BRZ a narrow victory over the Focus ST. The Ford is the better daily driver, but the twins are more fun to drive and occupy a narrower niche.

    I agree with MK that Acura’s ILX is pretty lame, and not just because it’s overpriced. The steering is just awful, and the suspension is pretty sloppy, even in 2.4L/6MT trim. So, considering its premium aspirations, I’ll go with it as the “worst,” even though it’s a decent car in absolute terms and seems to have potential.

    However, I was actually more disappointed by the two BMW F30 328i models I drove, probably because my expectations were so high. Overall, they are outstanding in most respects, but the numb steering and somewhat isolated feel left me cold. I expected to want to buy it on the spot, but instead was perfectly happy to get back into my TSX. (And yes, I made sure to drive them in sport mode.)

  • avatar

    Totally agree on the xD. I cross shopped it, along with the Fiesta and Versa, before getting the Fit. Why did they screw up and ruin the original xB?

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    “Look for Murilee’s forthcoming “Worst Rental Cars of the Year” for more.”

    I am looking forward to that! My personal worst rental car within the past year: Dodge Charger. (Yeah, I’m spoiled by being National Executive Select.)

  • avatar

    Best new car- Lexus GS. It says Lexus is awake and is back. If they have the sense to put a V8 in it, the German brands should be afraid.
    Worst new car – Anything Lincoln. I would rather they wrap it up and go home than keep up the charade. In fact, I’d like to see them axe Lincoln and bring back Mercury as a single model flagship large coupe.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t see Mercury coming back at the expense of Lincoln, but slimming down Lincoln to two or three unique models is a promising idea. I’d give a pass to Navigator with respect to being “unique”, but the other offerings should not be Xeroxed Fords.

      • 0 avatar

        Like it, with two – three models they can (hopefully) build in exceptional quality, exceptional design and maybe even find some soul to give the whole enterprise some meaning far beyond a brand.

  • avatar

    I totally agree about the RX-7. Back in 93 I wasn’t 5 years old like Derek was, but still, I couldn’t have afforded the car. I somehow thought that kind of car would still be around when I could. Sadly it’s not.

    I owned two first generation RX-7s, and although I miss them, the 3rd generation was the ultimate.

  • avatar

    Wow the city boy from Toronto and myself agree on the best truck! But then I can’t really call myself a true country boy that needs a stripo work truck. I have been doing the “build your own” on the RAM web site for a while now and keep coming back to the 1500 Express, reg cab, 4wd, RAM box and all the packages but I am waiting for the ZF 8 speed before I put in an order.

  • avatar

    Hey Steven! Read the article again and of our editor’s choices, I’d have to agree with you. Cincuecento all the way and boy is that iQ thing horrendus. Don’t know much about the trucks mentioned, but I think the cirrent Brazilian Ranger has them all beat.

  • avatar

    Damn shame you showed your colors in the dismal review of the Coda.
    In years to come, the few Codas that do sell will still be the reliable tough cars that the Coda team so carefully worked to create.
    When Henry Fords wife chose to only drive a Baker Electric, it was for the exact same reason the few people who buy Codas chose to buy them. An unbelievably reliable EV drive train that will last longer than most of you marriges is what we are seeing in the Coda, and all it gets if laughter from the likes of you at TTAC. When an honest to god piece of basic sound engineering comes along, built to last and still be reliable in 25 years doesn’t it deserve even a bit of an honest review? The flash of clever reviews pales in comparison to a practical EV that todays new dad will gladly be giving his Coda to his daughter as she goes off to college.The Coda is that good, it really is. The real truth in cars is how a family car lives up to its promise of safety and overall low cost of operation. The years will prove the wisdom of the Coda drivetrain and battery ruggedness. But when reviewed by gimiky writers who often seem to care less about getting decades of trouble free service for a family on a budget, in favor of writing witty prose honoring some petty tech de jour, then an honest offering like the Coda dosen’t stand a chance. And we wonder why the Tuckers of the world always end up mere asteriks.
    I challange the lot of you at TTAC to take the 5 EV offerings of today and drive the hell out of them over the next 6 months. Not in trials crafted to show their shortcomings, but in uses as the beasts were intended. In six months I’ll bet your view of the Coda may be a bit different.
    It has its place. Nothing more and certainly nothing less… as your flippant review woud suggest.
    And no: I do not work for them or deal with them or represent them in any way. But I do know, from a friend of a friend, the extent to which they have Beta-Tested their drivetrain… and the changes made to make it a machine that will last. I know for a fact that the ruggedness of Coda’s drivetrain design sophistication puts the other EV offerings to shame. Just maybe, there comes a time when basic soundness, something that will last for decades trumps glitz. And maybe it deserves to be reviewed, and recognized, as such.

  • avatar

    Favorite cars right now..

    Dodge Challenger/Audi A5 (Quattro Coupe). Great looking cars that drive well. Everyone needs to drive a big V8 before they die – there is nothing else that sounds or performs like it. And the Audi just oozes sophistication and surprises with its peformance..

    Least favorite car – Nissan Altima (2012 version). I actually felt bad for people who drive this thing. And so many people do. The only reason these cars sell is because of the aura of Japanese reliability. But it had terrible steering, awful ergonomics, and actual “Lag” with the CVT. C

    VTs actually take time to ‘decide’ what to do IMHO – and its very annoying. CVT are the worst Japanese invention ever – wrecking all kind of perfectly good cars like Subaru’s and Maxima’s to chase a few more MPG.

    On top of that i am starting to question the actual utility of so called “midsize’ family cars. It makes sense that so many people get SUVs instead of Camry’s or Altimas. SUVs are fun to drive either but at least they maximize utility.

    I guess that’s why people like Mazda – put a little sport into those dreadful segements.

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