List Of TTAC's 2016 Ten Best Automobiles Today Is Mostly One Big Disagreement With The Marketplace At Large
Over the past few weeks, TTAC instituted a formula by which the Best & Brightest and TTAC’s editors and contributors would choose 2016’s Ten Best Automobiles Today and 2016’s Ten Worst Automobiles Today.
Earlier this week, the winners and losers were revealed. But does the TTAC Best & Brightest agree with the great American consumer? Are TTAC’s picks in keeping with the choices made by millions of new car buyers?
We’re answering those questions by looking at the market performance of each winner and by providing additional insight from a devil’s advocate. Do the winners deserve to be winners?
The winners certainly do not accurately represent a cross-section of the new vehicle market. There are no pickup trucks in the top ten, although pickup trucks account for 15 percent of the auto market. Only one utility vehicle cracked the top ten, although SUVs and crossovers now account for nearly four out of every ten new vehicles sold in America.
Yet the nine cars on the list, while representing little more than 6 percent of the available car nameplates on sale in the United States, collectively generate more than 10 percent of U.S. new car sales volume.
10th Place: Volkswagen Golf
Does The Marketplace Agree? Not at all. The diesel emissions scandal hasn’t had a huge impact on Golf volume in early 2016: sales are down only 6 percent in a category that fell 5 percent in the first-third of the year. But the Golf is still terribly rare in America. Even the fast-fading Jetta sedan sells twice as often as the Golf lineup, which derives 57 percent of its sales from the GTI, Golf R, and e-Golf.
Devil’s Advocate: Yes, in my mind, the Golf is wholeheartedly deserving of placement among the Best Automobiles Today. But now wracked by scandal, the long-term Golf proposition is sketchy. Rear seat legroom isn’t great compared with Civic and Corolla. And you can’t get the Jetta’s amazing 1.4 turbo.
9th Place: Volvo XC90
Does The Marketplace Agree? Increasingly, yes. The XC90 is powering the Volvo brand as other models struggle. Volvo is on track to sell more than 30,000 XC90s in America for the first time since 2007.
Devil’s Advocate: Again, the XC90 was one of my picks. But if we’re honest, the impressive touchscreen requires too many glances away from the road. A cramped third row is anticipated, but second row space isn’t great, either. Ride quality ought to be smoother and wind noise isn’t befitting a vehicle in this price range.
8th Place: Mazda 6
Does The Marketplace Agree? Not even remotely. The list of midsize cars which outsell the Mazda6 is long: Camry, Altima, Accord, Fusion, Malibu, Sonata, Optima, 200, Legacy, Passat. Most outsell the Mazda6 by at least two-to-one. And while midsize volume is down 3 percent this year, sales of the Mazda6 is down 34 percent.
Devil’s Advocate: The 6 is a blast to drive, shaming almost all of its competitors on the dynamic front. But it’s not among the most refined sedans in its class. There’s limited rear headroom and a big centre rear hump that make the jump up from the Mazda3 seem like a waste, particularly when you consider the lack of optional all-wheel drive.
7th Place: Mazda 3
Does The Marketplace Agree? Sort of. The Mazda3 is not among the most popular compacts in America (although it’s among the more dominant vehicles in Canada), but it’s not nearly as forgotten in its class as its big brother, the Mazda6, is in its own class. 5 percent of the compacts sold in America in 2016’s first four months were Mazda3s. Only 2 percent of the midsize cars were 6s.
Devil’s Advocate: I won’t deny it: the Mazda3 is my favourite small car. But it tends to look cheap outside of the high trim levels and the level of road rumble compared with newer entries from Honda and Hyundai can become irritating quickly.
6th Place: Porsche 911
Does The Marketplace Agree? Most definitely. The 911 isn’t a common car, of course, but by the standards of high-priced sports cars, the iconic Porsche is decidedly popular. Year-to-date, the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Mercedes-AMG GT, Cadillac ELR, BMW i8, Nissan GT-R, Dodge Viper, and Audi R8 have combined for 2,886 sales. Porsche USA reported 3,182 911 sales during the same period.
Devil’s Advocate: They say it doesn’t steer as sweetly as it used to? (I still haven’t driven a 911. —Mark)
5th Place: Honda Accord
Does The Marketplace Agree? Undeniably so. The Honda Accord is routinely among the three top-selling midsize cars in America. Although U.S. sales of midsize cars are down 3 percent so far this year, Accord volume is up 13 percent to 108,599 units through the first-third of 2016.
Devil’s Advocate: Well it’s all just a bit too normal, isn’t it? The Accord is a wonderfully balanced car. There’s all this room with all this ride quality and all this dynamic ability. There’s a range of exceptional powerplants. It’s efficient and affordable. But must you drive what your neighbour drives?
4th Place: Chevrolet Corvette
Does The Marketplace Agree? Indeed it does. The Corvette is a high-dollar, two-seat sports car which, in April, outsold the Audi A4, Subaru WRX/STI, Audi A3, Lexus IS, Buick Verano, Lincoln MKZ, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Volkswagen GTI, Chevrolet Volt, Buick LaCrosse, BMW 2-Series, Cadillac ATS.
Devil’s Advocate: The styling has gone somewhat over the top in the latest C7 form. Round back, there’s still a suggestion that they just don’t know what to do with aaaaaall that. And speaking of suggestions, there’s a whiff of exposed and graying chest hair about the whole thing, isn’t there?
3rd Place: Tesla Model S
Does The Marketplace Agree? Tesla, of course, doesn’t issue monthly, model-specific, market-specific sales figures. Based on estimates from HybridCars.com, however, we know that the Model S easily outsells big luxury cars such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS, Jaguar XJ, Porsche Panamera, and Audi A8.
Devil’s Advocate: There’s the whole issue of the company’s long-term survival. The interior’s minimalism, over time, may simply appear spartan. Quality concerns are not exactly unheard-of.
2nd Place: Ford Mustang
Does The Marketplace Agree? Very much so. Mustang sales growth has stalled, but there have already been 42,862 Mustangs sold in America in 2016’s first four months, a successful follow-up to 2015, when the Mustang easily trounced the Chevrolet Camaro (which still distantly trails the Ford) thanks to its best year since 2007.
Devil’s Advocate: The EcoBoost sounds dreadful, doesn’t possess the kind of throttle response you want in a car like this, and isn’t worth the extra money over the V6 or the savings compared with the V8.
1st Place: Mazda MX-5 Miata
Does The Marketplace Agree? In a sense. Historically, the MX-5 Miata is the planet’s all-time best-selling roadster. In the United States, the new MX-5 is selling better this year than the old MX-5 was last year. But performance car buyers are more likely to turn to the Toyobaru twins, the BMW 2-Series, or the Volkswagen GTI. Buick sold more Cascadas in April than Mazda sold Miatas. And Mazda will be hard pressed in 2016 to get Miata volume back to the level of 2006, when nearly 17,000 were sold.
Devil’s Advocate: I got nothin’.
[Image Sources: Mazda, Honda, Ford, Tesla, Porsche, General Motors, Volvo]
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.
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