My $1.8 Million Fleet in 2016 - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Over the last year, the PR departments of 12 automobile manufacturers delivered 38 new vehicles to my driveway. Scheduling quirks and limited autumn availability saw that number slide from 2015, but week-long exposure to new vehicles was nevertheless extensive in 2016.

It’s a good gig. Sure, we work hard to maintain GoodCarBadCar.net — Mrs. Cain has even put in a fair number of hours since the October birth of our second baby boy — while I also contribute a couple of times per week to Autofocus.ca and work daily for The Truth About Cars. But in addition to our favored steed — the 2015 Honda Odyssey EX that we pay for with our own money — I get to drive (and fuel, and clean, and write two reviews about) a new automobile every week.

Those automobiles were collectively valued at $1.8 million in 2016, down from $2.2 million in 2015. The average price of the vehicles sent to GCBC Towers rose 4 percent to $46,671.

Every now and then, though less often than you’d think, I’d prefer a vehicle to hang around for an extra week. At least as often, I’d be content for vehicles to leave before their week was up. With the year now coming to a close, here are the best, the worst, the most surprising, the most disappointing, the most efficient, and the least economical vehicles I tested over the last year.

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  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Cory. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.