So, we’ve survived yet another lap around the Sun here on Mother Earth. This despite the protestations of some, a maddening election season, and the fact that the Cubs finally won the World Series, an event which according to some would mean that Hell hath indeed frozen over.
I spent yet another year driving all kinds of automotive products. Most good, a few not so much, but all allowing me the opportunity to form an opinion about just what America and the rest of the world’s auto manufacturers have to offer to the consumer. And the opportunity to report that to you.
Here’s my annual list of the top 10 cars for 2016. The list, like people’s opinions, is subjective. People have different reasons to like different things, thus the vehicles in my top 10 may not match the preferences of everyone. Also keep in mind that what someone can afford isn’t the overriding factor in the choices. Just because I like a certain car, or a truck, or an SUV doesn’t mean I can afford to own it.
It just so happens that my top car for 2016 is not only good, but something I can afford to put in my driveway. To find out what that is, read on.
The SUV/Crossover market remains one of the hottest. These vehicles not only get us from point A to point B, but they can do so much more, like haul groceries, kids, and even tow stuff. Some of the ones I had this year were luxurious, like the Lincoln MKC and MKX, the Infiniti QX80, or the Ford Explorer Platinum, to the sporty Jaguar F-Pace and the BMW X4 M401i, to the plain everyday use SUVS like the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Chevy Suburban. There was even a hybrid, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. It was Jeep however, that proved the most impressive. The Cherokee Overland is a good sensible vehicle that can get the job done, but the Jeep Wrangler was the most impressive. It rattles, has a bulky convertible top that isn’t easy to swap out, has more interior road noise then the others, and is sparsely equipped. At the end of the day though it had universal appeal; my family and I really liked the week we had with the Wrangler Unlimited, and combined with its affordability is my top SUV/Crossover of 2016.
The truck market is also very competitive, but Ford has led this class for many years. This year I had a Toyota Tacoma, as well as a one of Ford’s nearest competitors, a GMC Canyon. Sadly, Ford didn’t send me a truck this year ,but that’s okay. The Ford is still tops in my book, but the Tacoma is quickly gaining ground. It might not reach the pinnacle Ford now holds, but I think it will come closer in the next few years.
SEDANS/COUPES (Plain Jane)
Sedans are still an automotive market staple. Most are not fancy, or fast, or can haul a great deal, and certainly can’t tow anything. This includes the Chevy Malibu, of which I had the hybrid version this year, and the Hyundai Elantra. The Audi A4 is on the upper end of the range as is the Lexus ES350, but it was the Chevy Cruze hatchback that left a lasting impression. I also had the Mazda 3 hatch and it was very good, but the Cruze won out. It’s small, but not too much so, and it’s very affordable. Considering all you get for the price, and the drive, look, and layout, the Cruze hatchback is not only our top sedan, but our number 1 car of the year.
For some it’s the pinnacle of their existence. Driving around in a large luxurious sedan means they have arrived, and tells the rest of the world that as well. Among the standouts for me this year was the BMW 460i, the 750i as well as the Cadillac CT6. I also had the all new Genesis 90, Hyundai’s first offering in its new luxury Genesis lineup. Nice, but it needs a few years to evolve. There was a debate about who would take top honors this year among this very competitive class. That was until Jaguar sent me an XE. After a week with that, all bets were off. The Jaguar XE (a diesel no less) outshined the rest of its field, and might do so for many years to come.
For an old V8 guy like me, this class is my fav. I did have a chance to spend some time with a few of the good old (new) American muscle cars, the Camaro ZL1, the Dodge Charger R/T and the Mustang 2.3, which despite a 4-cylinder engine, was actually able to keep up with the big boys. The Cadillac CTS-V was a pure beast . On the foreign side the Mercedes AMG SLC43 was amazing and the Audi TTS I started the year with was a blast. The Fiat 124 Spider deserves an honorable mention. Hands down though the 2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR left them all in the dust. This is a supercar in sheep’s clothing and if I ever get well enough off to own one, I assure you I will.
Without further ado, here’s my list of the top 10 cars I drove in 2016. Who knows what adventures I will have behind the wheel in 2017, but I hope I can bring you some more insights and help you make an informed decision about your next vehicle.
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