Another year has passed. And despite our best efforts, that planet has not fallen off its axis. I survived Hurricane Irma, we marveled over a giraffe named April, and North Korea is still a pain in everyone’s ass.
It was another year of great, and not so great, vehicles. SUVs both big and small; coupes, sedans, cabriolets, and electrically powered cars of the future. The memoires that stand out include chickening out on taking a road trip in a BMW i4, taking a surprising road trip in a Ford, and one glorious week I won’t soon forget.
My list is something that I compile based only on how much I liked something, not on whether I could ever actually afford to on it.
That being noted, out of the 50 or so vehicles I spent a week with this year, here are the ones that stand out:
SUVs/Crossovers (both large and small).
Americans again bought more SUVs in all sizes than cars this year. Ford had three entries for me this year; the Explorer, Edge and the new EcoSport. There was also a Dodge Durango in the mix. But it was the surprising new VW Atlas that impressed me the most. The company isn’t known for having full size SUVs but with the Atlas they certainly did get it right. The Durango was a blast, but for the full-size room that families are looking for the Atlas delivers. The new EcoSport was my favorite compact SUV. I took it with my family, all adults, on a road trip, and despite my misgivings it did an admirable job delivering a smooth ride, nice amenities, and enough room to make that ride comfortable. All at a surprisingly affordable price.
I didn’t have as many trucks as in year’s past. That was much to the chagrin of my wife, who always upon hearing I will have a pickup for the week draws up a list of things that need doing that only a pickup truck can do. I had a Honda Ridgeline, which is good but still needs some work, and a Chevy Silverado, along with a Toyota Tacoma TRD both of which were great, but it was the week I spent with the Ford Raptor that remains one of the best weeks of the year.
Sedans/Coupes (Plain Jane)
They may be fading, but there are still plenty to choose from. The standouts this year were the Buick Cascada, along with the smallish Hyundai Elantra and their always popular Sonata. But it was the Audi A4 that made the top of this heap; mainly due to its affordability when compared to the standard features one can have.
As always this is one of my favorite categories. And 2017 did not disappoint. From the always favorite Jaguar XE to the BMW 540i, and the surprising Alfa-Romeo Giulia it was a good year with the luxury coupes. Four stood out: the brand-new Lincoln Continental, the Volvo S90 inscription and the BMW 760i xDrive. The Lincoln was a sentimental favorite, the S90 was impressive, but the 760i could not be beat. The 601-horsepower beast actually scared me during a few speed runs, a 5128-pound car should not go that fast, and combining that beast with all the luxury BMW can offer puts it over the top. Some may argue that the 760 belongs in the sports car category, but once you sit inside surrounded by all the opulence you’ll understand why it belongs in the luxury sedan category.
My absolute favorite category was somewhat light in 2017. There was the 2018 Mercedes E400 which was nice, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth which was even nicer, and the Infiniti Q60 which as much fun as you can hope for out of a sports car. In February, Dodge sent me a 2017 Charger Daytona R/T to take to the Daytona 500 and I absolutely loved the big snarling beast. None of those mattered however when Alfa-Romeo sent me the 2018 4C Spider in December. The 4C has been my favorite car ever and the 2018 did not disappoint. With the upgrades and the ability to take the top off, made my most cherished vehicle even better, and my favorite car of the year. And one that will be hard to top in 2018.
10. 2017 Audi A4
9. 2017 Lincoln Continental
8. 2017 Dodge Charger Daytona
7. 2018 VW Atlas
6. 2017 Alfa-Romeo Giulia
5. 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth
4. 2018 Ford EcoSport
3. 2017 Ford Raptor
2. 2017 BMW 760i xDrive
1. 2018 Alfa-Romeo 4C Spider