Today I’ve been reading the NYT Auto critics’ “Top 10 cars of 2010” pieces (all three). While I don’t agree with all of their recommendations, their commentary is fun food for thought anyway. Here are my own feelings:
- Kia Optima – I wouldn’t choose it over all other cars, but considering its segment, I think the Times’ writers overlooked the new Sonata-related Korean. It is way better in all forms than its competitors, like the Accord and Altima, and one-ups the Hyundai with more kit and a more interesting interior.
- BMW 5-series GT – A regular 5 wagon would be preferable, but Americans don’t buy wagons with the same intensity that they did in the past, so BMW sent us the GT, which is a 7-series-based crossover-sedan-hatchback-wagon THING. I like its funky looks, and I like that it competes directly with the Mercedes R-class…which it slingshots past in almost every category of comparison.
- Volvo S60 (pictured) – Arguably (now) the most unique, architectural, well-equipped, solid-feeling small premium sedan on the market. The 3-series, A4, C-class, and G25/37 have all gotten a bit bloated, and a bit soft. Sadly you can’t get the S60 with a manual transmission.
- Saab 9-5 – It may not be a real competitor for the 5-series or E-class, but I think enough people will be interested in this Swedish alternative to pad its sales comfortably. I just hope its late introduction doesn’t spell the eventual end for Saab…we dodged that bullet once already with G.M.
- Chevrolet Equinox – assuming the SUV demand won’t subside anytime soon, I see this as a perfect combination of size, drivability, and SUV-ness. It’s comfortable inside, has lots of premium features, drives beautifully, and isn’t so large as to challenge one’s ability to park.
- Mini Countryman – For all of the Mini-fiends out there (myself included), this is a fun spinoff of the Mini we know…it’s larger, has more room, and carries more, without much added heft. And you can get a standard shift! Plus, Mini-style customization is unmatched by other brands.
- BMW – 1-series, love it. 3-series, bored. 5-series, underwhelmed. 7-series, love it but hate its image. All X-series models, couldn’t ever justify driving one, but they’re capable and attractive. Z4, better than the SLK.
- Audi – generally disappointed in quality and design. A4, not impressed. A6 (outgoing), still love it. A6 (incoming), hoping it will rock. A8, very cool but boring exterior. All Q-series models, nice but pointless outside of mountainous regions. TT, beautiful and underrated.
- Mercedes – generally disappointed in quality (design I like). Sat in most of the main models and quality is still questionable. Most disappointed in the E-class. Give me some matte wood and matte plastics, PLEASE. All of the SUVs – complete waste of money. Get a Lexus SUV or Toyota 4Runner.