Test drive recap

Posted on 31 Dec 2015 at 8:00am

Our auto reviewer ranks the top new rides of 2015


THREE FOR THE ROAD | Ford’s Mustang, above, Jaguar’s F-Type R, middle and BMW’s i8, bottom, were among the 10 best cars of 2015 … and one was even an all-time best-of.


CASEY WILLIAMS  | Auto Reviewer

Fifty-two weeks have come and gone, and during 2015, I reviewed at least that many cars — from fuel-sipping compacts to all-terrain behemoths. Here are my favorites (with base prices listed).

10. GMC Canyon. GMC launched a missile into the mid-size truck segment with chiseled styling while keeping utilitarian CornerStep rear bumpers and EZ Lift/Lower tailgate. Our truck came as a four-door crew cab with beefy steering wheel, red-stitched dash, navigation, heated front seats and Bose audio. Skip the four-cylinder and get the 305 horsepower V6. $20,955.

9. Honda HR-V. On paper, it’s just a Fit-based crossover with a 141 horsepower engine that delivers 28/35-MPG city/hwy. But it’s more than that. Deep body sculpting complements the fly-bridge console, stitched dash, and glassy touchpads. I loaded all kinds of gear with the seats flipped up. Whether your first or last car, it’s a hell of a practical bargain. $19,115.

8. Ford Mustang. It slaps traditional styling cues with an exotic ass a pony-strewn Porsche would love. Inside, it’s all padded and stitched with Recaro buckets. The real shocker comes when kicked by the 310 horsepower turbo-four, click-click six-speed manual and independent rear suspension that tames pavement like an Audi. All that, and 22/31-MPG city/hwy. $25,195.

7. Chevrolet SS. Looking like a big Malibu, the Australian-built muscle car packs a 415 horsepower V8 and six-speed manual transmission. Corvette-derived Magnetic Ride Control erases bumps and grips corners. Head-up display, Bose audio, 4G Wi-Fi and crash avoidance systems fill the cabin. It’s a stealth rocket, as sophisticated as a Cadillac. $46,575.

6. Range Rover Sport SVR. Garnering my highest YouTube views, this debauched carriage mashes Bentley Continental with Hummer. I giggled while throttling the 510 horsepower supercharged V8 and height-adjusting the air suspension. Devour carbon fiber veneer, individually-bolstered leather seats, and 1700-watt Meridian audio. Survey your estate or track club. $111,350.

5. Smart ForTwo. I own a 2009 Smart, but was unprepared for the smoother suspension, planted handling, and turbo engine that delivers 89 horsepower and 33/39-MPG city/hwy. Interiors are roomier and more modern with flatscreens, JBL audio, crosswind assist, and forward collision warning. It appeals to Smart aficionados and normal people alike. $14,650.

4. Lexus NX200t. This compact crossover in F-Sport trim won hearts with its origami styling and alluring interior sporting deeply-bolstered heated seats, heated steering wheel, sewn dash coverings, and wireless phone charging. It moved with a 235 horsepower turbo-four and torque-shifting AWD. It’s the car that made me fall in love with Lexus again. $34,965.


Jaguar F-Type R AWD

3. Jaguar F-Type R AWD. That car is hawt — from flush doorhandles to E-Type grille, sensuous hood, and rear haunches drawn tight. It’s also comfortable with soft leather, glass roof, and 770W Meridian audio system. Crack the 550 horsepower supercharged V8 as four wheels reach for Jesus. Brembo disc brakes stop yesterday. I’m still vibrating. $103,600.

2. Mercedes-Benz GT-S. If you worship Mercedes, this is the brand’s high altar. The grille and gorgeous hood are all ‘Benz, but out back, you’ll see Porsche 928. My neighbor and I did a high-speed Interstate run ensconced within Nappa leather seats and Bermester audio. Its 4.0-liter Biturbo V8 dispenses 503 horsepower while drivers adjust between Comfort and Race. $129,900.


BMW i8

1. BMW i8. The i8 may be my all-time favorite car. The shape of the flip-up doors is beyond elegant — as is the plug-in powertrain with mid-mounted turbo-three and electric AWD. Plug in for 15 miles of electric range, but step full into 357 horsepower and 0-60 mph in 4.2s. Go easy for 76-MPGe. Slip into heated leather, Harman/Kardon audio, and head-up display. Unlike a Tesla, it drives coast-to-coast without a plug. $140,700.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 1, 2016.

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