Every year, the editorial staff over at Automobile magazine take a good, long look at every passenger vehicle on sale in the U.S. to determine ten “All-Star Winners” out of the bunch that they believe are the best vehicles in showrooms at the moment. By means of a vote, they decide without “contorted rules” and categories what their favorite vehicles are. This year, those cars are then subjected to a 1,684 mile road trip around the country, which you can read about here.
In the meantime, here are the ten vehicles chosen by Automobile‘s knowledgable staff as being their favorite vehicles in showrooms today. The following are ranked alphabetically, and the numbers are assigned merely for formatting purposes — number one is no “better” than number 10, or vice versa. All models are from the 2014 model year.
10. Audi A7/S7/RS7
Audi’s (VLKAY.PK) A7 sportback-coupe has been around for a while now, but it now comes in two new and intense flavors. The Audi A7 “continues to epitomize the qualities that have made Audi one of the leading luxury brands — sophistication, style, substance, and comfort. It’s equally wonderful to look at, to sit in, and to drive,” Automobile said. Further, new for 2014, you can now buy the RS7 and all 560 of its horsepowers, giving the car the performance to match its aggressive and elegant looks.
9. BMW 3 Series/BMW 4 Series
“You have perhaps heard whispers of dissent about the BMW 3 Series. BMW has gone soft. The competition has found the formula,” Automobile said of BMW’s leading sedan. “And yet, this perennial All-Star award winner remains the only one that can do it all: roomy and practical enough to drive every day; luxurious and stylish enough to broadcast that you’ve made it; and, when the moment strikes, powerful and nimble enough to beat up on sports cars.” That’s not isolated sentiment, either — the 3 Series has long been the benchmark for performance sedans, and remains so with the new generation.
8. Cadillac CTS
The “formula” that Automobile referenced when discussing the 3 Series could very well explain the Cadillac (NYSE:GM) CTS, “an All-Star for its all-around dynamic excellence and its modern, leading-edge technology.” Cadillac has come from a long string of terrible or mediocre midsize sedans, which never quite stacked up to its European counterparts — until now. “The 2014 Cadillac CTS is an involving, agile car that not only goes fast but makes you feel like going fast,” Automobile said.
7. Ford Fiesta ST
Ford’s (NYSE:F) peppy little hot hatch has been winning over critics’ hearts since it first came stateside, and the staff at Automobile were no exception. “It’s a bullet on the road, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that sounds like a mini-Ferrari when flogged, a lively chassis, supportive Recaro seats, and clean shift action from the six-speed manual,” they said. It’s pint-size physique belies an angsty 197-horsepower turbo-four, which can also get 35 miles per gallon on the highway.
6. Honda Accord
There’s something to be said about familiarity and reliability, and the Honda (NYSE:HMC) Accord has mastered both. “The Honda Accord nails the fundamentals like no other car. It’s spacious, fuel efficient, reliable, and has excellent outward visibility,” Automobile lauded. “In the hyper-competitive midsize sedan segment, the Accord stands out for its refined powertrains, its ergonomics, and its overall attention to detail.” Further, the super-efficient hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains are more than just icing on the delicious Accord cake.
5. Jaguar F-Type
If you’ve ever heard the Jaguar (NYSE:TTM) F-Type idling, or even at full red-line, you understand the appeal. It makes a sound few can match in terms of symphonic brutality, which belie its sort of boyish innocent looks and amicable appearance. “This modern take on the iconic 1960s Jaguar E-Type captivated us with its svelte body, its available supercharged V8 engine, and its exhaust note that sounds like machine-gun fire,” Automobile said. It’s “not just an All-Star but also a rock star.”
4. Mazda 3
“The third-generation Mazda 3 offers the most value on the car market today — and not just because it’s inexpensive,” Automobile said. True enough, the new 3 has been lauded by observers and critics alike, with its unique appearance, practical layout, an incredibly efficient drivetrain (among the most efficient for a non-hybrid or non-diesel.) It’s also incredibly comfortable inside, and features numerous amenities that you don’t expect to find in a car in its class. “Compact cars aren’t supposed to feel this sophisticated, but the Mazda 3 does.”
3. Porsche Boxster/Porsche Cayman
Porsche (POAHF.PK) has long made some of the best driver’s cars on the market, and they only get better with time. When it comes to balancing poise, comfort, performance, speed, agility, and all the other factors that make a performance car great, there’s virtually none better. “Yes, there are faster cars for the money. What you’re paying for here is perfection. The Porsche Boxster convertible and Cayman coupe encourage you to drive quickly, make you into a better driver, and reassure you that an error won’t cascade into a disaster,” Automobile said.
2. Ram 1500
The Ram (FIATY.PK) 1500 has been a sales tour de force so far this year, even outselling the Chevy Silverado last month by a small margin. Sales are up over 25 percent versus the same three months from 2013, since buyers agree that, “The Ram has the best chassis in the business, with a coil-sprung rear suspension that offers a settled ride even with an empty bed.” The only diesel unit available on a light-duty pickup has also prove exceptionally popular, as it offers fuel economy on par with a midsize sedan.
1. Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ
The “Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ offer a pure driving experience for a new generation of enthusiasts and are among the few modern cars you can enjoy driving at the limit without losing your license,” Automobile said of the rear-wheel drive, 200 horsepower twins. It’s nimble handling and perfect balance make them a sheer joy to throw around turns, proving that you don’t necessarily need a track to have fun. “They also look great and are priced for the common man or woman,” Automobile added.