Yes that’s right, Best cars of the year. Why multiples? Well, to be honest I just can’t decide one one best car. There are a few that are the best for different reasons and a bunch of others that I love just a tiny bit less. For the most part, my list is made up of the cars that I could honestly see going into debt for today.
First, the runners up:
Dodge Challenger: To say that it is an awesome retro machine is an understatement. It looks great, sounds better and hauls serious butt. A few laps weren’t enough to cause me to fall madly in love with it. Maybe when we do an extended review in the spring I’ll be feeling the love.
JCW Mini Cooper S: Again, few cars have made me giggle the way the Mini does on the track. The JCW package just ups the ante a bit. It is truly one of the most satisfying cars I’ve driven on a track, it just doesn’t fit our current needs. Like the Challenger, maybe the tester I have in a couple of weeks will change that perception.
BMW 135i: We really spent a very short time with this wonderful car. A half hour or so filming video and a few feeble autocross laps. On the street, the car is incredible though it felt far too big on a tight autocross course after driving the Mini. I’ll have to book one as we get closer to spring and let you know how it fares with the daily grind.
Now, on to the big winners. After the break of course.
Following those 3, you may find that my top 3 are more than a little bit of a surprise. Ok, one of them may surprise you. My top choices all excel in providing an incredible amount of fun, while remaining useful for daily life. These are cars that I would truly consider buying. I actually considered buying one of them straight out of the media fleet!
Falling into the category of Car I’d most like to own if I had an unlimited budget comes the 2009 BMW M3 Coupe. Tough looks, explosive power, visceral audio, incredible brakes, unsurpassed handling and an interior that is not only functional for Mom & Dad & 2 kids but also looks and feels like a million bucks. The problem is that I’m not likely to have that sort of budget any time soon. I’ll just keep jonesing for a ride every chance I get.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
What? A Jeep on a car reviewer’s best Car of the Year list? Has this guy gone off his nut? Nope, fully sane here, or at least as sane as I’ve ever been. The Rubi has everything a true truck enthusiast might want out of an SUV. To say it is rough and rugged would be an understatement, being assembled from a hard core Jeeper’s parts bin wish list. It also boasts an incredible amount of utility. Our 3 hockey bag test is a breeze. In fact, it would easily hold 5 bags with all the seats occupied and still allow the driver to see out the rear view mirror. Oh yeah, the price is right and the roof comes off. don’t forget the Jeep Wave! We could easily replace our Xterra with one of these.
2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt
It had been years since I had driven a Mustang and while I knew the Bullitt looked cool, I just wasn’t expecting to fall for Detective Frank Bullitt’s namesake as hard as I did. I actually had this car twice this year. The first was for the drive to cover the ALMS race at Lime Rock, while the second was to see if I actually wanted to go into debt to buy one. “Frank” looks the part, goes like snot and sounds absolutely like the real Frank’s car. Don’t believe me? Hand the wheel over to an old school double clutcher and let him loose. This car sounds exactly like the car in the movie! It is comfortable on a long drive, has a usable back seat (for the kids) and a more than respectable trunk. Oh yeah, it also gets pretty decent fuel economy given the manner in which I drove it both times.
So, why didn’t we buy it? Well, part of me figures a Sixties era car would be a smarter purchase. I know, the Bullitt is numbered and will appreciate. Eventually. With an old car, there is no financial buffer period should we choose to sell. Ford is about to launch the 2010 Mustang. What happens if I get behind the wheel and love it even more than the last car? I would be ticked and might have to sell it and I just couldn’t do that. Even still, the Bullitt was by far the car that I could most see myself going into debt for.
I wonder what will make the best impression in 2009.