Critics Pick the Best Cars to Buy in 2016
There is no perfect car.
There are, however, perfect cars for certain situations: SUVs for rolling with friends, convertibles for sunny days, town cars for drivers to take you to meetings.
The trick is knowing which model in a given segment and price range is best suited to what you need.
So in the spirit of “New Year, New You” here are the cars that bested their competitors in a given segment and so deserve your precious time and hard-earned cash.
Best Serious Sedan
BMW 750i xDrive: The 750i comes with a V8 engine that pulls 445 hp and will hit 60 m.p.h. in 4.3 seconds. It has multiple drive modes that adapt to your driving style and an 8-speed automatic transmission built on all-wheel-drive. That’s all great. But it’s the up-front tech (self-parking system, gesture-driven technology) and features like the panoramic sunroof spanning from the front to the rear two executive seats, both of which massage and one of that can fully recline, that matters most. BMW’s biggest sedan feels as posh and businesslike as a Lear-jet in the back and drives as light and nimble. There is nothing on the town car market today with the same supreme engineering and understated dignity.
Best Sport Coupe
BMW M2: BMW introduced the 2-Series last year as a way to upgrade everyone from the 1-Series. The efficient and affordable M235i costs less than $50,000 even with upgrades like Harman-Kardon sound, park assist cameras, and heated seats. What’s more, its 8-speed turbocharged inline 6 engine packs 320 hp and gets to 60 m.p.h. in 4.5 seconds. Moral of the story? Once you hit the gas, you’re not going to want to get out.
Best Impractical Coupe
Mercedes AMG GT: This is the purest sports car Mercedes has ever made and no, there’s no back seat. It has a 7-speed AMG-built transmission and paddle shifters that push its aluminum body to nearly 200 m.p.h. There are three drive modes and adaptive carbon-fiber brakes, a carbon-fiber drive shaft, standard crash avoidance, and a performance exhaust system loud enough to let everyone know you’re coming. It feels born to be on the track. Buy the AMG GT S because it’s faster and, more importantly, more fun to drive than any other production car Mercedes makes.
Best Practical Coupe
Aston Martin DB9 GT: For the latest version of its Bond-worthy DB9, Aston made the DB9 GT, a coupe as precise to drive as a laser and just as effective. It shares the same V12 engine as its standard sibling paired with an automatic 6-speed transmission and rear-wheel drive. The car gets to 60 m.p.h in 4.5 seconds; top speed exceeds 180 m.p.h. Driving it feels like jumping into the middle of a big-budget film chase scene. It’s practical because it does have a “back seat.” .
Best SUV: Tie
Bentley Bentayga: Bentley’s 6.0-liter W12 behemoth gets 600 hp on an all-wheel-drive, 8-speed automatic transmission. It’ll go to 60 m.p.h. in 4 seconds and hit a top speed of 187 m.p.h. It is the world’s fastest SUV and the most luxurious: hand-stitched trim, accoutrements galore (picnic basket and champagne, anyone?). In this car, Bentley combines the ultimate interior with the ultimate in performance. After all, it would never stoop to distribute anything less than the superb, made-for-royalty coaches.
Tesla Model X: When it comes out in 2016, the Model X will have 250 miles of range and massive horsepower. Company founder Elon Musk has said it’ll hit 60 m.p.h. in 3.8 seconds (even faster with Ludicrous mode) and will have a top speed of 155 m.p.h. If it is as good as the exceptional Model S sedan, this will be the SUV to buy when you want something big and earth-friendly. Consider it money well spent.
Ferrari 488 GTB: This 660-hp V8 coupe will hit 60 m.p.h. in 3 seconds. More importantly, as the first Ferrari in years to use turbocharged power rather than natural aspiration, it gets 15 m.p.g. in the city and 20 m.p.g. on the highway. Progress for this elite exotic. For a new Ferrari that is furiously drivable yet enjoyable on a daily basis, this is the one.
Bentley GT Speed: The GT Speed is the fastest four-seat convertible on the market, even though it weighs a whopping 6,300 pounds. (It hits 60 m.p.h. in 4 seconds.) Pretty inside and out, it has red carbon ceramic brake calipers on 21-inch alloy wheels, a diamond lattice grill, and polished LED headlights that accent the trim bodyline and big British muscular haunches. You’ll be hard-pressed to find something in this price range that can match both the caliber of craftsmanship, the roguish good looks, and the potency of its 626-horsepower V12 engine.
Best Alt-Fuel Star
Tesla P90D: The P90D hits 1.1 Gs at max acceleration. It goes zero to 60 m.p.h. in a blistering 2.8 seconds (this, sirs, will keep it apace with a Lamborghini Huracan and a McLaren 650S). The car runs for 300 miles on electricity and requires almost zero maintenance. Plus, it’s as spacious and well-made on the inside as a Mercedes town car. Even better, it’s made in California and uses no fossil fuel. There is nothing like it. Enough said.
Best Car In Which to Be Driven
Bentley Mulsanne: The 2016 Bentley Mulsanne Speed is a $335,600 sedan that acts like a much smaller car, with rear-wheel drive and a 530-hp V8 engine with 8-speed automatic transmission. Yet, that’s beside the point compared to the back seat: That’s where you access such charms as the champagne cooler, automatic foldout polished-wood worktables, the polished wood grains and $30,000 entertainment system. Compare it to the Rolls- Royce Phantom. Choose this one to be a little more demure.
Chevy Camaro: This is the closest Camaro has gotten to being a true sports car. The makeover borrows a 455-hp V8 engine from the Corvette Stingray and a chassis from the Cadillac ATS. The front-engine, rear-wheel-drive setup, multiple drive modes and an adjustable magnetic-ride-control suspension system make for a huge muscular upgrade, deafeningly fast, and solidly built. It’s more fun and much more interesting to drive than the new Ford Mustang. If you’re under 40 and wouldn’t normally consider it, don’t knock it before you try it.
Worth the Midlife Crisis
Chevy Corvette Stingray: Hear me out: Chevrolet has dropped a V8 into the rear-wheel drive Vette, which gets 455 hp and 460 pound-feet of torque. It’ll hit 60 m.p.h in 3.8 seconds (this is much faster than an Audi R8, Porsche 911 Carrera, or BMW M3). Top speed is 200 m.p.h. It also has a new rev-matching function. But all of that is meaningless until you drive one and feel for yourself. It’s memorable. Don’t resist.
This article originally appeared on the Detroit Free Press.