Each year, the editors of Automobile Magazine convene to test, evaluate, and debate the performance, significance, and pure enthusiast appeal of the cars that make the biggest impact.
Despite the auto industry coming off its worst year in recent history, “the level of excellence found during our annual All-Stars competition was at an all-time high and the competition was strong” said Jean Jennings, president and editor-in-chief of Automobile Magazine. “We whittled down a list of thirty-nine finalists to the ten All-Stars. The end results produced a list of true standouts, spanning a wide range of the automotive spectrum.”
Base price range: $52,000-$80,000
When the XF received significant improvements for 2010, including three new V-8 engines, Jaguar was rewarded for making a good thing even better.
Cheaper than the car it replaces, the sure-footed, all-wheel-drive Audi S4 takes everything from the Audi A4 on which it’s based — comfort, safety, and solid build quality — and cranks it up.
Compared with the previous model, the S4 sheds half a second in the 0 to 60 mph run (5.2 seconds with a six speed manual) while managing to increase fuel economy.
Base Price Tange: $23,530-$34,595
2009 wasn’t a good year for General Motors, but amid all the turmoil there have been glimmers of hope.
One need look no further than the brash, beautiful Chevrolet Camaro — if one can be found on dealer lots, that is — for proof that GM can build great cars. With its old-school charm, the Camaro is a smashing sales success.
Base price range: $48,550-$62,450
According to Automobile Magazine, the Porsche Boxster roadster and its hardtop sibling, the Cayman, are as close as a car company can get to the perfect everyday sports car. With fully optioned models climbing to $70K and beyond, the Boxster/Cayman isn’t cheap, but buying one will allow you to achieve sports car nirvana.
Base Price Range: $15,795-$23,945
With three engines and five trim levels, the 3 accounts for nearly half of Mazda’s U.S. sales. The 2010 version brings a stiffer unibody, firmer suspension, tauter steering, revised seats, and a larger engine.
Ford Fusion Hybrid
Base price: $28,350
Quietly, Ford has put a car on the road that essentially enlists Toyota hybrid technology but uses it more cleverly than the originating company did. It is not a performance machine, but neither does it feel hobbled or inadequate for daily driving. Perhaps the best thing about it is that, apart from the LCD color screens, you might never know you’re driving a hybrid.
Base Price Range: $29,325-$43,635
For 2010, Ford has equipped the Flex with its much anticipated EcoBoost engine, thereby addressing the Flex’s only weakness — power — and effectively transforming it from a well rounded family hauler into a large sport wagon. The Flex is unique in a market brimming with compromised, look alike utility vehicles and is one of the best-handling full-size crossovers on the market.
Dodge Ram 1500
Base Price Range: $21,510-$43,550
Dodge engineers created a vehicle that works smarter, drives quieter, uses less fuel, and secures cargo storage better. The Ram sets the standard by living up to the radical idea that the cabin of a $40,000 truck should be as nice as that of a $40,000 car.
Base Price Range: $46,575-$52,475
The previous Z4 was a little rough and tough, a little unsophisticated, and undeniably masculine. BMW took a good look at its customers’ needs and traded racetrack readiness for everyday elegance.
The interior is a marvel of simplicity and elegance, the sheetmetal is at once sexy, sultry, and supremely muscular, and 60 mph can be yours in five to six seconds, depending on the powertrain combination you choose.
Base price: $44,725
The BMW 335d is the most important car this year to get lost in the crowd. Going from 0 to 60 mph in six seconds, the 335d is game for hard driving, but its 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged diesel six-cylinder also returns subcompact-like fuel economy. There is no other car that combines performance and fuel economy at this level.