Top 10 Cars of the Year
The burgeoning luxury auto market offers a wealth of options. We've picked the best from 10 segments to help you through your abundance of decisions.
Paul A. Eisenstein
From the Print Edition:
Richard Branson, Sept/Oct 2007
It's all about choice, isn't it? But while it may be easy to sort through all the different brands of soap at your local supermarket, it can get downright confounding to pick the best automobile for you and your family. The choices are greater than ever—by our count, more than 100 different luxury cars, trucks and crossovers will be available in U.S. dealer showrooms come 2008—and the numbers will continue to grow. Struggling to stand out in this crowded market, manufacturers are targeting increasingly narrower niches. Consider Cadillac's combination pickup/SUV, the Escalade EXT. New brands are getting into the luxury segment, as well. Improbably enough, Hyundai will soon roll out a production version of its Concept Genesis, an under-$40,000 sedan aimed at competing with the likes of the Lexus LS and BMW 7 Series.
So how do you pick the right product? Obviously, we all have different tastes and needs. If you're looking to tow a boat, you won't want a Ferrari. But what to choose when you've focused on sedans or coupes or sports cars and still find a dozen choices? Start by checking out Cigar Aficionado's 10 Best list for 2008.
We've divided the luxury market into 10 of its most important segments, everything from so-called entry luxury vehicles to high-line cars and full-size luxury SUVs. The list takes in all but a few of the oddest and most exotic products on the market.
Our judges considered a variety of factors when compiling and comparing their choices, starting with things like styling, performance, comfort, safety, quality and range of features. Then the emphasis shifted according to category. Mileage mattered when comparing green cars and crossover SUVs while performance was a critical differentiator among our top sports car options. High-line sedans and coupes had to deliver the latest in technology and creature comfort.
Some of the calls were close, so our runners-up are more than just also-rans. They're good alternatives that readers should check out closely before making their own purchase decisions. Here, now, the Cigar Aficionado 10 Best List of Cars, Trucks and Crossovers.
Entry luxury car
Once, Cadillac laid claim to being the "standard to the world." Sadly, most of today's buyers recall a subsequent era when Caddy, to put it kindly, lost its way. The first-generation CTS was a desperately needed sign that something was stirring down in General Motors' design and engineering studios. The sedan's "Art & Science" styling was edgy and distinctive, the Autobahn-tuned platform and power train nudging into German territory, while quality and reliability topped even the vaunted Japanese.
The all-new gen-2 CTS "tends more towards art than science," suggests chief engineer Randall Schwarz, of its decidedly more refined exterior and complete interior makeover, which rivals the best in its class. The 2008 Caddy is priced along the lines of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class but boasts interior space closer to the E-Class. Getting import-oriented luxury buyers back into domestic showrooms isn't easy, but if the new CTS can't work some magic, Cadillac might as well turn out the lights.
RUNNERS-UP: Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan You've come a long way, baby. This all-new sedan marks the 25th anniversary of the original Baby Benz and, in a bold move, comes in two distinctive designs: Luxury, with its classic, tri-star hood ornament, and Sport, heavily influenced by the $400,000 SLR supercar.
Mini The completely redesigned micro-compact shows that great things still come in small packages. The '08 model remains small enough to fit into the cargo compartment of a full-size SUV, but it's surprisingly roomy, luxuriously appointed and just a blast to drive.
Audi A3 With gasoline prices unlikely to ever come back down much, American buyers may be downsizing to stretch their fuel budgets, but Audi's smallest model—in the United States—shows that doesn't mean sacrificing style, comfort or performance.
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