Audi, Ford, Lexus on The Weekly Driver's 2010 Best List

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Recall was likely the most used word in the automotive industry in 2010. Toyota topped the list of manufacturers’ whose cars were retrieved by the millions with myriad issues.

Regardless, of the 20 million recalls. it was another remarkable year for cars. The Hyundai Sonata for the first time in some monthly totals outsold the Honda Accord. The Chevy Camaro returned in 2009 as a 2010 model. Honda introduced the attention-grabbing Crosstour and discontinued the Element.

The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf made their public debuts amid an enormous public relations joust and with the future of hybrid and electric vehicles still largely unclear.

The specialty car market was constantly in the news. Premium prices were dished out at auctions around the country, most notably for Ferrari models.

There were near-constant articles about the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 as the world’s fastest and (until recently) most expensive car.

And then there was the embattled Tata Nano. It got even more attention as the world’s cheapest car and from the ongoing dealings of its Indian manufacturer, Tata Motors.

The Weekly Driver, which began in 2003, had its most successful year in 2010. We posted plenty of news and surpassed 300 test vehicles in our now eight-year tenure and gained appreciable advertising support as an official Google News source. We’re on Facebook and Twitter, and we have a newly designed site, www.theweekydriver.com.

Late in 2010, we added “What The Wife Says” section to The Weekly Driver reviews. They’re comments my wife makes about test vehicles. And Dan Jedlicka, the former auto reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times, became a contributing editor to TheWeeklyDriver.com.

In 2010, The Weekly Driver tested about 40 cars and trucks, and for the fourth year we’re presenting our best-of-the-year list with 2011 just around the next corner.

The 10-top list isn’t based on a points system or any objective rankings. Rather, it’s 10 vehicles we found innovative or efficient or simply just fun to drive. Each car’s MSRP is listed, followed by the price of the car as tested. The list varies from the performance economy wonder, the Suzuki SX4 ($18,513.00), to the wondrous plush sedan, the Lexus LS460 ($76,979.00).

The comments for each car are The Weekly Driver’s Final Words comments I include on the bottom of every review. The top-10 vehicles from 2007, 2008 and 2009 are also listed.

The Weekly Driver’s 2010 Cars of the Year:

Audi A5 (MSRP, $44,100.00; Price as driven, $61,800.00)

“It’s not easy to find a sporty convertible without some compromise. The Audi A5 Cabriolet gives up nothing in comfort, styling and performance. Plain and simply, it’s a great ride, top up or down.”

Chevrolet Camaro (MSRP, $26,875.00; Price as driven, $31,825.00)

“I may be among the few males who as a young guy never had an interest in owning a muscle car. What was I thinking? The more I drove the 2010 Camaro, the more I felt young again. It was in charge of the road, and it was nice to appreciate a muscle car — at any age.”

Ford Transit Connect (MSPR, $22,350.00; Price as driven, $24,975.00)

“It’s not very fast and it’s not particularly handsome. But it has the making of a good wannabe ice cream delivery truck or it could be a handyman’s best friend. Driving it makes me want to open a small business, drive around town, talk to people and fix stuff or at least sell elixir or ice cream.”

Honda Crosstour (MSRP, $34,770.00; Price as driven, $35,480.00)

“Rarely does Honda make a mistake when introducing a new vehicle. The Ridgeline, Element and Fit all got some strange early reactions when they debuted. Now, look at them go. The same good things should happen with the Crosstour. It’s not a step up for sedan buyers or a step down for SUV buyers. It has its own identity and it’s well-deserved.”

Infiniti G37 (MSRP, $34,450.00; Price as driven, $39,575.00)

“The G37 has received considerable attention as a near-luxury sports coupe, sedan and convertible and what’s not to like? It growls. It’s handsome. It moves down the road with confidence and does so rather quickly when asked. All things considered, it’s among the best combined performance/comfort vehicles on the market for under $40,000.”

Lexus LS 460 (MSRP, $65,380.00; Price as driven, $76,979.00)

“The term luxury car is tossed around pretty loosely these days. The Lexus LS 460 isn’t a pretender. It’s a luxury vehicle — high performing, plush, chock-full of well-placed design elements. It matches well against any car in its class. Then again, it may be in a class of its own.”

Mini, Mayfair Special Edition (MSRP, $22,300.00; Price as driven, $30,250.00)

“Driving one of the most distinct cars on the road is like being part of fraternity not everyone gets. But if you do get it (and count me in) the Mini is all about fun. Is there a better reason to drive?”

Subaru Forester (MSRP, $28,495; Price as driven, $29,694.00)

“Visit the Sierra Nevada or Rocky Mountains and Subaru dominates. Folks who live in the snow country need safe cars with a little more emphasis than flat-landers. I’ve never lived in a mountain city, but if I did I’d own a Subaru.”

Suzuki SX4 (MSRP, $17,949; Price as driven, $18,513.00)

“Until I drove the Suzuki Sportback, I was convinced the Honda Fit was the best economy car on the road. But match it against the re-done 2010 SX4, and it’s a tough call. The Honda gets the name recognition edge and has better gas mileage. The SX4 Sportback wins the rest of the honors.”

Volkswagen Golf (MSRP, $17,490.00; Price as driven, $19,664.00)

“The Volkswagen Golf 2-door has found itself a perfect niche. For drivers who still like to shift and drive a nimble vehicle with sports car tendencies, less than $20,000 to spend and seek good gas mileage, look no further. Buy a Golf.”

The Weekly Driver’s 2009 Cars of the Year

Acura TSX, Audi A3, BMW 335d, Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Fit, Infiniti G37, Lexus GS450h, Lexus IS350, Nissan Versa, Toyota Corolla.

The Weekly Driver’s 2008 Cars of the Year

Audi A4, Audi A8 W12, BMW 128i, Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Hybrid, Honda Fit, Kia Amanti, Mini-Cooper Clubman, Nissan Altima.

The Weekly Driver’s 2007 Cars of the Year

Cadillac CTS, Honda CR-V, Honda Fit, Honda Ridgeline, Hyundai Elantra, Lincoln MKZ, Mini-Cooper, Saab 9-3, Saturn Aura, Volkswagen EOS.

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