TheWeeklyDriver.com names Best 12 Vehicles of 2015

James Raia

For the ninth straight year, TheWeeklyDriver.com has selected its Best 12 Vehicles of the Year. Ford, Honda and Hyundai each have two vehicles on the 2015 list, which this year has expanded from the usual top-10 list to a dozen selections.

As editor and publisher of the TheWeeklyDriver.com since 2004, I fully reviewed 38 cars and trucks with 2015 model years. I also drove a half-dozen other cars briefly at manufacturer preview days.

This year’s list has expanded to a dozen vehicles for one simple reason: Manufacturers keep making better machines. For the first time since the end-of-the-year list began, our list includes a pick-up truck.

For the 2014 list, we selected a single top vehicle, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. It’s the best car we’d ever driven with a price of $25,000. Of course, the emission scandal involving the German manufacturer’s diesel cars was the biggest and most dubious car industry news of the year. Volkswagen vehicles have made our list four times, but not in 2015.

The 2015 Lexus ES350 is among TheWeeklyDriver.com's Best 12 Vehicles of 2015.
The Lexus ES350 is one TheWeeklyDriver.com’s Best 12 Vehicles of 2015. Images © James Raia/2015

The 2015 list features four vehicles from American manufacturers, including the Chrysler 200. It’s the only U.S. made vehicle on the recently announced list of 2016 vehicles receiving top markets from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Best 12 Vehicles include Lexus ES350

As in past years, TheWeeklyDriver.com waits until the end of the year to select our top vehicles. We think it’s good to have a year of perspective. Most of TheWeeklyDriver.com reviews occurred after weeklong test drives.

We only select vehicles we’ve driven, so while plenty of other great cars and trucks made other lists, we didn’t drive any exotic cars in 2015. Prices ranged this year from the Honda Civic ($25,310.00) to the Kia K-900 ($66,400.00).

Driving test vehicles in 2015 offered one particularly unique occasion. I drove a 2015 Lexus ES350 from Sacramento to Utah back. I traveled 1,867 miles in nine days while reporting on the Tour of Utah professional bicycle race. I drove through the California and Nevada deserts. In Utah, I visited a dozen cities and ventured through the Bonneville Salt Flats and into the Wasatch Mountains.

The speed limit in California along Interstate 80 east from Sacramento is 70 mph in most areas. The speed limit in Nevada in most open-road, desert-oriented areas is 75 mph. And on long stretches of open road in Utah, the speed limit is 80 mph.

Most often, I set the cruise control a few miles per hour faster than the speed limit. In Utah, for example, driving at 83-84 mph offered a smooth, quiet ride. And I was often passed by other vehicles. I also drove most of the time with the air conditioning on.

My fuel cost was $189.47. The Lexus ES350, which featured a 3.5-liter V6 with 268 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission, had an EPA rating of 21 mpg in the city and 31 mpg in freeway driving. I averaged 30.37 mpg.

The criteria for TheWeeklyDriver.com’s Best 12 Vehicles of the Year list is simple — value, safety, fuel efficiency, versatility and comfort.

Here are TheWeeklyDriver.com’s 2015 Best Vehicles of the Year. Each listing features a comment and the price of the vehicle as driven. Each vehicle is also linked to the full vehicle review. Previous years’ lists are also listed.

Buick Lacrosse, $45,955.00.

“It’s difficult to match the ever-improving Korean and Japanese full-size sedans. But 2015 Buick LaCrosse takes them on full-speed ahead and adds another respectable choice to the chocked-full segment of quality foreign and domestic automobiles.”

Chrysler 200, $31,700.00.

The 2015 Chrysler 200 is the first sedan in many years that can challenge the King — Honda Accord — for value, class, economy, etc., in the mid-priced sedan segment. It provides a strong reason to give back Chrysler its once good name.”

Ford F-150, 43,480.00.

It’s hard to appreciate why the Ford F-150 pick-up truck is the biggest-selling vehicle in the country until you drive one. Then it’s easy to understand. It’s versatile. It’s got attitude. It’s in charge.

Ford Mustang, $41,295.00.

It’s always fun to drive iconic cars. And with the ragtop down, I could have just kept driving the 2015 Ford Mustang toward to horizon for as long as it took to get there.”

Honda Accord Hybrid, $35,845.00

The Honda Accord is a standard bearer in the automotive industry. The hybrid model takes a car great and makes its better with superior gas mileage and no compromises. The real question is why it ever left the marketplace.

Honda Civic, $25,310.00.

It’s hard to find anything not at least good about any Honda model. The Civic has been a top seller for many years and for plenty of reasons. The Civic Si adds fun to the equation.

Hyundai Genesis, $55,700.00.

Plenty of car buyers still cringe or make disparaging comments at the mention of a Hyundai as a luxury car. What will the neighbors who are driving Lexus, BMW or Mercedes-Benz think? Well, those neighbors shouldn’t be so quick to condemn. The segment leaders are all well entrenched, for sure. But the Genesis, although still the underdog, deserves to show up in a lot more driveways. And, really, who cares with the neighbors say, anyway?

Hyundai Sonata, $34,460.00.

Hyundai’s accelerated reputation is nothing new in the automotive industry. The Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T just provides another great example of why the Korean carmaker is doing so well. It has a lot to offer and few, if any, faults.”

Kia K-900, 66,400.00.

With the introduction of the impressive K900, Kia should consider offering other luxury scale vehicles so it could join the manufacturers that have unique brand names for their high end lineups. That way, maybe the last remaining skeptics would finely accept the Kia K900 is a real deal luxury car.

Lexus ES350, $43,660.00.

With all taxes and destination charges included, the 2015 Lexus ES 500 priced out at $43,660. Would it be money well-spent? If a nine-day, nearly 2,000-mile experience means anything, the answer is an unqualified yes.

Subaru Outback, 36,040.00.

Once only a fringe vehicle for alpine skiers, cyclists and high-altitude enthusiasts, the refined 2015 Subaru Outlook continues the wagon’s infiltration into the mainstream. It’s a fairly priced choice for families, small business owners or anyone active who seeks comfort, dependability and versatility while driving anywhere a car can go. And with your pet if you choose.”

Toyota Camry Hybrid, $32,133.00.

It’s no secret the Toyota Camry has been a top-selling sedan for years. The Camry Hybrid, from great gas mileage to comforts, provides another superior example of the carmaker’s enduring legacy for value and reliability.”

Here’s the yearly list of TheWeeklyDriver.com’s top-10 cars since 2007:

Buick Lacrosse, Chrysler 200, Ford F150, Ford Mustang, Honda Accord Hybrid, Honda Civic, Hyundai Genesis, Hyundai Sonata, Kia K-900, Lexus ES350, Subaru Outback, Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet SS, Ford Focus, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Accord, Honda Accord Hybrid, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai Equus, Kia Cadenza, Volkswagen Jetta, TDI. Special Mention: Rolls Royce Wraith.

Acura ILX, Audi Allroad, BMW 750 Li, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai Santa Fe, Infiniti IPL, Mazda3, Volkswagen Beetle.

Acura MDX, Acura TSX, Audi A7, Honda Odyssey, Honda (Civic) Natural Gas, Hyundai Sonata, Infiniti G37 IPL, Kia Optima Hybrid, Lexus ES350, Nissan Maxima.

Acura TSX, Buick Regal, Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mazda 2, Suzuki Kizashi, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Sienna, Volvo S60.

Audi A5, Chevrolet Camaro, Fort Transit Connect, Honda Crosstour, Infiniti G37, Lexus LS 460, Mini Mayfair (Special Edition), Subaru Forester, Suzuki SX4, Volkswagen Golf.

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

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

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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Article Last Updated: December 29, 2015.

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