Motormouth Top Ten for 2013
Date Posted: December 14, 2013
By Zack Spencer
Here is a list of the top ten vehicles we drove over the last year. Some are available now and a few are arriving at dealerships within the next few months.
In alphabetical order.
2014 Acura MDX
The MDX has always been the leader in the premium mid-sized SUV class due to the value it offers and interior features. For 2014 Acura has taken what they did well and expanded to make it a solid contender for anyone's money.
The doors are bigger in the back and the rear seat room is vastly improved due to a longer wheelbase. This, along with a classy looking front seat and improved front dashboard makes this a comfortable vehicle over all three rows.
The engine is a new direct injection 3.5L V6 with 20 less hp than the last model, at 290hp but torque is improved and fuel economy too. This is a smoother and more refined MDX but thanks to an adaptive suspension, the driver can choose from sporty to soft depending on the mood.
Priced from $49,990-$65,990, there is a model for most premium budgets.
2014 GMC Sierra
General Motors took far too long to update their full size pickup trucks but for many the wait was worth it.
The highlight of this new truck is the wonderful interior, now fitted with fantastic connectivity for smartphones and other electronics. There are plugs and USB connection all over the cabin. On the road the interior is church-quiet and the ride very, very smooth to the point that this big truck is as comfortable as a sedan.
Exterior styling isn't as transformative as the inside and we chose the GMC over the Chevrolet Silverado because it has a bigger upgrade to the front grill, the Silverado gets lost in the crowd.
Powering the Sierra is three new engine and all have direct injection. The base engine is a 4.3L V6, then the 5.3L V8 will be the most popular and then there is the 6.2L V8 for added towing and payload capability. The V8 engines have extended the ability to run on just 4-cylinders for longer providing best in class towing capability.
2014 Infiniti Q50
The Q50 is the successor to the G37 sedan and it is a fantastic option for anyone looking at a compact luxury car.
Powering the base model is a 3.7L V6 engine with a powerful 328hp engine. Compared to many of the European competition that are turning towards smaller turbocharged engines, this Q50 is a treat to drive. The addition of a steer-by-wire system produces an exceptional driving dynamic that is hard to beat.
The interior is plus and a vast improvement over the last G37 sedan. One problem is the rather slow and laggy computer interface system.
The Q50 is a value leader too, starting at just $37,500 and running up to $47,450 for an AWD model with plenty of toys.
2014 Jeep Cherokee
The new Cherokee is a big surprise! The on-road dynamics are better then all other compact SUVs and it is still capable of some serious off-roading if properly equipped.
Built off the same platform as the Dodge Dart, this small SUV is very smooth and quiet, plus is planted in the corners and it feels much more sophisticated than many of its competitors. The interior features a plush looking and feeling interior with an available 8.4-inch touch screen for easy connectivity.
The big news is this is the very first vehicle to be equipped with a 9-speed automatic. The truth is that the driver can hardly tell there are so many gears. It helps to produce good fuel economy and a pleasant drive. The base engine is a 2.4L 4-cylinder but the new 3.2L V6 is available for just $1300 more.
Starting at $23,495 and running up to $$32,195, this is the least expensive small SUV on the market and will be a big hit for Jeep.
The Mazda3 has always been a leader in terms of handling and interior fit and finish but this new 2014 model takes it to a whole new level.
Mazda has made a huge investment in their Skyactiv technology that produces a lighter and simpler car fitted with the latest direct injection technology to produce a thriftier drive and more dynamic handling vehicle. This, in combination with an interior that looks like it belong in a much more expensive car is a true sight to behold. There is even a heads-up display on the dash, a center computer controller and beautiful fit and finish.
Two motors are available including a 2.0L 4-cylinder with 155hp of the 2.5L in the GT trim with 184hp. Unfortunately the bigger engine is only available with an automatic transmission, the smaller engine is wonderful with a manual if that is your thing.
Starting at $15,995 and running up to $29,895, the Mazda3 can get expensive but it does feel like a car costing much more.
The latest Mazda6 was the second vehicle to be fitted with the full suit of Mazda's Skyactiv technology for improved handling and fuel efficiency. The standard engine is a 184hp direct injection 2.5L 4-cylinder that is available with an automatic or fun to drive 6-speed manual.
The body and chassis is lighter and this really helps this comfortable car to dance in the corners.
The interior is covered in soft touch materials and looks like a more expensive sedan, really like a BMW.
When the Mazda6 was launched in the spring of 2013 there was a proclamation that their diesel engine would be available by the fall of 2014 but this has not happened. It is taking a bit longer to meet the tough emission standard here in North America but Mazda tells us it is still coming. That will be a car to look forward to.
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250
Mercedes has turned a lot of heads with the introduction of this stylish new car. Not just for the way it looks but also the amazing $33,900 starting price. In addition, the optional packages, like the $2800 premium pack and the $1600 sports appearance package are also very affordable.
Powered by a potent 2.0L direct injection and turbocharged 4-cylinder produces 208hp and a very usable torque curve for everyday driving. The much more powerful AMG 45 version is fitted with a 355hp version of this engine but the power is at the high end of the rev range and the suspension is very choppy.
The CLA 250 is a better everyday car and beauty too. The back seat is tight and headroom is at a premium but for a young couple or single person this car is hard to beat for value and performance.
2014 RAM EcoDiesel
Ram has done a wonderful job of updating their truck for the 2013 model year with new exterior changes and a class-leading interior. That all continues for 2014 but the big change is the addition of a 3.0L turbocharged diesel V6 with 420 lb.-ft. of torque for a 9200 lbs. towing capacity. The real reason for the introduction of this engine is to provide the best in class fuel economy for the buyer that uses their truck every day and tows occasionally.
The engine is matched to a standard 8-speed automatic that provides just the right combination of gears to get the most out of this new engine. The price has not been finalized but expect to pay a $4500 premium to get this wonderful new diesel engine.
The Ram EcoDiesel will start to arrive in dealerships in January of 2014.
2014 Subaru Forester
Subaru is on tear these days, selling record amounts of their product each and every month. A big part of the success is this new Forester.
The exterior looks like the older model but it has only 5% of the parts from the older model carried over. It is the small changes that make this a great choice in the compact SUV class. The doors are big, the windows have been enlarged, and there is even an available power lift gate and backup camera on most models.
The base engine is a 170hp 2.5L 4-cylinder with either a 6-cpeed manuals or new continually variable transmission (CVT). The more powerful turbo model uses a 2.0L direct injection engine with a potent 250hp and a more aggressive CVT for impressive acceleration and passing power. The driver can hardly tell that there is a CVT at work, it is that good.
All Foresters come with AWD for added traction but now all automatic equipped models get an X-Mode for added low speed traction.
Starting at $32,495 and going up $37,995, there is a Forester for all tastes and budgets.
2014 VW Golf
The all-new 7th generation VW Golf will be arriving in the spring of 2014 as a regular model or the high performance GTI trim.
This new version is bigger than the last model but is over 60kg lighter, plus it is stiffer and safer than the last car. Powering this car is an all-new turbo 170hp 1.8L 4-cylinder or a 2.0L diesel engine. In the GTI trim it gets the new 2.0L turbo engine for 225hp.
Having had a chance to drive both of these new models in Europe this year we can report that the interior is class above and the ride is like a premium car. The handling is perfect, plus the steering and brake are very reassuring.
No pricing has been announced but expect this next Golf to have more features and even a price thanks to the production shifting to VW's Mexico plant.