November 13, 2012
Best Dirt Devil, Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
The Rover may rule Mars, but the Raptor reigns on Earth. The 2013 model features beadlock-capable wheels that allow for greater traction, a front-facing camera to help conquer steep terrain, and improved brakes tuned for a controlled ride in various extreme environments. If you’re stuck on the road, hurling down the high-way in one of the Raptor’s standout color schemes—we went for Race Red—is enough to make you feel like a badass. And when you’re riding high, you may feel the urge to drive right over your on-road compatriots when traffic hits. Resist this urge.
Engine: 6.2-liter V-8
0–60: 6.2 seconds
Top Speed: 100 mph
Best ’80s Throwback: Chevy Camaro SS 1LE
Crank up the Poison! Chevy has resurrected the Reagan-era 1LE label and slapped it on the newest incarnation of its iconic Camaro. This nicely priced bad boy (take one home for less than $40K) boasts upgrades like fat 285/35ZR-20 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar G tires and an electric power-steering system to help control its 426 horses. As for driving around town, the dual-mode exhaust system ensures that anyone who doesn’t notice its dramatic styling and matte black hood will hear its uncivilized roar.
Best Child Mover: Ford Escape Titanium 4WD
You can’t swing a stick these days without hitting a compact SUV (go try—we’ll wait), so kudos to Ford for producing one that made the many people we zoomed by stop and stare. For 2013, America’s most popular SUV gets the best curve-enhancing plastic surgery since Pam Anderson. Toss in a zippy turbo and the newest MyFord Touch interior communication and entertainment system and you may consider having a kid just to throw in it.
Best Japanese-American: Nissan Rogue
Built in the U.S.A., the revamped Rogue is powered by a lightweight 170-horsepower 2.5-liter engine that’ll go 400 miles on a tank. (Goodbye, AmEx points!) It’s also an ideal car for city dwellers thanks to an around-view monitor. The only vehicle in its class to offer this innovation, its four wide-angle cameras mounted on the front, back, and side mirrors keep you aware of your every corner, obliterating the frustration that comes with parallel parking.
Best Anti-German Artillery: Lexus GS 350 F Sport
Japan’s latest Bimmer killer isn’t only aggressive on the outside: Behind its menacing snout is a free-revving 306-horsepower V-6 that had us getting off highways just so we could get back on. Beyond styling cues, the F Sport designation provides a stiffer suspension, electronically controlled shocks, and wider wheels. And as we were twisting around turns, the 12.3-inch Enform navigation and info system let us check our Facebook page. Like!
Best Budget Bentley: Chrysler 300 SRT8
Wanna roll like a rapper but don’t have quite enough cheddar (like, more than $200,000 worth) for a Bentley Flying Spur? Then get behind the wheel of this luxurious hemi-powered stud. To understand what this handsome sedan is all about, step on the gas and let the giant 6.4-liter V-8’s 470 horses introduce themselves. Before you know it, you’ll be making up raps about your love for this machine as you barrel down the highway (or maybe that’s just us).
Best Geekmobile: Cadillac XTS
Luxury-loving nerds, rejoice! This plenty-quick (0–60 in less than seven seconds) stud debuts the Cadillac User Experience (CUE), an eight-inch screen with touch control (think iPad pinching and swiping), voice recognition, 3D GPS navigation, Pandora, and more. The Caddy also has a safety system that vibrates the driver’s seat on whatever side the potential threat is coming from, which kind of felt like we had Peter Parker’s spider sense built into our ass. Tingly!
Best Hair Dryer Replacement: McLaren 12C Spider
The convertible version of the MP4-12C is 3 mph slower than its hardtop sibling, bringing its top speed down to a mere 204. We say that’s a small sacrifice to make for being able to cruise around in the hottest thing to come out of Britain since Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Made from fiberglass-reinforced plastic, the Spider’s hardtop slides down easier than your prom date’s dress. (Just kidding; we know you didn’t get any.) And if you don’t know how to drive a stick, you’ve got nothing to worry about: The Spider will not be offered with a manual transmission. Tallyho!
Engine: Twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8
0–60: 3.2 seconds
Top Speed: 204 mph