The Maxim RPM Awards
Gentlemen, start your drooling!
We exploded out of tollbooths, zipped across interstates, sped around racetracks, and cut off several pissed-off New York City cabbies to determine the fastest, sleekest, most jaw-droppingly awesome cars of the year. Gentlemen, start your drooling!
The Best Reason the U.S.A. Rules: SRT Viper GTS
The sickest Dodge in history is no longer a Dodge. Taking its name from Chrysler’s Street & Racing Technology division, the fifth-generation Viper boasts a hand-assembled 8.4-liter V-10 engine that combines big-time power with maximum efficiency. Engineers reworked the structure of the car using composite materials, resulting in a Viper that has shaved off more than 100 pounds from previous models. (Too bad those engineers can’t work on you, huh, tubby?) With its sinfully sexy exterior and a meticulously designed interior that looks like what would happen if an F-14 cockpit and a hip hotel lobby had a baby, this is one hell of a serpent.
Price: $95,000 (est.)
Engine: 8.4-liter V-10
0–60: 3.5 sec. (est.)
Top Speed: 206 mph (est.)
Best Bargain Porsche: 2013 Porsche Boxster S
Bargains being relative things, you could justify the $60,900 2013 Porsche Boxster S as one if you compare it to its $110,000 sibling, the 911 Carrera S. The Boxster’s top speed is only 14 mph shy of the 911’s, and both handle like answered prayers. Though nobody was complaining about the previous Boxster—in fact it’s been a bestseller since it was introduced in late 1996—Porsche continues to tinker with it. This latest iteration is the lightest and fastest yet, and it actually performs better than the 2012, which is a real accomplishment. Achtung baby, indeed.
Engine: 2.7-liter six-cylinder
0–60: 4.8 seconds
Top Speed: 162 mph
Best Guilt-Free Pimp Ride: Tesla Model S
It’ll be a breeze picking up speed-loving vegan girls in this Cali-made all-electric five-door hatchback. None of the 416 horses under the hood were harmed, though the pavement might be as you zip from 0–60 in 4.4 seconds.
Best HybridThat Doesn’t Look Like One: Honda CR-Z Hybrid
Give Honda credit for not styling its new CR-Z hybrid so it whispers, “Environmentalist on board.” At 122 horsepower, it’s not going to set the streets afire, but it’s quick enough and gets an incredible 39 mpg on the highway.
Best Girlfriend Mover: Mercedes-Benz SL550
Let’s say you really messed up—like, hooked-up-with-your-girlfriend’s-sister-on-your-anniversary messed up—and you want to make things right. Stick this thing in her driveway with a bow on top and watch the reconciliation begin. Super powerful (thanks to a 429-horsepower twin-turbo V-8) but extremely smooth, wildly sexy but totally dignified, the sixth-generation SL left us with our jaws on its tastefully appointed carpet.
Best German-Made Go-cart: Mini Cooper S Roadster
Betting that no human has ever actually attempted to sit in the tiny rear seats of its convertible, Mini eliminated them in its S Roadster in favor of a narrow package shelf and used the space to create a more streamlined vehicle. Handling is tight and responsive, and with the S package’s turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder, it takes some effort to keep this go-cart under 80 mph. Is the Mini Roadster practical? Probably not. Is it fun? Absolutely.
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
Best Dignified Monster: Bentley Continental GT Speed
Just when you thought you’d had enough of the Brits with their Olympic Games and royal penises, the fastest Bentley ever (it tops out at 205 mph) rolls along. While retaining its high-end hallmarks—we’re pretty sure the seats are made from the same leather as Jesus’ baseball glove—the luxury brand goes all out with a 6.0-liter W-12 engine that delivers a 12 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over other Continentals, with no compromise in performance.
Best Car to Buy When You Win the Lottery (Twice): Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
Twelve cylinders and close to 750 horsepower on an aluminum-alloy frame. Racecar handling. Zero to 60 in a blazing three seconds. A body and cockpit sexier than Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest girlfriend. Sure, you could buy a nice five-bedroom with the F12 Berlinetta’s estimated $330K sticker price, but unless a couple of Leonardo’s other girlfriends are waiting for you in one of those bedrooms, the Ferrari is going to be a lot more fun.
Best Ferraris For Under $30K: Subaru BRZ / Scion FR-S
The love children of a joint venture between Subaru and Toyota, the BRZ and FR-S are virtually identical rear-drive sports cars that stick to the road like a wad of Juicy Fruit on a hot day. That’s due mostly to a very low center of gravity and a svelte curb weight of just over 2,700 pounds. Both cars are powered by Subaru’s 2.0-liter Boxer engine equipped with Toyota’s direct-injection system. At 200 horsepower, the G forces won’t push you back into your seat, but the real fun comes when tossing ’em around on twisty roads while cranking through the tight six-speed gearbox. But even on a 1,200-mile highway road trip, we never found ourselves wishing for more horses. You’re not going to find a sports car in this price bracket that offers more smiles per mile.
Engine: 2.0-liter four- cylinder (both)
0–60: 6.4 seconds; 6.2 seconds
Top Speed: 139 mph; 137 mph
Best Italian Car Disguised as a U.S. Family Compact: Dodge Dart Rallye
We can’t remember the last time someone pulled up beside us and said, “Great-looking car!” when we were in an American compact. It happened twice while we were testing the new Dart Rallye. The little Dodge’s platform is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, and that Italian heritage shows. Powered by a frisky 1.4-liter turbo, its ride is nimble and smooth. This is a four-door compact you won’t feel like a dork driving.
Best Image Makeover: Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Apologies to Jay Leno, but it’s time for hack comics to stop making jokes at Hyundai’s expense. The 2013 Genesis is well-built, budget-friendly, and a pleasure to behold all around, with LED taillights and a newly designed front end on the outside and Bluetooth hands-free calling, USB, and iPod connectivity sprucing up the cabin. A five-second 0–60 and a nearly 150 mph top speed — all for under $30K — confirm that this car ain’t no punch line.
Want more rides? Check out April Rose Gets Under The Hood and T.I.’s Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van.