It’s that time again where we choose our favorite cars we’ve driven in 2017. It’s been another hugely fun year driving all sorts of different cars. But which have been our favorites?……..Not necessarily the fastest or the coolest looking made the list. The ones that stood out for doing something better than most of their competition were the ones we chose. There were a few surprises, who would have thought a full size SUV would have made the list, but it did. Here in no particular order, except for the overall winner are our top ten favorite cars of 2017.
2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT – Best Performance SUV
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the the second-most popular midsize SUV in the United States and for good reason, it drives well both on and off road and has a broad appeal. The SRT trades the standard SUV’s off-road focused chassis setup for a lowered and stiffened sport suspension. Jeep also re-calibrated the 6.4-liter Hemi’s engine management software, giving a small bump in power to 475 hp and 470 pound-feet of torque. Wearing 285/45 Pirelli P-Zeros we launched it to 60 in 4.6 seconds. It’s not the fastest SUV on the planet but it makes up for this by being a grin inducing drive.
|ENGINE TYPE:||6.2 liter pushrod 16-valve V-8|
|POWER:||475 hp @ 6000 rpm|
|TORQUE:||470 lb-ft @ 4300 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION:||8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode|
|ZERO to 60 mph:||4.6 sec|
|EPA combined/city/highway||15/13/19 mpg|
2017 Golf GTI SE – Most Fun All-Rounder
Under the hood is the well used and tested 2.0 T DOHC 16-valve inline-4 with direct fuel injection. It puts out a respectable 210 hp @ 4700 rpm and 258 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm. Mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters the DSG works pretty well around town, there is some throttle tip in on take off, and we found it was better to set off on a partial throttle then mash it once underway, otherwise some mild lag is evident. The engine sounds good too, particularly on full throttle up-shifts. Strapping put test gear on we launched it, with some careful use of the right foot, from standstill to 60 in 6 seconds dead, 0.2 seconds slower than the PP model which has an additional 10 hp.
|VEHICLE TYPE||Front-engine, FWD, 5 door hatchback|
|ENGINE||2.0L Turbocharged I-4, DOHC, 4 valves|
|POWER||210 hp @ 4,500 rpm|
|TORQUE||258 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed twin-clutch auto|
|QUARTER MILE||14.8 sec @ 97 mph|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||25/33/28 mpg|
2018 VW ATLAS V6 SEL R-Line – Best Full Size SUV
The 2018 VW Atlas is the largest vehicle that VW has ever built in America, it’s big and blocky and most importantly has a 3rd row of seats, which actual humans will fit into.
Two engines are available for the Atlas. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 235-hp and 258-lb-ft, our tester had the optional 3.6-liter V6 engine which makes 276 hp at 6,200 rpm and 266 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,750 rpm. An 8-speed automatic transmission powers the front or all four wheels, you can order 4-Motion but I think the extra weight would blunt performance somewhat considering the V6 has to lug around 4,800 lb. We strapped on our test gear and with traction control off, and some wheel-spin, we got to sixty in 7.9 seconds.
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.6L DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|POWER||276-hp @ 6,200 rpm|
|TORQUE||266-lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm|
|0-60 MPH||7.9 sec|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMBINED||18/25/20 mpg|
2017 Audi S3 – Best Compact Sports Sedan
Rewind back 39 years to 1978 and you could buy a Porsche 911 Turbo (0-60 in 4.9 seconds) for $34,150 or equivalent of $122,350 in today’s money. Fast forward to today and you can buy a sub compact 4 door with a base price of $43,500 that is faster than the Porsche……….
The S3 has 4 Drive Select modes to choose from, Dynamic, Auto, Individual and Comfort. We kept it in Dynamic for most of the time with an occasional foray into Comfort. We found Dynamic to be perfect except for really uneven pavement. Performance is sensational in Audi’s little sedan with 0-60 coming up in 4.65 seconds using Launch Control, a tad faster than the 2015 model we tested.
|VEHICLE TYPE:||Front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE TYPE:||2.0 L turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4|
|POWER:||292 hp @ 6500 rpm|
|TORQUE:||280 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION:||6-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode|
|ZERO to 60 mph:||4.65 sec|
|STANDING ¼-mile:||13.1 sec|
|EPA City/Hwy/Combined||21/28/24 mpg|
2017 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler – Best Offroader
The 2017 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler has the usual off-roading components together with classic styling. Based on the Sport base model the Willys Wheeler edition comes standard with a Command-Trac 4×4 System, a 3.73 Trac-Lok rear differential, off-road rock rails, BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A, Performance suspension, a premium Alpine sound system and best of all a 6 speed manual transmission. It’s simply spectacular offroad.
The Wrangler is equipped with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that delivers 285 hp at 6,500 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. The six-cylinder drives the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission, which is standard. With our test equipment strapped on we ran 0-60 in 7.8 seconds, traction control off in 2WD mode. Not too bad.
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, 4WD, 4-pass, 2-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.6L DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|0-60 MPH||7.8 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.9 sec @ 82 mph|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||17/18/21 mpg|
2017 Audi A4 allroad quattro – Best Wagon
Like previous A4 allroad models, our tester came equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel-drive system. That engine is virtually identical to the one in the 2017 A4 sedan, making 252 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque.That’s up on the outgoing model which had 220 hp and 258lb-ft. which helps as it weighs roughly 150 pounds more than an all-wheel-drive A4 sedan. With our test gear attached we launched it to 60 mph in 5.57 seconds and the all important 50-70 mph took only 2.98 seconds. Consider that an Audi Q5, which has pretty similar interior space takes almost a second longer to hit sixty.
|VEHICLE TYPE:||Front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatch/strong>|
|ENGINE TYPE:||2.0 liter turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4|
|POWER:||252 hp @ 6000 rpm|
|TORQUE:||273 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION:||7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode|
|ZERO to 60 mph:||5.57 secs|
|30-50 MPH||5.11 secs|
|EPA City/Highway/Combined:||23/30 mpg|
2017 Cadillac CT6 – Best Full Size Luxury
Cadillac offers 3 engine choices, all with 8-speed automatic transmissions. The base turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 makes 265 horsepower and comes with rear-wheel drive next up is a 3.6-liter V-6 with 335 hp, and finally a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that produces 404 hp @ 5,700 rpm and 400 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm, both with all-wheel drive. Our tester was a twin turbo Platinum model with a Stellar Black Metallic exterior and a whole load of goodies inside. Cadillac’s twin turbo V6 is a masterpiece, it’s one of the most linear turbocharged engines I have ever driven, however, unlike in the ATS-V, which has 465 hp, the CT6 weighs 400 lbs more and has a 60 hp deficit.
Strapping on our test gear we launched from 0-60 in a very respectable 4.7 seconds and to 100mph in under 12 seconds.
|VEHICLE TYPE:||Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE:||Twin-turbocharged and intercooled 3.0-liter V-6|
|POWER||404 hp @ 5,700 rpm|
|TORQUE||400 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION:||8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode|
|Zero to 60 mph:||4.7 sec|
|Zero to 100 mph:||11.8 sec|
|Braking, 70-0 mph:||157 ft|
|EPA combined/city/highway:||21/18/26 mpg|
2017 Fiat Abarth Spider – Best Small Sports Car
After getting a taste of the Lusso version last year and naming it our favorite car of 2016 we finally got a chance to savor the Abarth version. The 124 Spider Abarth gets a small bump in power over the lesser models putting out 164 hp @ 5500 rpm and 184 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm. The Fiat 124 Spider gets pretty stiff suspension in Classico and Lusso flavors but the Abarth’s tuning is the most aggressive among them. The Abarth adds Bilstein dampers, bigger wheels 17 inch wheels with grippier tires, a throatier exhaust system,with quad exhaust, Brembo brakes and Recaro sport seats…..It’s nothing short of a grin fest at any speed.
We strapped on the test gear and recorded a 0-60 time of 6.5 secs, not super fast, a Golf GTI will out accelerate it, but this is not what the Fiat 124 Abarth is all about. Take it up to the mountains and seek out some twisty roads because this is where this car comes alive.
|Vehicle Type:||Front-engine, rwd, 2-passenger, 2-door convertible|
|Engine:||Turbocharged and intercooled SOHC 16-valve inline-4|
|Power:||164 hp @ 5500 rpm|
|Torque:||184 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm|
|Zero to 60 mph:||6.5 sec|
|Top speed:||130 mph|
|EPA city/highway driving:||25/29/36 mpg|
2017 Cadillac ATS-V Manual – Best Overall
The twin turbo V6 is a masterpiece, it pumps out 464-hp and 445 lb-ft at a heady 3,500 rpm, which seems high but isn’t because it creates one of the most linear turbocharged engines I have ever driven. So instead of a huge rush of torque low down, this engine behaves like a large normally aspirated V8. It’s tremendous and it loves to rev. Mated to a six speed transmission our ATS-V coupe hit hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds after a few attempts.
What makes this car great?
Firstly the steering, it’s stand out good, has real feel and turn in is instantaneous…. point it in the direction you want to go and it goes…telepathic. Secondly the tremendous aluminum Brembo brakes, as well as the excellent Magnetic Ride Control, and of course the best tires, Michelin Pilot Super Sports. All this adds up to tenacious grip in the dry, incredible cornering and even under full bore launches it’s almost impossible to un-stick the tires.
They say full fat milk is actually better for you and that is precisely what Cadillac gives you in the ATS-V. If you are lactose intolerant, then buy a Prius….and that’s why it’s our winner for 2017.
|VEHICLE TYPE:||Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE TYPE:||3.6 liter twin-turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|POWER:||464 hp @ 5,850 rpm|
|TORQUE:||445 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm|
|Zero to 60 mph:||4.4 sec (3.9 sec automatic)
|EPA city/highway/combined:||16/23/19 mpg|