Welcome to Motoring Monday for December 29th, 2014. I’m Sam Haymart for TestDrivenTV.
Each year many media outlets have their end of year honors. Car and Driver has their 10 Best, Motor Trend, Car of the Year. Well here at TestDrivenTV, we have ours too.
When a car presses all my buttons, it makes it to the “I’d Buy It” list. And today, we’re gonna tell you all about them and a very special announcement.
When I say I’d Buy It, it means that the car really impressed me with some combination of its style, its fun to drive experience, quality of course, perhaps its performance and value for the money.
And you might be surprised that not all cars on my list this year are expensive. No there is a little bit of everything.
The very first car to make it on our list was the Kia Soul. A Kia? Yeah I was smitten with its eye opening combination of excellent build quality, cheeky style and a laundry list of features for its price.
Add in the fact that it actually has an impressive driving experience well improved from Kia vehicles of just a few years ago and I was impressed enough that I genuinely would buy one if I were shopping in its class.
The next car to win my love this year actually landed on the I’d Buy It list three separate times. The Lexus IS line as we will call them included the IS250 base sedan, the IS350 and the high-performance IS350 FSport.
While I often tend to prefer the top engined models in any vehicle, even the entry-level IS250 was a pleasant performer and offered all the same goodness you expect to pay more for. Thus it was first to make it to the list
In the next months, I tested the IS350 and IS350 FSport with all-wheel drive which were even more of a good thing. In the end, I’d be happy with any one of the three as Lexus is truly on their A-Game here.
Audi entered the fray a few times this year, but they started off with their mid-size A6 sedan with the torquey and smooth 3.0 liter V6 TDI Clean Diesel engine.
A rich interior with warm brown hides, exposed grain woods and one of the best infotainment systems known to man really got my heart. And 30+ mpg along with 428 lb-ft. of torque iced the cake. It’s expensive yes, but well worth its price.
This year Volvo returned to our market with their V60 sport wagon, which in and of itself was a welcome buggy. But this year they also added a line of new Drive-E powertrains that really take up it up a notch.
Our V60 T5 had an all-new 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that was just enough to make it fun without turning it into a torque steering terror. Its combination of style, performance and handling really got my attention – not to mention its utility.
Now just when you thought I might be getting snobby with my list of high-end luxury brands for my virtual garage, relax. The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport was the next to get the nod.
Our tester and the one I choose is the 2.0 liter turbocharged model with all-wheel drive as the powertrain is an absolute joy to drive. It has just enough power to be fun along with good fuel economy.
A better than expected all-wheel drive system, as well as surprising interior fit and finish won high praise for Hyundai here. Like Kia, they have really moved their quality and dynamics ball forward.
I am an admitted Volkswagen aficionado and I more than disclose this in my drive reviews. But it doesn’t mean every one of their cars I test would make me sign on the dotted line. This one however, I liked enough to do just that.
The new generation Beetle drives better than the one it replaces, is more refined and has more room. The TDI clean diesel offers more performance and drivability than before, with fuel economy making it worth every penny.
Killing me softly with its song, the Mazda MX-5 melted my soul with the sweet revving sound of its engine and its top down driving enjoyment. The last of the current generation MX-5 is still as sublime and worth the buy as it was when it first arrived.
It has quality inside and out, a suspension and steering worth writing you mother about, and it still costs less than most well equipped family sedans that would put you to sleep. Better get this one fast if you like it, an all-new one comes next year.
Audi slipped me a Mickey this year when they sent another one of their tight as a drum, buttoned down sedans to my office, the A3 2.0T Quattro.
The second Auto Union product to make the list did so because it brings all the goodness of the brands more expensive high-end sedans down to their smallest car. This is something not many Germans can say.
Here we have compact, but not cheap seats. It has a competent chassis that loves to please, brilliant style, and a powertrain worthy of praise. Best of all it offers another thing Germans don’t always, value.
Since you are likely convinced I am a luxury-car snob again, the Dodge Challenger R/T won me over with what was actually very German car driving poise but with the rap-smackin goodness of a good’ol American V8
I love it. For 2015 it has quality inside with an all-new interior, updated engine and transmission combinations from mild to hellishly wild. It would make my daily drive all that and a bag of chips. I’d totally buy one even though I cut my teeth behind the wheel of Ford Mustangs.
And since I brought up Ford, they finally handed me the keys to one this year with the feisty and playful Fiesta ST. With almost 200 horsepower, a snickety six-speed and some Recaro seats, this thing pressed all my fun buttons.
On my test I took it barnstorming on Route 66 for a weekend which showed all of its good traits including the fact it’s cheap on the wallet for a long trip. This is really the fastest and most fun way to spend under $25,000 I know.
While I do enjoy a sinful little rocket, my practical side still can’t resist a Volkswagen TDI. And with all the improvements they made to the 2015 Jetta this year, it landed next on the I’d Buy It list.
While the Jetta didn’t yet move to Volkswagen’s all-new MQB platform with the Golf family, it received needed interior improvements to make it stop feeling so cheap and austere.
Additionally it got an all-new 2.0 liter TDI Clean Diesel engine which has more power and gets better fuel-efficiency than before, not to mention being more refined. It’s the non-hybrid way to 45+ mpg.
Audi made a three-peat this year just like Lexus. Enter their new for America compact sport-utility, the 2015 Q3. In the hot new segment now becoming crowded with luxury brands, the Q3 holds its own with trademark Audi goodness inside and out.
It handles like a German sedan on the highway, can take you off the pavement without beating you to death and get you there in time for a colorful sunset. It costs a little more because its an Audi, but you get the same brand experience for that dough you’d get in a Q7 or A8. Not bad.
And to prove once and for all I am not a luxury-car snob, the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado made the I’d Buy It list with flying colors. The new mid-sized pickup from Chevrolet offers up all the toughness and comfort of a full-size Silverado in a more manageable size.
It handles tight, has more modern powertrains, and a nicer interior than Nissan and Toyota currently offer in their mid-size trucks. Our Z71 tester was priced up well, but you can step into a new Colorado for a lot less than a comparable full size truck. Good job Chevrolet.
There you have it, the TestDrivenTV I’d Buy It list for 2014. I liked ’em that much.
Now that we have taken you through our list, I am proud to share that starting today you can buy the new book Cars I’d Buy, which chronicles all of the vehicles we just talked about plus my 2015 Watch List.
The book has expanded reports, photos and specs for each of these and is now available in glossy cover print on Amazon and down-loadable right now on Amazon Kindle. Go to CarsIdBuy.com to get more information and learn how to buy yours right now. That’s CarsIdBuy.com
And all through January you can win a FREE signed copy of the new book by liking our Cars Id Buy Facebook Page at Facebook.com/CarsIdBuy. That’s Facebook.com/CarsIdBuy. Like it now, it’s that easy.
You can also get these links I mentioned in the comments below.
Well that is it for Motoring Monday this week. We had an awesome 2014 and its all because of you and your viewership. I thank you from the bottom of my heart because I love my job and because of you I get to do it.
So let me keep you up on all our new stuff coming in 2015. Click the link to subscribe to our YouTube Channel where I’ll let you know about our latest test drives, auto news and Motoring Monday episodes.
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I’m Sam Haymart for TestDrivenTV, I hope you enjoyed the ride.