Each year channels round up their car of the year or 10 best. At TestDrivenTV we have the “I’d Buy It” list, cars we like so much we would buy with our own money.
Calendar year 2016 was a banner year for new cars, trucks and SUVs with so many great options out there we had a record 16 cars selected of the over 100 vehicles we tested this year. That’s the qualifier, only cars we tested for a full review are eligible for the “Id Buy It” list.
Without further adieu, here they are.
2016 Acura RDX
The very first from the brand to make it to our list, the Acura RDX Advance AWD won us over with an uncommon level of refinement, driving enjoyment and top notch quality in its class. One of the few contestants still offering a V6, it has a wonderful sound to go with its precise and well behaved six-speed automatic transmission.
From behind the wheel you enjoy one of the best interiors in the business when it comes to fit and finish, comfort and convenience as well as ergonomic design. One of the highlights is its well conceived dual screen infotainment and driver interface system.
2017 Audi Q7
Completely new for this year, the Audi Q7 arrived with a lighter yet stiffer body structure made both of aluminum and high strength steel. It has all-new techno goodies inside, a 333 horsepower supercharged V6 under its hood and the capability of the brand’s Quattro all-wheel drive system.
Knocking our socks off was the overall combination of consistent feel and quality for the money both inside and out. The leather and wood interior is an amazing place to sit while your fingertips adjust its air suspension on the go, use the MMI infotainment system, and drive flat out on or off the pavement.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro
The all-new Camaro landed on our list with none other than the mid-grade 3.6 liter V6 under the hood and a mid-level trim grade. Imagine what we would have thought about one of the available V8 engines or high performance trim grades.
Winning our love was the new chassis that’s sharper and lighter on its feet than before, not to mention than its competitors from Ford and Dodge. The new design is crisper, wrapped around a car that is so much fun to wring out on the back roads over and over.
2016 Chevrolet Colorado / GMC Canyon DuraMax Diesel
Having made it to the list in 2014, the diesel powered Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickups are once again a favorite pick. Though the Toyota Tacoma is a best seller in the class, the GM mid-size trucks simply offer more.
They are roomier, they feel better, and with the 2.8 liter DuraMax four-cylinder turbodiesel they offer the best powertrain of them all when it comes to torque and towing. And then there is the fuel economy argument. They are a joy to drive and while premium in price, will command all the resale value over their gasoline powered brethren.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica
The first minivan to ever make our list, the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is a home run crack of the bat on all fronts. The new design and chassis make for something fresh all on their own, but the every day driving experience and versatility of its interior won us over huge.
With stow and go seating that disappears into the floor with a few clicks, a new found level of build quality and good driving dynamics it now has what it takes to play against Honda and Toyota with some credibility. Power from its 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 is smile inducing and now you can get a plug-in hybrid version too.
2016 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack
Sometimes something old along with something new is a winning combination. The Dodge Charger is all of that regardless of which engine you choose from the base V6 all the way up to the 707 horsepower Hellcat V8.
We tested the still bonkers 6.4 liter R/T Scat Pack this year, loving its own combination of plain wrapper equipment levels with a near top level powerhouse V8 under its hood. The able to unleash this much anger and resentment at the drop of your right foot for about $40,000 is something everyone should have.
2016 Fiat 500C Abarth
Opposite the Dodge Charger but of the same mental state, the Fiat 500 and 500C Abarth is an angry rat unleashed with its rap crackling exhaust note and pocket rocket flair. One of the smallest cars you can buy, it’s quick fun and cute as hell.
While we would choose a manual, ours came with a reasonably well done sport shifting automatic transmission that didn’t kill the fun at all. Roll back the canvas top, find your favorite back road and turn off the radio so you can hear it snarl.
2017 Kia Sportage
All-new this year, the Kia Sportage impressed us with an ever rising level of consistent build quality, handling poise and overall good vibes. Design is contemporary inside and out, comfort exceptional and creature comforts at an entirely new level.
With the power of an optional turbocharged engine, the Sportage offers several options and comforts many in class don’t even touch. While it is heavy, it remains well poised and fun to drive around town but most important on the back road going to your favorite getaway.
2016 Lexus IS – 3rd year
The Lexus IS line has become like that bed of perennials you look forward to each spring. Making it to our list for the third year in a row, the IS 200t we tested this year impressed with its new 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder base engine. It’s not as fast as the 3.5 liter V6 in the IS350, but no disappointment for the entry point.
The IS is sharper in its styling than the Germans, just as sharp and refined on a back road and has arguably better build quality and reliability. It’s priced at a bargain by comparison to its peers too yet has an interior that is likely the best in class.
2016 Nissan Titan XD Cummins – 2nd year
Making it to our list for the second year in a row, Nissan clearly has a winner in their Cummins diesel powered super half-ton Titan XD. With 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque, the V8 diesel brings something entirely fresh to the full-size pickup market.
This year additional cabs and configurations are available in the Titan XD which has gotten off to an arguably slow sales start. We like it however for its well thought out interior, quality build construction, tight handling, and the gobs of torque that diesel offers.
2016 Range Rover Sport TD6
When it comes to luxury brands, comparing apples to apples against competitors becomes less a factor than simply, “wow I love it”. That’s the case with the near $100,000 Range Rover Sport TD6 we tested this year with its dual personality of silk purse luxury and turbodiesel grunt.
With rich slabs of leather and genuine wood inside, a myriad of techno goodies like a fully adjustable air suspension it was simply a pleasure to sink your toes into. And sinking your right toes into its generous and smooth turbo diesel torque was seductive to say the list. We like it enough to buy, obviously.
2017 Subaru Outback Limited 2.5
The first ever Subaru to make it to our list, the Outback wagon is almost a modern day cult classic. It sells well, but to a very narrow audience of highly loyal owners and enthusiasts. While it’s far from exciting, its combination of rugged back back usefulness and solid quality are hard to argue with.
Even our base engine tester won our hearts, particularly on the back roads where it goes just about anywhere like a mountain goat. With all the room you could want for your gear like and SUV would offer, the Outback rewards your choice with a far more car like level of handling, maneuverability, and fuel economy.
2017 Toyota Land Cruiser
Speaking of going anywhere, the Toyota Land Cruiser is what many people call too old, too expensive, and too nice to take off road. No, no, and no. We mean yes, but no. It’s the fact that it’s old school, truck like and rare that makes it so alluring.
The Land Cruiser remains the last vestige of true off-road capability and ruggedness you can buy at any price in the luxury utility world. For 2017 it got updates that make the interior nicer and more modern to help you swallow its $85,000 price tag. It is indeed expensive, but where else are you going to go?
2016 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line Convertible
Likely in its last years of production, the current generation Volkswagen Beetle is a car that stirs love in our hearts every time we get behind the wheel. It’s funky vibe and styling puts a smile on your face at first sight and luckily its chassis and powertrain keep you happy.
Our R-Line tester came with a more powerful 2.0 liter turbocharged engine, but even the base 1.8 turbo offers plenty of fun. Bottom line, with the Beetle you get old school style and character with the comfort, driving prowess and safety of the new school.
2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
2016 Volkswagen Golf SEL – 2nd year
The Volkswagen Golf family makes it to our list for the second year in a row, now joined this fall by the new off-road oriented Alltrack version of the Golf SportWagen. It adds a new dimension to the many choices of Golf, and an added dose of back country capability with its 4Motion all-wheel drive.
All Volkswagen Golf models however offer up the same recipe of German driving enjoyment that you get with their sharp handling, comfortable supportive chairs, and a high level of refinement. An all-new MIB II infotainment system is available this year too that’s far and above better than the one it replaces.
Only one powertrain is available now however, a 170 horsepower 1.8 liter turbocharged engine unless you get the GTI or Golf R. Depending on the Golf you buy, you can get a six-speed manual, six-speed automatic, or a six-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission. The TDI “Clean Diesel” is long gone and isn’t coming back.
The fact we ended up with so many vehicles on our list this year is a telling sign that the quality of vehicles available in all classes from cars to crossovers, SUVs to trucks, is better than it has ever been. Now, if we only had the money to buy each and every one of them.