Did This Car Deserve to Win ‘Best Car of the Decade’?

Typically, consumers get various top 10 lists or other such lists each year that compare the best of the best in cars, trucks, and SUVs. There are so many of them that they sometimes blur together, and when they don’t, it’s because what makes them stand out is a noticeable difference of opinion.

There are even lists for cars with the most speeding tickets and the best trucks for tailgating. There’s a list for everything. So when AutoTrader made a list featuring the “15 Best Cars” of the decade to end the 2010s, of course, consumers were itching to find out what made the list.

Here’s what made the best cars of the decade list

The list looked at the cars from 2010-2019 that had the most impact over that time period. Each vehicle on the list stood out in several different ways, from pushing boundaries with electric powertrains, ultramodern designs, and over-the-top performance to keeping it on the simpler side and sticking to the basics and choosing to improve upon proven formulas. 

Here’s what they came up with for their list:

  • Tesla Model S
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Toyota Prius
  • Acura NSX
  • Mazda Miata
  • Toyota Rav4
  • Genesis
  • Kia Telluride
  • Ford Mustang
  • Ford F-150 Raptor
  • Porsche Macan
  • Chrysler Pacifica
  • Jeep Gladiator
  • Volvo XC90
  • Dodge Hellcat

The list makes sense in some regards. The Tesla was a highly anticipated car, the Prius helped usher in hybrid cars, and the Miata is one of Mazda’s prized cars. The Mustang is a legend among sports cars, and the F-150 is the best-selling truck in America. The Toyota RAV4 is the top-selling SUV in America. But some of the list left people scratching their heads, like the car that snagged the top spot. 

The Dodge Hellcat takes the No. 1 spot as the best car of the decade

If you’re reading this and wondering what the Hellcat looks like or if it’s a real thing, you’re probably not alone. Dodge was pretty low-key over the past 10 years – Ram split off into its own brand, the Viper left the building, and Jeep became Dodge’s parent company’s go-to for SUVs. But what Dodge did do was take its remaining products – the Durango, Challenger, and Charger, and instead of doing a redesign, opted to introduce incredibly powerful varieties of the latter two under what it named its Hellcat subbrand. 

So while the Hellcat isn’t a model itself and is more of a trim, it’s still relevant. The Challenger Hellcat and Charger Hellcat have a wider body and a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 with 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. That’s an awful lot of power, but isn’t that one of the things that car-lovers look for in a car?

According to AutoTrader, it was the sheer ridiculousness of these Hellcat Dodges that put them in the No. 1 spot. They also say that it’s what enabled Dodge to stay relevant throughout the decade. So, yeah, saving your brand with a little show and tell and slight of hand is probably worth the top spot. They also have made the Hellcat engine available to other automakers.

Why the comments section took offense

The comments section of the blog wasn’t so ready to take AutoTrader’s word for it, though. Some questioned why both the Corvette or Camaro SS weren’t on the list or why the “everyday cars of the people” like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord weren’t mentioned. One car that was mentioned, the Kia Telluride, literally just released at the end of the decade. Some accused AutoTrader of making the list just for the comments that would inevitably ensue.

One commenter that appeared to be speaking on behalf of the blog said that “everything you’re saying is true, but we wanted to pick cars that really changed the course of the company or buying habits of consumers.” They added that while the missing cars were good, they were just a continuation of a standard of being good and not cars that changed anything in the past decade.

The next decade

2018 Dodge Charger SRT  Hellcat is on display at the 110th Annual Chicago Auto Show
The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

If AutoTrader makes this list again, they may want to clarify their criteria or change their title, because it certainly misled readers. There’s no telling what the next decade will hold, but it’s sure to stir up controversy once again if anyone makes a list like this. But lists are opinion pieces just like reviews of cars, and you really have to take it with a grain of salt.