Every automotive publication has its own definition of “best” cars on the market. At Car and Driver Magazine, editors zero in on the vehicles that do what the segment demands better than other available cars while performing with grace and delivering exceptional value. They take a strictly “car” approach as well, so there are no crossovers or other interlopers, and the price cap is $80,000. Only coupes, sedans, and hatchbacks make the grade. The latest list included returning champs and a few intriguing new entries. Here are the 10 best cars of 2015 according to Car and Driver, listed in alphabetical order.
1. BMW M235i
Car and Driver is all about the M235i, the BMW that straddles the line between the M performance line and the automaker’s more sedate offerings in what editors called a “perfect” way. In fact, this 320-horsepower thriller “proves BMW still has the code to driving excellence” in the publication’s estimation. That endorsement is worthy of at least a few billboards in a neighborhood near you, should the automaker choose to quote it.
2. Cadillac CTS
With all three German luxury automakers cranking up the quality meter, Cadillac needed a home run to place its CTS in the top 10 list. Car and Driver says “mission accomplished” for GM’s luxury brand as it nudged aside the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class to take its spot among the best of 2015. According to the publication, Cadillac’s work on the CTS handling is what earned it the prize. Endless tests on the Nürburgring proved the aluminium front components, battery placement, and obsessive gram-counting were delivering the knockout formula.
3. Chevy Corvette Stingray
Coming back for its second-straight go on the 10 best list is the Chevy Corvette Stingray, the seventh generation Car and Driver says is the “best-ever” without any reservations. In fact, the publication rhapsodizes about the 6.2-liter V8 on such levels it is enough to make readers blush. The bottom line is Car and Driver believes (as so many others do) that the platform and engine are so otherworldly in the Stingray that the upgrades to the body and cockpit make it a modern legend.
4. Ford Mustang GT
Car and Driver treats the tale behind the new Mustang’s independent rear suspension as an essential modern creation story, and maybe the editors should: it elevated the sixth-generation icon to previously unrealized heights. Shoving aside Camaro and Challenger to burn onto the top 10 list, the Mustang GT claimed the muscle crown for 2015. Saying the Mustang ” interior boasts meticulousness heretofore absent from mainstream American cars,” Car and Driver considered the entire package (including the power upgrade) a smashing success. Bonus points were given for the introduction of line lock, a first for production vehicles.
5. Honda Accord
Can a rock star car be hiding in the driveways of 400,000 new buyers every year? Car and Driver says the Honda Accord is one such vehicle, a car that is “better than it has to be” for two reasons. The first is the engineering achievement that gives the seamless impression of harmony when driving Honda’s midsize sedan; the second is the car’s ability to handle engaged runs and start-stop affairs to the supermarket with equal aplomb. For anyone with doubts about buying an Accord, Car and Driver offers a strong case in its favor.
Anyone who has read a review of the Mazda3 in recent years will not be surprised to find this all star in the top 10 of 2015. Car and Driver loves the interior layout (especially the info display at the top of the dash), but the editors join so many others in raving about the driving experience of the 3. It is a perennial contender on this list, and expect the 3 to return for next year’s as well.
In the midsize sedan segment, the Honda Accord actually fell in behind the Mazda6 in Car and Driver rankings, but both made their way onto the top 10 for 2015. As with the smaller 3, the Mazda6 scored big on the driver’s experience and its performance car guts that made the site’s editors gush. In fact, Car and Driver said it was probably the one vehicle you need “unless you have 12 kids.”
8. Porsche Boxster/Cayman
Only the Corvette ranked higher than the Cayman and Boxster in the Car and Driver sports car segment, and its editors believe the virtues of these Porsches can be had in even their most basic forms. It comes down to the exquisite nature of the mid-engine layout and the ability of both speedsters to serve as commuter cars while delivering the top-level performance when you need it.
9. Tesla Model S 60kWh
Like most auto publications, Car and Driver considers the Tesla Model S in a class of its own due to its gigantic advantage in range when compared to other electric vehicles. Another huge asset is the placement of the battery pack underneath the car that makes it more like a mid-engine Porsche with respect to weight distribution than lesser luxury models. Limited to the 60 kWh Model S because of the price constraints of its 10 best list, Car and Driver didn’t feel like there was much compromising the lower-priced model.
10. Volkswagen Golf/Golf GTI
Now in its ninth straight year that a Golf has been on the 10 best list, Volkswagen nailed it with the both the base and GTI models for 2015. Calling it “the Swiss Army knife of transport,” Car and Driver raved about the light steering, the smoothness of the torque distribution, and the Golf’s ability to fit into every budget and need a driver might have. To show why it is so enthusiastic, the editors then break down the winning qualities of each trim. Every Golf is a winner on this list.