We gave you our picks for worst cars of 2023 earlier today. Now, predictably, it’s time for our picks for the best.
Again, here are the rules: The vehicle has to be a car/truck/SUV/crossover at least one of us drove during the calendar year, even if only for a few minutes. It has to be a 2023 or 2024 model year, though we’d consider exceptions for unchanged 2022 models.
Each contributor chose three worst and three best, with the option of including honorable mentions.
So, in no particular order, here we go:
If my notes are correct, I’ve driven roughly 67 different vehicles this year as of this writing. Trucks, subcompacts, sports cars, and crossovers. I think my list of faves likely is influenced by my overarching love for compact cars. Despite my substantial frame, I’d rather have something that isn’t a hassle to park. If it’s lightweight and fun to drive, all the better. So, in reverse order:
Audi RS3: I somehow didn’t get around to writing a review of this one. I can’t recall if my memory card corrupted on my camera, or if my memory card within my skull simply imploded but holy crap was this a bundle of joy. While other TTAC writers might feel otherwise about the car, the RS3 is functionally a sedan version of the already-awesome Volkswagen Golf R but with a 401hp inline-five thrumming away up front. It’s simply silly fun to drive, and yet it handles the daily slog with aplomb.
Toyota GR Corolla Morizo: I reviewed this earlier this year, and I keep thinking about it. It’s one of the few cars that others have stopped me on the street to ask about, which is wild because it’s almost unassuming looking. I’d probably choose a non-Morizo package as I still have people who like me and would want to ride with me, but that Toyota can build and sell such an uncompromising car (five-door hatch with just two seats!) Is remarkable.
Subaru Crosstrek: Polar opposite of the above two, it’s not a corner carver. It’s not particularly fast, though with the bigger 2.5-liter boxer it’s not painfully slow anymore. But, as I noted in my review, it simply does everything you ask of it without complaint. It will go through any sort of weather without trouble. And, for such a compact vehicle, it rides beautifully. It’s the car I drove this year that I most likely can see myself buying for, uh, myself.
Audi RS e-tron GT: Yes, go ahead and roll your eyes. An executive express with hips like Sharika and devastatingly powerful electric motors is the simpleton’s choice for a list like this, especially when one deploys all of its 637 horses for a 3.0 second blast to highway speeds. Experiencing levels of acceleration on par with a V10-equipped R8 is best shared with friends, of course, making this car’s four doors all the more valuable – as does a typically Audi world-class interior.
Toyota GR Corolla: Who knew a car with a model name cursed by so many modern gearheads would ever make a list such as this? Akio Toyoda sure did, apparently. It has three cylinders making 300 horsepower, a turbo making delightful noises, and a GT-FOUR all-wheel drive system capable of funneling power in a reliable 30/70 split for hilarious corner action. Sure, the interior is dour and you may have to clarify why you’re driving a Corolla to anyone not in the know, but one rip up through the gears will explain everything.
2007 Subaru Impreza: Why is this car on my list? Because this well-worn example with 207k on the clock and a wrinkled right-front fender is about to become my boy’s first car. He’s pitching in to the sub-$2,000 price with money he earned, has committed to continue learning how to drive stick, and has already begun bookmarking COBB Tuning and Ontario-based Subie Supply Co. on his laptop. Hey, at least he won’t have any money left over for illicit substances. *Ed. note — once again, Mr. Guy has blatantly disregarded instructions. The official HR warning has been mailed to the Maritimes and will arrive sometime in 2027.
2024 Acura Integra Type S: I drove one for just a few minutes at an event this fall and it was love at first drive. This is the civilized version of the Honda Civic Type R. It’s well appointed, a hoot to drive, and docile enough to be a daily driver.
2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse: I drove this at the same event where I drove the Type S, and since I am a sucker for muscular pony cars, I was enamored right away. With arrest-me acceleration and an exhaust that will wake the neighbors — even if you live next to a cemetery — this bad-ass pony is an old-school throwback in the best way. I don’t know how many more Mustangs like this we’ll see, so savor it while it lasts.
2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6: Between a brief drive in New Mexico and a longer loan, I found myself enjoying this EV. The range is real-world friendly, it’s relatively fun to drive, stylish, and comfortable. Oh, and the price isn’t cost-prohibitive. If more EVs were like this, EV adoption would speed up.
Honorable mentions: Toyota Supra manual, Toyota Prius, BMW 330i, Cadillac CT4 Blackwing, Kia EV6 GT, Chevrolet Trax Activ.
Genesis Electrified GV70: Yes, another pro-Genesis post. The Electrified GV70 did almost everything right during my week behind the wheel, and it maintained the gas version’s refined driving attitude and eye-catching styling. That said, it could use more range, and the lack of wireless CarPlay in such an expensive vehicle feels like a major misstep.
Jeep Wrangler 4xe: The Wrangler 4xe gets too expensive in top trims, but Jeep gave us a cheaper configuration for 2024 that makes it easier to afford. I’m not saying that the Wrangler’s facelift has made it refined on the road or any less cramped inside, but the tech improvements and nicer interior finishes go a long way toward sanding off some of the SUV’s rough edges. I still wouldn’t want to highway commute in the Wrangler everyday, but it’s much more livable than previous models.
Volvo S60 Recharge: Volvos tend to be relaxing and sedate to drive, but the S60 Recharge’s 455 horsepower and instant electric torque make it downright quick. The car looks great, is spacious inside, and offers an upscale cabin that rivals some of Volvo’s more expensive SUVs. It also has 40 miles of electric range and an updated Google-based infotainment system that is more responsive than before.
Mazda3/CX-30: I was wrong to doubt Mazda going upmarket and vehicles like the Mazda3 and CX-30 are the proof. The company has managed to deliver attractively priced, luxury minded vehicles with all the modern amenities one would realistically desire. It has also managed to do so without spoiling the compelling driving dynamics the brand is known for.
While the turbo variants do add some genuine thrills, none of the trims are made for outright hooliganism. Conversely, the relatively firm ride offered by Mazda may turn off some drivers who just wanted a strict luxury vehicle. But the overall package comes together nicely, with exceptionally good interiors punching well above the factory pricing. They’re the kind of cars you wouldn’t mind being stuck in for extended periods of time. Despite the Mazda3 and CX-30 not being new models, they continue to compare favorably against just about everything else in the subcompact segment.
Ford Bronco: Lower trims may boast utilitarian interiors and Ford’s quality control seems to have taken a nap on some of the models that left the factory. But the Ford Bronco is exciting in all the ways that the Wrangler has been, without owners having to go through the seven stages of grief associated with becoming a Jeep person.
It also happens to be more competent as an everyday vehicle, without sacrificing the off-road goodies you bought it for and will probably never use. This seems to have translated into strong sales for Blue Oval. Were Ford to iron out some of the kinks, this would be a truly magnificent vehicle. Instead, we’ve been given a highly compelling design that should only improve with every batch produced.
Honorable mentions (of models that are actually new)
Honda CR-V: The CVT makes me sad, but that’s about it. Honda’s updated crossover continues to be a great yardstick for its segment. Want something prettier without a CVT? The Mazda CX-5 remains a great option and is roughly the same price.
Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon: Despite never being a truck guy, I sure did drive a lot of them this year and found myself liking just about every pickup I tested. While making a final decision on full-size trucks felt impossible, the midsize entries from General Motors walked away with an easier victory. But that could very well change after I’ve put some miles beneath the updated Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger. The truth of the matter is that the entire midsize-pickup segment is pretty good, even if you’re comparing previous-generation models to what’s out there today. General Motors just happens to be offering the most compelling options.
Toyota Prius: The Prius has always been a car for people who don’t like cars and I’ve never liked them. However, the current model solved a lot of the problems I had with the model by adding power and giving it some personality. The interior still isn’t perfect and Toyota seems to have sacrificed some rear headroom to give it a better silhouette. But today’s Prius is more efficient than ever and may have owners you might actually want to speak with.
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