AutoGuide Answers: Our Favorite Test Drives of 2015 Staff
by Staff

We’ve been very lucky to drive a lot of amazing cars this year, and that time has come to pick out the ones that stood out the most this year.

It should come as no surprise that the majority of our editors loved the summer-friendly sports cars, but there are a few quirky and curious selections on this list. Check it out our picks below:

Mike Schlee, Road Test Editor: 2016 McLaren 650S Spider

“I’ve had a good year. There have been many amazing vehicles that I’ve had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of this year like the Hellcats, a Corvette Z06 and the sinister Mercedes-AMG GT S.

But the car easily etched in my mind as the best of 2015 is the McLaren 650S Spider. Not only did I get to drive one of these bad boys, but I had the awesome opportunity to pilot two of them. It’s hard to describe the exact feeling you get sitting in front of 641 hp that’s strapped to a car weighing a svelte 3,000 pounds. The thrust, the handling and the noise as the massive turbochargers force feeding air in to the 3.8-liter V8 spool up; it’s all surreal, awesome and dumbfounding at the same time. Here’s hoping for another date with McLaren in 2016.”

See Also: 2015 McLaren 650S Spider Review

Jodi Lai, Managing Editor: 2016 Volvo XC90

“The two best cars I drove this year are on two very different sides of the spectrum. The first is the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 simply because it is the most Mustang I’ve ever driven. An American V8 that can rev to more than 8,000 rpm? Yes please. The sound it makes at full throttle is something like the gates of hell opening up and giving you a big, evil hug. And one of the best parts of this car is that it is remarkably easy to drive despite having 529 horsepower and being manual-only. This car really spoke to me on an emotional level. It’s just ridiculous fun to drive.

The other car I loved driving this year was the Volvo XC90. It’s hard to get excited about big, three-row SUVs, but there is so much to love about the XC90. Not only is its supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder a great powerplant, but the technology in this car is astounding. It all comes together in an elegant, stylish and modern package that I’d be very happy to own. No corners were cut with this innovative SUV and it is a joy to drive. This SUV is so different from anything else on the market and sets a new standard for the industry.”

See Also: 2016 Volvo XC90 Review

Craig Cole, Associate Editor: 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

“What is the best car I’ve driven this year? That’s like asking how much a mountain weighs; there are so many variables to consider.

If I were after an obscenely luxurious ride, the Mercedes-Maybach S600 would win, hands down. However, if I were after a large, sporty sedan, the Chevy SS with a manual gearbox would be my top choice. Finally, if an orgasmic exhaust note is all that matters, then the Aston Martin Vantage V12 S Roadster would have my vote.

But, of everything I’ve been fortunate enough to sample this year, the one car that probably left the biggest impression on me is the Shelby GT350 Mustang. Its 5.2-liter flat-plane V8 shrieks like something from Maranello, not Dearborn. Winding it out is a religious experience as the powerplant’s crescendo is 8,250 rpm. Indeed, this engine wouldn’t feel out of place in an Italian exotic; the fact that it’s available for around 50 grand makes it exceptional.”

See Also: Ford Mustang Shelby GT350: 2016 Car of the Year Nominee

Sami Haj-Assaad, Features Editor: 2015 Volvo S60 Polestar

“The best car I drove this year came from one of the coolest European automakers in the world. What’s that? You don’t think Volvo is cool? Then you haven’t checked out the S60 Polestar that I drove in early 2015. Everything about this car was awesome, like the eye-searing blue paint finish, the excellently tuned 345-hp engine, the great exhaust note and the amazing interior that was both comfortable and supportive.

I loved driving it, even in the cold season. It may not be an awesome exotic or high-powered sports car, but this sport sedan had a little bit of everything, and as one of the few examples available in North America, it was super special to drive.”

See Also: 2015 Volvo S60 Polestar Review

Stephen Elmer, News Editor: Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

“Picking my favorite car driving experience from 2015 is tough, but after much deliberation, I’ve narrowed it down.

While piloting the Mercedes AMG GT is a highlight, my favorite drive of the year is almost more about the place than the vehicle.

Our TRD Like a Pro challenge took me to the deserts of California, where a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro was my chariot for two days of crashing through the desert. Racing up and down steep rocky climbs and blasting around sandy corners was all part of the fun and the Tundra delivered. Never once did the truck feel like it might not be able to deliver, and we were not exactly nice to it.

The 5.7-liter V8 is a monster whose tone is unleashed with the custom TRD exhaust that comes with this package, while it looks great thanks to a bright orange paint job with black accents and a custom grille.

Sure, it sucks more gas than Barney Gumble drinks Duff, but this Tundra is strong and robust and ran smooth for two full days of extreme hot weather fun.

For powering my desert adventure, the Tundra TRD Pro gets my favorite drive of the year.”

See Also: TRD Like a Pro Challenge Staff Staff

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2 of 6 comments
  • Mark S Mark S on Dec 29, 2015

    Some great cars - plenty to make us mortals green with envy! I like the new Merc AMG GT S way more than the SLS, but still would get a 911 at the moment (if I won the lottery). I know that Camaro visibility is poor, but still seems to be a great car (engine and handling), cannot disagree on the GT350 though. I like all McLaren's (well not keen on the 12C, but they fixed that pdq), but the 570S is a great idea (Audi R8 vs 570S vs a 911 Turbo, would be great to read). Surprised that Volvo got named twice, that is a good sign - the interior of the XC does look special even compared to the German car interiors.

  • Jonny_Vancouver Jonny_Vancouver on Dec 29, 2015

    Great choices, it tells a lot about your different personalities.