The Best and Worst Cars We Drove in 2017 Staff
by Staff

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We’ve been lucky enough to drive a ton of cars this year from supercars, little runabouts to family sedans and everything in between.

We asked our editors about the best and worst (or most underwhelming) cars they drove all year. Here’s what they said.

Sami Haj-Assaad, Road Test Editor

Worst Car: Lexus IS 300 AWD

“Lexus’ V6 powered, all-wheel-drive sport sedan was a complete disappointment. While it’s certainly funky looking, the car is lacking in so many other ways. The 3.5-liter V6 engine is dull and unexciting, unable to get the heavy sedan going. The engine also seems like the wrong choice when compared to the other two powertrains that Lexus offers in the IS lineup. Getting inside the car, there’s limited space in the rear seats, and the infotainment system is absolutely atrocious. There are so many other fantastic cars in this segment and this Lexus offering is outgunned in nearly every way.”

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Best Car: Lamborghini Aventador S

“This V12 supercar uses brute force to become my favorite drive this year thanks in part to its unbelievable sound, impressive performance, head-turning design and, you know, the fact that it’s a freaking Lamborghini Aventador S. I first drove it during Monterey Car Week where it managed to blow people’s minds, even though there are million-dollar hypercars lurking at every corner. Then I had it on the track where I could test how significant all the little tweaks Lamborghini made to this car when updating it from the normal Aventador. And that’s where I confirmed that the Lambo has impressive grip, steers fantastically, stops without any hesitation, and still sounds freaking awesome.”

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Jonathan Yarkony, Group Director

Worst Car: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

“It’s not really the worst car I drove (I own a 10-year-old Hyundai Accent after all), but it was the most disappointing. It’s big, which is good, since Americans are obsessed with cargo space even if they could do with far less, and Volkswagen will sell plenty just because of that. Sadly, I was shocked by all the missteps Volkswagen made considering they’ve had years to benchmark the competition. Materials quality is a huge step backward from the Touareg, ride comfort completely misses the mark for a family vehicle, the power delivery was irritatingly jerky, and digital gauge cluster and electronics seem to lag behind the competition because of detuned graphics and slow response times. I expected a big GTI, but instead it’s more of a Puebla Jetta and all its cost-cutting price-point engineering.”

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Best Car: 2018 Porsche 911 GT3

“This one was a close call between the GT3 and a five-year-old McLaren, which is a phenomenal piece of machinery that completely won me over, but the GT3 is just so… perfect. Well, except that the one I drove did not feature a manual transmission, but that gearbox is back on the table for anyone ordering one. There are many faster and more powerful 911s, but the GT3 makes all the right sounds, has enough power for any road or track day, and its responsiveness and how alive it feels in your hands is something that will never fade from my memory. The precision with which it carves up the road and relays that back to you is simply driving Nirvana. Honorable mention goes to the Civic Type R for blowing my mind as to what a front-wheel drive car can do. Phenomenal.”

Craig Cole, Detroit Bureau Editor

Best Car: Cadillac CT6 with Super Cruise

“In 2017, I was fortunate enough to evaluate vehicles like the Rolls-Royce Dawn, Aston Martin’s sultry new DB11 grand-tourer, the thrilling Honda Civic Type R, and countless other magical pieces of automotive engineering, real pinnacles of modern industry.

But perhaps the one car that left the biggest impression on me was the Cadillac CT6. Wait, what? Well, in short, it’s not necessarily the car that blew me away, rather a groundbreaking technology that debuted in it. Super Cruise is the brand’s latest and greatest innovation, a self-driving feature that allows the vehicle to accelerate, steer and stop all on its own in certain situations. Get it out on a clean stretch of highway and you can sit back for hours at a stretch, often without ever having to intervene. It’s seriously impressive and a major milestone on the road to autonomous vehicles. It’s also the sort of thing that makes you feel like you’re living a decade in the future, all without the need for a time machine.”

Worst Car: 2017 Buick Envision

“Both the most impressive thing I drove this year and the least remarkable were both produced by General Motors. There’s a valley for every mountain, I suppose. Disappointing me more than any other vehicle was the Buick Envision, a middling effort in the premium-crossover segment. Its rougher-than-necessary ride, sloppy dynamics, and noisy interior quickly turned me off to this otherwise slightly and practical people hauler. Some additional detail work could make it into a worthwhile competitor, but for the time being it’s hard to recommend.”

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Jodi Lai, Editor-in-Chief

Best Car: 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT Family

“I’ve been so lucky this year and have a lot to pick from, but one of my favorites was the Mercedes-AMG GT. This car is gorgeous and the drive is intimate and special. The steering is crisp and the cars feel alive and have so much personality. I also love how that handbuilt twin-turbo V8 sounds. Even the GT R surprised me because it looks like it will kill you, but it’s actually so civilized. I also want to give a shoutout to the Kia Stinger because it was the most surprising car I drove and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio because that car is magical to drive.”

Worst Car: A Few Luxury Cars

“The Lexus LC500h Hybrid was stunning but totally underwhelming to drive (although I adore the V8 model), and I didn’t love the Mercedes SL because it felt too old, and the BMW X3 is just so average. I hold luxury cars to a much higher standard, and I found it amazing just how many of them were not that impressive this year.” Staff Staff

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  • Smartacus Smartacus on Dec 28, 2017

    Good consumer advice. My assumption was oh the Lexus probably carries the newest 9 speed auto and probably some 300HP 2.0 i hadn't realized the IS300 still has only a 6-spd auto and only 255 HP from 3.5 And returning 19 city /26 hwy is not even funny anymore :0

  • Kaffekup Kaffekup on Dec 30, 2017

    What surprised me was Craig's praise of what is essentially a self-driving feature. I've spent a lot of time on highways, and still prefer the feeling of being in control of the car, not the reverse. What did you do to stay awake all that time, Craig?