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Some cars are just cooler than others.
No sane gearhead would ever turn down track time in a Lotus Evora to drive The Partridge Family bus. It just wouldn’t happen.
In that vein, here’s a list of 10 vehicles we’re embarrassed to say we like, products that are for one reason or another derided by enthusiasts but are nonetheless well worth driving.
10. Chevrolet Tahoe
And we kick things off with the Chevrolet Tahoe. This big, body-on-frame SUV is pretty long in the tooth at this point, with fresher rivals offering more features and refinement. But this rig still exudes a sort of blue-collar, country-music charm; it’s handsome while being reassuringly honest. The Tahoe may not be the newest or flashiest utility vehicle around, but we like it all the same.
9. Honda Fit
Next up, the Honda Fit. Yes, this little five-door is pretty dorky looking and it can’t provide many high-speed thrills with a maximum of 130 horsepower on tap, but that doesn’t make it a bad vehicle. You can still get one with a six-speed manual transmission, plus it also offers tons of interior space – almost 53 cubic feet (1,492 liters). It also comes standard with Honda’s ingenious Magic Seat, a flipping and folding engineering wonder that makes this car more versatile than probably anything else in its class and possibly even the segment above.
8. Ford Transit Connect
We’re not sure what committee decided vans are UNCOOL, but they’re wrong! Available in passenger and cargo variants as well as TWO different lengths, the little Transit Connect is tremendously adaptable. Upping the utility factor, it also comes with tons of storage cubbies inside and dual sliding doors. With driving dynamics similar to a Ford Focus, it can even be reasonably entertaining on a circuitous road.
7. Nissan Kicks
Moving on, the Nissan Kicks is a brand-new subcompact crossover. We evaluated it a couple months ago and despite some pre-drive concerns – it is based on the uninspired Versa and starts at only 18 grand – came away super impressed. It’s stylish, cheerful and aside from completely wooden steering, not at all terrible to drive. It also offers plenty of popular features including an upscale Bose sound system that kicks ass!
ALSO SEE: 2018 Nissan Kicks Review
6. Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
Say what you will about Smart, which many disparage as being nothing more than a clown car bereft of laughter, but if you live in one of the world’s ever-growing megalopolises it’s practically the ideal vehicle. Could you imagine trying to park a Toyota Sequoia in downtown Tokyo? No thank you! With its tiny wheelbase, punchy electric drivetrain – you can’t get a gasoline-powered model in America anymore – and a turning radius so small you’ll swear it rolls on casters, the ForTwo is all about maneuverability. Throw in top-notch safety ratings and this is a surprising product we’re willing to endorse.
5. Lexus ES
Catering to the needs and lurid desires of geriatric drivers is the Lexus ES. For decades, this luxury sedan has smoothed out life’s bumps and coddled passengers. It’s not about skid-pad performance or Nürburgring lap times, and we are A-OK with that. After a long day at the office, who wants a punishing sports-car ride, droning exhaust or leg-day clutch-pedal effort? Comfort wins, which is why we’re not afraid to say we like this Lexus, especially the recently redesigned model.
4. Chrysler Pacifica
Screw crossovers! With loads of seating and interior space, plus car-like dynamics, there’s no better vehicle for many families than a minivan. And one of our favorites is the Chrysler Pacifica. With premium styling, an upscale interior and punchy Pentastar V6 engine, this familymobile is a jack of all trades. For economy-minded folks, you can even get a super-thrifty plug-in hybrid model, a first for this segment and a vehicle that happens to deliver 84 MPGe.
3. Kia 900
Like the Lexus ES, Kia’s K900 is a large, comfortable sedan. Flagship of the Korean brand, this somewhat anodyne-looking four-door has been TOTALLY redesigned for 2019. Spacious and smooth, it should nonetheless rip, thanks to its standard 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that delivers a stout 356 horsepower. Smooth and quiet are the name of the game, two attributes we can respect.
2. Fiat 500
Another guilty pleasure of sorts for us AutoGuiders is the Fiat 500. No, it’s not the most modern subcompact car, nor is it the highest quality, but it’s charming in its own right thanks to expressive design fun handling. Of course, the rorty, high-performance Abarth model is a hoot, but so is the super-efficient, all-electric 500e, which has tons of torque right off the line.
1. Chevrolet Spark
How much fun can you have with just 98 horsepower? Well, in a Chevrolet Spark, more than you’d expect. This city-friendly hatchback is small and spunky, offered in a rainbow’s worth of colors including Passion Fruit purple, Orange burst metallic and a pinkish-red called Raspberry. Keeping costs in check, a base LS model can you yours for just $14,000 complete with a five-speed manual transmission. It proves cheap can indeed be cheerful.