Jim's Top Five Best Cars Of 2014
Metroland automotive journalist Jim Robinson shares his top five best cars of 2014.
This past year for me was one of surprises.
Several cars and trucks I drove exceeded my expectations ranging from design, road handling to engineering, but mostly I was surprised by how the manufacturers keep raising the bar, not year by year, but seemingly, month by month.
From all my test drives of this year, i’ve narrowed it down to my top five best cars of 2014.
Talk about punching above your weight.
Kia’s sporty Forte Koup comes with a 173 hp 2.0-litre engine making it a very pleasant little two-door.
Then there is a SX with a smaller 1.6-litre, but with direct injection and twin-scroll turbo technology that results in 201 hp, but more importantly, 195 lb/ft of torque that comes in at just 1,750 rpm.
There is an optional six-speed automatic transmission, but you’ll want to go with the standard six-speed manual because the gearing makes the most of the torque.
In short, it’s fun to drive, which is after all, what a sporty coupe is all about.
It took just 600 metres to give me one of the greatest surprises of the year.
On a boulder-strewn “road” used by dedicated off-roaders with a 50-metre drop-off where the shoulder should have been, the Outback using the new X-Mode system that manages the engine, transmission and famed Subaru all-wheel-drive, drove through no problem and – get this – with street tires.
Now in its fifth generation, the Outback is a cornerstone of the brand that keeps attracting cross shoppers looking for utility, fuel economy and the reliability which Soobs are famous for.
This is a crossover that really does it all.
I never seriously considered buying a pickup until after a day with GM’s pair of intermediate trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon.
With a fully boxed and cross-membered frame, these trucks will last easily for 10 years.
They are loaded with features such as the innovative rear bumper side step or the EZ Lift and Lower tailgate that glides down when opened.
Available in rear- or all-wheel-drive, they can tow up to 3,175 kg (7,000 lb).
And when a new 2.8-litre diesel joins the current 2.5-litre four-cylinder and 3.6-litre V6 later this year, GM will have something for everyone.
I never expected a compact crossover to handle like a sportscar, but there I was with two passengers on board in the new Porsche Macan having no trouble keeping up to a Cayman in the twisty Willow Springs racetrack.
Available with a 340 hp twin-scroll turbo 3.0-litre V6 or a larger 3.6-litre twin-scroll turbo V6 with 400 hp, it is not just the power, but also the way it handles, especially with the optional air suspension that impresses.
On top of that, here is a Porsche with 1,500 litres of cargo space with the rear seat flat.
Many know my favourite car in the world is the 911, but, man, the Macan comes close.
1. Ford Mustang
I approached the 2015 Mustang not expecting that much.
I was wrong.
With a choice of a four-, six- or eight-cylinder engines each with 300 hp or more, it is the way the Mustang feels to the hands and senses that is so fulfilling.
With the 310 hp 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-banger, the Mustang could be docile around town or a tiger on the track.
And even though I did push it very hard heading uphill into the mountains east of Los Angeles, I still managed (US) 29.1 mpg.
With a starting price under 30 grand, the 2015 Ford Mustang defines bang for the buck.