Saturday, December 29, 2012

Auto Countdown: Best Cars I Drove In 2012

In 2012, I test drove sixteen cars, resulting in First Drive Reviews. As 2012 comes to an end, I am doing four lists dedicated to the cars that were horrible to drive, cars that were good but not great to drive, and cars that were pleasantly surprising to drive. Now, it is time to reflect on the cars that put a smile on my face when I was behind the wheel. These are the five best cars I drove in 2012.

5. Buick LaCrosse 2.4L with eAssist

I drove a Buick LaCrosse equipped GM's eAssist. The eAssist consists of a 115-volt lithium-ion battery pack and a 15 kW electric motor capable of adding 15 hp and 79 lb-ft of torque while the car is accelerating. The LaCrosse I drove has a 2.4L I4 engine that produces 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. The LaCrosse also came with regenerative brakes and a start-stop engine operations when the car is at rest. The LaCrosse is considered a mild hybrid. The eAssist system is integrated well in the LaCrosse. It ran very smoothly. The engine started right up from a complete stop. The car has plenty of room in the rear for adult passengers. My dad was in the back when I drove the LaCrosse at the 2012 Houston Auto Show. He says he feels like he was in the back of a limo. I felt very comfortable behind the wheel. Buick had a reputation for being a brand for older drivers, just like Cadillac. Both Cadillac and Buick have made great strides to attract younger drivers. Both have done well in reaching that goal. The LaCrosse is an excellent luxury mid-size sedan. There is also a 3.6L V6 engine available for the LaCrosse. If you want a comfortable mid-size sedan with good fuel economy, go with LaCrosse with eAssist. If you want a comfortable mid-size sedan and are willing to sacrifice fuel economy for performance, go with the LaCrosse with the V6 engine. The LaCrosse with eAssist is a great car.

4. Chevrolet Camaro RS

The Chevrolet Camaro made its return in 2010. The first Transformers movie was a 2 hour commercial for the Camaro. I drove the Camaro RS, which is powered by a 323 hp 3.6L V6 engine. The Camaro I drove came with a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The paddle shifters add fun and driver interaction. The paddle shifters work well in the Camaro. The car drove smoothly along bumpy roads. I had plenty of leg room behind the wheel. This is a two-door pony car with a low cut roof. I had some head room, but people over 6' 0", head room might be an issue. There is minimum leg room in the back for adult passengers to ride comfortably. The Camaro also has a decent interior. The Camaro has a retro sporty styling and just looks great. The Camaro RS may only have a V6 engine, but it is quick and fun to drive. I test drove the Camaro the same day I test drove the Dodge Dart and the Chrysler 200, and the Camaro is more fun to drive than either the Dart or the 200. Getting behind the wheel of a Camaro will put a smile on your face. It is a great pony car. It is a shame that I was not allowed to get on the freeway when I was driving the Camaro. Thank you local Chevrolet dealership.

3. Ford Mustang V6

The Ford Mustang is a great sports car. The Mustang and Camaro are very similar in performance, comfort, and styling. Both are fun to drive, even with V6 engines. But the Mustang edges out the Camaro because I was allowed to do more on my test drive with the Mustang than I was allowed to do with the Camaro. I went over speed bumps, which the Mustang handled very well. I also test the turning radius of the Mustang, which it is a plus for the Mustang. The car accelerator well on the freeway. There was no jerky motion while accelerating. The Mustang has a 3.7L V6 that outputs 205 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The Mustang I drove has a six-speed automatic transmission, but sadly Ford does not include paddle shifters in its cars. The V6 Mustang is an excellent pony car. It was fun to drive.

2. Mitsubishi Lancer GT

The Lancer GT was the second of two Lancers I drove at the local Mitsubishi dealership. The Lancer GT is a major step up from the Lancer ES. The Lancer GT has a 2.4L I4 engine that produces 168 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque. The Lancer GT I test drove also included a CVT automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The car I test drove also included a sunroof, which decreased head room by 1", and a rear view mirror. Also, The Lancer GT also has a different grill that is taller, giving the Lancer GT a more aggressive appearance than the Lancer ES. The Lancer GT also had a rear view camera. The Lancer GT is not the more roomy car I drove in 2012, but it is one of the most fun cars I drove. It was very responsive and has zip to it. It drove smoothly on the highway and was not jerky every time I upshifted or downshifted. The Lancer GT is a great car and is one I recommend test driving if you are looking for a sporty compact car for under $30,000.

1. Subaru Impreza

No car put a bigger smile on my face this year than the Subaru Impreza. I test drove it at the 2012 Houston Auto Show right after I test drove the underwhelming Chevrolet Volt. The Impreza I drove came with a 2.5L H4 engine that produces 170 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. The Impreza that I drove came with a five-speed automatic transmission. This was the first car that I drove with paddle shifters. It takes some time to get use to. The car was comfortable to sit in. My dad had plenty of room while sitting in the rear. The Impreza also has a good interior. The car drove very smoothly and the steering was very responsive. What makes the Impreza stands out is that it gives you the best of both worlds. It has good performance while still being practical. Most of all, the Impreza is fun to drive. The Subaru Impreza is the best car I drove in 2012.

For the final part of my 2012 reflections, I cover the best cars I saw, but I was not able to drive.

Photos wer taken by a digital camera or by a camera phone.
To see more car related articles, check out
Follow me on Twitter @CarJunkie713.

No comments:

Post a Comment