Sunday, April 13, 2014

Auto Countdown: Cars That Were A Pleasant Surprise To Drive 2013 Edition

In 2013, I test drove over 100 cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVS. I have already covered the ten worst I test drove in 2013. It is time to cover those that were better than expected. There is no order. I am going by alphabetical order by brand.

2013 Buick Enclave

The Buick Enclave is not the best looking vehicle. It is a big three-row SUV. This is a family vehicle, something that I normally do not cover. But it made the list for one reason. At the 2013 Houston Auto Show, I outran a Ford Mustang 5.0. That should not happen, but I outran a modern muscle car in a large SUV.

2013 Chevrolet Spark

The Chevrolet Spark is a vehicle I should hate. It is small, underpowered, and slow. It only gets 84 hp and 83 lb-ft of torque from a 1.2L I4 engine. The one I drove at the 2013 Houston Auto Show was pink. But it does have some things going for it. First, it may be a city car, but it has plenty of room for four adult passengers. It has good legroom for rear passengers, compared to other city cars like the Scion iQ. I also like the gauge cluster styling. Plus it has a good infotainment system with MyLink. Also, it is not as boring to drive as some of the other cars in its class. I actually had some fun behind the wheel of the Spark, and that is always a plus. 

2014 Fiat 500L 

Fiat needed to bring a second vehicle over to the United States, preferably one with four doors and larger than the Fiat 500. What we got is the Fiat 500L, a four door vehicle. One thing I feared when I first saw this at the 2013 Houston Auto Show was that Fiat would use the 1.4L I4 engine found in the Fiat 500 that produces 101 hp. Luckily, the 500L has the Abarth engine, a turbocharged 1.4L I4 engine that produces 160 hp. That is enough power to get this vehicle going. The 500L has a stylish interior with plenty of legroom and headroom. Plus it is just fun to drive.

2013 Ford C-Max

I really should hate this car. It is a hybrid after all. If you have read some of my previous year end Auto Countdowns, you would know that I despise the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius, both hybrids. Plus, the C-Max has a minivan feel with the gear select lever on the dashboard and not on either the steering wheel column nor the center console. Yet, I felt that the C-Max has decent acceleration when I test drove it. Something I cannot say about the Volt, the Prius, or the Honda Insight. Also going in the C-Max's favor is space. I felt cramped in the Prius, but not in the C-Max. This is one hybrid that avoids my wrath.

2013 Nissan Altima V6

The Nissan Altima is a great example of why mid-size sedans need a V6 option. Many manufacturers are replacing V6 engines with turbocharged 4-cylinder engines or just eliminate the V6 option altogether. Thankfully, Nissan kept the V6 option in the Altima. I was impressed with the Altima I drove at the 2013 Houston Auto Show. It was very responsive when I turned the steering wheel. It may be just a mid-size sedan from Japan, but I had some behind the wheel. 

2013 RAM 1500

I maybe from Texas, but I am not a big truck guy. I never grew up around them. My parents never owned trucks. Yet, there is one truck I actually like, the RAM 1500. Compared to the other trucks, it has the best steering response. Plus it got good power throughout the entire RPM spectrum with the 5.7L Hemi V8. Plus it also has a very smooth ride. This was a contender for the best cars I drove list, but it just missed out. The RAM 1500 is a very good truck and deserved being named MotorTrend's 2013 Truck of the Year. It won that distinction again in 2014. 

2013 Volkswagen Eos

If there is one brand that I was not impressed with, it would be Volkswagen. I found most of the VWs I drove to be lackluster. But there is one that I had some fun in, the VW Eos. This a hard top convertible gets 210 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 2.0L I4 engine. Plus, the Eos does not look that bad with the top down. The Eos is my favorite VW I drove in 2013, that includes the VW Golf GTi.

2013 Volvo C30

Talk about a fun car to drive. The Volvo C30 just goes when I press the accelerator. This three door hatchback is powered by a turbocharged 2.5L I5 engine that produces 227 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. This car has great pickup plus it is just a blast to drive. It is a shame that Volvo discontinued this vehicle. This was another vehicle that came close to making the best cars I drove in 2013 list.

To see more car related articles, check out
Follow me on Twitter @CarJunkie713

No comments:

Post a Comment