The 2016 model year looks to be ultra-competitive because there are so many good choices. Many cars and crossover SUVs were fully redesigned, like the Volvo XC90 and Kia Optima. Others received a mid-cycle refresh or facelift, such as the VW Jetta and BMW 3-Series. Roman and Nathan put their heads together and came up with a list of the top five models that are all-new for 2016, and have been driven and tested this year by the TFLCar team.
Comparing specs and features on paper doesn’t qualify for this review. Actual time with the vehicle up close and personal is the number one critical requirement for this exercise. With that in mind, the two picked their top five vehicles — and most of them are from different categories. Two affordable sports cars, an affordable compact car, a full-size sedan, and an affordable compact crossover SUV made TFLCar’s list of best all-new cars for 2016.
2016 Chevrolet Camaro
The sixth generation Camaro has adopted a fresher look and numerous enhancements that make it ultra-competitive with the new Mustang. Lighter and more agile than the previous generation Camaro, the new pony car is also available with a four cylinder engine, leaving the Challenger as the only American muscle car to still be missing a four-banger. Watch for the 2016 Camaro to begin arriving at dealerships by mid-November.
2016 Nissan Maxima
Today’s midsize and large sedans are losing market share to the continually growing crossover and SUV segments. Nissan understood these market challenges when designing the all-new 2016 Maxima. The result from Nissan is a redesigned Maxima that combines expressive exterior styling, better than average performance, a driver-centric cockpit and luxury appeal well beyond the typical midsize — or large — sedan.
2016 Hyundai Tucson
The all-new 2016 Tucson may have compact dimensions, but this crossover from Korea is a great choice for families and active lifestyles for many reasons. The sculpted lines of the Tucson’s new exterior design make the previous model look like an economy car. The upscale feel continues inside, where the layout of the dashboard and center console have an elegant simplicity. The cabin is roomy enough for four adults and appreciably quiet at highway speeds. Along with a new look and feel, Hyundai loaded this compact crossover SUV with numerous comfort, tech and performance features that make it a great value.
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
For more than 25 years, Mazda has always honored the true sports car image with the Miata. Now the fourth-generation ND faithfully continues that tradition with excellent driving dynamics, excellent efficiency, and more importantly, a level of feedback and feel that is lacking in many modern sports cars. Nobody can deny that the 2016 MX-5 Miata is a playful and perfectly balanced roadster that delivers more grins per hour than more powerful, more expensive sports cars.
2016 Honda Civic
2016 marks the start of the tenth generation Honda Civic, an affordable compact car that has grown from an upstart economy car to a world dominator in its class. Even though the Civic may have stumbled the past ten years with conservative designs, less-than-inspiring performance and lagging technology, it seems to have regained its step with the completely redesigned 2016 model. Now the 2016 Civic has a bolder and sleeker profile, a new chassis, new tech, new engines, and even a new body style for America — a five door hatchback.
Honorable Mention: Scion iA
Although it came in too late to be included in the top five, the Scion iA is one of the best small cars to come along in a long time. It may not have the cargo space of the Honda Fit, but from a driver’s standpoint, it’s without peer in the subcompact class. Thank Mazda, as it’s just a Mazda 2 sedan with a grafted-on Toyota/Scion grille. Ostentatious front end aside, the rest of the outside is a perfect example of Mazda’s KODO design. It’s a shrunken Mazda 3. Despite only having 106 horsepower, or maybe because of it, it’s a blast to drive. The six-speed manual is one of the best ever put into a front-drive economy car. Steering is accurate and gives real feedback from the front wheels. Body motions are composed without sacrificing ride. And it packs a lot of features for around $16,000. It truly is a budget sports sedan.