Editor’s Note: Now that the year is coming to and end, the staff members at TFL will share their personal top five favorite cars they’ve driven this year. This week, staff writer John Inama will present his list.
2015 was my first year writing for TFL, and I’ve been fortunate to drive some great (and not-so-great) cars and review them for the website. Some surprised me, some impressed me, and one made me want to go and buy my own. Without further ado, here’s my list of the top five cars I’ve driven and tested in 2015:
5. 2015 Dodge Durango Citadel – The Durango was a surprise to me because I’ve never given it much thought. I have no need for a full-size, three-row SUV. But after driving it, I realized that it was a very pleasant vehicle to drive every day. The Pentastar V-6 was punchy and efficient, the interior was simple and well appointed, and it had all that space for pretty much everything anyone would need. It also drove and rode well, even for an enthusiast driver. It’s my top choice for a minivan alternative.
4. 2015 Toyota Prius Five – If this were a list of the top five surprises, this would be at number one without question. I expected to hate – no, loathe – this car. But I actually liked it. I can see how someone could live with one every day. The gas mileage impressed me, even with my lead foot, plus it was comfortable, rode pretty well, and had a ton of useful storage space. I’ll probably never own a Prius, but I’ll never fault someone for buying one.
3. 2015 Dodge Charger SXT Plus AWD Rallye – This is the first car on this list that I could actually see owning myself. I love its big, burly personality. I felt important driving it, like I really did own the road, and not just because people moved over for me because they thought I was a cop. Everything in the car is big – the dash, the seats, the console, even the glove box – and it has a trunk that could swallow a few of your worst enemies. Add in the AWD system, the punchy V-6 it shares with the Durango (among others) and the surprisingly good driving dynamics and the Charger was the first car I really missed when it was returned.
2. 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 – This was my first time driving a Merc for a long period of time and I admit to getting pretty spoiled towards the end of its stay. The interior was sumptuously appointed and the seats were so good I wish I had one for an office chair. What amazed me, though, was that tiny 2.0-liter turbo four-banger. The way that engine delivers power is nothing short of astonishing. It felt more like a V-6 and delivered as much power as I needed, when I needed it. Plus it returned 36 mpg on a long trip, while eating away the highway miles in comfort and being a lot of fun once the road turned twisty.
1. 2016 Scion iA – This is the car I nearly went out and bought after my time with it was up. I actually drove two versions of this car, one with an automatic and one with a manual. Although the automatic was a pretty good automatic, once I experienced the car with the six-speed manual I knew I had to have one permanently in my driveway. When I first started driving the automatic version, though, I still didn’t quite get it, until I realized that it wants to be driven hard. It likes to have its neck wrung. It could be named Cheryl. And boy, does it respond. It’s amazing how a car so cheap can feel so good to drive. It also has a nice interior and just enough options to make it interesting. To me, it’s one of the best new cars of the year, bar none. I just wish we got a Mazda version with a better looking grille.
Check out this TFLcar video review of my favorite car I’ve driven this year, the 2016 Scion iA: