In 2023 cars were all about refinement. Automakers looked at ways to make existing models better, faster, more luxurious, more efficient. Sure there were outliers that broke the mold — Lambo built an off-roading beast of a machine in the Sterrato. Honda released a portable scooter that can be carried around like a briefcase — but for the most part it was all about steady improvement. And that’s ok! Our top pick, the Corvette eRay, is the culmination of a model that first debuted during the early years of the Eisenhower administration. It’s the ultimate expression of American muscle in modern times: electric, raw, blistering speed wrapped up in an aggressive package with a price tag low enough to make you do a double take. The rest of the rides we loved this year, from capacious road trippers to tech focused electrics, each offer something a little different but are united by one unique quality: get behind the wheel of any of them and we guarantee you’ll be smiling from ear to ear.
CAR OF THE YEAR
There’s a certain subset of Corvette fans that don’t dig change. A few years ago, top brass at Chevy decided the latest gen Corvette would have a mid-engine set up, finally putting the sports car on par with Ferraris and Lamborghinis. The ensuing winghing and pearl clutching was both loud and predictable. Reddit comment sections were peppered with variations of, bu-bu-but that’s not a true Corvette! That move has allowed the Corvette C8 to become one of the greatest cars on the road today with world-class sports car speed and handling at the fraction of a price of most supercars. The C8 was so groundbreaking that it earned our car of the year designation back in 2021. Two years later, its more evolved version is our Car of the Year for 2023: the Corvette E-Ray.
Yes, it’s a hybrid. But not for fuel economy’s sake. Like the outgoing Acura NSX and the McLaren Artura, it uses its electric motor for performance. Thanks to a 160 HP electric motor powering the two front wheels and the 495 HP V8, this Vette pumps out a total of 655 HP that propels from 0 to 60 in a face-melting 2.5 seconds. That also makes it the quickest Corvette of all time. And it’s also probably the most comfortable Vette I’ve ever driven – you could easily use it for daily use. With AWD, a first for the Corvette, you can drive it all year round, snow, rain, or hailstorms be damned.
OFF ROAD CAR OF THE YEAR
The first thing you should know about drifting a Lambo is that it feels unhinged and powerful — like you’re doing something illegal. The second thing you should know about drifting a Lambo is that the best way to do it is in the Huracán Sterrato, a purpose built off-roading machine that’s based on the 600 HP fire breathing Huracán. The last thing you should know about drifting a Lambo is that no matter how much you prepare yourself, a little voice is going to chirp “Don’t you DARE,” right before you tear down some dirt road. But the second you take that first turn the back end slides out in a way that’s exhilarating and graceful, you get it. The only question left after a dopamine tingling drive session is why on earth Lambo would limit the run of this thing to only 1499 units. — Daniel Dumas
$270,000 as tested
REISSUE OF THE YEAR
Seal yourself off in the cockpit of the new Integra and you’ll notice it feels a lot like the old Integra. LIke those turn-of-the-millenia, quad headlight sporting sleds, the car fits around you like a bespoke suit, the high revving engine is a hoot to redline, and the sound system plays a steady stream of Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach. (Ok that last part is self directed.) But the new Integra does diverge from its predecessor in several key ways like a 320 horsepower turbocharged 2.0 liter that comes standard with a six speed manual and an interior refinement that’s on par with its German born brethren from Mercedes, Audi, and BMW. At its core, the Integra Type S is really a nostalgic throwback that also happens to be fully matured. —D.D.
$51,995 as tested
ELECTRIC CAR OF THE YEAR
Let’s start with the range: 516 miles. Yo. That’s over 100 more miles than the next longest range EVs, the Tesla Model S and the Rivian R1T. For many, this is more than enough to sign on the dotted line. The ability to (theoretically) drive from New York City to Raleigh North Carolina without having to recharge is major road-trip juice at a time when EV chargers seem to be more crowded than ever. But the Lucid Air is a phenomenally built car and, arguably, the best looking EV there is (unless your taste level skews towards the Cybertruck end of the spectrum.) There is ample, Bentley-level room in all seats, and even with the copious amounts of batteries, the trunks can fit quite a bit of junk. When Teslas first came out, they felt like driving the future. That Lucid Air Grand Touring gave me that same sense of wonderment, but this time it feels cushy, pleasurable, and dare I say, hot?—K.S
SPORTS CAR OF THE YEAR
When it comes to cars that you just know will look incredible decades from now, it’s hard to beat Aston Martin’s DB line. Since 2003 starting with the Ian Cullum-designed DB9, these cars aren’t so much collectors pieces as they are works of art that also go really fast. While the DB11 was hard to beat when it came to blending athletic muscularity and elegance much like an athlete in a tailored suit, or you know, James Bond, Aston Martin has bested it with the DB12. The interior has the refinement suited to a $200K plus car–everything is clad in leather or carbon fiber and there is a modest screen and actual, physical switches that have a delightfully substantial feel. It’s refreshing to see a car interior that hasn’t given into being a giant rolling iPad.
But you don’t buy a DB12 to simply luxuriate in its cabin although with the Bowers + WIlkins 12 speaker sound system, you could definitely put in some great listening sessions. This is a delightfully brutal grip-and-rip, point and it goes kind of vehicle. The steering is light and responsive, and in Sport+ mode, I felt as though I could sense every pebble or pine cone on the iconic twisties on California's Santa Cruz mountains. While you’ll want to play with the dual clutch gearbox using the generously sized paddles on the steering wheel, I find it best to just allow the car to downshift into corners on its own with telepathic accuracy. Aston Martin says 0-60 comes in 3.5 seconds, but hot damn if it doesn't feel quicker than that—the twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 again hails from AMG and pumps out a sonorous 671 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. But when it needs to calm down in city streets or on long highways, the Aston Martin knows how to behave itself and relaxes into a buttery smooth grand tourer for some scenic long haul drives. —K.S.
BIG SUV OF THE YEAR
On the outside the GLS450 presents itself as a Big Boy SUV, that seems perfectly sized for piling some family, friends, and gear inside then embarking on a very comfortable cross country road trip. But once you enter the SUV you realize it’s massive enough to accommodate a tennis match. The GLS450 can accommodate up to seven regular sized humans comfortably and Thankfully this big bubba is not exactly slow with a 3.0 liter, 375 HP V6. Does it also power chug gas? Oh you betcha. 19 mpg in cities and 24 on the highway means that, yeah, on a long road trip you’ll have to stop for petrol a little more than you might expect. But that also means you’ll get to emerge from the car and realize this is an SUV that’s as beautiful on the outside as it is the inside. –D.D.
$97,230 as tested
COMPACT SPORTS CAR OF THE YEAR
Competitive skiers wear special skin tight bodysuits designed to reduce drag and maximize movement; it’s sometimes said that they feel like you’re wearing nothing at all. The M2 is kind of like the automotive equivalent of these racing suits. Taking it through twisties on Highway 1, it felt like the 3800 pound coupe was more of an extension of my body with tight steering that felt surprisingly responsive even for a vehicle with an M series badge. The twin-turbocharged 453 horsepower 3.0-liter inline-six is the same power plant found in the pricier but also bulkier M3 (although the M2’s version has been reduced by 20 HP) and when mated with an effortless clicking six speed manual, made for some of the most fun I’ve had behind the wheel of any car this year. The thing takes off like a high velocity round reaching 60 MPH in under four seconds.
Bimmer has been much maligned for its recent design choices (And rightly so! The boxy grilles look like something an AI program would cook up) but on the M2 it actually fits and, dare I say, looks cute. – D.D.
$75,345 as tested
LUXURY CAR OF THE YEAR
Mercedes EQS AMG
I first drove the EQS when it debuted in 2021 and was blown away by a car that could clearly hang with Tesla when it came to range, acceleration, and handling. (It even thumped Elon’s offerings when it came to interior fit and finish.) It also sported the ugliest rims I’ve ever seen on a modern car while certain higher end models featured the MBUX Hyperscreen, a ludicrously large and poorly engineered infotainment system that spanned the entire front dashboard. I’m happy to report the new EQS AMG has improved miles since its debut. That MBUX Hyperscreen has been improved greatly (although still not nearly as well conceived as Tesla) while a reworked suspension means the handling feels more taught and responsive. The AMG Dynamic Plus package boosts the car’s power to 751 horsepower with 752 pound-feet of torque which can hurtle it from 0-60 in three seconds. That’s faster than the Lamborghini Sterrato. The EQS still has some places where it could improve especially with exterior design — one colleague pointed out the car resembles a bar of soap. Is this the perfect electric sports sedan? I don’t think such a thing exists but if you’re looking for a Tesla mauling land rocket with obsessive attention to detail, the EQS AMG might be your best bet. —D.D.
$118,599 as tested
ROAD TRIP CAR OF THE YEAR
Any vehicle you take on a long journey should have three qualities. 1. It should be quick but not murderous at the pump or a vampire on the battery. 2. It has to be efficient but not eat-your-vegetables boring. 3. It absolutely has to strike the balance between comfortable but not so plush that you want to live inside the cabin forever. Lincoln’s Corsair PHEV ticks all of these boxes. The hybrid engine delivers 266 HP which accelerates the Corsair smoothly but not so fast that it’ll snap a vertebra or detach a retinae. That hybrid engine also delivers fuel economy in the mid 30s MPG while the interior is understated almost old money-like luxury. I drove the Corsair a mere 200 miles on a single road trip. At the end of my trip I emerged surprisingly fresh, feeling like I could have gone 2000 more. —D.D.
$65,970 as tested
TWO-WHEELER OF THE YEAR
The original Motocompo was a folding scooter designed to fit into a Honda City hatchback and only sold in Japan 40 years ago. It was invented as a way to bypass Tokyo traffic—you would park a few miles away, and then scooter in and out of the city. If you’ve been in any major metropolis from LA to Denver to Miami to New York, guess what: traffic still sucks. And so the
the Honda Motocompacto was born. This time, it’s smaller, lighter, all electric, and folds down to what looks like a suitcase from the Wall-E universe. At 41.3 pounds it’s not exactly ultralight, but it’s very much luggable. There’s 12 miles of range and it can fully charge in about 3.5 hours using a standard plug. Admittedly the Motocompo is no Hayabusa, iit goes from 0 to its top speed of 15 mph in…seven seconds. But that’s really all you want because, dude, you are riding on top of a suitcase! It makes you feel like you’re living out some childhood spy fantasy and, truly, few forms of mobility can do that. —K.S.
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