This past year has been a very busy one for this column. Two automotive issues and a lot of very important vehicles showed up in these pages.
As with every year-end issue, I have to decide which ones were the best above all. This is not an easy task; however, I have chosen nine out of 17 vehicles reviewed in Lavender. Let’s just start with an icon.
CHEVROLET CORVETTE: It was not a fresh new 2017 (or 2018) model that we reviewed, but a very well cared for, low-mileage 2014 Stingray that still provided the sensation and essence of the breed. In its 65th year, the Chevrolet Corvette is a car every American car person must drive in their lifetime. It does not have to be a C7 (seventh generation—the current model) or something high-powered (Z06, for example). It just has to be a Corvette.
HONDA RIDGELINE: It upsets the traditional truck crowd by doing things that are different, such as building the entire vehicle on a platform shared with a unibody SUV and a minivan. It is engineered as a front-drive vehicle with a solid all-wheel system. It is comfortable; more so than the other traditional mid-sized pickups. Then there’s the trunk inside the bed. You can throw bags of ice and bottles of your favorite beverage for a tailgate. Oh, and that tailgate can swing down or off to the side. For being different, it is quite good at what it does.
HYUNDAI ELANTRA SPORT: The Elantra is a good car as is. This is the icing on that cake: a 201-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine that rivals in power with some of the hottest compacts in the market. It also boasts a tauter suspension and well-bolstered seats. When you find yourself at your local Hyundai dealer, check one out and be pleasantly surprised.
LEXUS RC F: This contributing writer wanted to share with you one of my favorite automobiles. It remains as such for many reasons. One does not need something exotic to satisfy the soul. Nor does someone have to step up into another universe for a superb performance and driving experience. It’s a confident coupe that makes any drive an experience. Let me invite you to try one out. You’ll understand what I’m all about with this car.
LINCOLN CONTINENTAL: It is more than just the return of the nameplate. The newest Continental honors its past by reimagining one of the best American luxury cars ever: the 1961-65 Lincoln Continental. It does not achieve this by flash and presence. The Continental offers performance, technology, and comfort that luxury car buyers want, especially when equipped with the twin-turbocharged V6, all-wheel drive, active suspension, and its array of superb appointments. The Continental has returned, and it should be driven to be loved as we loved it.
MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV: It is one of the best value propositions among electrified vehicles. The automotive industry is trending towards plug-in and other electrified vehicles. The Outlander PHEV offers a great value with its two-motor electric drive system, a solid and efficient four-cylinder engine, comfortable seating for five people, and extensive warranty coverage at an attainable price. This is the best value in plug-in vehicles right now.
SUBARU IMPREZA: One of the best in its class right now. WardsAuto named it with one of the best interiors of any vehicle sold in the U.S. It also offers superb style and superior all-wheel drive traction as standard. There is the highly practical five-door and the sweet sedan. Put it all together and you may just have one of the best cars in its class. Mark another Subaru for your consideration!
VOLVO S90: A modern interpretation of the iconic large Volvo we loved back in the 1980s; yet it’s so sleek, handsome, advanced, and athletic, not to mention superbly appointed and luxurious. It’s fantastic, but there’s some news to share. For 2018, they extended the wheelbase for a larger rear seating area. Longer wheelbases usually provide a smoother ride, which could put this S90 into the hands of limousine and livery operators. Rather, a family who wants to luxuriate in a fine automobile will be right at home in this Swedish luxury sedan.
VOLVO V90 CROSS COUNTRY: Take the S90 and convert it into a wagon. Raise it a few inches off the ground, put on larger tires and some plastic cladding. What Volvo created was not only the return of their large wagon, but a paean to the original Cross Country. It is a capable machine that can be a great companion for a winter outing or a summer camping trip. Its performance also turns an average fuel economy that won’t break the bank. This Swedish wagon could be the right antidote for the SUV.