The Extra Mile: 10 best from 2013
It's that time of year again where we report on our 10 best test drives from the 52 vehicles tested in 2013. In no special order we list them with the as tested retail price including options and delivery and the base price, too. Many of the cars we drove in 2013 were 2014 models.
1: 2013 Toyota Avalon XLE Hybrid, $38,720. Since Avalon's debut in 1995, the manufacturer was a bit "gun shy" when it came to exterior design upgrades. However, its new generation Camry and Avalon make bold moves forward and regardless of model chosen, are sound choices. The Avalon Hybrid is a "Test Drive" best buy and starts at $31,340. Base Camrys start at $22,235.
2: 2014 Acura RLX, $61,345. Acura's new RLX is quiet, comfortable, loaded with luxury and indeed all-new. It's a major move forward and will allow Acura to again compete for the top spot in the mid-size, full luxury sedan segment. RLX starts at $48,500.
3: 2014 Kia Sorento SX AWD, $38,550. The new Sorento is a winner, regardless of trim or engine. Expect robust sales thanks to the low entry price of $24K, dealer incentives (no one pays retail anymore), financing options and that great Kia 100,000 mile, 10-year warranty limited powertrain warranty. SX starts at $26,195.
4: 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited, $32,490. Based on number of total miles driven, if you plan to drive 150,000 miles or more, then Sonata Hybrid is a great choice. If you drive 10,000 miles a year or less, the gas powered Sonata might be the way to go. Sonata starts at $20,995.
5: 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer SE AWC, $22,940. Mitsubishi's SE AWC is a tremendous buy, and comes with enough amenities and standard features to give it a Test Drive best buy nod. Its exterior design attracts buyers of all ages, and its non-fluffy business only interior is comfortable, roomy and functional. SE offers the best of all worlds at a great price, so if you're considering an AWD vehicle, this is a must drive. Lancer AWC starts at $20,695 while front drives start at $17,195.
6: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, $62,000: Review not yet printed, but already driven. Overall, few cars on the road can match the performance and price of this American made muscle car where focus is on speed and handling. ZL1 delivers 580 horses from its supercharged V8 and goes to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. Not for the faint of heart. Watch for the entire review soon. Starts at $55,055.
7: 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite, $45,280: Honda Odyssey offers everything that is good in a modern minivan, including spacious interior, room for eight, "magic" disappearing third-row seat, powerful engine, great fuel economy and pretty fine looks, too. Odyssey starts at $28,825.
8: 2013 Subaru Legacy, $30,997: Subaru may be viewed as "number four" behind Japan's big three of Honda, Nissan and Toyota, don't tell that to Subaru dealers or owners. Built in Lafayette, IN, by American craftsmen, this Legacy mid-size delivers excellent fuel mileage, recommendations from consumer magazines and the Subaru "legacy" of AWD technology and Boxer "lay flat" engines. Base Legacy starts at $20,295.
9: 2013 Infiniti JX35, $52,205: JX35 is Infiniti's Tennessee-built seven-passenger SUV that delivers a combination of power, luxury and beauty in a highly competitive market. The target consumer is one of a higher income, however when comparing prices against similarly equipped Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango or GMC Acadia, Infiniti's base of $41,550 becomes more attractive. (In 2014, JX35 becomes QX60).
10: 2014 Mazda3, $24,785: Mazda's all-new Mazda3i Grand Touring sedan features "Skyactiv" technology, a 2.1-inch longer wheelbase and a much heralded 41-MPG highway EPA rating. For years, Mazda has been asserting its fun to drive cars in "Zoom Zoom" style commercials and the 2014 "3" is a prime example and starts at $16,945.
In ending, of the 52 vehicles tested this year, some manufacturers were limited due to scheduling conflicts. For 2014, Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Dodge, Range Rover, Jaguar and others are already on the list for test drives. Stay tuned for much more with Ford and Lincoln vehicles already scheduled for February.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist).