As 2009 winds down, here’s our look back at what we deem as the top cars of 2009. Despite the complete meltdown of the automotive industry, or “carpocalypse” as some have deemed, manufacturers still managed to unveil some strong offerings, packed with value, performance and style. Without futher ado, here are our picks for the top cars of 2009.
Nissan 370Z – Editor’s Top Sports Car & Overall Best Car of 2009
We love cars that put a smile on our face no matter what we are doing. Whether it’s undertaking the usual, boring commute or pushing the edges of grip on a backcountry road, we love cars that can do it all. The new 370Z delivers in every facet possible – incredible value starting at under $30,000, a V6 with gobs of torque and horsepower available at all revs and style that catches even the untrained eye. Throw in the available SynchroRev system, and you’ll look like a racecar driver with every downshift. As if this isn’t enough, there is an almost unlimited level aftermarket support to satiate the need to personalize. Considering this overwhelming list of credentials, the Nissan 370Z deserves our pick as the top sports car & overall best car of 2009.
Honorable mention – Mazda RX-8 R3
Audi TT-S Roadster – Editor’s Top Convertible of 2009
When Audi launched the second evolution of the TT, we absolutely embraced the new styling. Whereas the previous iteration leaned very heavily toward softer lines and, frankly, offered more estrogen-driven appeal, the 2nd generation went the other way. With harder bodylines, the signature LED daytime driving lamps and more powerplant options, the new TT became a more legitimate contender against the likes of the BMW Z4 and Mercedes SLK.
With the TT-S, even greater power was squeezed out of the 2.0 FSI turbo engine. With the retractable top, it became something even more. The open air driving experience is quite awesome and the style is just sexy. We desperately want one in our garage.
Honorable mention – Mazda MX5 PRHT
Infiniti FX50S – Editor’s Top SUV of 2009
What do you get when you combine the a car known as the “Atomic Catfish,” a myriad of technology and drop in a 380bhp V8 engine under the hood? You get the Infiniti FX50. Let’s face it. Our expectations from SUVs are rather low. Sure, you can carry cargo and passengers in relative comfort, but you give up pretty much everything else – agility, acceleration and, most importantly, fun. The FX50 changes the equation altogether with performance that gives many sports cars a run for their money. Sure, the cost of entry is not cheap, as the FX50 starts at $58,000, but nothing ever worth having is ever cheap.
Honorable mention – Audi Q5 3.2 Quattro
Acura TSX V6 – Editor’s Top Sports Sedan of 2009
By taking a very successful and sporty platform and giving it the engine it really deserves, Acura has elevated the popular TSX into a completely different segment. An excellent and silky engine, typical Acura fit & finish and tremendous value for the dollar, the TSX V6 gives the BMW 3-series, Audi A4-series and Lexus IS-series a run for their money.
Honorable mention – Nissan Maxima
Honda Fit Sport – Editor’s Top Compact of 2009
Why pay a premium for a hybrid when you can get a fully equipped and ROOMY subcompact for less than $20,000? That’s the question we asked after experiencing the wonderful Honda Fit Sport. With well over 30 miles to the gallon on regular (87 octane) unleaded, navigation, interior space that belies its exterior dimensions and a very high level of fit and finish, we can’t think of a subcompact that comes even close in terms of value.
Honorable mention – Mazda3
Chevy Camaro – Editor’s Top Domestic Car of 2009
While the Ford Mustang may have reignited interest in the domestic hot rod, the Chevy Camaro takes it over the top. As witnessed at the recent SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the Camaro is set to take over the Mustang and Dodge Challenger for modern hot rod supremacy.