Our annual best of the best! | Thank you all very, very much for all of your continued support.
Here’re our Annual Awards for 2014. In order to be eligible, we must have tested and reviewed the vehicle between January 1st and December 31st, 2014. Our criteria don’t necessarily need the vehicle to be all-new or even necessarily refreshed for this year, but it does need to be in production between these dates. Our entire staff got a vote, and we took reader opinions into account as well.
Thank you all very, very much for all of your continued support. Our team takes pride in bringing you the latest and greatest from the automotive industry, from the perspective of seasoned automotive enthusiasts. This past year has been particularly eventful for us, as we’ve experienced record growth far beyond what we had projected. 2015 will bring new adventures, new cars and motorcycles, and best of all, even better memories. It’s all thanks to your loyalty and continued encouragement. Happy Holidays to everybody, and we hope you all will continue supporting and visiting us in 2015!
–Adi Desai (Editor-in-Chief)
Best Styling: 2014 Cadillac CTS
Since Cadillac introduced their new Art & Science design language just over a decade ago, their cars have begun to stand out. This past year, the introduction of the all-new CTS and CTS Vsport meant an even bigger leap for the brand; one where this car is actually competitive against the big Germans. Not only is it competitive, it’s gorgeous. The striking LEDs out front, the handsome lines, and the overall hunkered-down stance of the CTS helps it stand out in any crowd. It’s overall elegance and aggressiveness help it remain our favourite styling of 2014.
Best Family/Road Trip Car: 2015 Subaru Outback
Even though the majority of the buying public has gravitated towards SUVs and crossovers, we remain loyal fans to the traditional station wagon. With new entries this year like the Volvo V60 and the redesigned Subaru Outback, this loyalty has only become stronger. Over the past few months we’ve tested every iteration of Outback, and come away more and more impressed with each passing mile. This raised station wagon is the perfect balance between versatility, utility, and overall driving comfort. For a road trip of any length, this would be our pick. With pricing between $25,000 and $40,000 well-equipped, the Outback fits most people’s criteria for a year-round driver.
Best Sports Car (Under $50,000): 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE
Two of our writers have put their money where their mouths are; we now have two classic Chevrolet Camaros in the DoubleClutch.ca garage. During our test week with the track-oriented SS 1LE this year, we all wanted seat time. The rumble of the 6.2L 426-horsepower V8 and dual-mode performance exhaust are to die for. The 6-speed manual transmission and stripped-out, performance-focused nature of the 1LE package makes this car a serious performance bargain. At just over $45,000, the 1LE is nothing less than a baby ZL1. It even won over the hearts of some of the import-lovers on our team, and we still miss its presence in our stable.
Best Sports Car (Over $50,000): 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S
The new 911 Turbo S is one of the fastest and hottest new cars this year. In its humble yet iconic GT Silver, the legendary Carrera styling is understated yet somehow maintains one of the sexiest profiles on the road. Not only does it get looks and compliments wherever it goes, it’s one of the most captivating driving experiences ever. The level of precision, sharpness, and overall performance this Porsche provides is unmatched. The driving position is bang on, and sport settings have ample customizability for drivers’ respective preferences. The overall combination and package the 911 Turbo S offers makes it our favourite sports car over $50,000 this year.
Best Sports Sedan: 2014 Audi RS7
The RS7 packs 560 horsepower. It has two turbos and is a direct competitor to the BMW M6 GranCoupé and Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG-S, both vehicles we extensively tested this past year. This car is seriously fast and is truly addictive. We spent a considerable amount of time with the RS7 and it was quickly the runaway winner of this award. The sports sedan class is one that is particularly dear to us; we love vehicles like the Audi S4 and even the new Volvo S60 Polestar, both runners-up for this award. The RS7 makes an amazing noise and is simply the most exhilarating sedan on the road today.
Ten years ago, if someone had told any of us that a Chrysler product with a diesel motor was going to win an award, we would have smirked. However, the simple fact is that the new EcoDiesel motor is a game changer. The new Ram is a vehicle of two personalities; a comfortable highway cruiser when asked to be, with the personality of a tough work truck when that need arises. Similarly, the new Grand Cherokee is a new benchmark in luxury and comfort for the Jeep brand. We took an Overland to Detroit for the auto show a couple years ago, and it was immensely perfect for that drive. The new EcoDiesel motor is capable of 8.1L/100km on the highway, which is incredible for a heavy SUV, not to mention a pickup truck. Green, comfortable, and high-quality – they must be imported from Detroit.
Best Eco Car: 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid
The Camry Hybrid, introduced for 2007, has now gone through one full redesign and a couple of mid-cycle refreshes. Its 2.4L four-cylinder engine combined with the electric motor was state-of-the-art when new, and boasted fuel numbers in the 5.9L/100km range. Despite the car being new this year, the powertrain is essentially the same as it was back in 2007, less a bump to 2.5L a few years ago. However, the Camry Hybrid remains one of the best overall green packages one can by. For not much more than a regular 4-cylinder Camry, the Hybrid offers real-world fuel economy that matches the suggested numbers, a trusty drivetrain, and is offered by a brand that takes pride in their product. Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive remains one of the oldest and most reliable hybrid systems on the market, and that’s nothing to scoff at.
Biggest Surprise: 2015 Acura TLX 2.4 P-AWS
Previously, the Volkswagen group was known for their world-class dual-clutch transmissions. This year though, Acura has combined the TL and TSX luxury sedans into one all-new model – the 2015 TLX. Engines are largely carried over, but the hot topic here is the 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. It has more gears than the VW/Audi units, and it’s slightly more efficient too. It shifts quickly and confidently, and it helps this lively 4-door premium sedan stay energetic. This transmission is only available with the 4-cylinder front-wheel-drive model; V6 TLXs make do with a ZF 9-speed automatic. We definitely think that the 4-cylinder is the one to buy, because the V6 feels a bit too front-heavy and hence, lazy. This I-4 model is essentially a grown-up version of the Civic Si we’ve grown to love so much.
Best Motorcycle: 2015 Ducati 899 Panigale
The summer of 2014 marked our second season reviewing motorcycles as part of our regular editorial content. We experienced nearly all of this year’s greatest bikes, and this Ducati 899 Panigale was a truly special one. It packed the perfect balance of power and sharp handling, making for a compelling choice for either track or street use. We found its riding position slightly brutal on the groin, but the sheer noise emitting from the Panigale’s exhaust made us forget all about that. This is one truly special Italian sport bike that every (experienced!) rider must experience at least once.
Overall Favourite: 2015 BMW M3
This is the second year in a row the BMW M3 gets our Overall Favourite award. Of course, this isn’t the same V8-powered coupé as last year. The M3 is new for 2015 and is four-door only, just the way we like it. Two-door models are renamed M4 and are powered by the same twin-turbo inline 6-cylinder as this car; good for 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. The hot new colour pictured and tested here is Yas Marina Blue, and people couldn’t keep their eyes off this car during our test week. Coupled with the dual-clutch transmission, the M3 is loud, proud, fast, and even efficient. Louis managed to keep numbers in the 11L/100km range over his test week, previously unheard of from a car bearing the legendary “M” badge. We drove faster, more expensive, and more efficient cars this year, but nothing captivated us as much as the new M3.