Drivers’ Choice Awards
Each year we roll out the red carpet for our annual Drivers' Choice Awards. These are the cars and trucks we would like to have parked in our driveway, or at least dream about owning if we won the lottery. We look at the factors mattering most to consumers - price, practicality, performance and fuel efficiency. Then our editorial staff selects the best models in a variety of lifestyle categories ranging from family sedan to luxury car, to large utilities and pickups. From that group, an overall best of the year is chosen. MotorWeek's Drivers' Choice Awards have been presented annually since 1983.
2017 Drivers’ Choice Awards
Best of the Year
The Chevrolet Bolt EV is our 2017 MotorWeek Driver’s Choice best of the year.
A clear standout above all of the vehicles we’ve driven over the past 12 months, it should be no shocker to anyone who has followed the evolution of electric cars, that this highly practical plug-in takes our most coveted prize. Ever since modern EVs first hit our streets, countless critics and consumers have collectively proclaimed that they wouldn’t truly be viable alternatives to internal combustion vehicles until they could travel 200-miles between charges and cost less than $30,000. Well, we’ve finally breached that milestone, and it’s Chevrolet, not Tesla or any other upper crust brand that got there first. And they did it with a good looking, highly practical package that’s not an eco-freakmobile strictly for the greenies.
As for specifics, Government EPA range is estimated at 238-miles, with MPGe ratings of 128-City, 110-Highway, and 119-Combined. The Bolt EV’s 60-kWH battery pack puts out 200-horsepower and 266 lb-ft. of torque through a permanent magnetic drive motor. A full charge on 240-volts takes 9-hours, but 90 miles of range can be added in as little as 30-minutes with a DC fast charge. There are things that you expect, like EV-specific navigation, high efficiency tech throughout, and a host of active and passive safety features.
But there are also things you might not expect like seating for 5 in the well-equipped cabin, modern crossover-like exterior styling, and hatchback utility with 16.9 cubic-ft. of cargo space behind the seats. It’s even fairly entertaining to drive thanks to near-instantaneous torque delivery, and batteries that are mounted as low as possible in the chassis. You can easily dial in your preferred amount of regenerative braking, less to make the driving experience close to normal, or max to add as much energy as possible back in and pretty much drive the car without using the brake pedal. The Bolt EV removes whatever obstacles and excuses that remain in keeping all-electric cars from going mainstream.
True, base pricing is actually $37,495. But, once the full federal tax credit is applied it squeaks under the $30,000 threshold, and many state incentives take it even lower. Hopefully, those perks will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Pushing boundaries, setting benchmarks, while keeping it affordable; that’s what made the Chevrolet Bolt EV our staff’s unanimous choice as our 2017 MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Best of the Year.
Best Small Car
Technically a repeat winner, as it earned the honor last year; but it was the addition of both an energetic Coupe and versatile Hatchback to the lineup that kept the award in the Civic camp this year. But no matter which Civic you choose; you’ll get fun to drive, feature-packed, efficient and reliable transportation, with some of the most dynamic styling we’ve ever seen on Honda.
Best Family Sedan
We could tell you that we chose the Ford Fusion as our Best Family Sedan because of its practicality and polish, but what really sealed the deal is new Fusion Sport. We love the fact that despite declining sedan sales across the board and stuffing their coffers with F150 cash, Ford hasn’t forgotten the mid-size 4-door; applying first-in-class features like continuously controlled damping, that have it smoothly riding to the top of the class.
MINI Cooper Convertible
Our Best Convertible award goes to the MINI Cooper Convertible. For not a lot of money, the MINI Cooper offers all of the fun-in-the-sun you’re looking for, yet delivers it in a way only MINI can. Which means go-kart like handling, funky style, and attention to detail not seen in cars that cost twice as much. Thoughtful features like a sunroof-like position for the fabric top, and easy-load levers for the cargo area, just made our decision that much easier.
Best Luxury Sedan
The Mercedes-Benz E300 easily earned our Best Luxury Sedan award. Sure, the Drive Pilot semi-autonomous driving feature that rivals Tesla was part of it, but more importantly, the E-class’ understated style over-delivers in just about every category; whether you’re talking luxury amenities, gorgeous materials, or easy to use technology features. It’s attainable, and yes even practical, German luxury at its finest.
Best Sport Sedan
Another German 4-door takes our award for Best Sport Sedan, it’s the Audi A4. Audi’s over-achieving 4-door started an all-new generation for ’17. And while it still hits that sweet spot between BMW performance and Mercedes-Benz poshness better than ever; it does so with one of the finest interiors in the business at any price point. And while its exterior may not stir your emotions, the car is packed full of hi-tech that simply works great!
Best Sport Coupe
Another repeat winner is our Best Sport Coupe, the Chevrolet Camaro. And while it may be a repeat, it’s not the same lineup as last year. Since then there’s been a 1LE to re-join the ranks. But even more importantly, the ZL1, a brawny beast of a machine that crams Corvette muscle into the Camaro form that we love so much. But even more to the point, this is not a one trick pony car. It builds on the previous-gen ZL1 by adding a track-ready suspension to be a real all-purpose performer, and go back to back as our Best Sport Coupe.
Best Performance Car
For years we, and lots of others, have longed for BMW to bring back the M3 potency of old. Well, we’ve finally been given exactly what we were waiting for; our Best Performance Car the BMW M2. This high-strung pocket rocket brings the legendary performance we remember, fully into the present with a 365–horsepower inline turbo-6, but more importantly brings back that driver-centric feeling we’ve been missing in recent BMWs.
Our Best Eco-Friendly award winner shouldn’t really come as a surprise, the Chevrolet Bolt EV brings to market the practicality that is needed for wide spread all-electric car success. An EV with 200-miles plus of range, for a price tag of less than $30,000. And it does it in a sporty-looking real car that’s as user-friendly as it is efficient.
Best Dream Machine
The Acura NSX needs no introduction, and stakes were certainly high when Honda decided to bring this legendary Japanese techno-exotic back. Many were skeptical including us. Well, they nailed it.
Best Dream Machine
Our next dream machine comes from the rapidly expanding McLaren lineup, and it may just be our favorite one yet. The 570GT takes all the performance of the mid-range 570S, and puts it in a luxurious daily driver package we’d never get out of.
Best Dream Machine
Porsche 911 Turbo S
When it comes to performance, the Porsche 911 Turbo S is always top drawer. But, for ’17 it goes next level with 580–horsepower of all-wheel-drive insanity. Undeniably a dream machine come true.
Best Small Utility
Crossover utility sales continue their record setting ways, with a host of new entries, particularly those smaller in scale. But it’s one of the originals that earned our award for Best Small Utility, the Honda CR-V. It already did just about everything right and boasts the sales numbers to prove it. But with a well thought-out 5th gen redesign, it fills in all the gaps; even brings back a volume knob; and once again stands out in an incredibly competitive segment.
Best Large Utility
Our Best Large Utility is the Mazda CX-9, another genuine standout, but for very different reasons. Mazda traded in a market-lagging predecessor for an emotionally-styled, hand crafted piece of automotive machinery that moves your soul as much as it moves people and cargo. Something that didn’t change is being a segment standout when it comes to handling; and its new turbo-4 powertrain fits right in with the sporty image. Everyone loves a come-from-behind story, and the Mazda CX-9’s zoom-zoom saga is Hollywood-worthy.
Best Luxury Utility
Jaguar has truly been bringing the razzle-dazzle of late, so it makes sense that their first ute, the F-Pace, would earn our Best Luxury Utility award. The F-Pace stood out in this very crowded category with the style, luxury amenities, and air of exclusivity that we expected; but also with some serious performance credentials that we didn’t. It would have been really easy for Jag to just re-badge a Land Rover and call it a day, and it probably would have been very successful.But the F-Pace is based on their own XE sport sedan chassis, and is another big hit for the reborn brand.
Rumors of the minivan's demise have officially been put to rest as Chrysler, the inventor of the front-drive segment, does a full reboot with an all-new Pacifica; showcasing why minivans really are the family friendliest of all vehicles, and earning our Best Minivan Award along the way. Loads of cargo space for Dad, plenty of comfort and luxury features for Mom, up-to-date tech for the little ones; and features like Stow n’ Go seating that other manufactures have been unable to duplicate. What’s more, the 200-inspired face brings some style to the segment, and a soon-to-arrive Plug-in Hybrid version will ensure the minivan keeps driving into the future.
Best Pickup Truck
The Nissan Titan is a repeat winner for our Best Pickup Truck, as this year they added an all-new ½-ton Titan to last year’s Heavi”er” Duty XD. Both offer “big truck” looks and capability, encasing easy to operate and feature-packed interiors. That’s plenty to keep the awards coming and make their rivals nervous.