CNET Car Tech: A retrospective

CNET Car Tech: A retrospective

The paperwork from all those reviews CNET Networks
The Rolls was a definite high point CNET Networks
When it comes to pure driving fun, the S2000 is hard to beat CNET Networks

Today being my last day at CNET, I was clearing out my desk and came across a stack of window stickers for all the cars I have reviewed and driven in the line of duty as an editor on the Car Tech channel. Rather than indulge in dewy-eyed reminiscence on my own, I thought I'd share a few of the highlights with you, the readers who have endured--and hopefully occasionally enjoyed--my automotive observations over the past two-and-a-bit years.

Starting with my review of the 2006 Buick Lucerne , I have been in and out of the driver's seats of literally hundreds of cars, some of which were more memorable than others. The Mercedes S550 with its hard-drive based navigation system, night vision camera, and adaptive cruise control gave me my first real exposure to the rarefied world of automotive technoluxury, an experience I was to revisit many times over. Equally impressive was the self-parking Lexus LS460L , which became the first car to receive a perfect 10 score in a CNET review. And it was while enjoying the heated massage seats in the stunning Mercedes-Benz CL550 in the outside lane of I-280 that I got my first on-the-job speeding ticket . On the subject of beautiful cars, one of the highlights of my first few months was the Jaguar XK , the first real-head turner that we got in to the CNET garage and still one of my all-time favorites. (While the XKR Convertible was more impressive from a performance perspective, I prefer the clean design of the original.)

Performance high points have to include the mighty Shelby GT500 , a true modern-day muscle car; the Porsche 911 4S ; and the awesome Audi R8 , which I got to flog around Laguna Seca raceway. A barrage of BMWs has crossed the CNET garage threshold during my tenure, including the frighteningly fast 2006 BMW M5 and the BMW M6 (in successive weeks!), the 2007 BMW Z4M , and, most recently, the new, brawnier 2008 BMW M3 , which I spent a memorable day thrashing around the hills of Northern California. For sheer over-the-top luxury, I have to hand it to the $375,000 Rolls Royce Phantomwith its automatically closing doors, in-dash TV, and built-in umbrellas.

Amid such a backdrop of awesome automotive hardware, it was sometimes easy to lose track of the less exotic--but no less remarkable--stream of test cars that showed up twice a week. The Mercedes-Benz SL550 , the 2008 Subaru WRX STi , the Audi S5 , the Saturn Sky Red Line , the BMW 135i , and the hard-top Mazda Miata MX5 have all brought a smile to my face on the freeways around San Francisco. The impressively economical Mercedes-Benz E320 BlueTec deserves a special mention for nearly getting me all the way from San Francisco to LA and back on one tank of diesel, while the 2007 Honda CR-V remains a favorite for having accommodated no fewer than seven dogs in back on one of our more adventurous practical field tests. The 500-horsepower Porsche Cayenne turbo was probably the most outrageous car I've reviewed in my time here, although the 9mpg 2007 Cadillac Escalade has to come in a close second.

So, what would I choose if I could drive any car from the past two years out of the CNET garage and into the sunset? That's a tough one. Having had the privilege of driving so many cars that I will never be able to afford, my values and benchmarks are so skewed that I am ruined forever as a car buyer. Keeping things in the realm of attainability, I think that for sheer driving enjoyably, the Honda S2000 is still tough to beat.

Thanks for your feedback and comments over the past couple of years: I can say without reservation that it's been a blast.


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