I check out a lot of new cars every year -- about 100 that we shoot here at CNET and
almost that many at the worldÃ¯Â¿Â½s big auto shows.
But if you think I look at every one and
want it, youÃ¯Â¿Â½re very wrong.
IÃ¯Â¿Â½m Brian Cooley with the Top 5 -- really, the only 5 - cars I shot in 2011 that I looked into
buying for myself.
#5 Ford Transit Connect.
Yeah, people look at me like I have two heads with this one,
but I love the idea of a stand-up van that isnÃ¯Â¿Â½t some huge, ponderous pain in the ass to
drive and fuel.
Its based on a Ford Focus, so things stay economical.
It has basically no
tech, which is fine by me in something like this; IÃ¯Â¿Â½ve got a Android, phone, a window
mount and a AUX cable.
LetÃ¯Â¿Â½s haul some stuff.
#4 was another Ford, the Mustang GT.
I would have ranked this higher if it were the V6
which I think is the sweet spot in the Mustang line since that is a powertrain you can
drive at 7/10 in the real world unlike this affordable V8 monster which has a superb new
5.0L engine, one of the best interiors in the U.S.
car biz, great lines and SYNC -- though
the interface needs a redo.
#3 Kia Optima.
This is my go-to car right now when someone asks me what car they
Handsome lines courtesy of ex-Audi designed Peter Schreyer, an interior no
car in this price class has a right to offer, plentiful and usable center stack technology
and real responsive driveability which is often overlooked for performance stuff like HP
and 0-60 times.
#2 is the Fiat 500C.
Now, IÃ¯Â¿Â½m a Fiat partisan from way back as you may now but, that
notwithstanding, I love how the 500 leads the brandÃ¯Â¿Â½s return to the U.S.
looks, a great modern version of the retro ragtop, adequate tech and fun, if
underpowered, drivability -- all under 20 grand.
Step up to the more powerful Abarth
version weÃ¯Â¿Â½ll test soon and the carÃ¯Â¿Â½s story should come full circle.
Before I get you to #1, here are the three cars I recalled hating without having to look
back at my notes:
Ã¯Â¿Â½ The Mini Countryman.
It costs too much, the shtick is tired, and the one they sent
us died and had to be hauled away.
Ã¯Â¿Â½ The Smart.
And I had such high hopes for this little piece of crap.
M-B is going to relaunch it in 2012 and I think it has one more chance at a win.
Ã¯Â¿Â½ The VW EOS.
First car we ever rebadged.
OK the #1 car I configured and pencilled out for myself in a long, lovely Ã¯Â¿Â½what ifÃ¯Â¿Â½ was the
911 Carerra GTS.
Believe me, IÃ¯Â¿Â½m as allergic to the whole 911 cliche as you are, and
they even sent us a yellow one -- GACH!!!
-- but on the road the GTS reminds you why
this car is a classic: Its the only car this year -- maybe in the history of CNET Car Tech -
that I can say feels like an Ã¯Â¿Â½extension of the driverÃ¯Â¿Â½ with a straight face.
Light, responsive, yet built like a brick shithouse.
Its got serious power - right now - but is
totally livable day to day.
Lots of tech, which is very good but trailing BMW and Audi, but
thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s not the point.
No car I drove this year succeeds so well at delivering what its sets
out to do.
Find all my car videos at CNETTV.com, just pull down Car Tech under Tech Shows.
find more Top 5Ã¯Â¿Â½s like this at top5.cnet.com