Car Lists

The Best Cars We Drove in 2015

From a Year Filled With Great New Products, We Pick Our Favorites

From a Year Filled With Great New Products, We Pick Our Favorites

Another year has come and gone, and with it came another volley of exceptional cars, trucks, and SUVs. But which vehicles did the staff of Motor Trend like best? Keep reading to find out.

2015 Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4

Could the best car I drove all year be anything but the 2015 Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4? Although I only got one night with the wild Italian exotic during its 30-day tenure in the Motor Trend garage, it was definitely one of the highlights of my career. A 602-hp, naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V-10? Check. Zero to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and a 10.6-second quarter mile at 132.8 mph (214 km/h)? Check and check. Did I take full advantage of the Huracan’s power and speed? Let’s just say that the full tank of fuel and 306-mile (492-km) range that it had when I left work that night was on “E” with a zero-mile range when I returned the next morning. I only drove about 170 miles (274 km) overnight. Mission accomplished! Jason Udy

2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Most of the cars I drove this year felt like I was doing work, so the best of the bunch was genuinely fun, took me far away from people and traffic, kept me cool during a 117-degree photo shoot, and, best of all, isn’t even a car! The big, talented truck is so cheery on- and off-road. I spent time in it twice in 2014 and my third time around did not disappoint. Honorable mentions: Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, and the Mercedes-Benz F 015 concept that I took a not-autonomous ride in (it followed a pre-plotted route). Benson Kong

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

I’ve always loved Vipers (as a kid, I used to print out pictures of the Viper GTS-R Concept car to stick on my wall), and to me, the new Viper ACR epitomizes everything I love about them. It looks and sounds ridiculous, is awful for daily driving, and yet it’s perfect in every way. You want the real Viper experience? This world-beating Viper ACR is it. Christian Seabaugh

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

No other car was more memorable for me than the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata in Club trim with the six-speed manual. This little roadster made me feel alive and I kept grinning long after I stopped driving. As a whole package, the Miata delivers because of its impeccable balance and handling, and despite the modest 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque output from the 2.0-liter I-4, it feels plenty powerful and never ran out of breath. Stefan Ogbac

2016 Audi R8 V10 Plus

It’s not often a sports car demands attention at the dragstrip, but the R8 V10 Plus blew our minds and broke records in just 2.6 seconds. That’s the time it took to reach 60 mph, and in the quarter mile it ran a 10.6-second, 129.8-mph (209-km/h) pass, slaying hypercars costing multitudes more. We expected good things from this year’s R8, but we weren’t expecting these results. Chris Walton

An orangish-red Audi R8 was the last car I drove at my first track day, and it was quite the topper to a day that would have made any car guy or gal giddy with excitement. Nearly every serious performance automaker was present and accounted for, but I chose the Audi for my final parade lap. From the sound of the V-10 to the mountains of torque and grip, the R8 deserves its supercar title. When you’re making those “What if I won the lottery” dream garage lists you should really do what I will be doing from now on: Audi R8, top five. Austin Lott

2016 Toyota Land Cruiser 70-Series Truck

All these sports cars are nice, but I will never forget the December afternoon I spent in a 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser 70-series double cab truck (or ‘ute as they say in Australia).

With the truck’s 4.5-liter turbodiesel V-8 churning out 317 lb-ft of torque and its five-speed manual transmission, the rutted and rocky trails of Willow Glen, the 300-acre off-road park owned by the Land Cruiser Club of Australia, were a breeze. I simply idled in and out of trouble in second gear, only going down to first when things got especially nasty. ‘Twas a g’day, mate. Ed Loh

2015 Chevrolet SS Manual

Maybe I’m getting old. I drove more fantabulous cars this past year than anyone has a right to in a lifetime. Porsche GT3, Lamborghini Huracan, Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce, Z06, ACR, Rolls-Royce Phantom, Bentley Mulsanne Speed, AMG S65, Ferrari 488, AMG GT S, Cayman GT4, Boxster Spyder, Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible, three or four Hellcats, both Shelbys, the new Camaro SS, the CTS-V, all those wacky 550-plus-hp SUVs, an AMG G63 — the list goes on and on. But the one car that sticks out most fondly is the one that most closely resembles a rental car: the Chevy SS.

Yes, that’s the truth. Of all the cars I got to rock over the past 12 months, the car I see when I close my eyes is a four-door sedan. It happens to have a meaty V-8 up front, a six-speed manual transmission, magnetic ride control, and glorious real-wheel drive. The SS is also a sleeper, which I tend to value highly. It’s fast and it kicks ass, but no one needs to know. Put another way, only those in the know, know. The SS is the antithesis of a BMW 540i plastered with an M5 badge. I’d go so far as to say the anonymous-looking Chevy is the best four-door currently for sale, if you’re into that whole performance and fun thing. Even better, I can probably afford one. Hmmmm. Jonny Lieberman

2016 Volvo XC90

Look, I love going fast as much as the next guy, but sometimes I want nothing more than to be coddled as I cruise down the road. For my money, there’s no better vehicle for that than the XC90. Not only is it handsome and great to drive, but the luxurious interior has comfortable seats, an excellent stereo, and semi-autonomous features that make long drives a breeze. Christian Seabaugh

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S

Looking at the car’s specs, it shouldn’t be as good as it is: power-to-weight is only competitive, its shoes and footprint aren’t all that impressive, and it looks more like a Rodeo Drive accessory than a serious sports car. Yet, the AMG GT S is greater than the sum of its parts. It is so cleverly sorted and all of its components are so well-integrated that it competes far above its class in terms of dynamics and driver involvement. Best Driver’s Car, indeed. Chris Walton

2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350/R

Lapping Laguna Seca in the GT350R was a revelation. The entire notion of a “muscle car” was suddenly quaint and almost irrelevant after the first corner. What Ford did with this car was wholly unexpected, more innovative than any of its peers’ efforts to date, and instantly redefined what a sport coupe could and should be. That flat-plane-crank V8 with an 8,250-rpm redline, those 18-pound carbon-fiber wheels and fancy dampers all prove that innovation is still alive and well in a segment that has almost become a caricature of itself. Chris Walton

Although I only took the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R “around the block,” I was able to ring the 5.2-liter flat-plane-crank V-8 to its 8,200-rpm redline in several gears on the onramp entrance close to the Motor Trend headquarters. Despite being designed for high-rpm breathing, the V-8 felt fairly strong in the lower revs. The quick-revving nature of the naturally aspirated engine only adds to the driving enjoyment. Don’t forget about the world’s first application of carbon-fiber wheels on a mass-produced vehicle. Way cool. Jason Udy

From the second you fire up that flat-plane-crank V-8 you’ve heard so much about, you know this is a special one. This car oozes character — I can’t wait to spend more time driving it. Christian Seabaugh

2017 Bentley Bentayga

My most impressive drive of the year? Probably the Bentley Bentayga. I went to Spain ready to decry yet another crass, brand-diluting money-grab, fully expecting to find a tinseled Q7 wearing Conti-Spur Venza coachwork. But the Bentley team thwarted the acerbic review I had prewritten in my head by inventing the one thing a tall 5,400-pound ute needs most: God’s own active anti-roll bars. They’re 48-volt electric, they act instantaneously, they’re an industry first, and they make what should be a tall, tippy truck corner precisely as flat as or flatter than a Continental GT W12. Respect. Frank Markus

2016 Porsche Cayman GT4

Since the mid-engine Cayman was introduced, enthusiasts have been begging for a version with the same output as the rear-engine 911 halo car. Conspiracy theorists said Porsche would never build a car like this because it would finally prove they’ve been putting the engine in the wrong place for decades. Well, they finally did it, and the result is everything we hoped it would be and more. The Cayman GT4 (though still not perfect in its first-year of production) provides the power, balance, delicacy, feel, and glorious sound we knew it would. But like meeting a movie star — just an ordinary person with an extraordinary job we somehow go weak in the knees in the presence of our wishes fulfilled. Chris Walton

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG

I drove the GLA45 AMG for a photo shoot, but it might as well have doubled as a mini rally event. The setting was Alabama Hills in the Eastern Sierras, a remote area with ribbons of empty dirt roads and a snow-capped Mt. Whitney as the backdrop. As soon as the shoot ended, I took the GLA45 AMG on those roads and unleashed its 355-hp turbo-four for the most fun, memorable, dusty, and drift-filled drives I’ve had this year. Erick Ayapana

2016 Honda Civic Touring

Powerful automotive dream machines can be thrilling, but cars that manage excellence with affordability delight me the most, and that describes the spacious 2016 Honda Civic Touring. The available 172-hp turbo-four helps the sedan scoot to a Motor-Trend-tested 0-60 time of 7.2 seconds, which is brisk for a compact but doesn’t describe how quick it feels when VTEC the turbo kicks in. Then there’s the surprisingly awesome fuel economy, with EPA ratings at 31/42 mpg (7.6/5.6 L/100km) city/highway, or 27/45 (8.7/5.2 L/100km) in Real MPG. Add in LED headlights, two-tone leather seats, an innovative center console, and a partially digital instrument cluster, and you’ve got a package that easily earns the Touring’s $27,335 USD price tag. Zach Gale

2016 McLaren 570S

Million-dollar supercars are easy to build: essentially no budget and production runs are small. That leaves Porsche and Audi to own the high-end sports car range. McLaren was the first exotic carmaker to risk building an affordable, competitive sports car with the 570S. It borrows from its far more costly siblings, performs and feels like a “regular” (and excellent) sports car, yet its price is within reach of those shopping in the $200K USD range. Shortly thereafter, Lamborghini followed suit with the Huracan 580-2, and Ferrari has been teasing us for years. Let’s hope the trend continues. Chris Walton

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Given its Alpha bones and Corvette engine, you knew this thing was gonna be good, and man is it ever. It drives like no Camaro I’ve ever driven, and for now, it’s the ultimate ponycar. Christian Seabaugh

My role at MT is production pod queen bee, so I’m always in the office, and I don’t drive even a tenth of the cool cars Lieberman, Loh, Walton, etc. get to experience. Car of the Year weekend is my Super Bowl Sunday, and this year I was bowled over by the Camaro SS. I am NOT a Camaro fan — I’ve always dismissed them as too frat boy, too muscle-y, too showy. But I got to drive the un-mellow yellow Camaro SS offsite to fill it up with premium gas, and after 100 feet I was in love. Whoa, what an engine. What a smooth six-speed manual, and the handling is killer. It’s so, so fun to drive, and I even like the new exterior. As tested, our COTY-winning SS wasn’t out of reach at $38,585 USD. Make mine red, please. Emiliana Sandoval

2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic Coupe

This was a tough one. In a year that gave us both a flat-plane-crank Mustang and a new, better-than-ever Miata — both incredible driver’s cars — I’m picking the one that I just can’t stop thinking about: the Mercedes S-Class coupe. The S-Class sedan spoils you enough with its generous amount of comfort and tech features, but the coupe absolutely envelops you in luxury. With a gorgeous interior that should make Bentley and Rolls-Royce sweat and a sultry coupe shape that beckons you to return every time you walk away, the S-Class coupe is my new standard of luxury. Alex Nishimoto