2013 Automobile of the Year: These Are The 10 Finalists

Happy Automobile of the Year week! With just days to go before we release the identity of the 2013 Automobile of the Year, we thought it would be best to catch you up on the proceedings and let you know a little bit more about what went down earlier this month.

What Happened:

We took 28 of the best and brightest cars that were new for the 2012/2013 model years to our favorite western Michigan hideaway, Gingerman Raceway in South Haven. Over the course of three days (two driving just on public roads, one driving just on Gingerman's 2.1-mile road course), editors had the chance to drive each and every one of them and name a winner.

To make our jobs (slightly) easier, we also decided to name a "shortlist," 10 finalists that went from merely being nominated for 2013 Automobile of the Year to being on the final ballot when we chose a winner. We've revealed the final ten in the following pages, and provided a little bit of real-time insight as our editors climbed out of each car, snapped photos on Instagram, and tapped out quick responses on Twitter.

The BMW's prodigious thrust was enough to draw quite a few compliments--especially on track day. Even so, the mighty M5 fell to the Tesla Model S in a drag race--credit that car's instant-on torque and single-speed transaxle.

 

  • Engine Twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter DOHC V-8
  • Power 560 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Torque 500 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
  • Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch auto
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $92,095
  • As Tested $106,695

The ATS delighted many over our three days of testing, but we couldn't help but compare it to the mighty BMW 3 Series--the 2.0T to our Four Seasons 328i Luxury, the 3.6-liter to the 335i Sport Line in our tester fleet.

 

  • Engines Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4; 3.6-liter DOHC V-6
  • Power 272 hp @ 5500 rpm; 321 hp @ 6800 rpm
  • Torque 260 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm; 275 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
  • Transmissions 6-speed manual; 6-speed automatic
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $44,315; $47,590
  • As Tested $45,910; $48,190

We actually had two cars with the same engine on hand during Automobile of the Year testing: one Dodge Dart, and one Fiat 500 Abarth. While the Abarth's friskiness drew a lot of smiles, we loved the Dart's everyday usability...and its status as the most compelling Chrysler small car we've seen in years.

 

  • Engine Turbocharged 1.4-liter SOHC I-4
  • Power 160 hp @ 5500 rpm
  • Torque 148 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Front-wheel
  • Base Price $21,785
  • As Tested $25,065

Can a Focus with 252 horsepower still be a usable vehicle? We debated that ad nauseam all week...after fighting over the keys to this entertaining hot hatchback.

 

  • Engine Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4
  • Power 252 hp @ 5500 rpm
  • Torque 270 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Front-wheel
  • Base Price $24,495
  • As Tested $26,040

We staged our own mid-size melee at Automobile of the Year testing, pitting the Nissan Altima against the Honda Accord and Ford Fusion. It was the Fusion's looks, ride and handling, and impressive hybrid that elevated it to the next round. But is it enough to steal the crown?

 

  • Engines Turbocharged 1.6-liter DOHC I-4; Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4; 2.0-liter DOHC I-4 with electric motor
  • Power 178 hp @ 5700 rpm; 240 hp @ 5500 rpm; 188 hp (combined)
  • Torque 184 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm; 270 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm; NA
  • Transmissions 6-speed manual; 6-speed automatic; Continuously variable
  • Drive Front-wheel; Four-wheel; Front-wheel
  • Base Price $24,495; $32,995; $27,995
  • As Tested $26,040; $37,670; $30,975

The second mid-size melee entrant: the venerable Honda Accord. We loved the Accord's handling and power from both I-4 and V-6 engines, as well as its simple, easy-to-understand interior and controls.

 

  • Engines 2.4-liter DOHC I-4; 3.5-liter SOHC V-6
  • Power 185 hp @ 6400 rpm; 278 hp @ 6200 rpm
  • Torque 252 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm; 274 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Front-wheel
  • Base Price $24,180; $33,140
  • As Tested $24,180; $33,140

The Porsche Boxster S was all-new for 2013, but our feelings weren't: the car still shows remarkable poise, makes plenty of power, and slays more powerful cars on the track.

 

  • Engine 3.4-liter DOHC flat-six
  • Power 315 hp @ 6700 rpm
  • Torque 266 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $61,850
  • As Tested $85,410

What would Automobile of the Year testing be without a brand-new 911? The blue C2S was a hit on track day, road driving...pretty much everywhere we put it. With 400 hp on tap, a beautiful interior and exterior design, and superb handling, we can see why.

 

  • Engine 3.8-liter DOHC flat-six
  • Power 400 hp @ 7400 rpm
  • Torque 325 lb-ft @ 5600 rpm
  • Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $97,350
  • As Tested $124,910

One of the handful of Four Seasons cars that made it to Automobile of the Year testing, the BRZ was familiar to most of us but still shone through the pack thanks to its great chassis, workhorse engine, and point-and-squirt handling. Many remarked that it rewarded drivers on the track more than cars costing twice as much.

 

  • Engine 2.0-liter DOHC flat-four
  • Power 200 hp @ 7000 rpm
  • Torque 151 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $26,265
  • As Tested $26,265

Automobile of the Year testing was actually the first time many staffers were able to drive or even touch a Model S, and most came away impressed with its speed and handling. The huge 85-kWh battery allowed us to treat the car like any other gas-powered one: we drove all day and parked it at night, plugged in to a 240-volt charger.

 

  • Motor/Transmission Three-phase, four pole AC induction motor with copper rotor; single-speed transaxle
  • Power 416 hp @ 5000 rpm
  • Torque 443 lb-ft @ 0 rpm
  • Battery/Range 85-kWh, Lithium-ion unit; 265-mile range
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $93,570
  • As Tested $102,270

 

  • Engine Twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter DOHC V-8
  • Power 560 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Torque 500 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
  • Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch auto
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $92,095
  • As Tested $106,695

  • Engines Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4; 3.6-liter DOHC V-6
  • Power 272 hp @ 5500 rpm; 321 hp @ 6800 rpm
  • Torque 260 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm; 275 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
  • Transmissions 6-speed manual; 6-speed automatic
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $44,315; $47,590
  • As Tested $45,910; $48,190

  • Engine Turbocharged 1.4-liter SOHC I-4
  • Power 160 hp @ 5500 rpm
  • Torque 148 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Front-wheel
  • Base Price $21,785
  • As Tested $25,065

  • Engine Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4
  • Power 252 hp @ 5500 rpm
  • Torque 270 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Front-wheel
  • Base Price $24,495
  • As Tested $26,040

  • Engines Turbocharged 1.6-liter DOHC I-4; Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4; 2.0-liter DOHC I-4 with electric motor
  • Power 178 hp @ 5700 rpm; 240 hp @ 5500 rpm; 188 hp (combined)
  • Torque 184 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm; 270 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm; NA
  • Transmissions 6-speed manual; 6-speed automatic; Continuously variable
  • Drive Front-wheel; Four-wheel; Front-wheel
  • Base Price $24,495; $32,995; $27,995
  • As Tested $26,040; $37,670; $30,975

  • Engines 2.4-liter DOHC I-4; 3.5-liter SOHC V-6
  • Power 185 hp @ 6400 rpm; 278 hp @ 6200 rpm
  • Torque 252 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm; 274 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Front-wheel
  • Base Price $24,180; $33,140
  • As Tested $24,180; $33,140

  • Engine 3.4-liter DOHC flat-six
  • Power 315 hp @ 6700 rpm
  • Torque 266 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $61,850
  • As Tested $85,410

  • Engine 3.8-liter DOHC flat-six
  • Power 400 hp @ 7400 rpm
  • Torque 325 lb-ft @ 5600 rpm
  • Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $97,350
  • As Tested $124,910

  • Engine 2.0-liter DOHC flat-four
  • Power 200 hp @ 7000 rpm
  • Torque 151 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $26,265
  • As Tested $26,265

  • Motor/Transmission Three-phase, four pole AC induction motor with copper rotor; single-speed transaxle
  • Power 416 hp @ 5000 rpm
  • Torque 443 lb-ft @ 0 rpm
  • Battery/Range 85-kWh, Lithium-ion unit; 265-mile range
  • Drive Rear-wheel
  • Base Price $93,570
  • As Tested $102,270

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