2014 Automobile Magazine All-Stars: The Winners
Every year, the Automobile Magazine editorial staff canvasses the complete range of passenger vehicles on sale in America and casts votes for ten All-Stars winners. There are no contorted rules, no categories—they're just our favorite vehicles. This year, we've added a twist, bringing this elite group together for a road trip. If you'd like to read that story, click here to follow our 1684-mile road trip from Detroit to New Orleans. What follows below is a list of the 10 Automobile Magazine All-Stars for 2014.
2014 Audi A7/S7/RS7
The Audi A7 was our 2012 Automobile of the Year, and as Audi's sleek four-door "coupe" adds ever more powerful versions, it continues to epitomize the qualities that have made Audi one of the leading luxury brands—sophistication, style, substance, and comfort. It's equally wonderful to look at, to sit in, and to drive. To all that, the 560-hp Audi RS7 model, which debuts for 2014, adds one more worthy quality: menacing performance.
2014 BMW 3 Series/4 Series
You have perhaps heard whispers of dissent about the BMW 3 Series. BMW has gone soft. The competition has found the formula. And yet, this perennial All-Star award winner remains the only one that can do it all: roomy and practical enough to drive every day; luxurious and stylish enough to broadcast that you've made it; and, when the moment strikes, powerful and nimble enough to beat up on sports cars.
2014 Cadillac CTS
When Cadillac decided more than a decade ago to build a world-class sport sedan, we chortled. The Catera was awful. The first CTS was OK. The second CTS was good. The latest Cadillac CTS, which was in the final running for our 2014 Automobile of the Year award (which went to its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray), has been named an All-Star for its all-around dynamic excellence and its modern, leading-edge technology. The 2014 Cadillac CTS is an involving, agile car that not only goes fast but makes you feel like going fast. Credit Cadillac for taking the long view.
The numbers are impressive: 197 hp, 35 mpg highway, and a base price of $22,195. But what we really like about the Ford Fiesta ST is its character. It's a bullet on the road, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that sounds like a mini-Ferrari when flogged, a lively chassis, supportive Recaro seats, and clean shift action from the six-speed manual. This small, high-technology hot rod dares you to drive harder and faster.
2014 Honda Accord
The Honda Accord nails the fundamentals like no other car. It's spacious, fuel efficient, reliable, and has excellent outward visibility. No wonder it's so popular. In the hypercompetitive midsize sedan segment, the Accord stands out for its refined powertrains, its ergonomics, and its overall attention to detail. The fact that it can be equipped with one of the best, slickest-shifting manual transmissions in the world and handles like a smaller car is a bonus.
2014 Jaguar F-Type
Not just an All-Star but also a rock star, the handsome Jaguar F-Type makes people happy just by passing them on the street. This modern take on the iconic 1960s Jaguar E-Type captivated us with its svelte body, its available supercharged V-8 engine, and its exhaust note that sounds like machine-gun fire. Did we mention its looks? With its extravagant styling, the Jaguar F-Type has done more than any other Jaguar in years to make the brand relevant and desirable again.
2014 Mazda 3
The third-generation Mazda 3 offers the most value on the car market today—and not just because it's inexpensive. The stylish 3 breathes new life into the crowded compact-car arena: it drives with even more poise than before, returns superb fuel economy, and has an interior that shames pricier cars. Long the most entertaining of compact cars, the 3 now also happens to be one of the nicest. Compact cars aren't supposed to feel this sophisticated, but the Mazda 3 does.
2014 Porsche Boxster/Cayman
Yes, there are faster cars for the money. What you're paying for here is perfection. The Porsche Boxster convertible and Cayman coupe encourage you to drive quickly, make you into a better driver, and reassure you that an error won't cascade into a disaster. The accelerator pedal is as smooth and progressive as the volume knob on a McIntosh amplifier. The steering is so precise that you feel as if you're turning the car with your eyes. And in an era of engine conformity, the unique sound of the Porsche boxer engine mounted behind your ears is a standout experience.
2014 Ram 1500
The Ram 1500 defies the limitations of a pickup truck, continuing a spirit of innovation that began in the mid-1990s, when Chrysler introduced the big-rig grille and reinvented the way pickup trucks look. Now the Ram has the best chassis in the business, with a coil-sprung rear suspension that offers a settled ride even with an empty bed. The list of options and the refined interior rival those of a luxury car. And a new diesel engine—the only one available on a light-duty pickup—achieves the fuel economy of a mid-size crossover.
Is 200 hp enough for a sports car? Yes, provided that sports car is light and has a perfectly balanced, rear-wheel-drive chassis. Oh, and don't forget to include perfectly placed controls and communicative steering. Because of all this, the virtually identical Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ offer a pure driving experience for a new generation of enthusiasts and are among the few modern cars you can enjoy driving at the limit without losing your license. They also look great and are priced for the common man or woman.