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At AUTOMOBILE, All-Stars Are the Stars

Editor's Letter

Andrew TrahanphotographerMike Floydwriter

All year long, our datebooks fill up with an unceasing treadmill of auto shows, press drives, concours, interviews, daily news, weekend jaunts, photo/video shoots, and deadlines, always deadlines. Not that we're complaining, mind you. We love what we do. But there's one glorious week that stands out on the AUTOMOBILE calendar. You're reading the result right now: The All-Stars Issue.

AUTOMOBILE's eclectic band of editors spends four days with a dream team of cars, driving 'em hard and putting 'em away wet. It's our chance to cut through the noise and bring you what we believe are the top automotive offerings of the year. To salute and honor the cars that did not bore us. What David E. Davis Jr. wrote in his intro to the 1991 All-Stars still holds true today. "What we really seek is a category-crossing 'best,' a unique automotive experience that will appeal to enthusiasts like ourselves."

We return once again to South Haven, Michigan, just as the fall chill descends on the shores of mighty Lake Michigan. All-Stars HQ is the nearby GingerMan Raceway, a tidy 2.14-mile circuit boxed in by rolling meadows and farmland that serves as a perfect setting for intense driving—and intense debate.

"No more picking the same car eight years in a row. We'll take a critical look at each year's
crop and whittle it down."

The 25 vehicles invited to this year's event were hustled along miles of ragged and winding backcountry roads and pushed
like rented mules around GingerMan's 11 turns. We wrangled over the nuances of steering feel, acceleration, braking,
handling, interior ergonomics, and exterior design in the garage where we gathered to compare notes. On the last night, we assembled around a long table at a local cafe and argued, ate, drank, and argued some more before finally choosing the All-Stars.

What I love about All-Stars—in keeping with the spirit of AUTOMOBILE's founders—is that there are no exhaustive criteria to adhere to, no numbers to crunch. Just 19 auto journalists guided by their passion for all things cars and decades of combined experience evaluating vehicles.

We have made some changes this year. Most notable is the decision to retire Automobile of the Year. From now on, All-Stars will be our car-award calling card, the franchise we'll build upon. Beginning with this year's event, we're inviting only all-new, significantly revised, or otherwise unique variants to the All-Stars competition—no more reading about the same car eight years in a row. We'll take a critical look at each year's crop of new cars and whittle it down to a list of vehicles that have All-Star potential.

While most of the vehicles we brought along this year are the types of #noboringcars you'd expect to see, we also invited a few wild cards to keep things
interesting. Most years, we'll pick 10 winners, but we reserve the right to choose as many as we want depending on the year and the number of eligible cars
on the market.

After the dust settles, we'll take our All-Stars on new adventures, drive them harder, and keep them even longer in order to determine if they're really what we
thought they were during the week in South Haven.

Enjoy this year's presentation, both here and in our January 2015 print magazine, where we have a bootload of great photos and behind-the-scenes All-Stars action. Here's hoping you'll dig the cars we've selected, though I imagine feelings won't be universal. That's just fine. Declaring winners always ignites passion, flame wars, and second-, third-, and fourth-guessing. We wouldn't expect anything less from you. There was plenty of the same fervor and clashing of opinions among the staff during the week. Choosing our All-Stars ain't easy. It shouldn't be.

Please tell us what you think about the changes. We're eager to hear your thoughts about what we can do to make All-Stars an even better experience. Hit us up at letters@automobilemag.com and let us know how you feel.