2007 Editors’ Choice Awards: Over the past several months, we’ve evaluated and reported on a wide range of vehicles, from Korean economy cars to high-dollar European sedans and everything in between. After all that seat time, we’ve come to at least two very solid conclusions: 1) buyers have an amazing array of choices in an increasing number of categories; and 2) despite improvements generally across the board, certain 2007 vehicles outshine the competition in terms of comfort, design, quality, performance, or overall value. These are the cars, trucks, and SUVs we deem most worthy of car shoppers’ consideration, and hence, earn their spot among Autobytel’s 2007 Editors’ Choice Awards winners.
How we did it
his year, our seasoned staff of auto critics compiled a list of every new or substantially revised vehicle and assigned them to their respective categories, which were based on factors such as segment and price. Vehicles that were not driven by at least one staff member prior to final voting on Nov. 17, 2006 were disqualified, as were those that went on sale before February 2006 or after February 2007. However, contenders for the Best Car for the Environment, Best Family Car, and Best Car for Teen Drivers awards were not limited by sales dates or model year. Each staff member voted for the vehicle they’d most often recommend, with winners determined by a simple majority.
Best New Car for the Environment finalists scored an 8 or better on the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions rating system. Best Family Car finalists included any four-door vehicle starting below $30,000 with at least four stars in every NHTSA category, no safety concerns, and Good IIHS ratings for frontal- and side-impacts as of Nov. 15, 2006. Best Car for Teen Drivers contenders had to be equally safe with a base price of $25,000 or less. Best New Small Cars offered 95 cu.ft. of passenger room or less, Midsize Cars offered 105 cu.ft. or less, Best New Small SUVs provided 75 cu.ft. of cargo room or less, midsize suvs provided 75-95 cu.ft., and large SUVs provided more than 95 cu.ft..
Nissan Versa – Best New Small Car
Nissan Versa – Best New Small Car: Roomy, comfortable, constructed with quality components and able to provide a smooth ride, the Nissan Versa is our pick for best small car of 2007. It’s got personality thanks to unique design, and it’s got spunk courtesy of a spirited four-cylinder engine. Add the versa-tility of a hatchback and the ability to outfit a Versa with upscale components like keyless ignition and a rocking Rockford Fosgate audio system, and small doesn’t necessarily mean cheap.
Toyota Camry – Best New Midsize Car
Toyota Camry - Best New Midsize Car: Restyled and more powerful, the Camry grows up for 2007 but keeps its midsize charm with a smartly designed interior, a comforting ride and plenty of variants from which to choose. In an increasingly competitive segment, the Camry remains at the top of the class with its mixture of flair and common sense, though recent quality issues have put a chink or two in the Camry armor. Take a test drive and be the judge. For most midsize car shoppers, we think the Camry will deliver many a smooth and pleasant mile.
Lexus ES 350 – Best new luxury car Under $40,000
Lexus ES 350 – Best New luxury car Under $40,000: After an hour-long deadlock, the Lexus ES 350 emerged victorious as our Best New Entry Luxury Car. Simply put, it’s the better vehicle for most people looking for their first set of luxury wheels. It’s stylish, comfortable, and can be equipped with a long list of high-tech features. Plus, it’s got a brand name with cachet, which is important in this class. If there’s a fly in the ointment, it’s that this new ES doesn’t look or feel as rich inside as the old one.
Lexus ES 350
BMW 3 Series Coupe
Mercedes-Benz E-Class – Best New Luxury Car Under $75,000
Mercedes-Benz E-Class – Best New Luxury Car Under $75,000: Spacious, comfortable, stylish, and with a Bluetec diesel version that’s a hoot to drive, there was little debate about our pick or Best New Luxury Car under $75,000. Besides that turbocharged diesel offering up to 37 mpg on the highway, the E-Class boasts engines pushing 268 to 507 horsepower, optional all-wheel drive, a standard accident preparation system, and all the luxury one expects from the granddaddy of automotive luxury.
Lexus LS 460
Volkswagen Eos – Best New Convertible Under $75,000
Volkswagen Eos – Best New Convertible Under $75,000: Contrary to advertising from its competition, the $27,990 VW Eos is the least expensive convertible on the market with a retractable hardtop. And that’s with the brand’s entertaining 200-horsepower turbocharged engine, a host of power and safety equipment, a passable rear seat, and a structure that’s surprisingly solid even with the top down. The Eos’ sexy style and capable demeanor put it on par with the exquisite $39,000 Volvo C70.
Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible
Volkswagen GTI 4-door – Best New Performance Car Under $40,000
Volkswagen GTI 4-door – Best New Performance Car Under $40,000: Can you tell that we’re big fans of Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, the one found in the Eos convertible and GTI, and others? When coupled with responsive steering, a sport-tuned suspension that’s at home on the track and the street, a choice of slick transmissions, and wrap-around bucket seats, that eager four-banger transforms the four-door Rabbit into an instant grin inducer. The $22,600 price and four-door utility are just bonuses.
Acura TL Type-S
VW GTI 4-door