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What better way to kick off 2018 than taking a step back and giving a summary of last year? But not just any ‘ol recap.

 

 

I want to tell you about the best new cars of 2017. 

 

Over the years here at AutoSpies, I’ve become accustomed to assembling a list of the top vehicles I enjoyed during the past 12 months. These are the types of vehicles that had me taking detours on my way home, left me saying “Wow,” and — in some cases — completely changed my perspective on a brand. In other words, these autos earned their spot in my heart and mind. 

 

Note: This list only consists of vehicles I piloted in 2017. If I didn’t drive it, it was not considered.

 

That said, let’s dive in:


 

1. Lexus LC500. One thing I can attest to: When Lexus wants to build something extraordinary, it will be done. And that’s exactly what happened with the creation of the LC500. Although the hybrid variant is interesting in its own right, it left me feeling lukewarm after a week with it. The LC500 powered by the 5.0-liter V8 though, well, that’s another story. Although I was disappointed to learn the 500 repurposed the motor from the RC F and GS F, I have to admit that it was thoroughly enjoyed during my time with the car — it makes all the right noises. Easily one of the best looking large luxury coupes on the market today, it features a polarizing design. Either you get it or you don’t. The LC makes for a highly entertaining grand touring coupe that is surprisingly comfortable. Though I wouldn’t put it in the same league of today’s sports cars, it certainly does strike a balance that’s in line with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe. If you’re looking for something a bit more extroverted than the standard offerings in this price range, this is a no brainer.


 

2. Mercedes-Maybach S560. When the Maybach brand was put out to pasture in 2013, it was a bit of a bummer. While sales didn’t materialize and the business case was thin, it seemed that the three-pointed star was onto something. Now living under Mercedes as a sub-brand it is in a more comfortable position. Styled as a long wheelbase S-Class with slightly more visual flair, the new Maybach variants fly under the radar. In fact, many owners have been debadging their all-new Maybachs for discretion — I’d do the same thing. What I really enjoyed about my time behind the wheel of a 560 model was that is can be enjoyed in front or in back. Up front it feels like a more indulgent expresssion of a tried and true S. In back, it feels more like a first-class flight to Dubai. It’s quieter, more isolated and better dampened than the standard S; however, when you drive it, the Maybach retains the S’ maneuverability and ease of use. So, it really provides the best of both worlds if discretion and flexibility are two of your cornerstones when it comes to luxury. Does it ride as silky smooth as a Rolls-Royce Phantom or Bentley Mulsanne? No, but it’s pretty damn close especially at a 50 percent discount when compared to those two players. 


 

3. Honda CR-V. I know I am in the minority at AutoSpies, but I think the all-new Honda CR-V is quite snappy looking. CR-Vs from previous generations look goofy whereas this all-new sport-utility vehicle has more of an aggressive, upscale vibe. The same applies to its interior. Based on design alone, I don’t know how anyone can choose a Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4 or anything else over the CR-V. Although I wish it had a better engine and transmission, I realize that most consumers will be satisfied with the pep and gear changes in the CR-V as they are. What sets apart the CR-V from its competition is its ride quality. The suspension tuning in this vehicle absorbs New York City’s worst bumps with grace whereas the RAV4 felt downright awful on the same roads. At the end of the day, buyers are picking up a discount Acura. Forget the RDX, folks. This is the one you want.

 


 

4. Genesis G90. Hyundai’s luxury division, Genesis, has been doing in the 2010s what Lexus did in the 1990s. It’s changing the game and making consumers question the norm. While the G80 is impressive in its own right, the G90 that replaces the Equus takes it to another level. That’s because it’s a very strong offering in the large luxury sedan class that’s become awfully expensive in recent years. There’s no question in my mind that I would take a G90 over the 2017 Lexus LS. And compared to the all-new Lincoln Continental? G90 me. The G90 has better material quality that its predecessor and, frankly, I think its ride is blissful. Is its design a bit boring? Yes. But when I was behind the wheel I was happy and proud to drive this car. I can’t say the same for the Equus, which felt more like wearing a Rolex from China Town. Kudos to Hyundai for giving cars like the G80 and G90 a brand it deserves. To me it’s the best value pick in the large luxury sedan class. 

 


 

5. BMW M760i. For what feels like eons, the grassroots BMW community has been asking for an M7. While the company delivered the Alpina B7, that only fanned the flames. The closest we’ve gotten at this point is the all-new M760i. Equipped with a monster V12 engine, power is effortless. On a road trip to Washington D.C. I got to experience the 760 at its finest, and, boy, do I love how the torque hits at speed so you can pass slow pokes with just a dab of pressure applied to the go pedal. The best part about the all-new 7 is how it feels sporting even for a vehicle of its size — the Bavarians really outdid themselves with this one. Here’s the thing though: It doesn’t sacrifice ride quality as it is as isolated and comfortable as the current Rolls-Royce Ghost. Now if only BMW could drop the “M” in the name and lose the tacky badging, I think the brand would be onto something. Note: The 7 has an Achilles Heel as its wheels/tire combinations are problematic. After my time in the M760i I had bubbles in two tires. In addition, numerous owners I speak with say the 7’s larger wheels/tire packages prove to be sore spots for them.

 


 

6. McLaren 570GT. The legendary British marque is disrupting the exotic car market. Although it has a rather rich heritage in motorsport, the reality is that its road car legacy wasn't exactly there. Aside from the F1, which has a helluva story to build off of, what other road cars did McLaren do that were exceptional? The 650S started the ball rolling and the follow up was the 570S. The 570GT is the more easygoing variant that adds more cargo capacity behind the passenger seats, a glass hatch that opens curbside for easy loading/removal and more refined tuning for a grand touring experience. At first I thought the concept was a bit silly, but after experiencing it the math checked out. Its handling capabilities are staggering and, frankly, I found its ride to be way more compliant than I ever expected — no need for a Bumpy Road button here. For a supercar it boasts a tremendous amount of flexibility and it’s clear that the engineers wanted the 570GT to be used as a daily driver. Consider the goal achieved, boys and girls. Now if they could just make the car’s exhaust note sound better and MSO could switch out the 570’s suspension for the one used in the 570GT, I think we have the perfect 570R. ;)


 

7. BMW 540i. The BMW 5-Series is an automotive legend. While the E39 was a complete hit, the brand’s really struggled to produce a 5’er that’s even close to being that good. I think the G30, as its known, may be the closest attempt yet. That’s because it feels as elegant and well thought out as the range-topping 7-Series with the usability and packaging of a 5-Series. The blue and white show in this car that it can continue to trickle down its more luxurious cabins and that its sedans can be driven with some sporting intentions. Although the steering feels a bit too vague and its styling could use more panache, I am confident that most folks that get behind the wheel will see this is a step forward for the 5-Series if they’re yearning for the good ‘ol days of the E39. 




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