Frankly, with Cadillac's terrific Bose audio setup, there might be no better vehicle under $100,000 for driving around and listening to jazz and blues. The XTS V-Sport simply sets a marvelous mood.
Ok, true, you might consider this a bit of an old person's car. But so what? Once you're done blasting around in sports cars and hauling your family in a minivan, you might just want to settle into a set of wheels that's largely mellow but with some extra oomph in reserve.
The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350.
I sampled this beast on an actual race track in Utah, thanks to Ford's Performance Driving School program.
Typically, I don't like to turn laps in cars as powerful as the GT350 because I feel as if I can never get the machine under control, but in Sport Mode the beast bent to my will and made me comfortable in a hurry (the magnetic ride control and traction management give you all sorts of margin for error).
I spent most of my laps in third gear, savoring that 8,200 redline on the big flat-crank V8. This enabled me to concentrate on setting up my corners and hitting my apexes, while still hammering the GT350 down the straights and every so often hearing the rev-limiter tell me I needed to go to fourth.
The Shelby GT350 is absolutely the best Mustang I've ever piloted.
This is the greatest Vette ever. True, the Z06 is mind-bogglingly impressive, and the Stingray is wonderful.
But I grew rapidly addicted to the combo of the 8-speed, the V8, and the suspension dynamics. Over and over again, I let the revs climb slowly north on the tachometer, feeding in a flow of throttle, then abruptly increasing my input. BOOM! The back end LOCKS DOWN, the front rises slightly, and you're off like you've been fired from a howitzer. The power is sweet and honey smooth, but there's so much of it.
The Prius is more fun to drive than most people give it credit for, but the CT is actually kind of a kick. With the F Sport package, a $3,325 upgrade, you get 17-inch alloy wheels and sport-tuned four-wheel independent suspension, and to my senses what felt like crisper steering. The car has some heft to it, as well, so it feels more planted than the Prius.
Admittedly, you are never going fast. But the impression of a luxury performance wagon is present, mainly when cornering or taking a lazy turn on some winding roads.
A high-performance Ford pickup has been around in one form or another since the early 1990s. The Raptor is the latest iteration, and its reputation thoroughly precedes it. I knew what I was getting into. But that didn't make climbing up into the cab and slipping behind the wheel any less exciting. This pickup ain't cheap. But performance comes at a price, and in this case, it's worth it.
The Pacifica Hybrid is probably the best minivan money can buy right now.... Chrysler invented the minivan and the carmaker still just seems to understand down deep how to do these people movers just right.
The Pacifica doesn't miss a trick, and the addition of the hybrid option, with a tasty 30-plus miles of all-EV range possible, means that for daily kid-transport duty, this machine could be a true money-saver.
This is a mellow car to drive, for the most part. Volvo has edged it away from sporty, saving that sensibility for its Polestar performance wagons. The V90 I sampled is optimized for suburban family duty, hauling kids and pets and gear. The appealing cargo capacity means that big shops and home-improvement runs are also in the picture. Add a pop-up camper using the tow hitch and you can hit the great outdoors with a family of four.
More than any vehicle I've driven lately, the Model X feels borrowed from the future. It's ahead of its time, mostly to its benefit. Ultimately, I felt as if I were driving around inside Elon Musk's brain: a save-the-world car that's stylish as heck and crammed with technology, thinks it wants to go to Mars, invites questions from the curious public at every turn, flat-out looks cool, is crazy fast, and has some neuroses but is still brilliant.
The Chevy SS.
It's a magnificent dinosaur, and it's going away (Sniff!).
"It is not a self-driving car," I wrote in my review.
"It is not a piece of high-tech mobility. You won't want to share it with anybody. It's retro, it's fast, it's loud, and it's completely insane. It's a dinosaur — and it deserves to stick around. We should be sad to see it go."