Do you think there is any chance that Henry Ford could have envisioned what the automotive landscape of today would look like when he started making cars back in 1903? Was there any chance he could have predicted the sleek McLaren 600 LT and its blazing speed? The unparalleled luxury and comfort of a Lexus LFA? The old-school power and retro styling of his own company's Shelby Mustang GT350? Not a chance! So it's a good thing we don't need to rely on the insights and plans of more than a century ago to appreciate these past 10 years in automotive history. Technology raced ahead faster than many of these remarkable engines can carry a car, with incredible strides in hybrid and electric technology. Style and substance have been married like never before to create cars that don't just perform well but look amazing while they do it. Not all of them are affordable family sedans or workhorses, but they're all amazing in their own way.
Why don't we ring in a new year by parking here for just a moment to take a leisurely drive down memory lane and see what the past decade had to offer in terms of automotive greatness?
The fastest car in the world
If you've never seen a Bugatti Chiron, it's possible that you have, it just drove by so quickly you couldn't focus. The Chiron has an 8.0 liter quad-turbo W16 engine. What does that mean? It means 1,479 horsepower. That's a lot of horses. The handling is said to be amazing, and they have clocked the Chiron Super Sport 300+ at a mind-blowing 304 miles per hour. No production car in the world is faster.
To Hell and back
The Dodge Challenger has a venerable history as an American muscle car. This was toe-to-toe with Mustangs and Corvettes in its heyday. In 2015, the Challenger got one heck of an upgrade, and that's putting it mildly. The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has the nostalgia of the muscle car of old both outside and in. A 707-horsepower V8 engine is the kind of thing few cars in the modern era are wielding, but a muscle car like the Hellcat demands it. Going from 0 to 60 in under four seconds, the Hellcat even came with dual key fobs. One was family-friendly and limited engine output. The other was no-holds-barred.
That's no ghost.
Rolls-Royce has been making Phantoms since 1925. In 2017 it introduced the Phantom VIII, and it was definitely no ghost or shade of cars gone by. From a high-performance V12 engine to a pothole camera that will navigate you around trouble spots so as to not stress the self-leveling air suspension to four-wheel steering that adjusts every tire in conjunction with every other tire for smoother ride and exceptional maneuverability, the Phantom was a pristine automobile from hood to trunk.
A car fit for James Bond
Aston Martin has a legacy of refined automobiles. They look sleek and they perform well and coolness drips from the very exhaust. or so it seems. The company had a few misfires in the past, but things got back on track in 2017 with the DB11. "Autocar" magazine said that it had never seen a GT with a finer chassis, and Jeremy Clarkson simply called it "phenomenally good."
There's nothing like a Lexus.
Lexus has been making luxury vehicles for Toyota since 1989, and nearly every model has lived up to the promise, a well-made and well-appointed machine. That said, the LFA which rolled out in 2011 was a Lexus F to be remembered. With 553 horsepower in a fearsome V10 engine, it looked as good inside as it did outside. The Lexus Remote Touch interface is top-of-the-line, you can even customize your color scheme and display font sizes. Plus, there are seatbelt airbags! This was just a great car, and it's why Lexus has the reputation it does.
The definition of supercar
Anyone who knows McLaren expects only the sleekest, sexiest cars from this brand. McLaren has laid claim to the fastest car in the world in the past and is likely going to achieve that record again one day. But for now, just focus on how incredible the 600LT not only looks but handles. Drivers have claimed that while other supercars may be faster, none make you feel as alive and like you're part of the road like the 600LT. It's not just a performance car, it's a fun car. That's arguably one of the greatest compliments a car can receive.
Unlimited range? Almost
What makes Tesla so good? The company is great at hype, but hype only gets you so far. It has the technology to back it up, though, and the Tesla Model S is a prime example. Winner of 2013 Motor Trend "Car of the Year," and in 2019 its ultimate "Car of the Year" over the magazine's 70-year history, the Model S has the greatest range of any electric vehicle on Earth at 373 miles.
The genesis of auto making
The Genesis G70 was awarded 2019's North American Car of the Year award. It's a great-looking car with a twin-turbo V6 that provides exceptional handling and a relaxing drive experience. More to the point, it has the style and panache of a German luxury car without hitting your pocketbook in quite the same fashion, giving it a whole second layer of attractiveness to drivers.
A Leaf in the wind
Tesla has been a much-hyped brand and make no mistake, it deserves all the praise it gets. But that doesn't mean we need to overlook the incredible achievements of their competition like the Nissan Leaf. First made in 2010, the Leaf is actually the best-selling electric car in the world with over 400,000 models sold, even beating Tesla's Model S. In 2011 it was not only the European Car of the Year but the World Car of the Year. More than all of that, it's a well-made car that drives like a dream, too.
Keep looking Up!
Europe is famous for its city cars, those compact little vehicles perfect for the hustle and bustle of a place like Milan or London. The Volkswagen Up took that segment by storm, winning "Top Gear's" Small Car of the Year in 2011 and World Car of the Year in 2012 and offering drivers a compact, reliable little car that had power and style to spare. It came with a variety of engine options ranging from 65hp to 90hp and even an electric E-Up model is available.
Say hi to the Hybrid.
The first model year for Ford's Fusion Hybrid was 2010, and the car definitely made a splash. That same year, the EPA rated it at 39 mpg. In 2017, the plug-in Fusion Energi when working in all-electric mode gets an equivalent of 97 mpg. Compare that to the world's best-selling car, the Toyota Corolla, which gets 32 mpgh in 2019, and you can see just what an impact the Fusion makes.
When the best gets better
Calling a Ferrari the best Ferrari ever is a bold statement. The company has a decades-long history of making amazing performance cars, but the Ferrari 458 Speciale from 2013 was a dynamic, powerful ride that every car magazine and website fell in love with. An aspirated, flat-plane crank V8 engine produced worthy power, but the handling and agility of the car were unmatched as well. It was not just the best Ferrari of the decade, it may have been the best they ever made.
It means "super fast."
SuperVeloce means super fast, and that is an apt, if limited, description of what the Lamborghini Aventador SV (for SuperVeloce) is. The Aventador had been in production since 2011, but the SV brought some upgrades to the table. With a top speed of 217 miles per hour, it ate up the track like few other cars. Combine that with the unmistakable eye for beauty that the designers at Lamborghini have and this is one of the best cars of the decade hands down.
Form meets affordable function.
Kia has never been shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Ferrari or Porsche but, importantly, it never tried to be. What Kia does produce is reliable, affordable cars, and the Stinger may be the pinnacle of that line of thinking. Sporty with great handling and a powerful twin-turbo V6, the Stinger is also a spacious hatchback. What Kia essentially did was create a sports car and a family sedan in the same vehicle for less than the competition, and it turned out wonderfully.
The Porsche legacy
The Porsche 911 has a longer history than almost any car in production today. First made in 1963, it has changed little over the years, but what changes have been made are almost always for the better. Take 2016's Porsche 911 R. When purists complained that the GT3 was an automatic transmission, Porsche released the R with the traditional manual and all the performance people expected and then some. A limited run of only 991 was made, and each one made an impression.
On pace for greatness
Staying with the times is key for automotive success, and Jaguar's I-Pace has made an impression just for that reason. The all-electric I-Pace took the prize of Car of the Year in 2019 thanks to the performance of its dual electric motors, one on each axle. It has an impressive 200-mile range and has pulled in a whopping 62 international awards, making it the most highly decorated production car ever made.
Like a bolt from the blue
The all-electric Chevy Bolt was produced for the 2017 model year and was awarded Motor Trend's Car of the Year. Its 200 horsepower electric motor can take you 259 miles on a single charge as of the 2020 model year, making it one of the top-tier electric cars on the market. What separates it from the pack and makes it a standout is the fact that it also rides like a dream and has room to spare on the inside.
Come and see the XC.
Volvo's XC60 dates back to 2007, but in 2018 the second generation really went above and beyond with both style and performance. Taking the World Car of the Year award, it has been one of Volvo's top sellers across its entire production run. With safety features like whiplash protection and a revolutionary "City Safety" function that can predict and prevent collisions before they happen, it was also awarded the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick+ award.
The four-leaf clover
Not every car can marry performance with reliability and functionality like the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, so maybe it really did take some luck. The name Quadrifoglio means "four-leaf clover," and there could be something to it. The high-performance ability of the car can be brought out by shifting it into "Race" mode, which turns off electric stability controls, makes it noticeably louder out of the exhaust and opens the engine right up. Turn it off again and you have a comfortable commute to work.
AMG's the one to be.
From 2010 until 2015, Mercedes-Benz produced the SLS AMG complete with those iconic gullwing doors. Inside, it featured the Mercedes M159, 6.2-liter, naturally aspirated V8 engine, a smooth-running performance monster that leaves many other engines in the dust literally as well as figuratively. It was also a stylistic treat, with a long hood and other design elements all made from scratch by AMG , the first car it built for Mercedes.
Revealed for the first time in 2018 at the Beijing Auto Show, the BMW M2 Competition was an upgraded M2 that had a lot of performance modifications to make it a worthy successor to an already great car. "Top Gear" claimed there was no finer propulsion system than the twin-turbo six-cylinder engine for the price. A redesigned oil supply and cooling system made it a standout, as well.
A hole in one
The Volkswagen Golf has been in production since 1974, so you might fear that it's getting a little tired. Fear not! In 2013, the Golf Mk7 was released and took "Motor Trend's" Car of the Year Award as well as the Car of the Year Japan award, something no other European car had ever done before. Why so beloved? It's a perfect storm. A compact yet roomy hatchback that performs well, is good on gas, comes in electric models and is affordable. There's nothing this car doesn't do.
Fear this snake's bite.
The Shelby Cobra has a long and venerated history, so when Ford rolled out a brand new Mustang Shelby GT350 in 2016 it was a blast from the past that looked as amazing as ever and performed even better. Its naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V8 engine definitely hauls, but it's not even the speed or power you want to care about with the Mustang GT350, it's the sound. Words won't do it justice; you have to hear it for yourself. The roar of this engine will set any car lover's nerves alight.
Gotta have a Miata
Mazda has been making the MX-5, otherwise known as the Miata, since 1989. The fourth generation was introduced for the 2016 model year to critical acclaim. It took the World Car of the Year award and while it only offers 181 horsepower, the fact that it's so light and responsive makes it handle like a much more powerful piece of machinery. Tearing up the highway in the convertible model makes you feel like you're driving something that costs far more than the $25,000 sticker price.
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