The second decade of the "the new Millennium" is also over.
Some of you might say "amen." Others would rather linger in the memory of a decade that was, at best, considered "interesting."
To look back, I figured we can do a My Favorite Vehicles of the 2010s.
Yes, everyone now has an all-decade list of some sort. I wanted to avoid it altogether. After some thought, I figured "why not?" Let me attempt to do some list.
The history of this website almost spanned the entire decade – I rebranded it in 2011. Yet, I have done some reviews on the old blog the year prior. Remembering those will be a challenge in itself because most of the vehicles on this list would be from 2011 and onward.
With every list, compiling was extremely tough. Some of these vehicles came quite easily. Others took some brainpower that bordered on having massive headaches (my apologies to those who have them – it is the only analogy I could come up with).
So, here it is…My Favorite Vehicles of the 2010s…
2010-Current DODGE CHALLENGER: Fifty years ago, Dodge introduced a nicer version of the Coke-bottle Plymouth Barracuda called the Challenger. Among the pantheon of MOPAR muscle, this was an icon. The word “icon” will be used liberally here. It fits rightfully so with the next coming of the Chally on a shortened LX platform – one derived from an old Mercedes-Benz E-Class. They modified the old Chally’s Coke-bottle design almost to the letter. The exception was to placate current safety regulations and requirements. The result is a car equally iconic as the original. Initial HEMI V8 power either matched or exceeded that of the original itself. However, the 2015 mid-cycle refresh propelled the new Chally onto a different plateau. The addition of Hellcat engines added more iconography to Dodge’s prized coupe. Even the Demon extended the new Chally’s legacy by expanding the idea of what performance can be in a passenger car. Yet, it has a large trunk and an accommodating cabin that flips the script for sports coupes. Moparians continue to rejoice every time a Chally comes into view. These are many of the reasons why it won #VOTY14.
2015-Current DODGE CHARGER: When I was a kid, the Dodge Charger was a mid-sized two-door coupe with massive muscle and classic styling. In 2006, that classic two-door became a four-door. While it gained two more doors, the spirit was not lost. The second generation LX Charger arrived in 2011, but it did not grab my attention fully until the mid-cycle refresh for 2015. At that point, it felt like everything I loved about the LX Charger grew into a car I would fully enjoy without apology. Perhaps it was that front end, reminiscent of the 1968-70 generation. Perhaps it was the raised performance and the availability of the supercharged HEMI engines (I’m talking about the Hellcat, here!). But, it was a combination – maybe, a culmination – of what I wanted out of a MOPAR muscle machine. It was a fulfillment that was delivered through a pulsating (and wonderfully loud) exhaust system.
2015-Current FORD MUSTANG: How does one improve upon an icon? With a history dating back to April of 1964, the original ponycar still turns heads and starts conversations today. Yet, there is so much equity to the Mustang’s brand that was elusive to the rest of the world. That all changed with the 2015 model. Ford wanted to sell the new Mustang worldwide. To do so, they had to make some serious changes to the car to make it more palatable for global tastes. For example, they added independent rear suspension. The alone changed the character of the Mustang. It can take a corner, smile for the camera, and give you more upon exit of said corner. Everything is pure Mustang – the intersection of 55 years of heritage with the needs, wants, and desires of today’s enthusiasts. While the EcoBoost turbocharged version works on several levels, you have to, well, level up – to the GT with the V8 engine. From there, the sky’s the limit. This is how can icon ages over five decades of history.
2015-Current LEXUS RC F: When the RC arrived, I heralded it as the return of a proper coupe. Not to demean BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Infiniti, and other producers of 2+2 coupes, but this one truly reminded me of some of the classic coupes of my childhood. Then, Lexus added the 5.0-liter V8 to the mix. Not only did I have a classic-type 2+2 coupe, but I also had technologically enhanced muscle car performance. The way that V8 delivered was astounding – silent, but deadly. You can hear an exhaust note, yet you could not feel the transmission as the speedometer reached upwards towards the triple-digit mark. Nor could you feel it run. As frightening as it might be the first time around, it was something not unlike an airliner going across the country. The mark of a great car is how its memory still lingers to this day. At the end of the decade, the RC F's memory continues to linger. Perhaps this is why I could call it the perfect coupe. This website also calls it #VOTY15.
2014-Current MAZDA6: To create a mid-sized family sedan, they had to make it into a sporty one. To do, Mazda crafted a formula that added "Zoom-Zoom," "KODO – Soul of Motion," and Skyactiv technology into a beautiful and assertive car. Upon the first gaze, it whetted my appetite for it. My first drive yielded a touring sedan that was simply what I expected and wanted from a car of its ilk. At every turn, I wanted more. I received more than I asked. Then came the 2018 mid-cycle refresh. That elevated the experience even further. The Mazda6 balanced luxury with performance – the prime example being the Signature model with its posh interior and turbocharged engine. Again, the formula remained in place – "Zoom-Zoom," "KODO – Soul of Motion," and Skyactiv. This blend was primed for an elevated place in automotive marketing. It also raised many questions. "This Mazda or a BMW 3-Series?" Or, any so-called premium sports sedans. I will leave that question unanswered. But, give Mazda major points for gumption in creating a sedan that aspires to be great and does so effortlessly.
2010-Current RAM 1500: In 2009, Fiat facilitated the spin-off of the truck lineup from Dodge into its own brand. The first Ram 1500 was originally called a Dodge, but it would become "the best pickup truck in the business" once the nameplate was changed for good. Over two generations of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ full-sized half-ton pickup truck, one thing is certain: You are not going to get an experience that you would normally expect from a vehicle of this kind. The interior is well done, full of nice touches and easy-to-use controls. The exterior design remains true to its "big rig" stance up front and solid function out back. The Ram Box alone remains one of the best ideas in pickup truck utility. Then, the drive. The only pickup truck with fully independent suspension and available automatic air suspension – that broke many rules when it came to pickup trucks. The result is a truck worth driving: full of driver satisfaction, and capability that feels just right.
2015-Current VOLKSWAGEN GOLF FAMILY: The Mark VII Golf was supposed to be the pinnacle of the breed. Consider the 40-plus years of a car that cemented Wolfsburg’s future from rear-engine, air-cooled, vehicles for the people to front-engine, front-drive, water-cooled models for modern society. When I work with a vehicle, I look for overall execution. The way it presents itself and does so with everything done on the highest level. This is how I saw the five-model lineup of the Mk VII Golf – three hatchbacks and two wagons. I found more serendipity with the three hatchbacks than the wagons. The Golf is an urban runabout that doubles as a family vehicle outside of this continent. The content level is high, which makes consumers very happy. The Golf GTI is iconic. This is a car you can commute in, as well as take it on a track day. Then, there's the Golf R. This beast offers high horsepower, all-wheel-drive, and extraordinary driving dynamics. Together, they make a family. They also add to the Golf’s long history.
2016-Current VOLVO XC90: Chinese automaker Geely purchased Volvo to the fear of many of its fans. We wondered if they will turn the Swedish automaker away from its roots. Geely did the opposite. They left Volvo alone to create a new generation of automobiles. The result is a family of new vehicles with a design philosophy that is set to endure and engage with its fans, as well as new customers. The first new vehicle was the mid-sized premium three-row SUV, the XC90. It set the tone for every Volvo that came afterward. A new design language that amplified Volvo’s signature at all four corners. A new performance strategy that starts with a basic engine and adds additional boost and propulsion options for greater output and returns. A new emphasis on safety and technology and the synergy it provides to everyone on board. The result is the vehicle that launched many Volvos across the remainder of the decade and beyond. It embodies one of my benchmarks for any vehicle – excellence. No wonder why it won #VOTY16.
DISCLAIMER: All vehicles in this article were provided by their respective manufacturers.
Lead photo by Randy Stern