Lists are what we do to mark on occasion.
It is Victory & Reseda’s 10th Anniversary, so I have to make a list – or a few.
Obviously, the most popular lists on this website revolve around the vehicles I had worked with. My Favorite Vehicles of [insert year here] are ones that fulfill your questions year after year. And, every year, you have opinions on it.
Taking that feedback to heart, I will be doing TWO My Favorite Vehicle lists for this 10th Anniversary celebration. This will be the first of those two lists.
What are these two lists I will publish? I figured I can do one list as my favorite vehicle I worked with from every year of publication. The other will be an all-time favorite list, encompassing all 10 years. You might find some that will be on both lists. Give credit to consistency of experience and feedback.
Without further ado, let me give you my favorite of each year of V&R’s publication. This might just be the harder of the two to compile.
2011 – SAAB 9-5: Is this last Saab the best Saab? I know some brand enthusiasts who probably want to fight me on this. It would also be my first Saab I’ve ever driven. That certainly doesn’t hold water at all. Let me explain myself: This final Saab was an exceptional machine for the brief experience I had with it. It was truly born from a GM platform that made this accommodating premium sedan truly sing. Its 300-horsepower 2.8-liter V6 and all-wheel-drive made it a desirable machine. The luxury and confidence were stunning. Why this brand never lasted beyond that model year will always be a point of contention and frustration given the state of the luxury car business today.
And, damnit, that was a good car!
2012 – ACURA TL: This was the car that bridged the gap between two stories. One was the last new car I purchased – the 1991 Acura Integra RS coupe. This car brought me back to the brand and showed off everything it stood for that year. The TL would be the successor of the Vigor, except it has grown in prominence and luxury over time. The V6 performance, sure-footed all-wheel-drive, and the confidence you expected from an Acura were the sum of the equation that made this vehicle work. Still, I was coddled by the leather and the technology of this astounding sedan.
It brought everything full circle and then some.
2013 – MAZDA6: Until that point, I was wondering where Mazda was going. The outgoing Mazda6 got soft and perhaps too “American” for enthusiasts. It was certainly a welcomed sight when the new 2014 Mazda6 arrived with that winning combination of Skyactiv, KODO, and Zoom-Zoom. This was a return back to its roots – more touring sedan than family appliance. More engagement behind the wheel. Even before the turbocharger returned to this model, the Mazda6 was beyond competent and fun-to-drive.
To think why this car showed up practically every year this website was published.
2014 – DODGE CHARGER: Not the Challenger – the Charger. The Challenger was great and all, but the Charger showed me how the LX2 platform can be better in sedan form than its retro-looking coupe. For every Challenger, the Charger comes in 200 pounds lighter. In turn, a lighter car delivers better performance and driver engagement. This Charger showed me that even with a run-of-the-mill HEMI V8, you can have all of the fun in the world without resorting the letters S, R, and T.
Although the review of this car was not initially published on V&R, it was mentioned on here a few times since that first encounter. That is how much this car made an impact on me.
2015 – LEXUS RC F: If you have read my work, you probably had a feeling this would show up on any of these lists. For good reason – it woke me up. The RC F was the combination of a trio of vehicular influences: Classic coupe design, Muscle Car performance, and Japanese technology. The result is a sports coupe that delivers superb performance at its highest level. It drove easily and provided thrills over every mile. Not to mention, the driver has absolute command with fewer complications behind the wheel.
During this past decade, not many vehicles were able to do what the Lexus RC F had done. That smile is still there.
2016 – VOLVO XC90: You can simply call it #VOTY16. Aside from taking the year’s big prize, the XC90 represented the sea change the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker needed to re-engage with its owners while attracting new customers. This SUV was a huge success in many respects. It showed that Volvo can continue to innovate, infuse its legacy of advanced safety, and attract the right clientele to its flagship product.
The XC90 showed what a winner can be.
2017 – LINCOLN CONTINENTAL: This was supposed to be the car that would help Lincoln’s cause. It was more than just an extended version of the Ford Fusion/Lincoln MKZ platform. Rather, a luxury car that was to relight the brand’s fire by throwing everything at the customer. I thought it was a brilliant vehicle. A twin-turbocharged V6, all-wheel-drive, adaptive suspension, a lovely audio system, and some innovative details – that is the sum of its parts. It was a lovely sum of the whole, in my book.
We no longer have the Continental at Lincoln dealers anymore. And, that completely blows.
2018 – KIA STINGER: Considering the changes being implemented by this brand, one would have called this a foreshadowing of things to come. Yet, it did more than just add another dimension to Kia’s lineup. It is an exciting touring hatchback made for exciting times on the road. When this vehicle arrived, it turned heads. The cool factor alone was sub-arctic. The way it drove was phenomenal! It made easy work of two states – mostly in Southeastern Wisconsin – and found its way onto Road America to excite the few in attendance at the Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally.
If you want to have loads of a fun in a Kia, this is the one to rock.
2019 – RAM 1500: Whenever I work with a pickup truck, I always go back to this one. The newest full-size, half-ton truck from Stellantis always had several advantages over the competition – some of which can be debated among truck folks. However, the quality of the interior, the number of innovations, and engineering advantages make this vehicle a standout above all comers.
This is the kind of vehicle that you do not have to list out every little feature that makes it "the best in the business."
2020 – TOYOTA GR SUPRA: This car is not for the purists. It should be, only if that purist understands the progression this car had to take from the past onto a different plateau. With BMW’s partnership, the Supra was reborn in the guise of Gazoo Racing's flagship machine. The car’s lighter weight lends itself to extraordinary handling and performance. The GR Supra encourages you to explore its outer limits without being intimidated.
The GR Supra was named #VOTY2020 because it inspires you every time you take the wheel.
All photos by Randy Stern