Don't expect to find anything cheap on this list.
Whittling the list of best reveals down to six was a particularly tough task. So many brilliant new cars made their debut this year, particularly on the EV side. We saw legacy manufacturers like Chevrolet come out swinging with affordable EVs like the Equinox, and Ford unveiled the all-new Super Duty, which technically qualifies as a Fortune 500 company all on its own. Ford also introduced a new Mustang, and Dodge unveiled a series of Final Call models to honor the untimely passing of the V8 engine.
None of these cars made the list simply because they didn't blow us away. These were all things we were expecting, and none of them were particularly interesting beyond new features, power outputs, and the usual stuff you see when a new car is unveiled.
This list is more about the cars that arrived as bombshells. Some of them we've known about for years, and even then, the final product took our breath away. The first entry on the list is a prime example.
Like the rest of the world, we assumed Ferrari was selling out by building an SUV. We were prepared to hate the Ferrari Purosangue and could not wait to vomit vile words all over the screen while tearing the ugly beast apart.
And then the embargo images arrived, and we were at a loss for words. Instead of pandering to the European Union's strict stance against internal combustion, Ferrari equipped its four-door four-seater with a 715-horsepower front-mid-mounted 6.5-liter V12. It can reach 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and tops out at 193 plus mph.
Also, it looks epic, has world-first suspension, and tackles the problem of providing exotic luxury and performance to four adults at once in a totally unique way. This exclusive beast makes the Lamborghini Urus look dull.
Porsche won the Paris-Dakar Rally in a 911 in 1984. Then the world forgot about off-road 911s until Safari Cars hit the scene a few years ago. Interest in the trend spiked, and even Singer got in on the game with the All-Terrain Competition Study.
The world sat back and waited for Porsche to take notice, and then finally, the first spy images of what we assumed would be named the 911 Safari emerged. Oh, happy days.
Porsche's eventual 911 Dakar did not disappoint. It borrows the higher-output engine from the 911 GTS and couples it with an intelligent AWD system with a Rally Mode. The only compromise is top speed, which is limited to 150 mph due to the tires.
Everywhere else, it's the usual Porsche figures. It gets to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, weighs just 3,553 pounds, and is equally at home on a crappy city road and doing silly slidey stuff on a remote gravel track. More than just an appearance package with some lifted suspension, this is a project Porsche took very seriously.
The Porsche 911 Dakar has history on its side, but the Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato has none. Yes, the Italian manufacturer built the Rambo Lambo, but the Urus was meant to be its successor.
Was there any need for a lifted Huracan with a Rally Mode explicitly designed for dirt roads? Undoubtedly. Lamborghini is not in the business of building logical cars. There's even a more practical version of the Urus called the Porsche Cayenne.
But you don't buy a Lamborghini because you want to be sensible. You buy the Sterrato so you can go sideways through a corner at 50 mph while bouncing the V10 off the rev limiter. Different is not always better, but in this case, the oddball treatment is just what the doctor ordered.
Don't worry; this is the only EV on the list. We've long argued that electric motors are best suited to luxury cars because they produce loads of low-down torque while making almost no noise. What more do you want from a Rolls-Royce powertrain?
The 260-mile range limits the Spectre's usability, but you know what. If wherever you're going is more than 260 miles away, why not take the helicopter? The Rolls-Royce Spectre will never be an only car. It will share a garage with at least 10 other vehicles, so it doesn't even really matter how long it takes to charge.
It's also not overly powerful. Instead of producing a bonkers tri-motor EV like the Lucid Air Sapphire, Rolls-Royce gave the Spectre a basic dual-motor setup that produces 577 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. That's perfectly adequate for roaming around in sheer luxury and silence, which is what this car is all about.
For a while, there were rumors that Pagani was going electric, but Horacio Pagani gave that a hard pass and built the 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 Utopia instead.
The Utopia is actually Pagani returning to its roots. The Huayra was only available with an automatic gearbox, but you can have a Utopia with a manual. According to Pagani, several customers ignored the Huayra because a manual was unavailable.
As much as this car is known for its speed, a considerable part of its charm is also due to attention to detail. Just look at the shift linkage assembly. It's more than just functional. It's a work of art milled from a solid piece of metal, and although you'd think we'd be accustomed to this level of intricate beauty by now, Pagani continues to drop our jaws.
The Koenigsegg CC850 appeared entirely out of the blue. Nobody knew it was coming, and Christian von Koenigsegg blew everyone away on an unspectacular Friday morning in August.
The CC850 is a tribute to the original CC8S and is equipped with Koenigsegg's in-house-built 5.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 1,363 hp on E85 fuel at 7,800 rpm and 1,020 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. All that power is sent to the rear wheels via a nine-speed automatic that also doubles as a six-speed gated manual.
As journalists, we're trained to despise the use of exclamation marks. The rule is that you're only allowed to use one per decade, which works out to roughly three to four, depending on how long your career is. Our managing editor loved this car so much that he used one in the heading: "1,363-HP Koenigsegg CC850 Debuts With Gated Manual Gearbox!" Worth it.