It's been a big year for the underdogs.
It's that time of year again where you're going to see plenty of articles that begin with the phrase "it's that time of year again". By now you're in one of two areas, a state that's covered in a thick blanket of snow or one that's finally cool enough to coax the population outside from their air-conditioned paradises. For those in the former, here's a list of the top 5 cars we drove this year that you can buy when the snow melts. If you reside in the latter, there's no reason you shouldn't go to the dealership to at least check these out.
The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 is about as mixed a bag as they come. It resides in the highly competitive luxury sports coupe segment that's presided over by the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 4 Series, and Audi A5. But German isn't the only cuisine on this menu, especially when your car purchasing Venn diagram requires that you have both the performance and budget sections overlapping one another. For the money, there's not a better way to travel American highways than in the Q60 Red Sport 400. It simply soaks up the miles with or without an attentive driver thanks to Infiniti's sophisticated driver aids, and if it's passing power you want, those 400 turbocharged horses under the hood are more than happy to gallop.
Yes, for better or worse, there does have to be a crossover on this list. Not only is this segment taking the market by storm, but it's the one statistics says you're most likely to buy into, especially when life surprises you with a positive pregnancy test. Don't mope though because Mazda has your back on this one. Our favorite thing about the underdog automaker is that it seems to be unable to turn its back on the enthusiast. That's why it built the new CX-5 with an attractive exterior that's sure to stave off your midlife crisis until you're ready to buy an MX-5 as well as ergonomics and dynamics that please. It also doesn't hurt that Mazda made the CX-5's interior one that could easily stand in for those in crossovers costing twice the price.
It's no secret that America loves its trucks, but for the performance fanatics, there's really no reason to opt for something with a bed aft of the cab unless it has a badge that reads "Raptor" on it. Suffice it to say, Ford didn't just build a marketing gimmick when it built the Raptor, it knocked the competition out entirely. With a turbocharged EcoBoost tweaked to send 450 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque through a ten-speed automatic and out of one of the most intricate and thoroughly designed four-wheel drive/all-wheel systems (yes, it has both) systems in the world, there isn't really any other truck you'd want to be in when volleying towards a hill that'll send the Raptor flying. Good thing the Fox shocks will be there to catch you every time.
Tesla has done one major disservice to the world. That would be the fact that fans of Edison and Nikola T's favorite form of energy are better off not buying a car with a T badge on it. At least for now. That's because the best electric car for the money is none other than the Chevy Bolt. Sure, it has awkward proportions and doesn't look as cool as the Model 3 (though to be fair, have you even seen a Model 3 in person yet?), but it offers more range than any other EV on the roads and stands as the most well thought-out electric car currently on sale—enough so that it won a spot on Car and Driver's 10 Best list and makes performance freaks have a hard time not marveling at how fun it makes mundane commutes.
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is not your average vehicle. The number of times it'll leave you laughing like a child and emptying tank after tank in attempts to recreate the peak euphoria that a mid-corner flick of the rear induces will reshape your brain—causing it to revert back to memories of driving the Giulia Quad anytime the mind sits idle. While it might not be the dream car you've wanted since childhood, driving one will seriously make you consider parting with the cash you saved up for that '69 Camaro or Nissan 240 SX (whatever floats your boat). It beat out the Mustang GT350 to win this top spot and it certainly will steal your heart like a good Italian should. Watch out.