Cars.com's editors spend hundreds of hours each year driving new and redesigned cars; which are the best? Reviewer Kelsey Mays highlights the winners of Cars.com's Best of 2015 and Lifestyle awards. Check out the video for more.
Cars.com just named the redesigned Mercedes-Benz C-Class our Best of 2015 car. As we've done in recent years, we purchased one to put our money where our mouth is. Naturally, the process kicked off with a familiar question: Which C-Class would we get? Among the new 2015 C-Class sedans on Cars.com, we found more than 150 examples within 50 miles of our Chicago offices. We've already driven both the C300 and C400, and we deemed the C400's extra power unnecessary versus the already-punchy C300, particularly since it starts some $10,000 higher.
We settled on the C300. Given the nature of Chicago weather, we opted for all-wheel drive, and so set our sights on a 2015 C300 4Matic sedan; that combination accounted for more than 80 percent of the 2015 C-Class sedans in dealer inventory near our offices at the time we were shopping. Including destination, the C300 4Matic starts at $41,325 but can spiral past $60,000 if you load up the options. Still, most examples on Cars.com near us were listed between $45,000 and $55,000.
We settled on a plan. We'd visit a Mercedes dealership near downtown Chicago to see what option groups were popular; then we'd email that dealership along with a few others when we had an idea of the equipment that we wanted. As always, we told salespeople we were looking to buy a company car, providing only our personal email addresses and mobile phone numbers. We revealed only after the price had been agreed to that we worked for Cars.com.
The last time we tested the C-Class in a Cars.com Challenge, the C250 fared very poorly. The judges didn’t care for the brakes, found the engine wanting and disliked the handling.
Now, with the advent of the new C-Class, our editors are impressed: "The luxury automaker has stunned the public and pundits by producing a stylish new compact luxury sedan that plays second fiddle to no one."
The C-Class edged out five worthy competitors:
Cars.com photo by Evan Sears
In late 2012, we purchased our Best of 2013 award winner to see if all the things that made it our favorite car of the year would hold up for an entire year of ownership. The 2013 Subaru BR-Z certainly did that for most of our editors. This year, the redesigned Chevrolet Impala won over our hearts and that meant it was time to hit the lots and buy one.
Most of our long-term fleet purchases have been of "in-demand" or very new vehicles with only our current 2013 Honda Civic really allowing us to chase deals, haggle and commence with all the other tactics that can go into buying a new car. Buying an Impala was similar to the Civic in some regards, but we ended up with only one major hassle.
For years, the Chevrolet Impala languished as a fleet special, a favorite of rental car companies that would buy them by the gross and foist them on hapless, disappointed travelers. Not anymore; 2014 brings an all-new Impala, and by any measure it is extremely impressive. It starts with styling that not only brings the Impala in line with the rest of the Chevrolet showroom, but it also acts to define it.
The Impala won in a heated, contentious vote over five other worthy competitors:
Check out our award coverage for complete details.
In one way, this was an easy choice: Chevrolet engineers basically had the opportunity to go over every inch of the next-generation Silverado 1500 to improve every aspect of its capability and prowess. However, when you consider how hugely competitive this market has become, we know there were many points along this process where costs could have been cut, shortcuts taken or aggressive strategies pulled back. But Chevy engineers and management didn’t do that with this truck.
This is the first time in Cars.com's history that we are presenting a dedicated award for pickup trucks alone, and that makes sense. Three of the top five best-selling vehicles in the U.S. in 2013 were pickup trucks, and if there's a segment more important to most automakers' bottom line, we can't think of one.
See all the details here.
As we've done for several years now, our editors have put their heads together to pick the best cars for a variety of lifestyles, and here are the winners for 2014:
With loads of high-tech and luxurious-feeling features packed in at a competitive price, it would be hard for financially savvy and tech-appreciative families to pass over the Santa Fe Sport. Our team of editors took note and voted this midsize crossover right to the top.
Luxury roadsters pack handsome interiors and punchy engines, but few can connect the car and its driver like the Boxster. Thanks to its sublime balance, Porsche's mid-engine icon is still a performance car through and through.
The 328i is the perfect blend of luxury, sport and prestige. We tested it against the industry's best luxury sport sedans in 2013 and it came out on top, beating competitors from Acura, Audi, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. It does everything well.
Less expensive and faster-charging than when it last won this award, the excellent Leaf is accessible to more buyers than ever, and the battery can be fully charged at home in about four hours rather than eight. It also adds range more quickly when grabbing juice at a public charging point.
See our complete coverage here.
Whenever we give out our Best of Award, we focus on quality, innovation and value, and all six of these nominees performed well in all three of those arenas. It's never easy to pick this award; the voting this year was particularly contentious. I can personally vouch for that. Here are this year's nominees:
The nominees for the Best of 2014 are (in alphabetical order):
We will reveal the winner at our annual awards event on Jan. 14 in Detroit during the North American International Auto Show, and of course, here on Cars.com.
The Ford Mustang has been chosen by Cars.com's users as the Shoppers' Choice Award winner for 2014.
The Mustang was one of 10 finalists that were selected based on car-shopper activity on our site, including searching car listings, filling out consumer reviews and contacting dealers. The ultimate winner was determined through fan voting on our Facebook page.
Clearly, the Mustang remains a favorite among shoppers. As it gets ready to turn 50, it continues to be a sports-car icon, and it is perhaps Ford’s most recognizable car ever. The 10 finalists were (in alphabetical order):
KickingTires Search Results for
Search Kicking Tires