Home / Tech / I've driven hundreds of cars in the past 5 years. These are the best designs.

I've driven hundreds of cars in the past 5 years. These are the best designs.

Aston Martin DB9 25

  • I’ve driven hundreds of cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2014. 
  • When I look back over the fleet, some real beauties jump out. But so do some rides that might be considered works of art.
  • My list is heavy on names like Ferrari, Jaguar, and Aston Martin — and there’s no shortage of sports cars and supercars in the rundown.
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I like a beautiful car.

Luckily, I get to drive a lot of real beauts. Ferraris. Maseratis. Jaguars. Aston Martins. 

The good stuff.

But beauty shouldn’t be limited. So while the Aston Martin DB9 is the loveliest thing I’ve driven since 2014, I’ve also found beauty in many other places. 

Here’s a rundown:

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The Acura NSX is a reboot of the legend from the 1990s, but this mid-engine masterpiece is thoroughly new, and with its sleek lines, gathered more attention in my driveway than almost any other car I’ve tested. Built in Ohio, the NSX was designed by Michelle Christensen.

The Acura TLX A-Spec PMC Edition is the most gorgeous — and mostly hand-built, limited-run version — of an already smashing four-door. That paint job!

The Alfa Romeo Giulia brings Italian panache, the the famous Alfa grille, to the crowded sport-sedan segment.

The Alfa Romeo 4C might be on the way out in the US, but the bonkers little ride is effectively a roadworthy race car that’s also as close as one can get to a compact Ferrari at a budget price.

The Aston Martin DB9 is no longer with us, but if I were gonna pick the most beautiful car I’ve ever driven, this would be it. Henrik Fisker’s design is smooth, powerful, restrained, perfectly proportioned. Actually, just perfect.

Of course, newer Aston Martins are also gorgeous. For example, this DB11 Volante, which proves that drop-top Astons are as lovely as the hardtops.

The Audi RS5 Sportback is a really sharp set of wheels, but what got it on this list was that “Sonoma Green Metallic” paint job. Zowie!

The Buick Regal TourX is easily the world prettiest Buick. It’s a German-made American car that proves wagons are superior to SUVs.

The Cadillac CTS-V is essentially a four-door Corvette. Without a doubt, the coolest Caddy on the road.

The Chrysler 300 is an American sedan that deftly evokes muscle cars while exuding class.

The Corvette Grand Sport convertible is my personal favorite of the seventh-generation Vettes (now replaced by the mid-engine eighth-gen, these are the last Vettes to have their V8s up front). The GS is aggressive, but still free-spirited.

The Chevy Camaro SS is everything you want a muscle car to be, and the one I drove came in an eye-catching Hot Wheels orange paint job.

Prepare for some Ferraris. The GTC4 Lusso is a hybrid of a coupé and a wagon. The style, sometimes called a “shooting brake,” is utterly unique.

The Ferrari 488 Spider is the sharpest 488, in my view. In an offbeat “Avorio” paint job (Italian for “ivory”) the already beautiful supercar gained even more fans.

But I reserve a special place in my heart for the anachronistic Ferrari 812 Superfast and the V12 under that long hood.

The Ford GT, designed by the late Chris Svensson, is perhaps the most beautiful Ford ever. The racing version won the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans, repeating history from 1966 when the famous “Ford vs. Ferrari victory was notched.

Gotta have a Mustang on my list, and the OTHER Ford GT get the job done. The current generation of ‘Stangs are some of the best-looking ever, in my book.

Can’t overlook the pickups! In that oft-homely realm, the Ford F-150 Raptor stands out. This is the half-ton turned up to 11.

Nobody thinks that minivans are attractive, but of all the makers, Honda has done the most to give these microbuses a snappy exterior.

Ian Callum had a tough job when Jaguar, as noted for beauty as Ferrari, decided to build an SUV. The result is the F-Pace, and there’s no question that it’s a work of art.

Still, the Jaguar F-Pace is more like it. Only Ferrari and Aston Marin can equal it. The lines are pure, the balance impeccable, and the sense of coiled power unmistakable.

Yes, there are three Jags on my list, and that should have been expected. The XF Sportbrake captured hearts and minds in my household. “I want that car,” my wife said.

The Jeep Wrangler has been essentially unchanged for decades. Is it beautiful? No. But you won’t find a better expression of utility, distilled to its essence. And that Jeep grille is iconic.

The Kia Stinger GT, designed by Peter Schreyer, immediately put the South Korean brand on a new set of radar screens — and showed that it was possible to shake things up in the sport sedan world.

The shark-like Lamborghini Huracán reset expectations for the brand, long known for flamboyant supercars. Here was an almost conservative design — but still a thrilling Lambo.

Then Lamborghini showed that it could translate supercar aesthetics into the SUV form.

The Land Rover Evoque Convertible is one of the most unusual vehicles on the road. It has detractors, but I love the nutty combo of SUV and drop-top.

The Lexus LC500 is among the best-designed cars Toyota’s luxury brand has ever produced. It also delivers on the road, with satisfying performance.

Lincoln’s revamped Navigator took the full-size SUV is such an appealing direction than the company had a tough time meeting demand. This vehicle carries its bulk lightly!

The Lincoln Continental, with its Art Deco styling — and limited-edition coach doors! — has made it my favorite large sedan.

When it comes to Maserati, I’m a sucker for the stylish Ghibli.

The redesigned Mazda MX-5 Miata is a joy to behold and a kick to drive. The bestselling roadster of all time got a new look in 2015, and for me it was a throwback to the first generation: a tossable drop-top that didn’t feel like it needed a lot of horsepower.

The retractable fastback Miata MX-5 effectively added a coupé to the lineup. I disliked the design until I got my hands on one. Then I was sold.

Mazda has a lot of rides on this list! That’s because the company gets good design. The plucky CX-3, for example, is my fave econo-hatch.

McLaren’s 720S supercar is staggering. You can’t stop looking at it, and behind the wheel it’s among the most exciting driving experiences money can buy.

Like the Jeep Wrangler, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class (or “G Wagon”) is practicality raised to the level of automotive art. Boxy, yet sharp, and ready for the zombie apocalypse.

Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has some of the same. This incredible practical mega-hauler has become an icon all its own.

The Mercedes AMG-GT is the only German car I’ve driven that can give Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Jaguar a run for their money. It’s magnificent.

The John Cooper Works MINI is a ferocious, pint-size beast. Alec Issigonis, who designed the original Mini of 1959, would be impressed.

Yes, it’s old. But the 370Z still stirs my senses and is among the most rewarding basic V6-engined cars to drive.

The Polestar 1 is powerful, provocative gas-electric hybrid that’s the first vehicle from Volvo’s new standalone performance brand. It’s the sharpest ride I’ve driven since we wrapped up our 2019 Car of the Year award.

Ah, the Porsche 911. What more can I say? The design is a classic, and although some call it ugly, bug-eyed, and worse, you forget all aspersions once you slip behind the wheel.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is, to my eye, the best Panamera design-wise (the Panamera has always been criticized on this front). Wagons fix everything! We need more wagons.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom is half a million dollars worth of old-school splendor. If you want the greatest motor car currently available, you need to pay up for one of these.

Smart’s Fortwo has been around since the late 1990s and defines “city car” for me. It’s not the greatest driver in town, but I defy anyone to fail at parallel parking behind the wheel of this.

Design Franz von Holzhausen’s impeccable Model S has stood the test of time. Launched in 2012, it still appeals today.

Toyota’s bestselling Camry was never lauded for design, but the latest generation takes some chances and has elevated the nameplate’s profile.

The Prius isn’t often praised for its beauty, but the car has defined what a hybrid hatch should look like for over a decade.

The Toyota Supra staged a comeback in 2019 and set the automotive community on fire. The design is bold, inviting aggressive driving.

The VLF Force 1 is a reskinned Dodge Viper — and what a skin! This over-the-top supercar is classic rock on four wheels with a V12 under the hood.

The Volkswagen Golf R extends Giorgetto Giugiaro’s design for the first-generation Golf into new territory. It could be nothing else but a VW.

And finally, the VW Beetle. It’s finally been retired in the US market. But that shape, with first appeared in the 1950s, could be with us forever.



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