When purchasing a new car, crash safety ratings tend to fall below other priorities like style, fuel economy, performance, amenities, cost and even brand loyalty. That’s unfortunate, since more than a handful of cars will consistently fail to perform well in the one situation we all hope to avoid: a serious accident. If you’re smart, and especially if you have kids in tow, you’ll take the time to bone up on which vehicles are the safest. Of the 22 cars that received the highest safety rating from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), these are the absolute best.
A World Rally Blur
Since it arrived onto North American shores in 2002 the Subaru WRX has been making the case for unadulterated fun, one four-wheel drift at a time. Vehicles and our expectations of them however, have changed a lot over the last 13 model years. No longer content to merely juke and jive with the best of them, we now demand our cars have styling, more toys than an only child and soft-touch everything. To keep these newly refined ralliers content in their cockpits, Subaru sent the WRX to finishing school. And, if you ask us, it graduated — with honors.
Five reasons to start a family
There’s no question about a minivan’s utility. But until someone comes up with one that doesn’t at least partially emasculate red-blooded men, we choose to drive these other vehicles — ones that offer up utility, a semblance of driving pleasure and better aesthetics than a toaster oven.
It's the little things that count
A car is certainly more than the sum of its parts, but sometimes it’s the little details that make an otherwise good car iconic. These details can be subtle as the Mona Lisa’s smile or bold as the LED spire on the new Freedom Tower, or, more often, somewhere in between. We’ve assembled a list of some of the best automotive features — both innovative and artistic, groundbreaking and evolutionary — to ever see the light of day.
Don't Judge a Beast by its Cover
It would be a dream come true to own a flaming red Ferrari, but sometimes it’s best not draw attention (jealousy, ire, the eyes of law enforcement) to your vehicle. Those who want the power and speed without the notoriety can look to “sleepers”, cars almost intentionally built to escape notice while still secretly packing heaping loads of power and punch — and chips on their shoulders.
A beast in plainer clothes
The Subaru Impreza WRX (nicknamed “Rex” by loyalists) has a cult following to almost rival the Beatles (smaller and younger, but just as fanatic). New iterations or improvements often make fan clubs and enthusiasts both skeptical and nervous; you can’t mess with perfection, and the Subaru Impreza WRX is pretty close. In November of last year Subaru debuted the fifth generation 2015 WRX ($26,295) at the LA auto show, and we were quick to and hop in line to see if they’d truly made it better or simply messed up a great thing.
More crossovers than Iverson
Crossovers are the hottest segment in the automotive industry today thanks to solid fuel economy, practicality and bad-weather driving security. And while that popularity means the field is downright dizzying, there are quite a few excellent options from all corners of the earth. GP’s Octane crew drove five solid examples and came away with loads of insight on what the CUV market has to offer.
Making Detroit Shine
The North American International Auto Show is one of our favorite events of the year. It’s a time when just about every carmaker descends on Detroit, and the moment is a golden one. Picture it with us: gleaming steeds — SUVs, sports cars, sedans, pickups and more — as far as the eye can see, a field that’s tough to whittle down to our favorites. But we’ve done just that with these ten beauties, the best of NAIAS.
The gifts that keep on giving
Just about every morning, before our cup of joe, we slap ourselves as a reminder of how lucky we are to drive some of the best cars in the world and get paid for it. 2013 was another year of stupendous privileges, with wheel time in Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Land Rovers, Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Porsches, Jaguars, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, BMWs, Aston Martins and more. We’ve been the beneficiaries of a huge upswing in the automotive marketplace in terms of style, quality and driving excitement through virtually all segments. And you know what that means: 2014 should prove to be even better.
Here are the cars we most covet for the new year, each one a standout in its segment by virtue of its quality, technology, design, driving experience or all of the above. In a stellar field, these are the ones that stir the petrol in our veins the most. As we embark on a new year, here’s a toast to what should be an incredible 2014 on the digital pages of Octane.
Rising Stars from the Rising Sun
Japanese cars have long been the epitome of reliability and trustworthiness, but they haven’t always been beautiful to look at. Things have changed with the current generation of Japanese cars, which boast great design and more personality than ever, along with driving dynamics that can rival (and even best) the Germans in some cases. Their bombproof reliability hasn’t been altered through the generations, either. Here are the ten best rising cars from the land of the rising sun.
Sleighs are for losers
You’re an hour late to the Christmas get-together, but not because that red velvet blazer you love so much is nowhere to be found. No, instead you’re trapped in a snowdrift in your vintage AMC Gremlin. No fruitcake for you. You could’ve fared better this holiday season with some better wheels. May we suggest some truly treaded steeds for your hapless self?
5-Doors to your heart
The venerable station is no longer what it was: a dowdy people hauler that oftentimes “sported” less than favorable designs (faux wood paneling, anyone?). And though the American populace now prefers cross-overs, station wagons still survive in the domestic automotive landscape. With lower centers of gravity, sleeker profiles and (typically) better driving dynamics than their SUV counterparts, there’s plenty of reasons to love them. We certainly do.
It’s for all of the aforementioned reasons that wagons sell in much bigger numbers in Europe. With the hope of bringing the States around to how truly great they are, we give you five of the best wagons (and, sadly, some of the only ones left for sale here). Let’s just hope they never completely disappear.
It's hot to hatch
In the States, we know that size still matters. And just like dinner portions, Americans love their bigger cars and trucks. But times, they are a changin’, and the current crop of hatchbacks just goes to show that manufacturers are putting in a lot more thought, time and money into developing small cars that work big. Driving a hatchback no longer makes you look like you were holding the door when they were handing out real cars. The combination of solid styling, creature comforts and great fuel economy (and, sometimes. wickedly good performance) has young and old alike turning to 5-doors options. We drove five of the best for a month and came away with a new appreciation for the hot hatch.
Time to meet the winners
Imagine spending years designing, redesigning, engineering and finally building a car — only to have public opinion weigh in on your baby. No pressure, right? Well, at this year’s New York International Auto Show, plenty of brands did a damn good job. We were tantalized by some of what’s to come: cars that will certainly hit production in some form or another (and thank goodness for that). From track beasts to practical and attractive sedans, we rounded up the cream of the crop, in our humble opinion. Take a look at the 10 best in show.
Everything I learned in life I learned in rally school.
5:30 AM, Los Angeles | Waking up at the crack of dawn for school is hardly an ideal way to start the day. Unless, of course, you’re getting up early to attend rally driving school for a crash course in four-wheeled mayhem. Over the course of our day we partook in rapid-fire lessons on the…