With the able assist of a few contributors, we close 2016 with a significant surge in viewership, along with – we believe – a significant bump in our collective enthusiasm. With that, we’ve asked those same contributors to provide us with one highlight from the past (passed?) year, along with something that – while less significant – is worth an Honorable Mention. Here, then, are our highlights…
Normally when I use that phrase I’m about to throw one leg over a motorcycle. This year I was about to climb into Ford’s new 2017 F-150 Raptor in the Anza-Borrego desert of Southern California. I was only there because someone else couldn’t make it, but am very glad I got to go. This marks thirty years in the automotive and motorcycle press business. For most of those years I was organizing events like the Raptor drive, so for me this was a real treat. The Ford F-150 Raptor was the perfect ride to end 2016. Big. Fun. Competent. On the road and off. More truck than I am driver, but that’s OK – drive it around as a daily driver and enjoy it. For me, this was the highlight of my year.
The Honorable Mention: Nissan Titan‘s 5-yr 100,000 mile warranty. In a time of increasingly expensive electronics and related hardware, Nissan underwrites the owner with a real warranty. Bumper-to-bumper.
Day Dreams Do Come True: The biggest highlight for me this year was testing cars during the Texas Auto Round-Up at Texas Motor Speedway in May. Not only was it my first big event as a professional automotive journalist, but I also got to check off a few items off my bucket list. That included driving a Dodge Viper on a real race track, sliding a Dodge Hellcat Challenger through a corner, and laying down rubber in a Shelby Mustang GT350R. And the chance to spend time with people who share my passion for automobiles while driving cars that I used to drool over was such a surreal moment for me. I kept wondering when I was going to wake up in my bedroom holding on to my pillow like a steering wheel. It was a milestone in my new-born writing career.
Honorable Mention goes to the 2016 Buick Regal GS AWD. It was notably the only vehicle I reviewed this year that I would consider buying with my own money.
DO I NEED A HELMET?
There were numerous highlights, but the one that will endure is a long weekend with BMW’s new M2. As I wrote recently, with the M2 we discover BMW still builds viscerally compelling – or compellingly visceral – sporting machinery; its new M2 is stunning in its compact muscularity, with moves like Fred Astaire and the seductiveness of Ginger Rogers.
Honorable Mention is the imminent arrival – after a long, long wait – of Alfa Romeo’s Giulia sedan.
FAMILY AND FRIENDS:
This year yielded a ton of memorable moments with my family and friends, and most of those moments happened while inside a vehicle. At the top of my list is my annual vacation with the family; this year we took the all-new Chrysler Pacifica from Dallas to Destin, Florida. Another quick memory was from a Hyundai event that I attended early in the year. We drove the new Elantra from New Orleans, Louisiana to Long Beach, Mississippi – all while dodging tornados and severe thunderstorms in the area.
Honorable Mention goes to my time with the new Honda Civic Coupe. I’m happy that I can enjoy driving a Honda once again.
[Lead photo by: Denilson Sibrian (DS Photography)]