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Hooniverse Asks- So Far, What’s The BEST Car or Truck of the 21st Century?

Robert Emslie December 18, 2012 Hooniverse Asks 63 Comments


It’s next to impossible to start a new automobile company, just ask Malcolm Bricklin or John Z Delorean. If you do ask John though, please remember to shout. That being said, within recent times there have been the successful launches of Pagani, and Koenigsegg, each of which seem to be an ongoing concern. Add to those the makes that have also arrived but aren’t looking so good these days – Coda, Fisker, Spyker, Tesla, and Aptera (above) and there’s plenty of new and very innovative hardware on out 21st Century roads.

Yesterday I asked for your opinion on the worst of the new century’s cars and trucks, while today I want you to pull a mental Rockford and let us know which model introduced in the 21st Century you think is the best. Cars today are better than they’ve ever been, and it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out which one tops the heap of the iPod generation.

The automobile has been around for more than a century, but it has been within the last 40 or so years that its continuing existence has been seriously called into question. Fuel supplies, environmental impact, and a complete dearth of new naming options seem to have been nails in the car’s coffin since the days when Nixon was an avid audiophile. That doesn’t mean however, that car makers aren’t trying to pump out compelling product, their industry motto seemingly being never say die. If that’s the case, what car or truck of the 21st Century is in your opinion the very best?    

Image: [JasonHarper]

  • <img width=500 src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/Bugatti_veyron_in_Tokyo.jpg"&gt;

    I'm an engineer, and, as an engineering exercise, the Veyron is one of the greatest cars ever and, arguably, the greatest car of the last 12 years. Capable of speeds well in excess of 250 mph, yet refined and comfortable. Too often GT cars make too many compromises on pure performance, but in the Veyron the engineers and designers were able to create the fastest road car while maintaining civility. To me, that's quite an accomplishment.

    • Kogashiwa

      No question technically, but aesthetically, it's still a pretty weird looking lump … interior is really nice though.

    • Even Capt. Slow can make it go fast…[youtube LO0PgyPWE3o http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO0PgyPWE3o youtube]

  • Sjalabais

    Cars today are better than
    they’ve ever been…

    I like the positivity of these words, but at the same time…what does "better" mean? My best car ever, considering how thought-through it was for everyday use and a long life, was a 1971 Volvo 145. Way back in the last century…

    • facelvega

      Engineering is more complex and more robust for say the first 100k miles/8 years than it once was– but a lot of old cars are far easier to maintain and preserve than any new car once they pass that 100k/8yr mark. The bigger problem is that design has gone completely to hell. There are economy sedans of the 50s and 60s that are more exquisite design objects than any car now for sale.

    • BlackIce_GTS

      My large mid-priced sedan from 2002 is better at nearly everything then my company-flagship sports GT from 1984.
      (The things it aren't:
      -Rear-drive wheelyness.
      -Sports car seating position. (on the floor, legs straight out)
      -Performance aftermarket, existence of.
      -Digital dash.)
      Progress happens. Except in the 70s.

  • Why, the $500 Chevy Aveo of course!

  • The last run of the Acura NSX was pretty good.

    <img src="http://media.caranddriver.com/images/media/203444/2003-acura-nsx-photo-230820-s-1280×782.jpg&quot; width=550>

  • Oh course this is my top pick for gas guzzler, end-of-the-world vehicle.

    <img src="http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ls6wxl08jG1qzbk0ho1_500.jpg"&gt;

    • I almost went with Raptor and Ford GT. Hell, I could argue all three easily, depending on the parameters of "greatness".

      • I knew that both would probably be covered in the first 10 comments, so once I saw your pick, I had to go with Raptorz, because I knew who would want to post the Ford GT.

        I would say all 3, top 3. Mostly. Until I change my mind.

  • rpdred6

    Veyron for engineering, and I nominate the Volt or Leaf

  • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    From the same manufacturer of the previous century's best automobile.

    <img src="http://www.topcarzones.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/McLaren-MP4-12C.jpg&quot; width="400">

  • I'm going with the Cadillac CTS-V wagon. Mainly because 10+ years ago, the idea of a factory supercharged, 6-speed, rear wheel drive Cadillac station wagon with Recaros would make nearly anyone's head explode. And that's exactly why I want one.

    <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2010/11/lead14-2011-cadillac-cts-v-wagon.jpg"&gt;

    • OA5599

      10 years ago, the idea of a '58 Plymouth Fury built from the bones of a $500 heap-o-crap-turned-racecar E30 being invited to SEMA would have assploded a few heads, too.

  • kingcrowing
    • vwminispeedster

      That looks dead sexy in black with those wheels. Swoon.

  • wisc47

    I say the Nissan GT-R because it's extremely well engineered and a bit of a bargain. I think that even in the later parts of the 20th century it might have been a bit unfathomable to have a car that would go from zero to sixty in under three seconds and still cost under one hundred grand.
    <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2011/02/10-2012-nissan-gt-r-fd-opt2.jpg"&gt;

    • Scandinavian Flick

      MSRP, yes… But did any of them actually sell for under $100K?

  • OA5599

    Holden ute. Too bad they won't sell them here.

    <img src="http://jalopnik.com/assets/resources/2008/03/926HP-Holden-VE-Ute.jpg&quot; width=500>

    • JayP2112

      What if Chevy and GMC needed to bolster their truck CAFE?
      An ElCamino and Caballero with the V6 or turbo 4 would be interesting.

      I'm holding out hope.

    • Rover1

      Yes but to make up for it we never got the other Pontiacs like the Aztec or the G6 in Australasia…Oh…wait.

  • JayP2112

    Boss 302, Ford GT, ZR1, Viper, CTS-V
    Because who'd thought at the end of the 20th century that these cars would compete at the same level as the Europeans. And that these cars can still exist even in this environment.

    EDIT: I almost added Regal Turbo… but we're getting cheated out of the turbo V6 AWD OPC version.

  • Devin

    It's relatively easy to make greatness when you're going to be charging northwards of $100k. So I'm going to ignore that end. Something great for under $30k, even if it's barely under $30k, now that's a challenge. So I'll give it to an old friend:

    <img src="http://www.auto123.com/ArtImages/66207/2006-Mazda-MX-5-01.jpg&quot; width="500">

    And another potential friend:

    <img src="http://media.il.edmunds-media.com/scion/fr-s/2013/ns/2013_scion_fr-s_f34_ns_120111_717.jpg&quot; width="500">

    If I had the keys to both I'd be better able to make up my mind.

  • That´s a hard question, I think the best are still from that other century. The ones made today have to prove yet if they complete 38 years in style.
    <img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sOXN_hTetqU/Ti83uDsFf9I/AAAAAAAAC4M/ArqiTb3DhFI/s1069/DSC07863.JPG&quot; width="600" >

  • The Volkswagen Phaeton– What the Mercedes S-Class should have been, had the company not lost its way.

    No compromises. Overengineered. Designed to travel all day at 300 kph in 50 degree C weather while keeping the interior at a comfortable 22 degrees C. Plus, torsional rigidity of 37,000 nM/degree.

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/vFqPr.jpg"/&gt;

    • Vairship

      Actually, I believe you meant 37000 Nm/degree
      (/pretending to be a German engineer)

  • buzzboy7

    VE Commadore
    6th Gen Falcon
    CTS Platform
    Ford Ranger

    • Hopman

      I will gladly agree with the Ranger. It's like the Swiss army knife of trucks and the right size for 99% of the people out there. Runs to the hardware store or dump? Easy. Plowing? Not bad. Towing? the 6,000 lbs of capacity will do most of it. Easy to reach into the bed? Done. Easy to fix & find parts for? If the local parts store doesn't have it, Bubba's Pick-a-Part will. Garunteed!

      The only thing it won't do well is fuel mileage, but who buys a truck for fuel economy?

      • JayP2112

        I honestly thought about the Ranger but I though it'd get laughed out the forum.
        It's a great little commuter truck, parts are pretty cheap and easy to find. I can toss it around like my old MGB.

        I've been tracking my mileage for the last year and I get about 24.3 mpg with much of that in stop-go traffic. My best tank full was 27.2mpg. Not bad for a truck with 190,000 miles on it.

        • buzzboy7

          What year/options ranger do you have? I'm considering one as they sound like great little trucks(and they look good too!).

          • JayP2112

            I have the XLT shortbed manual with the 2.3. 2001 was a mix year but after that the 4s were the 2.3. I've put 110k miles on it myself. Just a few things to watch for like the plastic used in the cooling/heater. But that may be addressed on the later trucks,.

      • buzzboy7

        I actually am looking to buy a mid 2000s ranger. The 2.3 5speed gets pretty decent mileage and it's the one I would want anyways.

  • As for today is tuesday I would mention the CBR 1100 XX SuperBlackbird as the best bike of this century (although it was conceived in that other century)
    <img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-Xg7swhPWUsk/St5Y5MrcsNI/AAAAAAAACw4/A9MrRv2V08s/s1426/DSC04372.JPG&quot; width="600">

    • Number_Six

      Sorry, the CBR1100XX is in second place only to the Kawasaki ZZR1200, which does all the CBR can do but with more torques and better ergos and the rep of most powerful carburetted production bike ever (I might be a little biased):
      <img src="http://www.soupysperformance.com/i//zzr1200.jpg&quot; width="500" />

      • Never had an opertunity to ride it, but have ridden more than 30.000 miles on the Bird.
        Still the Kawa 1200 has better looks than the 1400 with the Foreman grill looks.

    • My uncle had one… he had it maxed at 184 on more than one occasion.

      I'll stick to cars for top speed runs.

      • I´ve done 306 KPH (remapped with DynoJet, GPS verified) some times, it would surprise you how easy that is, never felt nervous about it. On the right roads with trafic that will let you do it was a peace of cake to do 200 KPH for miles and miles. On the other hand I´ve driven some fast cars (BMW´s and Volvo Turbo) on the German autobahn and at speeds over 200 KPH I get very nervous.

        • Number_Six

          I've hit 290kph a few times on both a CBR1100XX and my ZZR1200. It's ridiculously easy, given how hard they pull to that speed. The CBR has a few miles per hour on the ZZR but really once you get over 270kph nobody is gonna feel left out. What amazes me the most about both bikes is how well they go around corners for their size.

          • You're right they corner well, not as lite as my Hornet but I could keep up well with the pack.
            I do miss the Bird but have not found a successor on par with. I have thought of the Bmw 1300 but it does not have that same electric motor torque feel as the Bird had. I've not been able to test the VFR 1200 but seems more touring than sport.

            • Number_Six

              I've ridden nothing recently that captures what the CBR and ZZR were about. I've ridden the BMW K1300 as well and found that it was quick in a straightline but not really that impressive; as far as handling goes, it just plows straight ahead like a barge. The VFR is so unnecessarily complicated that it's silly. I'll probably just go to another class of bike when I replace the Zed – something like a Moto Guzzi Norge or Aprilia Caponord.

  • quattrovalvole

    the precursor to super saloons of today

    <img src="http://cache.jalopnik.com/assets/images/12/2010/02/300sel_63_burnout.jpg&quot; width="640">

  • Vavon

    <img src="http://www.auto-motor.at/Auto/Neuwagen/Automarken-Automodelle-Neuigkeiten/Peugeot-News/Peugeot-200-Jahre/200-Jahre-Peugeot-013_high.jpg?1290069550"&gt;
    For me it is the Peugeot 206, as it is the most successful French car ever!
    Peugeot hoped they could equal the success of the 205, they ended up outselling the VW Golf in Europe for years.
    It was 3 times World Rally Champion, the coupé-cabriolet for the masses and sold 8 million times in 160 countries.
    Still looking fresh 14 years and 2 replacements later, Peugeot hasn't been able to better that success, or kill it off.

    • Vavon

      Hahaha!!! I had been toying with the same idea!

  • pj134
    • facelvega

      The small-run and prototype Alfas and the Lancia Stratos are hard to beat, I agree. But in another realm, how about the Jeep FC?

      <img src="http://www.popularmechanics.com/cm/popularmechanics/images/gW/Jeep22.jpg&quot; width="600">

      • pj134

        But the 4C is supposed to be an actual production car next year. 1900 lbs and ~250 horse would make me rather giddy.

        If the Mighty FC were ever produced I don't think I would be able to contain myself. I'd probably start running through my office hugging people and doing cartwheels yelling "IT'S REAL!"

        That color blue is about the same color as my XJ was too… I need a powder blue Jeep again.

        • JayP2112

          I showed the FC to a coworker who just traded his Grand Cherokee for an Equinox.
          He said if this were for sale, he'd own it.

          Me too.

        • facelvega

          I'm calling the 4C a prototype until they show me the money. It will be nice, though, for there to be a Boxster competitor that isn't so boringly, awfully German, and isn't a 3800 pound Detroit hog that needs 500 horsepower just to keep up.

          I'd take the FC in a second as well, though they say it can't live under modern regulations. I'd be happy with the J12 prototype as a nose clip package on a wrangler pickup.

  • Van_Sarockin

    The Unicorn

    <img src="http://carbuzzard.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Saab_9-5SportCombi_2012-rfq1.jpg&quot; width="600">
    2012 SAAB 9-5 Sportkombi 1:30

  • Gotta be the R230 Mercedes-Benz SL600. Retractable hardtop, tasteful styling (same can't be said for the new R231, unforntunately), and a twin-turbo V12 with torque out the wazoo. I'll never forget Ezra Dyer's test of one, where he took it to test-and-tune day at the local dragstrip and ran mid- to high-11s(!) with it all day with the driver's seat magic fingers and cooling on full blast.

    <img src="http://autoweek.com/storyimage/CW/20060911/FREE/60831001/AR/0/AR-60831001.jpg&quot; width="500">

  • LBJ's Love Child

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1d/MaxxPro_in_Iraq.jpg"&gt;

    I'm not feeling real good about the 21st Century right now, so I'll go with the Maxxpro MRAP.

  • Maymar

    <img src="http://www.rs-flag.com/CEO%20biog/0352.jpg&quot; /img>
    Wonderful handling, usable backseat and trunk, and thanks to some quirky reliability, the used values are great for hoons on a budget.

    By which, I mean – I should've posted it yesterday! Terrible MPG! Underpowered! Not an RX7! You should buy a 350Z!

    Can't have people go driving those values back up.

    • Van_Sarockin

      Guzzles oil and eats tires, too. And what's up with those doors?

  • Think back to 1999. Hardly a dark time for cars, but certainly a boring one. The only performance options were obvious (911, Vette, M3/5), with no mid-pack bargains nipping at their heels.

    Not sure which is best, but the rise of incredibly competent mid-priced performance cars is probably the best automotive occurrence of the 21st century. We've got the EVO and WRX, turbo FWD beasties from GM and Chrysler, the G8, the 350 and 370z, RX8 and various Miatas, Genesis Coupe, really vast VAGs and last but not least a new crop of (porky) pony cars, one of which has legit sporting credentials.

    Not to mention we're now in a world full of depreciated early '00s supercars. What was $50-80k in '03 is now in the mid to high teens and comes with reliability never before associated with such high performance cars.

    The fact that any review of a $20s-something sports car gets critiqued to hell with a dozen iterations of "why not the _____ instead?!" tells me this is a great time to be a car nut.

    So yeah, also there's the 2006 Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited, arguably the perfect 4×4. Last/best 4.0L, 6MT, 4:1 t-case, air-locking D44s front and rear, etc etc…
    <img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-zhv4zaZQpIY/RregBKDltuI/AAAAAAAAAJA/cdivH7esxRM/s988/P1000897.JPG&quot; width=500>

  • Vairship

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2b/2nd_Toyota_Prius.jpg/800px-2nd_Toyota_Prius.jpg&quot; width="600">
    This is the car that got Mr and Mrs Boring out of their beige middle of the road Corollas and Camrys, and into a vehicle that was (for its time) leading the way among mainstream vehicles.
    Sure, it may not be your cup of tea, but it means that Mr & Mrs Starbucks use less dino-juice on their commute, leaving more for my Corvair!

  • bhtooefr

    There's many, many criteria for "best".

    As an engineering accomplishment, the Veyron is without equal. Sure, there are now faster cars (then again, they made a faster Veyron to take care of that, too), but there aren't any cars that are even close to that fast, that are that refined.

    As an impact to automotive racing forever, the Audi R10 is among the biggest ever, much less the 21st century. It did what its 1950s predecessors couldn't – make diesel and performance a synonym (and without what the rednecks that mod pickups to "roll the coal" do).

    As an involving driver's car, the Miata is legendary, although I'll go with the NB over the NC.

    As far as impact to the automotive market in North America, the second-generation Prius is probably the biggest in the 21st century, simply because (despite being a mediocre car) it made fuel efficiency something to aspire to, something worth paying more for (rather than something for those who couldn't afford to buy fuel). And, the Prius driveline is a really clever piece of engineering, in my opinion. (Yes, I know, the Prius sucks. You can get its driveline in cars that don't suck, though – Ford uses a variant of it, with their own engines, in their hybrids.)

    As far as upcoming cars go, I'll have to go with the Edison2 VLC. I like their approach to efficiency (light weight, design to deflect crashes rather than absorb them, a chassis that allows for four adults to fit in comfort, excellent aerodynamics, and clever suspension to allow for fully outboard wheels with minimal drag), and if they can successfully launch their car (which is almost certainly going to come out as an electric, but there's rumors of a removable generator, which would make it ideal for my driving, as an only car), I'd be all over it.