Hooniverse Asks: What is the best all-around car?

I’ve been in the Mercedes-Benz S580 for the last week. Yes, it’s rather expensive with a sticker price north of $140,000 as-tested. But it’s hard to find a thing it does wrong as it relates to your average car. There’s tons of power from the twin-turbocharged V8. The seats are insanely comfortable. It’s quite nice to blast music from the 1,750-watt Burmester sound system. All of the safety systems are the best in the industry. And it’s incredibly quiet inside of the cabin. On top of that, it stands out in a subtle way. There’s no need to shout here. It’s one of the best vehicles I’ve driven from the perspective of delivering on anything you need from a car at the highest levels across the board.

I love this car. It’s the best… car.

Yet I know you’ll all have far better answers. You always do. This one is too expensive and too silly an answer, but it’s my answer. What’s your answer?

13 Comments

  1. You’re close, although for all-round-ness, I’d pick the slightly (very slightly) less expensive E450 wagon. Were it my hypothetical money, I’m probably getting the black trim painted (or the whole thing wrapped), but I can live with the ground clearance (which is actually sort of suitably old-school Benz), and then you’ve got something quick, comfortable, and extremely usable.

  2. I don’t own one, and I’ve never owned a Volvo. I’m still nominating the Volvo C70 hardtop convertible. I think the one in the picture attached might be the older C70 with a soft top, but the newer hard top version of the C70 can also tow 2000 lbs.

  3. Subaru Outback XT. Wagon, soft roading capability. Reasonably quick (despite terrible CVt). Adequate gas mileage. Reliable. Cheap to own and insure.

  4. Even more important … is having the right car. You have to get a car that handles really well. This is extremely important, and there’s a lot of debate on this subject – about what kind of car handles best. Some say a front-engined car; some say a rear-engined car. I say a rented car. Nothing handles better than a rented car. You can go faster, turn corners sharper, and put the transmission into reverse while going forward at a higher rate of speed in a rented car than in any other kind. You can also park without looking, and can use the trunk as an ice chest. Another thing about a rented car is that it’s an all-terrain vehicle. Mud, snow, water, woods – you can take a rented car anywhere. True, you can’t always get it back – but that’s not your problem, is it?

    Yet there’s more to a really good-handling car than just making sure it doesn’t belong to you. It has to be big. It’s really hard for a girl to get her clothes off inside a small car, and this is one of the most important features of car handling. Also, what kind of drugs does it have in it? Most people like to drive on speed or cocaine with plenty of whiskey mixed in. This gives you the confidence you want and need for plowing through red lights and passing trucks on the right. But don’t neglect downs and ‘ludes and codeine cough syrup either. It’s hard to beat the heavy depressants for high-speed spin-outs, backing into trees, and a general feeling of not giving two f**ks about man and his universe.

    Overall, though, it’s the bigness of the car that counts the most. Because when something bad happens in a really big car – accidentally speeding through the middle of a gang of unruly young people who have been taunting you in a drive-in restaurant, for instance – it happens very far away – way out at the end of your fenders. It’s like a civil war in Africa; you know, it doesn’t really concern you too much. On the other hand, when something happens in a little bitty car it happens right in your face. You get all involved in it and have to give everything a lot of thought. Driving around in a little bitty car is like being one of those sensitive girls who writes poetry. Life is just too much to bear. You end up staying at home in your bedroom and thinking up sonnets that don’t get published till you die, which will be real soon if you keep driving around in little bitty cars like that.

    P. J. O’Rourke

    https://heretical.com/miscella/reptile.html

  5. A classic that you can daily drive and never feel guilty about the miles… pile ’em on. Carries -lots- of stuff. Comfy seats. Fun through curves, just enough power, a nice cruiser. Excellent brakes. Safe enough to (probably) not kill you, even without airbags. Make it a manual and it works for me!

      1. My mind went to the other Scandinavian car from this era. All that you said could describe this one as well.

    1. It’s almost 30 years since these went out of production and I still believe this is a great answer. Wouldn’t call them “safe” by today’s standards, but I have to admit these are my reference when buying anything else: Great seats and ergonomics, spectacular visibility, endless space.

      Otherwise, I was about to propose something else because 100k+$ cars might be great, but they fail on one metric most people can’t just ignore; price. Hence:

  6. Given that it’s “my” answer and not an objective checklist of “things wot it must do and performance KPIs”

    So it’s not that practical, but all those practical things practical cars do are tedious like..
    – going to ikea
    – helping friends move house
    – children

    Meh, I can do without all that in my life and Ikea or any other retailer of home tat delivers.

    On the positive side of the balance sheet..
    – Affordable to run
    – old school feeling without old school rust and stuff and you’ll even have a warranty
    – I can hoon it without losing my license, or at least being completely irresponsible on the public road. Yes, 500bhp and enough lateral G to make an astronaut pass out is nice and all, but I don’t really want a car I have to wind up to three digit speeds before I’m having fun.
    – It’s got comfy seats, a good driving position, aircon, a stereo that plays tunes and a tall enough top gear not to be screaming at highway speed, what more do you want ya big weenies. Ok the plastic is a bit kinder egg toy and it offends your soft German car driving hands, boohoo.
    – It’s got a diff, this is an important part of my Gaelic heritage, this is what DeValera fought for.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD23de3SjTg
    – your ma loves it (probably)

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