MotorWeek names Fiesta ST Best Subcompact Car

Each year we roll out the red carpet for our annual Drivers’ Choice Awards. These are the cars and trucks we would like to have parked in our driveway, or at least dream about owning if we won the lottery. We look at the factors mattering most to consumers – price, practicality, performance and fuel efficiency. Then our editorial staff selects the best models in a variety of lifestyle categories ranging from family sedan to luxury car, to large utilities and pickups. From that group, an overall best of the year is chosen. MotorWeek’s Drivers’ Choice Awards have been presented annually since 1983.

MotorWeek names the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray as its “Best of the Year” 2014 Drivers’ Choice Award winner for delivering an exotic performance, for far less than an exotic price. The Drivers’ Choice Awards, among the auto industry’s most coveted honor, announces the awards annually at the Chicago Auto Show. The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray stood out amongst competition for its eye catching exterior design, high tech substances, honest quality and lofty performance.

“With MotorWeek’s longstanding reputation for representing the pulse of the consumer and best market choices, Chevrolet is honored and delighted to be the recipient of the Drivers’ Choice, Best of the Year, 2014 with the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray,” said Tim Mahoney, Chief Marketing Officer, Global Chevrolet. “This is a fabulous award and one that we are exceptionally proud to call our own.” “The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is an amazing effort at an amazingly affordable price, says MotorWeek host John Davis. It looks great from every angle, and is a total high performance package that is truly world class. Nothing is left out – from track-ready features, to impressive driver comfort, to the kind of fuel economy that is the envy of the sports car world.”

Recognized as the best overall among winners in 13 lifestyle categories, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray also won as “Best Sport Performance Car.” All Drivers’ Choice winners are featured on Motorweek.org, as well as on a special episode (#3323) of MotorWeek airing on public television stations beginning February 8, 2014, and on cable’s Velocity beginning February 18, 2014. MotorWeek and the 2014 Driver’s Choice Awards are nationally sponsored by RockAuto, Tire Rack, and DieHard.

Best of the Year Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The 2014 MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Award for Best of the Year goes to the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, a very impressive car that delivers so much exotic performance, for far less than an exotic price. Also because it’s performance doesn’t keep it from being a very comfortable street driver. Still, this new Corvette needs a race track to really show what it’s made of. The latest LT1 V8 cranks out a standard 455-horsepower and 460 lb-ft. of torque. Adding the performance exhaust option bumps those numbers to 460 and 465. A worthy upgrade indeed.

Though when it comes to bang-for-your-buck upgrades, none beats our car’s Z51 Performance Package, which adds a more track-worthy suspension, dry sump oiling for the engine, an electronic limited slip rear, bigger slotted brake rotors and black painted brake calipers, painted aluminum 19 and 20-inch wheels, lower aspect ratio tires, revised gear ratios, additional cooling, and an aero package. All of this for just 28-hundred bucks more? It’s the performance bargain of the year.

The aggressive styling certainly grabs everyone’s attention. It’s full of purposeful lines and vents, like a real bully that would likely be picking on just about every European exotic on the playground. There are composite body panels of course, but also carbon fiber for the hood and removable roof panel, and the frame is all aluminum. The interior has seen major transformation as well with better materials; including real carbon fiber and aluminum trim, more technology features like a splendid reconfigurable gauge display, and better seating.

And that’s why we chose the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray as the 2014 MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Best of the Year.

Best Subcompact Car Ford Fiesta ST

The Best Subcompact Car goes to Ford Fiesta ST but “Sub” doesn’t mean you won’t get big thrills from our winner. While we don’t normally pick a subcompact winner that is a narrowly focused performance model however we could not resist the Fiesta ST. This European-style 5-door packs a potent performance punch; with a 197-horsepower 1.6-liter I4 providing the power and a lowered suspension that carries the goods through corners. All for a base price of around $22,000.

Best Compact Car Mazda3

The easiest decision we made this year is our Best Compact Car winner, with the Mazda3. Up against a revitalized Civic, and all-new Corolla and Forte, the “3” still managed a unanimous win! The Mazda3’s blend of sterling good looks, outgoing practicality, and dynamic performance shoots it to the head of its class. And SKYACTIV keeps fuel economy high without the complexity or cost of a hybrid system. To us the Mazda3 is a no brainer.

Best Family Sedan Chevrolet Impala

While returning a nameplate to its former glory is not required to earn a Drivers’ Choice Award, it worked for the Chevrolet Impala, our Best Family Sedan. The beautiful styling and roomy interior were appreciated, but what impressed us most was its great ride and handling that kept things entertaining, yet still very comfy and super quiet inside. A winning formula that raised the Impala from rental car appliance to solid road citizen.

Best Convertible Jaguar F-Type

Our Best Convertible pick, the Jaguar F-type, brings back a true sports car edge to the famed British marque. With up to 495-horsepower from the supercharged V8 under the hood, this two-seater is clearly about more than just looks. Yet, those looks are spectacular. Modern with just a hint of Jaguar’s past, this re-imagined roadster lives up to the E-type tradition. The driver-focused cockpit is also stellar in both design and function. Oh, and the wicked sound from the exhaust will have you going topless any chance you get.

Best Luxury Sedan Cadillac CTS

We’re a long term fan of the Cadillac CTS, but never more so than now as it earned our trophy for Best Luxury Sedan. With the ATS now supporting the brand in the compact luxury-sport segment, the CTS is able to embrace the mid-size sector; and does so with the panache and prowess worthy of a global player. The look has evolved; but drill further into the details, past the exquisite interior and you’ll find the CTS is actually based on the ATS’s dynamic platform, helping it perform as great as it looks.

Best Sport Sedan Subaru WRX

Our winner for Best Sport Sedan is another perennial favorite, the Subaru WRX. With this latest WRX, Subaru is trying to cut the ties from the Impreza label on which it is still based. Some may bemoan the loss of the hatchback, but the sedan looks plenty aggressive, and rides that way too. Suspension feel is stiffer, but greatly improved handling comes with it. There’s a new 6-speed manual and Sport tuned CVT if you must. And even with all of the upgrades, price remains about the same as before. And, to top it off, a hotter WRX STi arrives soon.

Best Sports Coupe BMW 4 Series

The BMW 4-series takes our prize for Best Sport Coupe. While the new 4 evolved from the 3-series Coupe, with the new name comes a new design that is both wider and longer in wheelbase than before. And while the 6-series inspired sheet metal is more aggressive, the driving experience remains traditional BMW. Whether you choose a turbo-4 or turbo-6, you’ll be finding excuses to make errand runs, taking back roads, and loving every minute of it.

Best Performance Car Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Our Best Performance Car award could only go one place, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Despite early hubbub about the taillights, it only takes a minute behind the wheel to fall in love with the C7. Crank the LT1 over and you’ll get a sound that brings a smile to your face immediately. Nail the gas and it feels like you just got rear ended by a Hummer travelling at full speed. And once at speed, you’ll get handling matched only by cars over twice the price of the Stingray.

Best Small Utility Jeep Cherokee

Our Best Small Utility award goes to the reincarnated Jeep Cherokee. The name may have been gone from America for a while, and early pictures had many skeptical, but the proof for us was in the driving. Whether you choose I4 or V6 power, there’s an industry-first 9-speed automatic transmission. But the new Cherokee is not about numbers, other than maybe the huge sales numbers that we expect to be headed Jeep’s way.

Best Large Utility Hyundai Santa Fe

Now when it comes to hauling the whole family around, call us frugal, as we want to do it as affordably and comfortably as possible. And that’s why our winner for Best Large Utility is the Hyundai Santa Fe. For around $29,000 to start the Santa Fe delivers good comfort for seven, 80.0 cubic-ft. of cargo space, 18-inch alloy wheels, and all of the technology you need to keep your family unit running smoothly.

Best Pickup Truck Ram 1500

This may have been our toughest decision in all of our Drivers’ Choice voting: Best Pickup Truck. While there is a lot to love about the more fuel efficient and capable Chevrolet Silverado and even tougher looking Toyota Tundra, it was the Ram 1500 that was our only repeat winner for 2014.

We loved it last year for both its handsome new style and fuel efficient V6 gasoline powertrain, but this year our crush is the result of bringing the manliest of all powertrains to the ½-ton market, a diesel! Its 3.0-liter turbo-oil burning V6 puts down 420 lb-ft. of torque for a 9,200-pound tow rating and over 25 miles-per-gallon for commuting duty.

With big truck performance, luxury sedan comfort, and now ultimate manliness under the hood, it’s no wonder the Ram 1500 wins again.

Best Eco-Friendly Honda Accord Hybrid

If highly practical, fuel efficiency was a commodity, the Honda Accord Hybrid, our winner for Best Eco-Friendly would be the top seller. For sure, there are more fuel stingy ways to get around, but for most Americans, EV’s are not there yet, and many hybrids come with too many compromises. Well, the Accord Hybrid is nearly compromise free. While giving up only a little trunk space for 50 miles-per-gallon economy and over 650 miles of range, it delivers all the comfort, security, and good road manners the Accord’s name is known for.

Best Dream Machine Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series

The Black Series models are the top of the line when it comes to AMG prowess. While not a real race car, the GT3 inspired SLS Black has loads of track worthy upgrades that puts this 622-horsepower, 34-hundred pound beast high on any motor head’s shopping list. The suspension is kidney punching stiff, which helps you get not only through corners in a hurry, but get as much of that 622-horsepower on to the track as possible. Weight has been shaved with extensive use of carbon fiber and a full titanium exhaust system.

Best Dream Machine Porsche 911 Turbo S

What can we say about the Porsche 911 Turbo S? It has 560 horsepower. Torque? Plenty of that as well, up to 553 lb-ft. worth. Torque vectoring? Track gripping all-wheel-drive? Present. The Porsche 911 Turbo S is one of the most iconic sports cars ever. Nothing else to say, really.

Best Dream Machine Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Land Rover for a Range Rover Sport is great-looking SUV with sporty driving dynamics and menacing exhaust note that’s worth dreaming about. If yuou want to be coddled in extreme luxury, while carrying 7-passengers, across a jungle or the local desert then the Land Rover Range Rover Sport is the Best Dream Machine for you. It’s a high-tech, all-aluminum tour de force.