Wow; that was a quick year. It was 12 months of a changing vehicle mix, as more EVs are coming to market than ever. Nevertheless, it’s been a year of some fun test drives.
In 2023, these test drives have shown to be the most memorable. While many of them are indeed expensive, this list demonstrates how uninterested most automakers appear to be with providing genuinely affordable new cars.
That said, three cars from Hyundai Motor Group make the list, revealing how exceptional their automotive design and engineering has become.
Listed in order by base price, it’s time to drive.
2024 Chevrolet Trax, $21,495: OK, this far from a fast SUV, given its Lilliputian 1.2-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine generates 137 horsepower through a 6-speed automatic transmission. And it’s front-wheel drive only; all-wheel drive is not available. Yet it proves to be a compelling bargain. Wearing incredibly good looks, it’s 11 inches longer and 2 inches wider than the 2023 Trax. So, it doesn’t look as if you settled for life in the bargain basement. And there’s more than 54 cubic feet of schlepping space. And its carlike driving demeanor makes it easy to live with.
2023 Toyota Prius, $27,650: The engineering philosophy that has always defined the Prius — that is, an anti-design, anti-performance hatchback for environmentally conscious consumers — has now been abandoned by Toyota. This is the first Prius you might actually want to drive since it makes driving enjoyable even with a fuel economy of more than 50 mpg. Available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the Prius offers 194 hp — two more with all-wheel drive. You can also opt for the Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid that as 44 miles solely on electricity, while its 220-hp driveline allows for 6.6-second 0-60 mph times.
2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6, $41,400: It’s not every day that you hear car designers admit they nicked their newest car design from the 1934 Stout Scarab and the 1938 Phantom Corsair. But these Art Deco streamliners lend this sleek automotive lozenge a unique design flavor when mixed in with clever post-modern design. Consider the steering wheel hub, which boasts four dots. They turn different colors to tell you of different conditions. But also, four dots in Morse Code is H. And with 320 hp, the Ioniq 6 reaches 60 mph in five seconds while providing 316 miles of range. And its maximum recharge rate of 350 kW allows for a 10%-80% recharge time in as little as 18 minutes, or 65 miles of range in 5 minutes.
2024 Kia EV9, $54,900: Here’s your chance to own an electric Kia Telluride: the 2024 Kia EV9. The three-row, all-electric EV9 SUV comes with 215 hp rear-drive or 379 hp all-wheel drive. The former travels 304 miles between charges, the latter 280 miles. While the EV9 lacks some of the extreme thrust found in other EVs, its power delivery proves to be more linear, and more appropriate considering its mission. Its upscale atmosphere is further enhanced by the total of noise – aside from those in the second and third rows.
2023 Ineos Grenadier, $71,500: The first vehicle manufactured by British company Ineos Automotive, the Ineos Grenadier is designed and constructed with a 30-year lifespan in mind, rather than a typical 10-year one. With a design reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class and the ancient Land Rover Defender, its style is pure practicality. With a ZF 8-speed transmission and a BMW turbocharged inline 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine producing 282 horsepower, the Grenadier’s excellent engineering provides for a 35.5-degree approach angle, 36.1-degree departure angle, and 10.4 inches of ground clearance. It’s unquestionably one of the most competent, capable and durable SUVs available.
2024 BMW i5 M60, $84,100: The eighth-generation 5 Series also introduces an all-electric option for the first time. And while there are three EV models, for those who want maximum performance, there’s the i5 M60. It pushes a much more impressive 593 hp through all four wheels. There’s no waiting for the engine to rev up. Slam the throttle and you’ll immediately feel the difference as 0-60 mph launches take an estimated 3.7 seconds. The feeling of raw power is almost drug-like, providing an instant, electrical adrenaline rush.
2023 Lucid Air Touring, $95,000: Boasting a striking exterior design, a roomy cabin, cutting edge technology and delivering standout performance, the Lucid Air Touring is worth stretching for. It’s handsome and elegant, much like more traditional premium sedans. Yet the optional, near all-glass roof that creates the feeling of driving in the open, especially if the windows are down. And its interior design errs on the reserved side. Punching out 620 hp, 885 lb-ft of torque and 425 miles of range. Reaching 60 mph requires 3.4 seconds as near-instant torque sinks you deep into your seat. The driving experience is impressive as the Lucid Air proves to be a striking sports sedan.
2023 Genesis G90, $98,700: One look at this athletically elegant full-size flagship sedan will very quickly remind you just how the brand got popular. It demands to be ogled, and you’d be excused for running your hand along the car’s beltline as if in a commercial. The cabin is spacious and covered in Nappa leather. It’s simple and uncluttered, with an appropriate ratio of knobs and buttons to haptic response touchscreens and just about every bit of technology one can imagine. Its 409-hp mild hybrid driveline comes on smoothly, delivering a premium driving experience. It’s a lot of luxury car for the money.
2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray, $104,900: It’s easy to confuse the Corvette E-Ray and the Z06 as both feature the same wider body. But the E-Ray packs a 160-hp electric motor up front, with the 6.2-liter V8 found in the Stingray resides mid-ship. Combined, they generate 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. It hits 60 in a mere 2.5 seconds, a tenth or two faster than its seemingly more muscular Corvette Z06 and its 670 ponies. Where the Z06 sacrifices some of the Stingray’s refinement in the quest for raw power, the E-Ray manages to deliver the best of both worlds.
2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre, $420,000: For luxury automakers with long histories, moving into the modern electric era while retaining their essence may prove to be a real challenge. However, Rolls-Royce has met that challenge. The 2024 Spectre, the brand’s first EV, first and foremost drives like a Rolls-Royce, one that just happens to be electrically powered. Its shape is quintessential Rolls-Royce. Its lavish cabin is as opulent as any stateroom. Sure, its 584 hp doesn’t make it the fastest EV. And its estimated 264 miles of range isn’t the farthest. But that’s not what Rolls-Royce is about. It’s about unrivaled grand touring in finest fashion. And that, the 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre delivers.
Headlight.News Senior Contributing Editor Paul Eisenstein and Editor Michael Strong contributed to this report.