• Jan 9, 2009
When Winding Road picked their 12 favorite cars of 2008, they went out of their way to diversify. Their "Dynamic Dozen" includes vehicles as inexpensive as the $14,000 Honda Fit up to the $114,000 Audi R8, with everything from the Ford Mustang to the Porsche Cayman/Boxster in between. There are some gaping omissions like the Nissan GT-R and perhaps the Pontiac G8 GT, but Winding Road's criteria stipulated that the majority of the staff had to drive the vehicles in order for them to be nominated, which might explain why some vehicles don't appear.

The list is filled with great vehicles, with one really big (literally) surprise: the Dodge Sprinter. The $37,000 people/cargo hauler doesn't crank through the twisties and it couldn't beat a pack mule in a quarter mile, but WR loves the German-born hauler for its distinct personality and core competencies. It can haul people or things in great quantities, it has very solid interior, has a great service record, and WR claims it's a lot of fun to drive, too.

As surprising as the nod to the Sprinter was, we almost reserved as much shock for the lack of a BMW 3-Series. We were beginning to think that the best-selling BMW was a requirement for any "best" list. They did outline why they chose the 1-Series, though, so that's probably close enough. Hit the read link below to catch Winding Road's top 12 from beginning to end.

[Source: Winding Road]


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  • 21 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Perfect for track days. You can load a couple of bikes (or more) & all the stuff you'll need for the day & have room to spare. It beats my previous favorite trackday conversion--an ex-ambulance. Inspired.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I have been looking for one of these for a while, it seems the perfect thing to tow my race car and still have room to sleep in. Only problem is, they are much sought after and used ones are going for quite a premium.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mercedes-Benz certain know how to make commercial vehicles. They are the world's biggest truckmaker. Their vans are the standard that all European van makers aspire to. It looks funny dressed upas a Dodge though.
      The Van Man
      http://www.vanlocator.co.uk
      • 6 Years Ago
      Chris, you spelled Boxster wrong.
      • 6 Years Ago
      We own a 2006 Sprinter and love it. It has the 5-cyl diesel and most people think it's some big gas guzzler. Little do they know that it gets 28 mpg on road trips, it can tow 4400 lbs, and it actually handles well for a van. We have owned Ford Econoline vans in the past and they always had problems. This van has 30,000 miles (in one year) already and no problems whatsoever.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've always like the Sprinter, and understand why it made their list.

      My frustration: The Sprinter could be serious competition for traditional full size, family-hauling versions of the Ford and Chevy vans. But you'll rarely see family-friendly versions of the Sprinter on a dealer's lot. When found, the price is surprisingly high.

      C'mon - how about a version of the Sprinter that cuts down height and length slightly (perhaps just enough to fit a traditional garage space), but still has 8 honest potentially-adult-sized seating positions? And find a way to sell it for something in the price range of a comparably-equipped Econoline. The diesel gets great mileage - and the Sprinter has a surprisingly high tow capacity that also allows generous cargo and passenger weight at the same time.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "C'mon - how about a version of the Sprinter that cuts down height and length slightly (perhaps just enough to fit a traditional garage space), but still has 8 honest potentially-adult-sized seating positions?"

        It's called the Vito. Look on Mercedes' German website.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Mirko -

        Yet another interesting vehicle we don't get in the US. Plus, with an MB badge, it wouldn't be family-affordable anyway.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I look at the Sprinter and see the perfect sized vehicle for a modern camper conversion, especially with the diesel. I don't know we're not importing more vehicles like these from Europe, they're damn useful.
      • 6 Years Ago
      why is it a shock that the fugly and unremarkable pontiac g8 isnt on there? last time i checked, making little more than 50 horses per liter wasnt very impressive... especially considering it puts out numbers relatively close to a 13 year old m3 that has 100 hp less.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Wow, a bit of Pontiac hate I sense there.

        I guess in your rant on the G8 you failed to notice that the M-B C63 AMG which did make it onto the list also happens to not be terribly impressive in the HP/L fight. Plus, you of course fudged your figures a bit to make the G8 appear even worse than it is. Additionally, the engines in the G8 are capable of more power, they are just detuned slightly in this application. For instance, in the previous Pontiac GTO, the 6.0L made 400HP, but makes 361HP in the G8.

        The true numbers are as follows,

        Pontiac G8 GT - 60.17hp/L (6.0L, 361hp)
        Pontiac G8 GXP - 64.84hp/L (6.2L, 402hp)
        M-B C63 - 72.74hp/L (6.2L, 451hp)
        M-B 5.5L V-8, - 69.45hp/L (5.5L, 382hp)
        BMW 4.4L V-8 - 90.91hp/L (4.4L, 400hp with twin-turbos)
        Jaguar V-8 - 71.43hp/L (4.2L, 300hp)
        BMW V-12 - 73hp/L (6.0L, 438hp)
        Chrysler SRT Hemi - 69.67hp/L (6.1L, 425hp)

        Compare those figures to those of base, smaller engines from various manufacturers.

        Kia 1.6L - 68.75hp/L (1.6L, 110hp)
        Nissan 1.6L - 66.87hp/L (1.6L, 107hp)
        Nissan 1.8L - 67.78hp/L (1.8L, 122hp)
        Honda 1.5L 78hp/L (1.5L, 117hp)
        Honda 1.8L 77.78hp/L (1.8L, 140hp)
        Mazda 2.0L 74hp/L (2.0L, 148hp)

        Fact is, larger engines will never be as efficient HP/L as smaller engines. It's just science, not inferior engineering. There are ways to overcome it(higher revs, forced induction etc), however the base inefficiency of the larger engine still remains.

        Also interesting to note that you chose to compare the G8 to a much smaller car in order to demean its performance.

        I'm really not terribly surprised that the G8 is comparable to a 13yr old M3. That 13yr old M3 is closer in size to the current Pontiac G5 than the G8. The G8 is a closer match for the current 5 Series in all dimensions than an E36 M3.

        For my money though, I'd much rather have a 60hp/L 6.0L V-8 car than an 80hp/L 2.0L car. I don't choose to buy my cars based on the hp/L rating.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "but Winding Road's criteria stipulated that the majority of the staff had to drive the vehicles in order for them to be nominated"

      That's a shame... Having to actually DRIVE a car prior saying you like it...pfff....
        • 6 Years Ago
        LOL! Good comment!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Fun to drive seems like a stretch. But the Sprinter is a good vehicle. The big van market needed a change, and Ford and GM for some reason decided not to put an effort forth. The Sprinter deserves the van crown.

      If I had anything bad to say about it, it'd be merely that there is still so much ground left to cover in that market. This is a good vehicle, but there is still room to improve this class of vehicle about as much as the Honda Odyssey did for the minivan.

      As to the rest, you must be kidding me. C63? The Cayman? The Evo? Isn't the Evo matched by vehicles that cost thousands less?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well, I can honestly say that when the Sprinter came out, I test drove one. I test drive a ton of cars. I did not like it one bit, either. I'd take a VW eurovan over it.
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