This has certainly been an eventful year in the auto industry. We saw new cars, trucks, electric vehicles, concepts and everything in between. We were fortunate enough to get to drive most of them and can say that we're feeling really good about the kinds of cars nearly all of the automakers are producing.
With 2013 coming to a close, it's time to take a look at what is coming in 2014. It's shaping up to be a great year for cars, with tons of new and completely redesigned vehicles waiting for us to take them for a spin.
We're looking ahead to the vehicles we're most excited to drive after the ball drops on January 1. Head on through to see which cars have us really intrigued.
Steve Ewing (Senior Editor, Autoblog) - Volkswagen Golf RA few days before attending the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, Volkswagen flew me out to a tiny, regional airport in the middle of Germany to drive a number of its latest products, including the seventh-generation GTI hot hatch. But this wasn't the usual, organized ride-and-drive program where I'd be sharing the road with other bacon-fed journalists in other cars. Oh no. It was a one-on-one date with the GTI, on my very own airport runway. In the rain. My only instruction: "Keep the tires on the tarmac."
I won't go into detail about the hoonage that followed. I'll simply say that the GTI is awesome and I can't wait for it to arrive in the States. But then, the very next day, I saw the brand new Volkswagen Golf R – an even more hardcore version of the GTI – make its debut at the Frankfurt show. And, well, let's just say I'm glad I packed that extra pair of pants.
The new Golf R packs 296 horsepower – an increase of 76 versus the standard, seventh-generation GTI. And with a more robust suspension setup, a Haldex all-wheel-drive system, and, lest I forget, 280 pound-feet of torque at my disposal (the normal GTI produces 258 lb-ft), the Golf R should have no troubles claiming its spot as my favorite hot hatch to date. To say I'm excited to drive it would be a gross understatement. Here's hoping there's another empty runway in my future.
John Neff (Editor-in-Chief, Autoblog) - Jaguar F-Type CoupeI am not a convertible person, and thus was bummed when Jaguar released the stunning F-Type last year in drop-top mode only. The English automaker corrected that error last month when it debuted the 2015 F-Type Coupe, a proper tin-top version of the brand's most exciting new model. Not only that, the car debuted with regular, extra strength and prescription-only models, the latter being the F-Type R Coupe packing a 550-hp supercharged 5.0-liter V8. I've been waiting to drive the F-Type for a long time, and now I don't have to share that experience with the person next to me at the stop light.
Jeremy Korzeniewski (Managing Editor, Autoblog) - Chevrolet Corvette Z06Having driven the 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray, which is extremely impressive in just about all aspects, I can't wait to get a stint behind the wheel of the upcoming Z06 version. At this point, the only public information about the car is that it will debut at the Detroit Auto Show, and that means it's likely to go on sale before the end of 2014. It can't come soon enough.
Specifications have not yet been announced publicly, but there are a few things we know. It will be significantly more powerful than the standard Stingray, which itself isn't exactly underpowered, and it will be "the most track-capable Corvette ever," according to Chevrolet. Suffice it to say, we're expecting big performance and even bigger smiles on our faces.
Chris McGraw (Associate Multimedia Producer, AOL Autos) - Ford Mustang EcoBoostComing from a Ford family, my pick is no surprise to any of my coworkers: the 2015 Mustang. I have driven a good many Mustangs in the past, and I can’t wait to see the new design in person at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
That being said, my choice does come with a twist. While I’m eager to get behind the wheel of the GT, which employs a burly 5.0L V8 engine, the EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder has really peaked my interest. A four-cylinder Mustang hasn’t come around for over twenty years, and I’m curious to see how this version holds up to its big brother.
Michael Harley (West Coast Editor, Autoblog) - BMW M4BMW’s M3 Coupe has been an industry benchmark for nearly 30 years, with each of the four previous generations representing the pinnacle of the company’s street-legal sports car prowess. Looking back over more than two decades, I have yet to meet an M3 model that didn’t put a big smile on my face in terms of driving dynamics, performance and the very important fun-to-drive factor.
But the M3 Coupe is no more, as the 2014 model year will introduce us to the all-new M4 Coupe that is built on BMW’s new E82 platform. The sleek and stylish two-door is fitted with a new M-tuned twin-turbo six-cylinder engine that promises to deliver 430 horsepower to its rear-wheel drive powertrain and plenty of smiles for the enthusiast.
Will the arrival of the M3’s successor set a new high water mark? I can’t wait to find out in 2014.
Sebastian Blanco (Editor-in-Chief, Autoblog Green) - Tesla Model XThe most interesting car coming in 2014, in my eyes, is the Tesla Model X. Finally, someone is going to offer an all-electric utility vehicle – sorry Toyota, your RAV4 EV program just isn't big enough to matter – that will prove that there's an EV for everyone. We don't expect the Model X to behave exactly like the Model S, but since they are built on the same platform and have similar powertrains (the Model X adds AWD), I assume it's going to be a lot of practical fun.
With the U.S. Supercharging network growing at a rapid pace, by the time the Model X arrives at the end of the year, I'd be more than happy to test it out on a cross-country jaunt. Who says the only way to cross the continent without any carbon emissions requires a bike, a horse or my own two feet?
I'm still not convinced the crazy falcon-wing doors will be a hit everywhere – and I've heard directly from potential buyers that they won't consider the SUV if standard doors are not available – but this is still going to be a groundbreaking vehicle, which is just what Tesla is known for. I cannot wait.
Adam Morath (Executive Producer, TRANSLOGIC) - MINI CooperI'm most excited to drive the all-new MINI Cooper Hardtop. What's intriguing to me about this car is that, although completely redesigned for 2014, the new MINI doesn't look very new at all. Most would have to see the outgoing Cooper side-by-side with the new model in order to identify any changes at all -- and even then, some might be stumped.
For me, that will make driving the new Cooper a bit of a game. As a former MINI owner, I'm quite familiar with the second-generation Cooper and am very curious to see all the ways the third-generation feels similar or different.
Redesigning an iconic car requires a tough balancing act. Engineers and designers needs to inject enough freshness to keep the product competitive and attract new buyers, while being careful not to stray from what made the vehicle successful in the first place. It appears that MINI took the conservative route with their 2014 Cooper Hardtop and I can't wait to get behind the wheel and judge for myself.
Michael Zak (Consumer Editor, AOL Autos) - Volvo V60 PolestarIf you think station wagons are for the benign and bland, you need to think again. There are a surprising amount of high performance wagons out there that offer serious power and sporty handling in addition to the space and versatility the segment is known for. Some great examples of this are the Mercedes-Benz E63 Estate (585 horsepower), Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon (556 horsepower) and, soon, the Volvo V60 Polestar.
I'm excited about this hot ride because it shatters two stereotypes: 1) Wagons are for boring suburbanites and 2) Volvos are for, well, boring suburbanites.
The V60 Polestar will be anything but lifeless. It employs a 3.0L turbocharged six-cylinder engine that produces 350 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. It also has six-speed automatic transmission and Haldex all-wheel-drive system. Hitting 62 miles per hour reportedly happens in 4.9 seconds, on its way to a stop speed of 155 mph.
I'm a fan of Volvos. They're safe, reliable, versatile, have great interiors (the seats on the new S60 are the best I've ever experienced) and employ peppy engines that make them fun as well as functional. Giving the V60 this Polestar treatment caused me to like them even more. I can't wait to get behind the wheel. The weekend trip to Trader Joe's will be so much more interesting.
Seyth Miersma (Senior Editor, Autoblog) - Acura NSXIn 1991 Honda brought its revolutionary NSX supercar to the US market wearing an Acura badge. That move was so strong, and the mid-engine screamer so good, that it set a high water mark for the brand that almost haunts it today.
Acura has been torturing us with yearly rumors of an NSX return since it was pulled from our shores in 2005. There have been fits and starts with the successor project, and many enthusiasts still don’t fully believe that the second-generation of the marque will really debut for the 2015 model year, as planned.
I believe that Acura will make good on the new, hybrid electric version of the NSX that it showed as a concept in Detroit last year. With a mid-mounted V6 gas-burning engine and two electric motors powering the front wheels, I also believe that the all-wheels-driven, technological powerhouse has the potential to redefine Honda’s luxury brand for a second time.
Storied history, excruciating gestation period, unproven and exciting new technology under the skin and a brand that needs a superstar in the worst possible way – the next NSX will be the drive of the year, for sure.
Chris Paukert (Executive Editor, Autoblog) - Chevrolet ColoradoAutomakers have pointed for years to America's declining small truck market as a reason to not devote more resources to it, but it's been something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. With a dwindling number of players in the market that are all aged well beyond their prime, it's no wonder that segment sales have stagnated.
I'm impressed that General Motors has finally seen fit to buck the trend and develop the Chevy Colorado, which should remove a lot of the reasons that small and midsize truck owners fled the segment. It'll be the only player in the segment that won't have a Jurassic interior with outdated technology, antiquated powerplants with disappointing power and fuel economy, and so on. As a former small truck owner, I'm eager to drive the Colorado – particularly the promised diesel engine that will arrive in a year.