What the Autoblog staff drives: the ultimate editors' picks
What we actually spent our money on
We spend a lot of time at Autoblog evaluating cars from ordinary to outrageous to help you learn what car is the best for you. We even have a segment of our podcast called "Spend My Money" all about helping listeners find the right car for them. As such, we thought maybe we should share with you what we have spent our own, real money on.
Our garages are quite diverse, featuring everything from stock crossovers to modified sports cars. We have cars from all around the world and of all ages. And we have all kinds of reasons for owning what we have, as well as likes and dislikes. So click on to see what our ultimate editors' picks are.
Road Test Editor Zac Palmer
I bought this 2001 Acura Integra GS-R just a week before my 16th birthday, and it’s been my only car ever since. The months prior to my purchase were dedicated to reading all the original reviews in the buff books of small, sporty cars from the 1990s and tirelessly searching used car listings. That way, I’d know exactly what was or wasn’t hot from a fantastic era of cars that was becoming gloriously affordable in the early 2010s. I had narrowed it down to just a few options by the time I decided on the Integra, but in the end, there were a few specific things that landed this car in my driveway: engine, handling, reliability.
Firstly, the GS-R is a fun car to drive. It has a little 1.8-liter four-cylinder that revs to 8,100 rpm. A big thank you to VTEC for making my trips back and forth to high school far more entertaining than they would’ve been otherwise. The engine only makes 170 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque, but it’s light enough that 60 mph happens in just under 7 seconds. That was more than plenty for me then, and it’s still plenty now. And oh yeah, all the ink you’ve seen spilled about how great the Integra Type R drives and handles; much of that applies to the GS-R, too. You just need some modifications to get there, and I won’t go into detail about what’s different underneath mine (plenty), but it’s remarkably refreshing to drive on a good road. There is no intrusion from electronic nannies, more steering feel than the entire current BMW lineup combined and the five-speed manual is a dream.
All that, plus it’s dead reliable. The odometer recently clicked over 225,000 miles. This photo is taken from atop Pikes Peak on my way back from a cross-country roadtrip with about 215,000 miles on it at that point. My left front taillight may have rattled itself out of the car on that trip, but I’ve never had a single powertrain hiccup in all my commuting, track days and road trips. Honda's reputation as being reliable has been my experience. What don’t I like? The stock suspension was far too wallowy. Compared to today’s sporty compacts, it leans like a boat. It’s also in great need of a limited-slip differential, especially on the track. At this point, I’ve lived my entire adult life with my little white Integra. I’m never selling it.
Associate Editor Byron Hurd
My current stable includes a 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8, a 2011 Jeep Wrangler Sport and a 1990 Mazda Miata. Yes, I'm one bad decision away from an all-FCA garage. What could go wrong?
I bought the Challenger used in the summer of 2017 because I wanted to get back into a V8 (I'd previously owned a 2015 Mustang GT), and I love Dodge's heritage colors. Plum Crazy is hilariously in-your-face, like everything else about these big, brash cruisers. Personally, I think anybody who buys a Challenger in a dull color has wasted their money. It may not be the fastest V8 coupe sold in America, but it still might be the coolest, and I love it, numerous faults and all. It's a six-speed, of course, and the two-mode suspension is a life (and kidney) saver on Detroit-area roads.
The Wrangler is a different story. I hadn't planned on adding another soft-top Jeep to my collection, but when the JL was introduced in late 2018, my father decided he had to have one. As is his tradition, he offered me his leftovers at an incredibly deep discount, and being a new resident of the Rust Belt, the prospect of adding a 4WD car to the fleet appealed to me. Like the Challenger, it's packing a six-speed. Unlike the Challenger, nothing about it is suited to Detroit-area roads, or really any roads anywhere, for that matter. The 3.8L "minivan" engine is a complete dog, and the base fuel-sipper gearing makes it both too slow for the highway and too fast for trail crawling. Plus, it's beige. Sorry, tan. Both diffs are open and everything is stock, less the parts that have been damaged or knocked off on trails. Yes, this Wrangler has spent a significant amount of time off-road, both in the Northeast and the Southwest.
Then, there's the Miata. This is the car I've owned longer than any other in my life. It's also one of two Miatas I've owned so far, and I doubt it will be long before that number ticks up yet again. It had more than 200,000 miles on it when I bought it in Northern Virginia back in 2008, and the clutch slipped when it was cold, likely due to rear main seal leak from the 1.6L. In the 12 years I've owned it, it has seen numerous track and autocross events and never failed me once. Oh, and the clutch still slips when it's cold.
Senior Editor, Green, John Snyder
After selling my 2004 Subaru WRX a couple years back, I currently live in a single-car household. That sole vehicle is a 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 4Matic Bluetec, which has been my wife Cat’s daily driver since we bought it new. I had been thoroughly impressed by a GLK press car I had used to haul boxes when we moved offices back during my days at Winding Road. Then, as now, the GLK could fit a surprising amount of boxes in it. When it came time for something new for my wife, we both loved the idea of a diesel vehicle, and I urged her to try the GLK. She fell in love with the looks and the car-like manner right away, and it has served us well for over 100,000 miles now.
We’ve loved the thing for a number of reasons. It drives wonderfully, with a comfortable but sporting ride, excellent maneuverability and plenty of confidence for the soft and snowy roads we encounter here in Michigan. Fuel economy is excellent, making it a great vehicle for long hauls, whether it’s the four-hour trip Up North we’ve done countless times in it, or visiting friends in Chicago or family in Kentucky. The higher price of diesel hasn’t been a setback, especially since my Subaru and her old Volvo wagons drank premium fuel.
We still adore the GLK, but we’re considering a new daily driver for my wife at some point in the near-ish future. Since buying it, we’ve had a child. With a car seat in the back, the front passenger (which, more often than not, is me) has to sit pretty far forward to give our large son some legroom. We also have added an enormous dog to our family in addition to our tiny one, so things can get pretty cramped once we’ve filled the car with vacation supplies. Things will get interesting if we have another child and don’t get Cat something bigger. I’m half-tempted to keep the GLK for myself, but as I’m personally in no need of a daily driver, my next personal vehicle will likely be something far less practical.
News Editor Joel Stocksdale
My garage has a toy car, a parts car, and a daily driver. The first of those is the 1999 Mazda Miata you see above. It's actually my second one. I bought it because my first ever car, another 1999 Miata, was on its last legs burning oil and rusting. I found this low mileage one in the same color for probably less than it would have cost to overhaul my original. I still have the original, and it has become my parts car, and I've already moved over several parts to the new car, including the green and black houndstooth seats I made in college (yeah, I learned to sew there). Since buying it, I've proceeded to turn it into the Miata I dreamed of as a high school student, giving it sleek wheels, front and rear spoilers, a roll bar, and most importantly, a supercharger. It should make about 190 horsepower at the wheels (I haven't dyno tested it yet) and it has a sweet supercharger whine. It's an absolute hoot and I'll probably keep it for the rest of my life.
As for the daily driver, it's a 2007 Honda Civic Si. I got it toward the end of college because that first Miata was getting haggard, and I needed something reliable and practical, but still fun, to get me to and from college and to my internships. There's a lot I've enjoyed about it, such as the velvety four-cylinder that winds up to 8,000 rpm, limited-slip differential the slick shifter, spacious interior and amazingly comfortable seats. Seriously, only a handful of seats I've been in match the combination of comfort and support of the Si's front buckets. I'm not sure how much longer I'll have it, though. It's still bulletproof reliable, but it has developed a number of frustrating cosmetic issues, some my fault, some that aren't, I'm tired of paying for premium for a car that doesn't make much power, and it's a bit loud and stiff on the highway. It's not that it's bad, it's just that I've changed somewhat and am ready for something new.
Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski
I've had lots of cars over the years, starting in my mid-teens with a 1964 Pontiac LeMans convertible that, well, needed lots of work and a 1965 Karmann Ghia convertible that needed quite a bit less. From there, some of the more interesting machines you may have found parked in my driveway were a 2004 Mazda RX-8, a 2006 Mini Cooper S convertible with the Sidewalk package, and a 1992 Nissan Patrol with a naturally aspirated 4.2-liter inline-six diesel and five-speed manual transmission when we lived for a year in Central America.
At present, our family car is a 2010 Lexus GX 460 that we appreciate for its rugged reliability and luxurious appointments. The full-time four-wheel drive system is nice to have in the winter and on excursions to find remote relaxation destinations, while the third row of seats mean we can take a bunch of friends or family with us wherever we go.
The GX's 6,500-pound towing capacity came in handy when we moved across the country last year and brought our 1975 Volkswagen camper van with us. You can see that one pictured above, or here pictured in a video feature. We love the van despite its numerous imperfections and, um, character traits. And we use it as much as we can on extended camping trips that aren't too far from our home, relying on its fridge, sink and four-person sleeping capacity that works out pretty well for us and our two small pups.
Managing Editor Greg Rasa
Editor-in-chief Greg Migliore
I own a 2006 Dodge Charger. I got it right out of graduate school when I was an intern at Automotive News. I didn’t really have the money to pay for it and bought it anyway.
I have always loved Chargers. The 1968-70 models rank among the greatest muscle cars of all-time, in my opinion, and I know I’m supported by many enthusiasts. That’s basically why I bought this thing back in November of ‘05. I skipped out of my reporting duties at AN, brokered the financing over the phone from the lunchroom and picked it up the day before Thanksgiving. It was pretty great. Driving a new car, especially one of the coolest modern muscle cars of that era, was a riot. I did countless burnouts. I bought it for its looks and the idea of a Dodge Charger, rather than any sound car-buying principles. I went with the SE trim and the V6, which was all I could afford. It carried me through my first few jobs, covering city council and real estate, before I was lucky enough to make car journalism an actual career and secure entry to the world of test cars.
My Charger was and is a good car, though it’s mainly been in dry dock for years with the odometer frozen in the mid-40K range. Someday I’ll probably get new tires, do some basic maintenance and sell it. Then again, I might not. Sell it, that is.
Social Media Manager Michael Ferrara
Being from New York, I never really needed my own car. Public transport is that good out here, even when it's bad (I'm looking at you MTA). So when I finally needed to get a car, I wanted to go with a brand that's synonymous with safety and durability: Volvo. I'm pretty tall, so the ride height of a vehicle is important to me. I suppose I'm used to seeing over people while walking, and wanted a similar feel when driving. I Probably should have gone with a truck! But I decided to go with an XC60. I like crossovers, they're a good middle ground between the larger SUVs and smaller sedans. Being from N.Y., but living in Detroit, I also needed something that had AWD. The XC60's 2.0L super/turbocharged inline-four puts out 302hp and 295 lb-ft torque. This is a lot of power for someone who hasn't owned a car before. It also has a ton of space and features like a full-size sunroof. Keeping the visor of the sunroof open all the time helps bring natural light into the car, which makes it feel roomier. Vovlo's safety suite works great as well. Overall, the XC60 is a comfortable crossover that ticked all the boxes for what I was looking for. Sure, this sounds like an ad, but I'm just that smitten.
Contributing Editor Joe Lorio
As a station wagon aficionado, I was a proponent of the Ford Flex from the moment it debuted — or, more accurately, even before then, when it was the Fairlane concept. When the production version arrived, it lived up to my expectations, and I liked the design as a modern-day take on the squared-off big Ford wagons of the mid-1960s. Clearly, I would be getting one.
But we had recently bought a 2007 VW Passat wagon, so I had to bide my time. Finally, in 2013, we were ready to move forward. Unfortunately, my wife had hit a deer with the Passat, and that experience left her wanting a taller vehicle. Happily, she considers the Flex an SUV, while I see it as a station wagon. We’re both happy.
As everyone knows, the Flex was a distressingly slow seller, and has recently been dropped from Ford’s lineup. Looking for a slightly used example, there were few to be found. Additionally, I didn’t want a first-year model and was leery of the MyFord Touch infotainment that arrived for 2013 (although I dig the updated fascia). We also wanted leather seats, which meant a Limited. And while most were white, silver, or black, I was holding out for Dark Ink Blue, Mineral Gray, or Ginger Ale — and a white roof was a must. In the end we had to settle for a silver roof, but we got everything else we wanted.