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’09’s Top 10? Make that 11

Yes Virginia, this is another year-end top-ten list.

Yes Virginia, this is another year-end top-ten list.

Maybe you and Virginia are thinking, “enough already.”

I feel your pain, but we must do this. If we don’t, it will contravene that law of the universe, which states that if you don’t get all those top ten lists in by the end of any year, the next one won’t start properly.

So here we go with our totally subjective picks for the best vehicular moves in calendar year 2009.

Lots of good stuff at the small end of the market this year (Mazda3, Kia Soul, Honda Insight), but for me, the Nissan Cube, stood out like a psychedelic Maytag. Very fun. Very useful.

If we move up the food chain just a bit, you have to tip your hat to the new VW Golf, the recently knighted “World Car of the Year.” Our favourite Golf variant is the TDI Wagon.

BMW X6 M — you are a totally outrageous and unnecessary SUV, trying to seduce good citizens away from more responsible transportation, so you can just … give me a call sometime.

GM might have blown the timing of the Chevrolet Camaro debut, but not the car. For boomers so inclined, the car is right on the muscle-car money.

Swinging back to the practical again, we really like the new Subaru Legacy and Outback models, an intelligent evolution of a great concept — efficient and low-centre-of-gravity boxier engine, all-wheel-drive, and just-right-sizing for a family of four.

Something more first classy? We’re smitten with the new Mercedes-Benz E Class sedan. It’s got space-station levels of computerization and innovation, but also manages to retain its persona as a fine, traditional European motorcar.

We have to include at least one honest-to-goodness truck, and the all-new Dodge Ram Heavy Duty is, as advertised, heavy duty to the max. Equipped with the Cummings diesel engine, it can pull a bungalow off its foundations, and then show off some more, by dragging it around the block a few times.

It’s not really ready for prime time, but earlier this year, 500 all-electric Mini E units were leased out to drivers in several U.S. cities. We like how it’s doing a lot of heavy lifting in the real-world testing of “plug ins” and their infrastructure issues, and how it makes the case that EVs don’t have to look like, or perform like, re-worked golf carts.

To these eyes the new Ford Taurus is a little too big, but we like almost everything else about it, especially as it signals a return of a certain Americana esthetic and presence in the full-size car class.

We wanted to end our list with something exotic, but couldn’t decide between the Aston Martin One-77 and the Ferrari California.

The Aston costs about $1.7 million, makes 700-plus horses, and only 77 will ever be built. Who can argue with number like that?

Even so, the California is so tempting with it’s front midship V8 engine, retro convertible profile, relative value (about $200 grand), and huge performance capabilities.

So we didn’t decide and gave thumbs up to both of them.

Yes Virginia, this top ten list goes to eleven. Get over it.

– Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for over 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.

 
 
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