An argument can be made that these are the salad days of luxury and performance cars. As fuel economy standards get stricter, automakers are looking to make their vehicles more efficient, but no so much so that there isn't still room for power and performance. In fact, some of the traits of efficiency—lighter weight and slippery aerodynamics—also play into the hand of performance.
This past year we drove several new or significantly updated models that set new standards for performance, as well as quite a few that offered top-notch luxury. It was hard to pare down the candidates and we left several excellent vehicles off our list of finalists.
Many of those cars stood above the crowd because of their amazing power, world-class performance, engaging driving experience, or any combination of the three. These are the cars that really got our blood pumping and ignited our desire to spend our own hard-earned money. Here, we present the finalists for the 2016 Motor Authority Best Car To Buy award.
2016 Cadillac ATS-VEnlarge Photo
Cadillac ATS-V: Cadillac aimed for the BMW M3 when developing the ATS-V, and managed to build a car that's even more fun to drive.
2016 Cadillac CTS-VEnlarge Photo
Cadillac CTS-V: The hits keep coming from Cadillac. With 640 horsepower under the hood, the CTS-V offers the ATS-V's spectacular handling with ridiculous power.
2016 Chevrolet CamaroEnlarge Photo
Chevrolet Camaro SS: With excellent handling to go with its Corvette-sourced V-8 power, it's time to call the 2016 Chevy Camaro a sports car.
2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Vs. Chevrolet Camaro SSEnlarge Photo
Ford Shelby Mustang GT350: The most track-ready Mustang ever built, the Shelby GT350 and the even more serious GT350R would make ol' Carroll proud.
2016 Lamborghini Aventador SuperVeloce (SV)Enlarge Photo
Lamborghini Aventador SV: How do you make a supercar even more super? Cut some weight and add more power. That's the formula for one of the most extreme cars on the planet, the 2016 Lamborghini Aventador SuperVeloce.
2016 Mazda MX-5 MiataEnlarge Photo
Mazda MX-5 Miata: Not that it ever got flabby, but the Miata returns to its roots with lighter weight and grin-inducing dynamics. It may have fewer horses, but it's also the quickest Miata ever.
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT Edition 1Enlarge Photo
Mercedes-AMG GT S: Balanced dynamics and ready twin-turbocharged V-8 power make the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S a worthy competitor for the Porsche 911 Turbo.
How we choose our Best Car To Buy
We start by only looking at the luxury and performance vehicles that are new or significantly updated each year.
Next, we eliminate vehicles unavailable for road tests by our editors prior to December 1, 2015, and unavailable for purchase by April 30, 2016. That left the Tesla Model X off the list this year. Similarly, the Cadillac CT6 hasn't been made available for test drives, even though it will be available before our drop dead date.
Then we make the tougher cuts. Luxury and performance marques build most of the finest vehicles on the planet. A car or SUV that might be considered excellent in its segment just might not stack up against other feats of automotive brilliance that came out this year.
That leaves us with a list cars that we need to consider against the established benchmarks and against each other. The cars above made all of those cuts.
We'll release our Best Car To Buy Winner on January 4, along with the winners from our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. We'll also announce the winners in our Driver's Choice awards—as voted by you, our readers—at that time.