A big part of our job around here is to drive today's new cars and report back to you. That puts us in the seats of hundreds of vehicles each year, many of which represent the latest achievements in luxury and performance.
Many are brilliant pieces of comfort and engineering, and some fall shy of the mark.
From this large group of vehicles, we must choose our annual Motor Authority Best Car To Buy. That task starts with figuring out which vehicles don't make the cut.
To make our list, a vehicle must be new or significantly updated within the past year, and that narrows the field considerably, even if the cars are fantastic. For instance, this year we felt that the following weren't new enough to make the cut: Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman, Porsche 911, Porsche 911 Turbo, and Nissan GT-R.
Then we eliminate vehicles unavailable for road tests by our editors prior to November 1, 2016, and unavailable for purchase by April 1, 2017. If two of our editors can't get their butts in those seats, we can't consider them. That left off a few more cars we would really like to consider, including the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Bentley Bentayga, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Lincoln Continental, Maserati Levante, Mercedes-AMG GLC43, and Porsche Panamera.
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. If a car can't challenge an established benchmark, it can't win.
Let's take a quick look at each of the vehicles that didn't make our finalist list this year. Please be aware that just because a car or SUV is on this list doesn't mean we wouldn't recommend it. It just means it doesn't move the needle as much as the finalists do.
2017 Alfa Romeo GiuliaEnlarge Photo
2017 Aston Martin DB11: The DB11 is a big-budget hit from a small-budget company. It's unmistakably beautiful and it makes great sounds to go with more power and improved dynamics.
2017 Audi Q7: The Q7 is nimble for its size, and it offers great space. It's almost, dare we say, a wagon in disguise.
2017 Audi S4: A 354-horsepower version of Audi's likeable compact sedan makes for sporty luxury.
2017 Bentley Bentayga: With a W-12 engine under its lovely hood and more than 400 laps on the Nürburgring during development, the Bentayga is the ultimate marriage of performance and luxury.
2017 Bentley Mulsanne: Bentley adds an Extended Wheelbase model to its luxo-barge lineup this year, while also improving luxury and handling.
2017 Cadillac XT5: The Cadillac XT5 is an incremental improvement over the SRX it replaces, making it a fine choice for luxury buyers looking for room and comfort.
2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: We already love the sixth-generation Camaro. The ZL1's immense power should only make it better.