As a staff we drive hundreds of new cars, trucks, and SUVs every year. We do the hard work of sorting through the best and worst of them so you don't have to.
Many of the vehicles we drive are true achievements in performance and luxury. Others not so much. And then there are those that are quite good, but just don't measure up to the best of the year.
Each year, we choose the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy from the list of new and significantly updated luxury and performance vehicles of the year. Before we can do that, though, we have to whittle down the list. That starts with a cutting the majority of vehicles for one reason or another. These are the vehicles don't make the cut for 2018.
Among the cuts are vehicles that simply weren't available for testing to at least two of our editors by November 1, 2017, or those that wouldn't be available for purchase by April 1, 2018. If we can't drive 'em, we can't evaluate 'em. This year, that left two fantastic cars off the list—so long Ford GT and McLaren 720S—as well as an SUV that may be pretty darn good, the Lincoln Navigator.
Next, it's time for the tougher cuts. A vehicle might be among the best in its class, but if there are better offerings that came out this year, out it goes. Also, if a vehicle can't challenge an established benchmark, it can't win.
With that in mind, let's take a quick look at each of the vehicles that couldn't crack the finalist list this year. Just because they aren't finalists doesn't mean they aren't fine vehicles. They just don't push the envelope like the finalists do.
2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio: Baked in the same oven as the Giulia, the Stelvia suffers from the same reliability issues as its sedan counterpart. Too bad, because it might be sportiest SUV in its segment.
2017 Audi A5/S5: Audi's duo of sleek coupes drive as good as they look, delivering an athletic experience that befits the tailored suit they wear. Yet other cars offer more performance and luxury. Perhaps next year's 450-horspower RS 5 will be the real contender.
2017 Audi Q5/SQ5: Audi's sporty and sportier compact crossovers offer great road manners and strong engines, but they fall down in back seat space.
2017 BMW 5-Series: BMW's mid-size sedan may not be the model of road feel and driver excitement it once was, but it is a fantastic luxury car that rides and drives well and coddles occupants.
2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: The Camaro SS won our 2017 award, so consider this one a returning champion. Unfortunately, only one of our crew had the chance to drive it, and none of our guys got to see what it can do on the track.
2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon: We applaud Dodge for the crazy lengths it has gone to to make an aging chassis into a dragstrip hero, but the Demon is limited in production and appeal.