BoN 5 Cars of the Year 2009, Basketball Style

A lot of magazines and websites pick their car of the year. Inevitably, they choose a sensible midsized family sedan or some such thing.

Screw that, this is the Book of Norm.

My car of the year? Well, first, there are five. Five, because you have to give one in each category. Just one would be an all star-team with just one guy. LeBron would get lonely alley ooping to himself all day. And yes, basketball has just one MVP, but thats easy: the Ford F-150. Best selling vehicle in the US since the horse. There is a rumor the original design was etched by Ben Franklin onto the back of the constitution using lemon water and a diamond.

So here it is, the all-star starting 5 of 2009:

Point guard of the year goes to the Nissan GT-R, the supercar slayer for $75,000. It is amazing, the fastest real production car in the world (sorry Dodge Viper ACR - you are not really a "production" car, all 100 of you) and it takes a styling I like to the limits: the badass ugly beast. For related examples, see the 1st gen WRX, the Lotus Exige and anything made by Lamborghini since the 1970's. Short, ugly, aggressive, amazingly quick, handles unbelievably well and is cheaper than the big names.

Shooting guard is a tough one. They have to be reliable, versatile, still fast but with more all around capability. My top pick is the Ford Fusion. Every time I see one of these I am surprised by how much I like its look. They are meant to be great to drive, have good options, and are reasonably priced.

The small forward is a little bit of everything. Enter the crossover. These car/wagon/SUV things are damn popular for good reason. Space? Enough for most tasks. Handling, speed and performance? Enough to give you a little adrenaline now and then. Snow and dirt roads? AWD and decent ground clearance. Personally, I would go with the Audi Q5. It is a good mid-size, it handles very well, its got good looks without going for the overly stylized and swoopy (or big mouth bass of the Inifinity FX). Its got Audi's symmetrical AWD system which should handle anything that does not need a locking transfer case (something most SUV owners probably never even engaged) and can tackle just about anything.

The power forward is an interesting one. Needs to be big. But still needs to be relatively quick and agile, with decent handling and a at times can pull a quick move. My pick? The Ford Flex EcoBoost. It holds 7. It has 360hp. It handles well (for something that big). It has interior volume due to its box-it-came in styling (I drive a '96 Tahoe - I appreciate boxy) so it can actually haul stuff and get things like furniture in and out (something amazingly difficult on some more rounded SUVs and crossovers). It is at the same time the future of the minivan and what most big-SUV drivers should have been buying all along.

The center. The big man. When you need to carry everything you own, tow the boat and stuff a pipsqueak trying to cut you off or drive the lane. When ground clearance is a matter of daily importance. When you know what a locking transfer case is, does, and you use it. Sure, 16mpg is not a lot, but divide that by 7 or 7000lbs and its pretty damn good. They are a dying breed, their glory day is past. New rules give more power to the little guy, emphasize small and light. These are old school, they can pass when they need to but its all about the power. Low-down grunt. The new big-man for 2009 was a redesigned Toyota Sequoia:
But its just a pretender. It has graduated to the big-boys class, but without the power to match. It has a 275hp V8. Which is 15hp more than my Tahoe. From 1996. With 500lbs less weight. Its meant to do everything pretty well, but pretty well does not an all star make.

The sad thing is, I am going to have to fudge on this one. The Sequoia was the only new large SUV for 2010, and it really is just not that good, not even as good as the sightly older Expedition EL and Chevy Suburban.

So, I am going to have to go with the Suburban. Yes, the current model was introduced in 2006. Yes, it it has the appeal at the local PTA meeting of Michael Vick. But take a look. Older players can be great value. It is durable, rugged, proven. It has the best interior, good driving dynamics, a powerful engine (335hp), huge tow rating, and the perennial class sales leader. You can get it as a Cadillac or as a hybrid. Its big, it does not have the star appeal it once had, and it may very well be the last of its class, but it is everything a center should be.

File:07-08 Chevrolet Suburban LT.jpg

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