Revisiting the 2010 Car of the Year: the Corvette ZR-1, America’s Super Car

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This is an article written by Mike Blake of Carlisle Events at the end of 2010. We thought the results merited a serious reposting:

zr1.jpgBy Mike Blake, Carlisle Events

All About Cars traditionally ends its yearly coverage with two Top-10 lists. Last week, we awarded our Car Buy of the Year crown to the all-new Cadillac CTS Coupe. This week, we present our Car of the Year list, focusing on the best car, truck, crossover or SUV and what it delivers, regardless of price — just the pure vehicle.

To make this list, I must have test driven the car in calendar 2010 and it must have dazzled me as well as any passengers or onlookers who rode in or saw the vehicle.

I test drove 55 different vehicles this year, and after a week-long (in most cases) examination as a daily driver and/or track car, I graded each ride in the following categories: Interior; Safety; Power; Handling/Ride; Economy/Price; Looks; Niche-fitting and a Miscellaneous grouping in which I took into consideration the “feel-good” factor and other intangibles. Each category had its own integrity and encompassed such items as driver intuitiveness, comfort, easy-to-read instrumentation, quietness and ease of surroundings in the Interior segment, and crash-test results, standard air bags, crumple zones and construction in the safety subset. In each category, I award from zero to 10 points (10 being perfect). This year, only eight 10s were handed out.

While cost is no object here, the highest price doesn’t necessarily equate to the best car, as many times a $50,000 car will beat a $100,000 car based on the above criteria. This year, a $111,000 vehicle won the competition, but Nos. two and three are priced at under $40,000 and under $50,000 respectively. Four Top-10 cars were priced under $40,000.

Last year’s winner was a nostalgic Muscle Car — the Chevrolet Camaro SS and this year another American muscle and sports icon returned to capture the title, narrowly defeating a retro street machine and another American automotive symbol.

(Prices below are price-as-tested totals including options and destination charges: tax and license are extra, and you might be able to purchase a less-tricked out model for less).

No. 1 Corvette ZR-1 — $111,525 ? European supercars are priced in the $400,000s and America’s supercar is one-fourth the sticker, but is imbued with all the style and substance. The ZR-1 is the most powerful production car ever offered by Corvette at 638 horsepower and 604 lbs-ft of torque. Fast (zero-to-60 in 3.8 seconds and a 12.3-second quarter-mile),with an exotic exterior, lavish high-tech cockpit, top safety attributes and pride behind the wheel, ZR-1 wins this race hands down. Also considered part of this year’s Corvette experience (and it could also have made this list on its own) is its sibling, Corvette Grand Sport, which made a triumphant return after a 14-year absence. At $65,730, with 430hp and 424 lbs-ft of torque, Grand Sport’s wide fenders, functional splitter on the hood, tall rear spoiler and fender vents on both sides are classic, as are its power, grace and history. ZR-1 scored 10s in Power, Handling and Feel good Factor.

No. 2 ? Dodge Challenger R/T– $35,755. Maybe I am partial to dynamic revisiting of America’s muscle cars, but Challenger stands the test of time and the test of a new automotive world. Brought back 40 years after its Hemi-powered, tire-smoking debut, the new Challenger incorporates old-school street machine looks and impressive muscle (376 hp and 410 lbs-ft of torque).

No. 3 ? Cadillac CTS Coupe — $48,940. The CTS Coupe was also on last week’s list, reigning as Top Car Buy of the Year. With classic hardtop styling, 304hp /273 lbs-ft of torque, 18/27 mpg, elegant cabin and impressive safety additions, the all-new CTS Coupe is driving Cadillac back to prominence.

No. 4 ? Porsche Panamera — $95,600. Porsche’s first all-new vehicle since 2002 is a lightning-fast luxury car that seats four and throatily thunders out 400hp/369 lbs-ft of torque. Displays 911 styling and performance and a packed interior.

No. 5 ? Ford Mustang 5.0 GT — $37,277. Rekindling the 5.0 look and feel from 1985-1995, the new 5.0 GT is built for looks, speed, performance, handling and fuel economy, galloping out 412 horses and 390 lbs-ft. of torque.

No. 6 ? Jaguar XF — $62,875. Refined-yet-liquid lines, mesh grille, Cat logo, gently sculptured roofline and interior and performance (385-hp/380 lbs-ft of torque) that growls out the Jaguar legacy.

No. 7 ? Nissan 370Z Roadster — $38,980. The Z-tradition lives on with 332 hp, 270 lb-ft of torque, roadster appearance and demeanor and responsive driving fun.

No. 8 ? Audi S4 — $60,550. Euro styling, 333hp and 325 lbs. of torque, direct fuel injection, sticky auto-cross capabilities and accommodating cabin.

No. 9 ? Infiniti M37 — $59,460. Sleek, athletic, sporty, graceful and aggressive. Luxurious interior and lots of power (330hp/270 lbs-ft of torque).

No. 10 ? Chevrolet Camaro Synergy — $28,185. Really a Camaro in Green with additional cosmetics, this nostalgic muscle car still wows on the road with 304 hp/273 lbs-ft of torque and 18mpg in the city/29mpg in highway driving.

These Top 10 were the cream of the crop in 2010, combining looks, style, performance and pride of ownership and driving. We can’t wait to see and drive the four-wheeled masterpieces offered in 2011.

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Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He’s been a “car guy” since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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