Automotive journalists from around the Northwest gather to test out performance or sunny-day vehicles at the Northwest Automotive Press Association’s Run to the Sun gathering. This year, 24 vehicles were assembled and tested in a day and a half of driving around Mt. Hood.
There was a wide array of vehicles including: an Acura NSX, a BMW M4 with the Competition Package, a Buick Cascada, Kia Cadenza, a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and a Viper GTC, the Fiat 124 / Mazda MX-5 and the Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86 twin sets, the Honda Accord Coupe V6, an Infiniti Q50 Red Sport, a Lexus GS-F, a Jaguar XE R-Type, Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG, MINI Cooper, Mitsubishi Lancer, Volkswagen Dune Beetle, Volvo S90, an Audi RS7, Nissan GT-R, and a Rolls-Royce Dawn.
While the following cars aren’t NWAPA’s top picks, as this was not a judged event, they are part of our top picks!
Top Track-Oriented Car
There’s plenty of competition here, ranging from the brand new Acura NSX through the BMW M4, Dodge Viper GTC, Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG, and Nissan GT-R. In this category, you pay top dollar for extreme performance.
The 2017 Acura NSX wins among this group due to its blend of sporty comfort and eco-friendly hybrid system. While the others were mostly leather-filled muscle, the Acura NSX was not as thirsty of a vehicle as the others and had amazing instant torque with three electric motors.
While the Rolls-Royce Dawn is an obvious choice in the top-down crusade, not many people can afford its more than $450,000 price tag. Ergo, from the lower cost convertibles, we enjoyed the effortless enjoyability of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata.
This lightweight roadster was fun in the corners, but not scary-fast (which is great for a Sunday drive). Noteworthy drives included the peppy MINI Cooper S Convertible and the Volkswagen Dune Beetle, but it was the MX-5 that stole the show.
Top 4- (or 5) Seater
When all you want to do is put the top down and enjoy a nice breezy drive in the sun with your family of four, you can’t get much better than the 2016 Buick Cascada. Unlike more performance-oriented sports convertibles, there was ample leg and elbow room for all occupants (even taller back-seat passengers).
While the BMW M4 and Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG hold top spot for the top-tier performance convertibles, they’re also more of a handful at higher speeds. Buick’s Cascada is luxurious on the road and invites you to sit back, relaxing with the view (and in a budget not found in the Rolls-Royce).
Best Performance Sedan
Check out the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport. This wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing offers the room you’ll need for a family with the racing-infused performance you want for your daily drive. The interior is luxuriant and refined, without costing as much as a house.
There were plenty of surprise drives this year. We couldn’t believe Buick infused as much spirit into the Cascada as they had (really, try one!), nor could we believe that the grand Volvo S90 was as lithe for its girth.
When the Kia Cadenza was up, we were surprised at how lightly it handled for its size. While it’s as long as high-end sedans from BMW and Audi, it felt surprisingly light. The interior offered a plush refinement and comfortable ride that wasn’t boat-like. Not only that, but they outpaced the others on price by a healthy margin.
To test out one of the many vehicles we drove at the 2016 NWAPA Run to the Sun gathering, please call or visit your local AutoNation dealer today!