2016 Digital Trends Car Awards

Ride along as we test 15 of this year's top cars to find the best of the best

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SUV

SUVs have come to dominate U.S. roads, not just due to their versatility, but because these days, they can be extremely enjoyable for drivers and passengers alike.

Nominees

Volvo XC90

Volvo’s XC90 is a great example of how automakers can still surprise us with unique approaches to conventional segments. The T8 plug-in Hybrid boasts a list of tech and safety features too long to get into here, as well as a combined 400-horsepower supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter engine when backed up by its electric motor. It would sound ludicrous if it didn’t work so well. It is also an SUV so stunning that it upstages luxury vehicles in every segment.

Honda Pilot

It might seem like the Honda Pilot is in strange company, but most of the tech features in the other cars featured in this category can also be found in the Honda, and at a much more attainable price. With an 8-inch gesture-controlled touchscreen, a palpable ‘Lane Keeping Assist’ system, and tons of convenience features, it’s fully loaded with enough stuff to keep you happy, and a versatile people mover.

Audi Q7

The Audi Q7 is a prime example of how having a utility vehicle doesn’t mean giving up driving enjoyment. Boasting Audi’s Quattro technology, a 3.0-liter TFSI supercharged V6, and tech like the Virtual Cockpit, you might forget momentarily that you’re in a car meant to hold five to seven passengers along with their cargo.

Winner

Volvo XC90 SUV Award

Volvo XC90

Our SUV category had tighter competition than any other. The Audi Q7 had been the diligent workhorse behind the scenes as camera car and support vehicle, and it had the best dynamic performance on the road. Honda’s Pilot was able to hold its own as well, with its tech-laden interior and boatloads of space. In the end, the stunning-looking XC90 won the award, as well as our hearts. Apart from its standout looks, the interior wood, leather, and metal touch-points were remarkably elegant. Its smooth ride, dynamic sound system, and intuitive tablet-style touchscreen interface made for an enjoyable, unique experience. Add in loads of safety- and efficiency-improving tech that doesn’t sacrifice power, and it’s clear why the Volvo was our pick for winner.

Luxury

Picking our favorite luxury car is admittedly a bit of a bourgeois task, but somebody has to do it. As the old saying goes, if you have it, flaunt it, and our pick of 2016’s top luxury vehicles have plenty to boast about.

Nominees

Jaguar XF

Jaguar’s XF pairs British racing enthusiasm with its mastery of luxury, resulting in an exquisite four-door that doesn’t skimp on performance. It can be driven at a gentle pace, but the temptation to fully utilize the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 is often too strong to ignore.

BMW 750i

The BMW 750i goes for the “more is more” approach, loading the sedan with all sorts of gadgets such as removable Samsung tablets, and features like a “Vitality Program,” which makes the Bimmer’s back seat a mobile spa visit. Coupling all that with the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 under the hood makes it tough to decide whether to sit behind the wheel or lounge in back.

Cadillac CT6

The CTS-V is a nice, musclebound distraction, but let’s not forget Cadillac is all about luxury. The CT6 is the automaker’s new flagship that is as quiet as a bank vault when you want it to be, or as loud as an opera house when you don’t, thanks to the 34-speaker Panaray stereo system. Tech like the haptic feedback and integrated rear camera mirror benefit the driver, while the connectivity features — and smooth ride — make the CT6 a delight for anyone along for the journey.

Winner

Cadillac CT6 Luxury Award

Cadillac CT6

The BMW had the most tricks up its sleeve, but almost to its detriment. The Jaguar XF was comfortable no matter where you sat, but its superior driving performance and pared-down interior appointments made it clear that it favored driver satisfaction over the passenger. Cadillac’s CT6 integrates its tech with much more subtlety, drives incredibly smooth, and comfortably coddles passengers. Upfront, the streamlined, customizable gauge cluster gives the driver everything they need, while haptic alerts provide an enhanced awareness that typical proximity sensor-triggered beeping doesn’t match. Innovative tech like the rear-view camera, which shows up as a feed in your rear-view mirror, makes maneuvers, safe, easy, and enjoyable.

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