Best Daily Driver: 2017 Digital Trends Car Awards

Getting from Point A to Point B doesn't have to be a drag

Digital Trends best daily driver award badgeWe’ve driven them all. Now it’s time to choose the best! The 2017 Digital Trends Car Awards pit the year’s strongest contenders in five different categories against each other, and crown an overall Car of the Year

The oddball entrants in our diverse Daily Driver category look as varied as the drivers they represent. A mom with four kids in the suburbs, for example, needs a different type of vehicle than a single twenty-something in the city. No matter your lifestyle, though, a good daily driver must be affordable, practical, and reliable. The ability to put a smile on your face once in a while doesn’t hurt, either. Yes, it’s a nebulous category, but it’s our most important in many ways, because these aren’t the cars of your dreams; they’re better. These cars are a part of your life.

The contenders

Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport

SUBARU IMPREZA 2.0I SPORT

The Impreza has been one of our favorite sedans for years. While compact cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla dominate sales, the Subaru has always stood out for its offbeat character, impressive value, and standard all-wheel drive, the last of which isn’t offered by most of the competition. The Subaru Impreza can take you and your family just about anywhere you need to go reliably, and the redesigned 2017 model brings better handling, a more spacious interior, and improved tech. There’s no question: Impreza checks all the boxes for an excellent family car.

Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Wagons are making a comeback, and the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is proof. Taller, more functional, and quirkier than the standard Golf, the Alltrack adds practicality and personality to an already excellent Golf package, but most importantly, it does it without increasing its footprint.

Like the Impreza, all-wheel drive comes standard, but the Alltrack also features a dedicated off-road mode and increased ground clearance, which means your trip doesn’t have to end where the pavement does. It’s half crossover, half station wagon, and when you put those two together, you get a car that’s actually better than both.

Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler Pacifica

The Chrysler Pacifica is more than a car; it’s a mobile command center. Inside the cavernous minivan, up to eight passengers can bathe in the latest and greatest in in-car technology, including an 8.4-inch touchscreen, a rear-seat entertainment system, a built-in vacuum, and Stow n’ Go seating that allows the rear rows to be folded flat electronically. Road trips will never be the same.

More important than that, the Pacifica is, dare we say, fun? It’s a handsome car to look at, there are plenty of toys inside, and with its new platform and decreased weight, it’s more engaging to drive than a minivan has the right to be. It’s safe too, with top marks coming from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

And the winner is…

Chrysler Pacifica

An eight-passenger van may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a daily driver, but for the right customer, this is the perfect car. It’s just engineered flawlessly for its demographic. In other words, this is about as good as a minivan can get, and it quickly became a personal favorite at Lime Rock Park. Whether it was ferrying our camera crew around Connecticut to get the perfect shot or screaming around the racetrack with seven passengers onboard, the Chrysler Pacifica defied expectations and set a new bar for its category. Who said vans had to be boring?

Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.
Cars

Psychedelic Volkswagen Microbus from Woodstock returns for an encore

With its trippy paint scheme, the Volkswagen "Light" bus became a symbol of the 1969 Woodstock music festival. VW teamed up with the artist who created this rolling mural to stage a comeback in time for Woodstock's 50th anniversary.
Product Review

The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a do-it-all Swedish army knife

Volvo laced up its smallest station wagon in hiking clothes to create the V60 Cross Country. It's a lifted, all-wheel drive wagon that laughs at icy roads while coddling its occupants. We travel to Sweden to try it out.
Cars

Volkswagen’s hot-rodded T-Roc R is ready to shred its tires to confetti

Volkswagen released a teaser sketch to preview a hot-rodded SUV named T-Roc R. Insiders suggest it will be closely related to the mighty Golf R, meaning it will pack a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at about 300…
Cars

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Outdoors

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.
Cars

The Polestar 2, Sweden’s answer to the Tesla Model 3, begins taking shape

Volvo sister company Polestar has released a teaser image to give us our first look at the 2, its second model. Polestar tells us the 2 will arrive as a four-door fastback with a 400-hp electric powertrain and about 300 miles of range.
Cars

2020 Kia Soul and Soul EV continue to think inside the box

The 2020 Kia Soul is the third generation of Kia's boxy curiosity. The Soul maintains its signature look, but gets tech and powertrain upgrades. The all-electric Soul EV returns as well.
Cars

Amazon plugs in with $700 million investment in electric pickup company Rivian

Amazon invested $700 million for a minority stake in U.S. all-electric truck maker Rivian, according to a joint release. The announcement follows a Reuters report that GM and Amazon might invest $1 billion to $2 billion in the company.
Cars

2019 RAM 1500 Classic Warlock special edition: Badass style without the whoop

If you like the looks of blacked-out badass trucks without the cost of a desert racer, FCA announced the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock, a special edition pickup that focuses on appearance with only a touch of additional off-road capability.
Cars

2020 GMC Acadia toughens up on the outside, gets smarter on the inside

The 2020 GMC Acadia crossover gets styling updates and a more rugged AT4 trim level. Under the skin, the Acadia sports a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a wider array of tech features.
Cars

Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power and connect off-the-grid campers

Nissan has teamed up with trailer manufacturer Opus to design a mobile, weatherproof power pack built with battery cells sourced from the first-generation Leaf. Called Roam, the pack stores enough electricity to power a camper for up to a…